The south end is alive with the sounds of music

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It is so great to be a local on Hilton Head Island in the fall. The shoulder season is buzzing with nonstop events and the calendar is crowded with arts, history, and live music.

This year is particularly exciting because the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra christened its signature new home, SoundWaves, an intimate and elegant performance space at 7 Lagoon Road.

This fresh, new arts venue is designed to provide the community a much-needed resource for high-level production and acoustically reverberant live performance experiences. It's a treat for both locals and our guests to enjoy.

To commemorate SoundWaves' inaugural season, HHSO president and CEO Mary Briggs and music director John Morris Russell celebrated the opening of the venue in October with a musical nod to the Lowcountry in the form of a 34-piece orchestral multimedia spectacular.

Russell said he created this SoundWaves program as a sampler of the "kaleidoscope of musical styles, textures and emotions that bring ravishing beauty to the musical terrain of our region."

The concert showcased HHSO's enthusiasm for collaboration through use of a photographic and video-flyover panorama of island life as seen through the lenses of Ben Ham, Trevor Jenkins, and other local photographers from Hilton Head and Bluffton including many from the Camera Club of Hilton Head. This is a truly unique - and Hilton Head Island specific - artistic experience.

The venue accommodates more than just classical music. The transformative space lends itself to theatre performances, lecture series and more. Lean Ensemble Theater is already scheduled to bring the crackling comedy "Bad Dates" by award-winning playwright Theresa Rebeck to the space in December.

"This move is such an important next step for our orchestra," said Briggs, "We asked world renowned violinist Rachel Barton Pine to be the first ever soloist in SoundWaves with us in January, and we extended our relationship with the National Sphinx Competition by inviting 2017 Laureate Annelle Gregory to play Mozart in May here."

When asked about community access for the new venue, COO Mario Incorvaia said, "SoundWaves is open to the entire community for use. New SoundBites informal concert events, the International Piano Competition recitals, educational workshops, Lean Ensemble Theater performances, and exciting cabaret style programs are all going to fill the schedule. Fun, family-friendly summertime programming is sure to capture the attention of vacationers and residents alike."

My personal favorite aspect of the new space? It's the brilliant sounds of Hilton Head Island's newest art installation, a magnificent 40-tube life-size interactive outdoor xylophone that greets visitors in front of SoundWaves.

So yes, try your hand at a tune, but also go inside and check out the new musical locale on the south end of the Island.

Jennifer McEwen is the director of the Town of Hilton Head Island's Office of Cultural Affairs.

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