Green to lead final show with Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra

Mary Woodmansee Green will lead the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra for the final time Monday.

Green will direct the orchestra in a concert at 8 p.m. Monday, concluding the orchestra's 29th season and her tenure as music director and conductor. Green has led the orchestra since 1998 and has seen significant changes in her 13 years.

"We began basically with 10 concerts and five of them were for full orchestra at that time," she said. "We built it up so that we were doing 10 full concerts, five of which were repeated. That was quite something for the orchestra, for the board and this community to support a professional orchestra of that scope."

Community support has helped Green get through a difficult year. The orchestra's board of directors voted not to extend her contract Sept. 23. Executive Director Mary Briggs said the orchestra hoped to attract a more diverse audience with a broader range of programming.

When the move was announced, Green said she was surprised and that she had been treated unprofessionally. In the months since the board's vote, a group supporting Green has campaigned to reverse the board's decision.

"I'm overwhelmed, and I'm enormously gratified," she said. "I will certainly miss my many, many friends here very much."

Green splits her time between Hilton Head Island and Pennsylvania, where she remains the director of the Kennett Symphony of Chester County. She plans to continue spending time in her home on Hilton Head.

Looking back on her work with the Hilton Head orchestra, Green said performing Gustav Mahler's "Second Symphony" in November 2006 was among her professional highlights.

"Doing the Mahler 'Second Symphony' was a huge, huge feat for the orchestra," she said. "It's a big deal in itself. The Mahler 'Second' is just a huge piece of music. ... We pulled it off with just three rehearsals. It was a wonderful performance, and I found it very moving."

Monday's concert at First Presbyterian Church will feature Johann Sebastian Bach's "Concerto for Two Violins," Giuseppi Verdi's "Triumphal March and Ballet" from "Aida" and Gustav Holst's "The Planets." A reception will be held after the concert in the church's fellowship hall. Tickets are $20, $30 and $40.

"We're doing a huge showpiece for orchestra ... 'The Planets' by Gustav Holst," she said. "We are going to have slides of the actual planets that (local business owner and public speaker) Jane Jude will show during our performance. ... The very last movement is "Neptune," and Holst finished it with a wordless women's chorus that is offstage. These are, in theory, the Nereids disappearing into the sea."

The orchestra has vetted several candidates to replace Green. John Morris Russell of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Ontario, Canada, has been named principal guest conductor. He is considered the front-runner to become the Hilton Head orchestra's next music director and conductor. The orchestra's 30th season begins in October.

Details: 843-842-2055,