North Charleston POPS!

The North Charleston POPS! is a fully professional orchestra dedicated to bringing music of a popular nature to the Lowcountry and is supported by corporate, business, and individual donations, subscription sales, and grants, including the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Coastal Community Foundation, and the South Carolina Arts Council.

We have a unique style of combining an orchestra with other genres of music and vocalists, as well as video delights. It is always a surprise to first-time concertgoers, but they love it. We are innovative, unique, and totally entertaining.

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Nick Palmer, Musical Director

Nick Palmer has been widely recognized for his compelling performances, visionary leadership and emotional connection to audiences and is regarded as one of the most talented symphonic and Pops conductors on the scene today. Maestro Palmer is in his fourth season as Music Director of North Charleston POPS! and is also Music Director of the Lafayette Symphony in Indiana and the Evening Under the Stars Music Festival in Massachusetts.

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Nick has had an ongoing relationship with the renowned London Philharmonic Orchestra and will make his third recording with the LPO later this season featuring the orchestral music of American composer Arnold Rosner at the famed Abbey Road Studios.

Nick Palmer has won rave reviews with the Detroit Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Tucson Symphony, Boulder Philharmonic, Virginia Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, Louisville Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, Salt Lake Symphony, Huntsville Symphony, Springfield (MA) Symphony , Greenville Symphony and other orchestras across the nation. He has also conducted over a dozen performances with the Jacksonville Symphony during the last several seasons, including regional concerts in St. Augustine, Orange Park and Daytona Beach. Nick is a frequent Pops conductor for the Springfield (MA) Symphony and was recently named Principal Pops Conductor of the Altoona (PA) Symphony

Nick has also worked with many top Pops performers including Smokey Robinson, Neil Sedaka, Art Garfunkel, Clay Aiken, Al Hirt, Shirley Jones, Jeans and Classics, Ballroom with a Twist, Tony Desare, Mary Wilson, Cirque de la Symphonie and many others.

A favorite guest conductor in Europe, Mexico and South America, Palmer recently conducted the Europa Philharmonie at the Hardinsburg Castle near Berlin, toured with the Orchestra di San Remo for two weeks in Italy and led concerts with the Czech Radio Orchestra at the Prague and Nelahozeves Castles celebrating the music of George Gershwin.

The German press hailed Palmer’s conducting as “a musical high point with world class flair” and Radio Suisse Romande in Switzerland noted Palmer’s: “great professionalism with unity and verve”. Palmer has also led the West Bohemia Symphony, National Orchestra of Bolivia, Sophia Symphony, Sinaloa (OSSLA) and Monterrey (UANL) Symphony in Mexico, Milano Classico Orchestra, Medellin (EAFIT) Symphony and Lausanne Symphony.

A native of Hingham, Massachusetts, Palmer graduated cum laude from Harvard University and received his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Orchestral Conducting from the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of Iowa, respectively. He also has studied at the Juilliard School, Pierre Monteux Domaine School, Aspen Music School, the Festival at Sandpoint, and the Academia Chigiana in Italy, where he was a student of Franco Ferrara and Carlo Maria Giulini. Dr. Palmer is also Distinguished Conductor in Residence at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

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C. Gerome Stewart, Concertmaster

C. Gerome Stewart, Concertmaster of the North Charleston POPS!, has been playing the violin for over 26 years and has performed with orchestras throughout Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana, South Carolina, and Florida. Mr. Stewart holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from Columbus State University and a Master of Music degree in Violin Performance from the University of Louisville. In the summer of 2017, he was appointed Dean of Mens’ Studies at the prestigious Brevard Music Center.

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His principal teachers include Patricio Cobos, Manuel Diaz, J. Patrick Rafferty, and Jay Christy. Mr. Stewart has participated in master classes with artists such as Cecylia Arzewski, Robert McDuffie, Midori, György Kurtág, Eroica Trio, Diaz Trio, Turtle Island String Quartet, Miami String Quartet, and Takács Quartet. He has toured professionally as a violinist with the Carl Rosa Opera Company, New Sigmund Romberg Orchestra, Hollywood Concert Orchestra, and The New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players. In addition to his leadership role with the POPS!, Mr. Stewart is currently an active member with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra.

Kris Manning, Executive Director

Kris Manning, the Executive Director of the North Charleston POPS!, is an “artrepreneur” with a passion for the performing and creative arts. Actively engaged is some of the Lowcountry’s most prominent events and backdrops, Kris is a professional musician, a visual artist, a published author, a MOJA Arts Festival award-winning painter, a nationally recognized sculptor and a Piccolo Spoleto performing musician and artist.

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Kris has a long history of fostering music and arts education, exhibition and performance on a regional, national and international scale. Beyond her musicianship and artistic skill, Kris honed her business acumen over 15 years working for Meredith Corporation, Clear Channel Radio, Infinity Broadcasting and CBS Radio. She has been a pillar for supporting music education across South Carolina’s Lowcountry as the former co-owner of Black Tie Music Academy – recognized as South Carolina’s largest private music education academy in 2019, and the former co-founder of The Music Battery non-profit, which previously served the North Charleston community.

Kris immersed herself in the arts at an early age. As a young girl, she studied piano, and immediately fell in love with drums and percussion. While earning a percussion performance degree from The University of Connecticut, Kris toured Russia with John Beck and other U.S. musicians from the Percussive Arts Society. Concurrently, she studied marimba with world-renowned marimbist, Leigh Howard Stevens. For more information about Kris, click here.

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Tacy Edwards, Cultural Consultant

Tacy Edwards is a co-founder of the North Charleston POPS! and served as its Executive Director for its first ten years. She has brought decades of experience in the arts field to the purpose of creating and nurturing this vibrant orchestra to become the heart of the North Charleston arts experience. Tacy is Principal Flute with the POPS!, holds the position of Second Flute in the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and has been the Piccoloist with the CSO from 1992 to the present.

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“It has been rewarding to work with the POPS! team in this welcoming city of North Charleston, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary! The vision of the various mayors of the City of North Charleston have made the arts central to the community in building the Coliseum and, later, the Performing Arts Center. We are proud to call the Performing Arts Center our home and are impressed with the dynamic economic, cultural and domestic growth of the city as it continues to attract new businesses and has become the heart of the Lowcountry with its shopping choices, hotel accommodations, International airport, Boeing facilities, business opportunities and innovative new educational and recreational programs for the children of the community. North Charleston is definitely a great place to live, work and play.”

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Samantha Clark, Education Outreach Director

Violist Samantha Clark is a member of the North Charleston POPS! and is Principal Viola in the Summerville Orchestra. She is the director of the strings division of the POPS!KidZ program, based at Malcomb C. Hursey & Pepperhill Elementary Schools, and is the teacher of strings in the North Charleton area for the CCSD. She also teaches privately and shares her love of music with as many children as possible.

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Playing viola for over 24 years, Mrs. Clark holds a Bachelor of Viola Performance Degree from Converse College in Spartanburg, SC and a Master of Viola Performance Degree from CCM in Cincinnati, OH. Her primary teachers have included Miles Hoffman, founder of The American Chamber Players and commentator for NPR, as well as Dr. Catharine Carroll and Masao Kawasaki at CCM. After spending time in graduate school working with the after-school music program Whiz Kids, she realized she also had a passion for teaching and enrolled in the PACE program in South Carolina. She received her teaching certificate through this program and has been teaching for the Charleston County School district for five years, four of these in North Charleston Schools.

Matthew Peebles, POPS!Kidz Orchestra Director

Matt Peebles, a Charleston-born violin/violist, is a member of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and is a founding member and Principal Second Violin of the North Charleston POPS!. He also plays regularly with other orchestras throughout the Southeastern US, and with numerous touring groups. An active music educator, he was formerly Orchestra Director at DuBose Middle School and Ashley Ridge High School and was named Rookie of the Year at both DuBose Middle School and Dorchester School District Two. He is a regular violin/viola clinician for SCMEA orchestra events and maintains a private violin/viola studio in Charleston. Matt earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of South Carolina, studying violin with Ryan Kho and Neil Casey, and viola with Constance Gee. Outside of music, he holds an USCG Master Captain’s license, and one is likely to find him enjoying the waters off the coast of South Carolina for both work and play.

Andrew Emmett, Program Outreach Director

Andrew Emmett, in his third year as a violinist with the North Charleston POPS! after relocating to the area from Winston-Salem, NC, originally hails from Munich, Germany. At age 7 he began playing the violin and then moved with his family to New Mexico where he eventually studied with David Tubergen at Eastern New Mexico University and then with Leonard Felberg at the University of New Mexico. Following several years of teaching privately and playing with orchestras in Venezuela, New Mexico and North Carolina he settled in South Carolina where he regularly performs with several orchestras, teaches privately and on the faculty of the North Charleston POPS! KidZ program. He also freelances in the Charleston area.

Musicians

The North Charleston POPS! is made up of 56 professional musicians. Here is a list of our Principal (first chair) players:

  • Concertmaster: C. Gerome Stewart
  • Violin II: Matthew Peebles
  • Viola: Robbi Kenney
  • Cello: Elizabeth Murphy
  • String Bass: Roman Pekar
  • Flute: Tacy Edwards
  • Oboe: Rebecca Testerman
  • Clarinet: Philip Lipton
  • Bassoon: Susan Barber
  • Horn: Debra Sherrill-Ward
  • Trumpet: Robert Murray
  • Trombone: Ben Dickinson
  • Tuba: Justin Clarkson
  • Percussion: Michael Haldeman
  • Timpani: Michael Greer
  • Piano: Anna Brock