Carolina Music Museum brings a new concept for music to Heritage Green, becoming the new Greenville-based home for the world-famous Carolina Clavier Collection. In addition to historical harpsichords and early pianos, the museum will exhibit other culturally important instruments, provide performance spaces for intimate concerts, and offer adjunct space for associated music organizations to serve as a downtown center of operations. The museum is a 501(c)3 organization.
In early 2017, Greenville arts advocates Steve Bichel, Beth Lee, and Tom Strange set out to create the leading center for preserving and celebrating the musical narratives of the Carolinas and the Southeast—and that vision became the new Carolina Music Museum.
Steve Bichel holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University, is a licensed SC Real Estate Broker and Homebuilder, and serves as an Officer for the Greenville County Youth Orchestra. Beth Lee attended the Juilliard Music School, and received her Master of Music and Master of Adult Education from Morehead State University. Tom Strange holds a BS and PhD in Physics, as well as a BFA in Art Studio, from the University of South Carolina. He is a Technologist and founding member of Maven Capacitor, SC Launch, and SCBIO, and is an early keyboard authority and sponsor of the “Changing Keys” exhibit at Colonial Williamsburg.
Our vision is to celebrate, entertain, and inform audiences of all ages through educational programs, exhibits, and performances by distinguished artists with access to a world-class collection of historically significant instruments.
EXHIBITS AND PERFORMANCES
Dedicated exhibit and performance rooms will house more than 40 English, European, and American pianos and harpsichords dating from 1570 to 1845—with important ties to the early development of keyboards and music-making, particularly in South Carolina. The historic, million-dollar collection will anchor the exhibit space and set the tone for additional museum participants and performances.
The Carolina Music Museum expects to host more than 10,000 visitors each year, with frequent performances by world-renowned musicians, as well as learning opportunities for students from regional school systems and surrounding universities.
With the opening of the new Carolina Music Museum, the opportunities for art, science, and music to intermix and influence audiences of all ages will come to the heart of downtown Greenville.
THE CORE COLLECTION
“Our core will be the early keyboard collection, with a mission to educate and inform emerging musicians, seasoned professionals, and all visitors as they experience the ability of these instruments to illuminate the actual intent of the composers who played them and composed for them. Modern pianos must often rely on heavily interpreted versions of such early compositions. To hear the difference is remarkable.
In addition to historic pianos, we will represent the roots and genres of Appalachian, African-American, French Huguenot, Middle Eastern, Asian, European, and other cultural influences that have shaped the history and future of music.
Changing, dramatic, and interactive exhibits, as well as acoustic instrument performances and educational events, will engage students and adults in our community. We want to provide a total musical immersion experience and be one of the ‘go-to’ places when people think of music in the Upstate.”
—Tom Strange, Curator and Artistic Director
The museum resides in a historically significant building—the Coca-Cola Bottling Company was constructed on four acres of wooded land on Buncombe Street in 1930. Stella Ellis, widow of founder Charles W. Ellis, directed operations in the distinctive and decorative building, defined by large windows which allowed passers-by to observe the bottling process.
In 2002, the old bottling company site became the new home of the Greenville County Public Library and the Upcountry History Museum. The front section of the Coca-Cola building—the only part of the former plant that remains—will become the Carolina Music Museum in early 2018.
Roy S. Fluhrer, PhD, Executive Director
Tom Strange, Artistic Director and Curator
Debra Strange, Development Director
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Steve Bichel, President
Beth Lee, Secretary
John Warner, Treasurer
Anne Acker, Senior Editor, Grove Encyclopedia of Music
Darcy Kuronen, Curator, Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Laurence Libin, Curator Emeritus, NY Met Museum
Jenny Nex, Curator, Russell Collection, St. Cecilia Hall, Edinburgh
Sabine Klauss, Curator, Joe & Joella Utley Collection, The National Music Museum
John Koster, Curator Emeritus, The National Music Museum
John Watson, Curator Emeritus, Colonial Williamsburg