Discovering the Banjo

The Spartanburg Philharmonic will present “Discovering the Banjo,” a series of outreach programs, film screenings, and teaching artist residencies to accompany two performances by noted banjo performers Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn that are part of their regular season and their Bluegrass Spartanburg program. SC Humanities supported this programming with a Major Grant.

Throughout the month of January 2020, the Spartanburg Philharmonic will partner with the Spartanburg County Public Library and the Carolina Music Museum in Greenville to present two free public screenings of the film “Throw Down Your Heart,” a feature-length documentary that shares Fleck’s journey through Africa to trace the banjo’s origins. The screenings will include introductions by humanities scholars and moderated discussions.

Thursday, January 23, 6:30 pm
Film Screening at the Spartanburg Downtown Library
Followed by Q&A with Dr. Chris Vaneman (Dean Petrie School of Music, Converse College)

Wednesday, January 29, 6:00 pm
Film Screening at The Greenville Downtown Library
Followed by Q&A with Dr. Alexandra Cade (Executive Director, Carolina Music Museum)

Additionally, there will be two outreach programs to students: a teaching artist residency at Cleveland Academy of Leadership in Spartanburg and an essay contest and mini masterclass for students with the Young Appalachian Musicians (YAM) program in Pickens County.

The two public performances are scheduled for January 31 (Bluegrass Spartanburg program featuring Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn) and February 1, 2020 (Americana Masters featuring Béla Fleck, Juno Concerto.) More information about these programs and about purchasing tickets can be found on the Spartanburg Philharmonic website:

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 21-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.