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Converse school of music marks 100 years

Nov 1, 2010 12:10:00 AM - thestate.com
Broadway stars, famous composers and world-renown musicians have come through the doors of Converse College in Spartanburg.

Some were students who went on to stardom, such as Lily Strickland, a 1904 graduate and female composer whose music was performed by legendary artists Paul Robeson and Burl Ives.

The tradition continues today with graduates Kimilee Bryant, who has performed on Broadway in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" and Tharanga Goonetilleke, a native of Sri Lanka, who recently received a contract with the New York City Opera.

Local audiences have packed the school's Twichell Auditorium to see violinist Yo-Yo Ma, opera singer Beverly Sills and performer Tony Bennett.

All of the students, stars and the community have helped to make music part of the heart and soul of Converse. This year is the 100th anniversary of the School of Music, known now as the Petrie School of Music, and the college celebrated with a free concert titled "The Sounds of a Century" in Twichell Auditorium.