USC School of Music expands commitment to jazz education with dedicated facility 

November 10, 2022

The University of South Carolina’s School of Music announced Thursday that Greene Street United Methodist Church will become the future home of its jazz program.

Dean Tayloe Harding said the dedicated space shows the school’s commitment to making the university a destination for jazz studies.

“There is likely no other major jazz program in the country that will offer a stand-alone facility of this nature that has a historic connection to the community and will also provide students with a modern, world-class educational experience,” Harding said.

The announcement builds on the long-standing partnership between the School of Music and the church congregation. Since 2009, joint community outreach efforts have included hosting school concerts and children’s music lessons in the church, which is located near the school on the corner of Greene and Assembly streets.

The USC Development Foundation purchased the church from the United Methodist Conference in 2020 for $1.1 million, and through a lease agreement with the university, will allow the jazz studies program to use the church buildings for concert performances, practice space, and offices. The church congregation will continue worshipping in the sanctuary for the next five years with the opportunity to extend that time.

“It’s a step toward a new identity as a congregation and it is a win for everybody,” said the Rev. Lex McDonald, former pastor of the church. “The School of Music gets beautiful, ample space it really needed, and the congregation gets a place to worship for now and for their beloved building to remain intact.”

Renovations began in August 2022, funded by $2.5 million in university institutional capital improvement funds. The renovations will preserve the building structures, leaving the historic sanctuary intact. Faculty offices and studios have been added, and a main rehearsal and classroom space will be completed by summer 2023.

The School of Music anticipates that a second phase of the renovations would add more offices, a small library and student canteen space. There are also plans for upgrading lighting and audio in the sanctuary for campus and public performances. Basement improvements could create student rehearsal and practice space, a recording control room and a café with space for live music that could be operated in partnership with the university’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management.

Enhancing the School of Music’s jazz program will address a statewide void in jazz education, which is offered at only a handful of South Carolina high schools. USC’s jazz studies program produces innovative modern music professionals who can improvise, compose and collaborate as artists.

Matt White, chair of the jazz studies program, said jazz music bridges cultural, religious, ethnic and age differences in a diverse world.

“These investments position us to be the premier public institution teaching diverse musicians via America’s most important cultural export,” White said. “Additionally, we can make a meaningful impact in reaching communities, training public teachers and building awareness of South Carolina’s rich musical heritage.”


About the University of South Carolina 

The University of South Carolina is a globally recognized, high-impact research university committed to a superior student experience and dedicated to innovation in learning, research and community engagement. Founded in 1801, the university offers more than 300 degree programs and is a top-tier Carnegie Foundation research institution. More than 50,000 students are enrolled at one of 20 locations throughout the state, including the research campus in Columbia. With 60 nationally ranked academic programs including top-ranked programs in international business, the nation’s best honors college and distinguished programs in engineering, law, medicine, public health and the arts, the university is helping to build healthier, more educated communities in South Carolina and around the world.