Betty Ryberg couldn’t contain her enthusiasm as she welcomed an overflow crowd for a Juilliard in Aiken concert at St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church Sunday.


The program opened with the Pisticci String Trio – violinist Fabiola Kim, violist Jocelin Pan and cellist Patrick McGuire. The Yang Dugan Duo then followed – violinist Charles Yang and pianist Peter Dugan. All five appeared together in the program’s final number.


Ryberg and her husband, retired S.C. Sen. Greg Ryberg, sponsored the event and as many people know, Betty never contains her enthusiasm.


“We’re very thrilled to have all of you with us,” she said. “We wanted to help the community to appreciate the arts we all enjoy.”


Juilliard in Aiken is now in the midst of its fifth year and continues to grow more and more with musicians and those from the drama division.


The event at St. Mary was a free concert, and education outreach programs for area schools begin today.


Dr. Joseph Polisi, the Juilliard president for the past 29 years, attended Sunday’s concert, as did Steven Naifeh and Gregory White, who, in 1996, bequeathed to Juilliard their Aiken residence, Joye Cottage. That connection led to the festival, and, even after its start, Polisi never imagined the numbers of Juilliard students and graduates who have found their way to Aiken for formal concerts and outreach programs.


“That really mirrors what we do in New York City,” Polisi said. “We’re making sure that artists’ social responsibilities can be found in venues that are not traditional.”


Yet even though Juilliard provides hundreds of concerts in New York, “nothing is like this,” Polisi said.


He considers the festival a treat to get out of the city and see the energy of the audiences. The packed church was certainly gratifying for the artists. Young people like these musicians spent much of their days in practices and rehearsals, Polisi said. In a concert like this, they can feel the warmth of the Aiken community.


“It’s a joy for them to realize what they’re doing here is so worthwhile,” he said.


After a children’s outreach called Juniors Drama Saturday, the educational programs continue today. Vocalists will perform at Midland Valley High School at 9:30 a.m. Allendale Middle School will host a jazz ensemble at 10:30 a.m.


A percussion group will appear at Ridge Spring-Monetta High at 1 p.m. before a string trio performs at Mead Hall at 1:30 p.m.


A free concert is also scheduled today – featuring organist Paul Jacobs at St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church at 1 p.m. The URS Center for the Arts will host Juilliard Drama tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $30 and students can attend free.


Probably most people associate Juilliard with music and dance. Yet the drama division started 45 years ago. In addition to the juniors program Saturday, drama outreaches will be held at the URS Center for several groups Wednesday, at 11 a.m., including the Aiken Community Playhouse Youth Wing.


“The Drama Division is one of our most distinguished programs,” Polisi said. “Those who have come through Juilliard include Kevin Spacey, Kevin Kline, Patti Lupone, Laura Linney and Jessica Chastain, who was recently in the movie, ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’ We had seven actors from Juilliard in ‘Lincon.’ It’s a great tradition.”