Spoleto

“When It Rains…” Marks New Class of Modern Theatre

Monday, June 8, 2015
by Peter Ingle
“When It Rains…” Marks New Class of Modern Theatre

CONTEMPORARY THEATRE, with all its good intentions, has been plagued for years with novelty for novelty’s sake: to give a fresh twist to the old, to garner attention, to just be different, or clever, or quirky—all in the name of art. Audiences often leave scratching their heads, wondering why, or pretending that a production... Read »

Taylor Mac is Back!

Sunday, June 7, 2015
by Carol Furtwangler
Taylor Mac is Back!

WEDNESDAY NIGHT, the long-awaited return to Spoleto Festival USA (Yikes! Another three years later) of the iconic theater artist “Taylor Mac” generated a warehouse full of avid fans, newbies who just wanted to see what the sequins were all about, and perverts—I mean converts. The “warehouse”— actually, a perfectly charming space with a bar... Read »

Spoleto Chamber Standard Slips with Stamitz Quartet

Saturday, June 6, 2015
by William Furtwangler
Spoleto Chamber Standard Slips with Stamitz Quartet

SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA’S Chamber Music VIII Tuesday morning in the Dock Street Theatre presented the kind of performances which give chamber music a bad name. While the usual standard of this series is high, if not the highest, some of Tuesday’s selections where not up to the expected level these performers otherwise offer. Carl... Read »

A Luminous St. Matthew Passion by Westminster Choir

Thursday, June 4, 2015
by Peter Ingle
A Luminous St. Matthew Passion by Westminster Choir

THE WESTMINSTER CHOIR’S production of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the Sottile Theater may prove to be one of the brightest lights at this year’s Spoleto Festival. It was a world-class concert featuring two choirs, essentially two orchestras, several fine baroque musicians, and a superb cast of soloists. Topping it off was the precise, polished... Read »

Vietnam’s Golden Dragon Water Puppets

Thursday, June 4, 2015
by Carol Furtwangler
Vietnam’s Golden Dragon Water Puppets

THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD, like those of our three year-old granddaughter, is the ideal way to witness the spectacle the “Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre” presented on Tuesday afternoon at the College of Charleston’s Stern Student Center Garden. While we waited for the performance to begin, the garden proved an interesting site itself:... Read »

A Dismal, Discordant Decasia

Thursday, June 4, 2015
by William Furtwangler
A Dismal, Discordant Decasia

MONDAY EVENING at Spoleto Festival USA the Sottile Theatre found a nearly full house awaiting the festival orchestra under the baton of John Kennedy in two different compositions, both of them unbelievably loud and pushing discordant sounds way beyond what is generally accepted as modern music. Opening the concert was by Giacinto Scelsi (1905-88).... Read »

Quintessential Brown Dancing

Sunday, May 31, 2015
by Eliza Ingle
Quintessential Brown Dancing

THERE WERE EMPTY SEATS DURING “Proscenium Dances,” Trisha Brown’s retrospective concert, and I knew it was because the dancing was not something that grabbed the audience’s attention, pulling them into an emotional state. “Proscenium” is more of a meditational wash where movements come and go without being anchored to any specific narrative or idea—an example of abstract dance.... Read »

Nuttall and Friends in Top Form at Dock Street

Saturday, May 30, 2015
by William Furtwangler
Nuttall and Friends in Top Form at Dock Street

SATURDAY MORNING’S Spoleto Festival USA Sixth Chamber Music concert heralded a non-stop display of extraordinary music making: intense, polished and impassioned. Series host and violinist Geoff Nuttall explained in a brief introduction to Franz Josef Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 “London” the composer’s use of humor and the background to the arrangement in chamber music form of a... Read »

Charlie Chaplin Still Gets Laughs and Appreciation

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
by William Furtwangler
Charlie Chaplin Still Gets Laughs and Appreciation

IF THE REACTION of the sold-out audience Monday afternoon at the Sottile Theatre is any guide, then silent films may still hold promise as a viable artistic vehicle. Charles Chaplin’s silent film “City Lights” was originally released in 1930. It is considered by many critics as one of Chaplin’s best achievements. In Spoleto Festival... Read »

Araminta Wraith Shines in “A Streetcar Named Desire”

Monday, May 25, 2015
by Peter Ingle
Araminta Wraith Shines in “A Streetcar Named Desire”

THE SCOTTISH BALLET’S PRODUCTION of A Streetcar Named Desire deserves more than a good review. It needs a bright light shone on what may be one of the most compelling examples of storytelling to appear in the ballet world in a long time. The last thing similar to it was Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn dancing... Read »

Westminster Choir Inspires Wonder

Monday, May 25, 2015
by Carol Furtwangler
Westminster Choir Inspires Wonder

FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS of renowned long-time conductor Joseph Flummerfelt, Joe Miller has more than maintained the unparalleled excellence of the Westminster Choir. Just when we thought the choir could not possibly get any better, Miller has brought his sparkling personality, his own style and expertise, to this storied academic choir that has been in... Read »

Marionettes Delight the Child Within

Monday, May 25, 2015
by Peter Ingle
Marionettes Delight the Child Within

THE MARIONETTE RENDITION of Sleeping Beauty by Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company is ostensibly for children. But don’t tell all the adults in the audience. This production is delightful by virtue of the marionettes, but what makes it equally charming and mesmerizing are the gorgeous costumes, the fairy-tale set decorations, and the superb voices... Read »

The Bard Would Be Pleased

Saturday, May 23, 2015
by Peter Ingle
The Bard Would Be Pleased

SHAKESPEARE‘S PLAYS ARE PERFECTION, yet they leave room within their generous boundaries for thoughtful interpretation—if you can hold to the playwright’s essence while probing for freshness to emerge. It is with such deftness that co-directors Dominic Dromgoole and Tim Hoare of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre present their sleek, sophisticated rendering of Romeo and Juliet. Modern productions... Read »

“Streetcar” Renders Emotion Through Movement

Saturday, May 23, 2015
by Eliza Ingle
“Streetcar” Renders Emotion Through Movement

THE IMAGE OF EVE MUTSO dancing Blanche Duboise begins and ends the Scottish Ballet’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire at Spoleto Festival USA. She moves under a hanging light bulb with moth-like quickness, reaching and fluttering in a fatal attraction where what she desires most is self-destructive. Mutso’s Blanche is breathtaking as the classic... Read »

The Spell of Spoleto

Friday, June 6, 2014
by Eliza Ingle
The Spell of Spoleto

THE PAST DAYS have been filled with so many cultural offerings. It has been stolen luxury to put normal life on hold and float from one event to another experiencing the artistic energy that is so vibrant this time of year. Firebird, presented by the new Charleston City Ballet—established by Michael and Olga Wise—used the choreography of Olga and... Read »

Dorrance No Ordinary Hoofer

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
by Eliza Ingle
Dorrance No Ordinary Hoofer

MICHELLE DORRANCE and her group of eight tap dancers are performing two shows at the Emmett Robinson Theatre. I caught Delta To Dusk on June 2 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Dorrance has been praised for having a fresh perspective on one of the oldest American dance forms that usually adheres to its lineage and traditions, but... Read »

Dancers Usher in Spoleto

Monday, May 26, 2014
by Eliza Ingle
Dancers Usher in Spoleto

HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO is a contemporary dance company that has la crème de la crème of today’s dancers presenting works by world renowned choreographers. The dancers are all inclusive of their art form: they are not only technically proficient, but intelligent with an understanding of timing, humor, and expression. In Gnawa by Spanish choreographer Nacho... Read »

A Local Perspective on Dance

Friday, May 23, 2014
by Eliza Ingle
A Local Perspective on Dance

THERE IS A BUZZ IN THE AIR as Spoleto opens and you can feel an energy shift in people’s schedules as the cultural landscape opens up to new work and ideas. There are other faces on the streets that look different from the usual tourists because they are instead opera singers, costume designers, and choreographers—the... Read »

Impressive Pianists Conclude Young Artists Series

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
by Peter Ingle
Impressive Pianists Conclude Young Artists Series

CHOPIN’s MUSIC, especially his piano music, has a signature quality that is hard to describe, but you know it as ‘Chopin’ (1810-1849) when you hear it. Which, of course, poses a challenge for pianists. Do they make it ‘the same’ or do they try to make it ‘their own’ and run the risk of... Read »

Shush Already at the Concerts!

Saturday, June 9, 2012
by Hattie Nuff
Shush Already at the Concerts!

GEEZ… when are people gonna figure it out? Isn’t it obvious that paper and plastic wrappers are a concert’s worst enemy? — though recording poles and paraphernalia—which are ugly and block our view—are starting to make a strong case. But it’s the noisemakers that really gotta go. And that includes the people making it!... Read »

Traces of Delight

Saturday, June 9, 2012
by Eliza Ingle
Traces of Delight

THE MEMBERS of the 7 Fingers troupe from Montreal are surely the most likeable group at Spoleto this year performing in their show Traces, which is a delightful blend of acrobatics, dance, and circus arts with an urban flare. The urban flare accounts for the skateboarding and street dance that gets mixed into this... Read »

He Ain’t No Daisy, That’s for Sure

Thursday, June 7, 2012
by Peter Ingle
He Ain’t No Daisy, That’s for Sure

MIKE DAISEY, monologist extraordinaire, who performed on the College of Charleston Emmet Robinson Stage Wednesday night, is a one-of-a-kind storyteller, actor, raconteur, comedian, romantic, sentimentalist, philosopher, liar, truth-seeker, teddy bear, and daredevil. Audiences are drawn to his signature “events“ partly because of his improvisational inventiveness, but equally because they admire his rare combination of... Read »

Looking Through the Cracks of the Unusual

Thursday, June 7, 2012
by Eliza Ingle
Looking Through the Cracks of the Unusual

A CRACK IN EVERYTHING by husband and wife team Zoe/Juniper does indeed break apart our perceptions of space, time, and reality with a performance that magically blends video and movement. And though the artists are not the first to work this way, they handle this experience in a most inventive and unusual way which... Read »

Two Russian String Quartets

Thursday, June 7, 2012
by Peter Ingle
Two Russian String Quartets

RUSSIAN COMPOSERS Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) and Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) never knew each other, having lived in different periods of Russia’s turbulent history, but there was an evident link in their music Wednesday night at the City Gallery Waterfront Park. Violinists David Chernyavsky and Yuriy Bekker, along with violist Simon Ertz and cellist Philip... Read »

A Chamber Series Extravaganza

Thursday, June 7, 2012
by William Furtwangler
A Chamber Series Extravaganza

SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA’s Chamber Music Director and Host, Geoff Nuttall, promised an extravaganza for the ninth concert Wednesday afternoon at the Dock Street Theatre. He and his musical friends delivered. In a darkened theatre, Todd Palmer, clarinetist extraordinaire, performed contemporary Scottish composer James MacMillan’s haunting From Galloway. Without being in evidence, Palmer’s clarinet filled... Read »

The Mezmerizing Music of China

Tuesday, June 5, 2012
by Peter Ingle
The Mezmerizing Music of China

NOT EVEN IN AMERICA’S largest cities do you often have a chance to hear Chinese music played on original instruments by native virtuosos—four of them. At Intermezzo IV in the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul, musicians Chen Yihan (pipa), Hong-Da Chin (dadi/dizi), Wang Guowei (erhu/goohu/zhonghu), and Wang Hong (guanzi/sheng) were no less... Read »

Chamber Series Hosts a Tarantella, Bach, and Teheran

Tuesday, June 5, 2012
by William Furtwangler
Chamber Series Hosts a Tarantella, Bach, and Teheran

THE EIGHTH Spoleto Festival USA chamber music concert opened Tuesday morning to a full Dock Street Theatre. It offered a diverse program, varied and complex as the compositions performed. Opening with Saint-Saëns’ Tarantella for Flute, Clarinet and Piano in A Minor, Op.6, Tara Helen O’Connor (flute), Todd Palmer (clarinet) and Pedja Muzijevic (piano) offered... Read »

Dynamic Ukulele Sells Out at Spoleto

Tuesday, June 5, 2012
by Duffy Lewis
Dynamic Ukulele Sells Out at Spoleto

JAKE SHIMABUKURO’s career as a ukulele soloist has taken him to new heights since his sold-out Spoleto appearance in 2009. The YouTube phenomenon (his rendition of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” has collected over 8 million views) continues to capture and enthrall international audiences and garner the admiration of well-known musicians. The... Read »

Intermezzo III Presents a Mystery

Monday, June 4, 2012
by Peter Ingle
Intermezzo III Presents a Mystery

WHO WAS ARNOLD SCHOENBERG? That’s the question that kept coming while listening to his novel work, Pierrot Lunaire, Opus 21, which was featured at Intermezzo III in the Simons Center Recital Hall. As innovative as this composition was (in 1912), and as controversial as the composer’s methods were (and are) considered to be—and notwithstanding... Read »

Cedar Lake Features a Mix of Choreography

Monday, June 4, 2012
by Deanna McBrearty
Cedar Lake Features a Mix of Choreography

CEDAR LAKE Contemporary Ballet took grand gestures in stride at Spoleto Festival 2012, and invited us into their abstract terrain. The company graced us with a stellar program of enticing works by established choreographers: Hofesh Shechter’s “Violet Kid,” Angelin Prelijocaj’s revised 1995 work, “Annonciation,”  and Crystal Pite’s “Grace Engine.” “Violet Kid” opened the evening’s... Read »

Piano Blockbusters? Piano Blockbusters!

Monday, June 4, 2012
by Robert Bondurant
Piano Blockbusters? Piano Blockbusters!

SATURDAY’s Young Artist Series brought together an eclectic mix of style, fire, grace, and more than enough wonderful performances to satisfy even the stodgiest of listeners. Once again, Enrique Graf has assembled a program capable not only of lifting the spirit and providing food for thought, but also showcasing how these elements fit into... Read »

Intermezzo II Charms and Delights

Sunday, June 3, 2012
by Peter Ingle
Intermezzo II Charms and Delights

OF COURSE, the favorite song—at least for Charlestonians in the audience—of this Intermezzo II performance at the Simons Center was Cole Porter’s “Tale of the Oyster” which, if you don’t know it, tells the story of an oyster’s adventurous journey from its home into the literal midst of high society and back again. It... Read »

“Normel People” Packs the House at Footlight

Sunday, June 3, 2012
by Carol Furtwangler
“Normel People” Packs the House at Footlight

WHEN A THEATRE PRESENTATION is funny and smart, fast-paced and wise, word spreads like wildfire, especially at Festival time. Judy and Thomas Burke Heath’s “Perfectly Normel People” has all those elements and more, resulting in SRO crowds at the Footlight Players Theatre for every performance of this Piccolo Spoleto world premiere. Saturday night, the... Read »

Nuttall Plays “Second Fiddle” in This One

Sunday, June 3, 2012
by Peter Ingle
Nuttall Plays “Second Fiddle” in This One

AS IN, “second fiddle” to his wife and talented violinist, Livia Sohn, during Program VI of the Spoleto chamber series. Together they performed the short Étude-caprice by Henry Wieniawski (1835-1880) who was himself a virtuoso violinist. Geoff described the piece as an analogy to married life. Livia, of course, played the “difficult” passages, Geoff... Read »

Philip Glass and the ‘Language of Music’

Sunday, June 3, 2012
by Peter Ingle
Philip Glass and the ‘Language of Music’

HOW REFRESHING to discover that behind the paradox of popularity, expostulation, and allure of composer Philip Glass lies a down-to-earth, sensitive, articulate man who above all loves, as he says, “the language of music.” What became most apparent while listening to Mr. Glass be interviewed by “Music In Time” host, John Kennedy, is that... Read »

“Radio Show” Tunes In

Sunday, June 3, 2012
by Eliza Ingle
“Radio Show” Tunes In

KYLE ABRAHAM’s evening-length work, The Radio Show, is an intimate examination of loss of both a personal and cultural kind. One on hand, the dance draws from Abraham’s own father’s loss of speech and memory due to Alzheimer’s. On the other hand, it is inspired by the loss of a Pittsburgh urban radio station:... Read »

The World-Class Westminster Choir

Saturday, June 2, 2012
by Peter Ingle
The World-Class Westminster Choir

RARELY IF EVER do you hear such a boom of voices in church—in this case shot out of a choral canon called the Westminster Choir which performed June 1st at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul. This group makes a strong impression visually with the men in white bow ties and tails,... Read »

Young Artists Series Holds Rachmaninoff Weep-Fest

Friday, June 1, 2012
by Robert Bondurant
Young Artists Series Holds Rachmaninoff Weep-Fest

AS MAESTRO ENRIQUE GRAF likes to point out, Rachmaninoff always draws the big crowds. Thursday’s Young Artists Series was no exception: a nearly full theatre all chomping at the bit to hear these simple melodies fly when given their proper and oh-so-complex underpinnings. For this humble reviewer, that contrast holds the key to allowing... Read »

Young Artists Series Shows Off—and Delivers

Thursday, May 31, 2012
by Robert Bondurant
Young Artists Series Shows Off—and Delivers

WHEN ASKED what to expect for Wednesday’s Young Artists Series, Chee-Hang See replied with quiet firmness, “Oh, it’s showy!” The first few bars of his revelatory show opener proved that to be quite the understatement. Excellent programming and wonderful talent have always been hallmarks of Enrique Graf’s College of Charleston student showcase. If today’s... Read »

Mozart to Messiaen at Chamber Series

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
by William Furtwangler
Mozart to Messiaen at Chamber Series

SPOLETO USA CHAMBER MUSIC series director and host, Geoff Nuttall, rushed onto the Dock Street Theatre stage Wednesday morning to explain the programming of two serious pieces and two humorous ones. As first violin with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, he was joined by second violin Scott St. John, cello Christopher Costanza, and viola... Read »

The Majestic Beauty of Bach’s Cello Suites

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
by Peter Ingle
The Majestic Beauty of Bach’s Cello Suites

NOT SURPISINGLY, First Scots Presbyterian was even more full on Tuesday than it had been last Friday when Natalia Khoma played the first three suites for unaccompanied cello by J.S. Bach. And she certainly did not disappoint with the remaining three. Suite No. 4 in E flat Major marks a departure from the pleasantly... Read »

French Master of the Double Bass

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
by Peter Ingle
French Master of the Double Bass

THIS MUSICAL MAVERICK takes the typically unglamorous double bass far beyond its expected boundaries in a way that is almost impossible to describe, as we witnessed for more than an hour Tuesday at the Simons Center. More than 20 years ago, Renaud Garcia-Fons added an extra string (a high C) to expand the double... Read »

The Pure Joy of Flamenco

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
by Peter Ingle
The Pure Joy of Flamenco

OCCASIONALLY, David Peña Dorantes reaches inside the open piano and plucks the strings directly while playing the keyboard. This has become almost a fashion among Jazz pianists, but with David you get the feeling that it is, like him, genuine. He’s sincerely trying to draw out as much of the music as he can―while... Read »

Piccolo Spoleto Literary Festival

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
by Carol Furtwangler
Piccolo Spoleto Literary Festival

FOR THE FIFTH consecutive year, the Charleston Library Society is sponsoring the Piccolo Spoleto Literary Festival, with five outstanding programs scheduled at 3 pm all this week in the elegant main reading room of the Society’s primary building at 164 King Street. The opening speaker Monday afternoon was Curtis Worthington, local neurosurgeon celebrated as... Read »

Weilerstein Wows the Dock Street Audience

Monday, May 28, 2012
by William Furtwangler
Weilerstein Wows the Dock Street Audience

AT THE THIRD Spoleto USA chamber music concert Monday afternoon, they saved the best for last. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnaton delivered a world-beating performance of Igor Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne (1932-1933), which was derived by the composer from his ballet with song Pulcinella (1920). Stravinsky was out of his Russian period and... Read »

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio—to Perfection

Monday, May 28, 2012
by Peter Ingle
Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio—to Perfection

PYOTR TCHAIKOVSKY’s music was never far from his life. It was inspired by and became an intensely personal commentary about his life that ineluctably (and thankfully) poured out of him. Such was the case (in this Piccolo Spoleto concert at Waterfront Gallery on Saturday) with his Piano Trio in a minor, Opus 50 subtitled... Read »

Young Artists Shine at the Simons Center

Monday, May 28, 2012
by Peter Ingle
Young Artists Shine at the Simons Center

THE COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON Young Artists Series (YAS) has become a staple of Piccolo Spoleto, but not everyone knows that these concerts also take place during the school year. Hosted by Artist-in-Residence, Enrique Graf (whose piano students are among the performers), the YAS showcases some amazing young talent. Saturday’s program included a broad range... Read »

Southern Artists Celebrate Dubose Heyward

Monday, May 28, 2012
by Carol Furtwangler
Southern Artists Celebrate Dubose Heyward

“A HIGH, BLUE, listless afternoon” became on Sunday at the Circular Congregational Church a paean to DuBose Heyward—native son, poet, novelist, playwright, and of course lyricist of Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” The fourth annual Piccolo Spoleto Southern Artists Celebratory Series honors Southern artists who made a lasting impact on the culture of both the South... Read »

Chamber Music II Serves Up a Feast

Sunday, May 27, 2012
by Peter Ingle
Chamber Music II Serves Up a Feast

EVERYONE KNOWS by now that Geoff Nuttall is the least staid classical musician you will ever meet in terms of his manner as well as his attire—I want those shoes! But make no mistake, even though he could be the most likeable Music 101 professor anywhere, he knows how to switch from laid-back program... Read »

“Hay Fever” Opens with British Aplomb

Sunday, May 27, 2012
by Stan Gill
“Hay Fever” Opens with British Aplomb

AS IN MOST Noel Coward comedies, style is as important as substance, and substance lurks neatly between the lines and in the hidden brilliance of the author’s knowledge of the human ego. Hay Fever, The Gate Theatre of Dublin’s entrance in this year’s Spoleto Festival, is not only no exception to this—it is his... Read »

Hilarious “Musical of Musicals” at Footlight

Sunday, May 27, 2012
by Stan Gill
Hilarious “Musical of Musicals” at Footlight

I COULD BEGIN this review a number of ways. I could say, for example, that Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)—The Footlight Players’ 2012
 Piccolo Spoleto Festival musical offering—is a hilarious and refreshing break from the same old 
musicals that every local theatre remounts. I could say that young Jon-Michael Perry’s debut as a director... Read »

Natalia Khoma Commands the Cello Suites

Saturday, May 26, 2012
by Peter Ingle
Natalia Khoma Commands the Cello Suites

GREAT MUSIC requires great talent to bring it alive. The stupendous six suites for unaccompanied cello by J.S. Bach certainly fall into this category, as does Natalia Khoma who is performing them during Piccolo Spoleto. At the first note of the Prelude from Suite No. 1 in G Major, Natalia plunged into Bach’s prosaic... Read »

Alvin Ailey Dancers Still Revelatory

Saturday, May 26, 2012
by Eliza Ingle
Alvin Ailey Dancers Still Revelatory

WATCHING the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre perform Friday night at the Gaillard Auditorium, two things became immediately apparent: one is the generosity of spirit these magnificent dancers employ; the other is how much the audience is so willing to love them in whatever they do. The opening program (it will be a different... Read »

Nuttall and Friends Dazzle at Chamber Series Opening

Saturday, May 26, 2012
by William Furtwangler
Nuttall and Friends Dazzle at Chamber Series Opening

WITHOUT QUESTION, the Spoleto Festival USA’s highest standards are exemplified in its Chamber Music series. Performing twice daily at the Dock Street Theatre, a complement of musical virtuosos never fail to excite, challenge, and painlessly educate an avid audience. At the opening of the 33rd festival extravaganza, series director, host, and Music 101 scholar... Read »

Spoleto Blooming: What Dance is Coming?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012
by Eliza Ingle
Spoleto Blooming: What Dance is Coming?

AS MAY UNFOLDS, the relief of the end of school approaches, graduations sprinkle through the weeks, and the respite of summer looms, we lucky Charlestonians have the added perk of welcoming the Spoleto Festival. It is not too early to make plans to see a terrific array of theatre, music, and dance which will... Read »

A Chat with Cellist Alisa Weilerstein

Friday, June 24, 2011
by Lindsay Koob
A Chat with Cellist Alisa Weilerstein

OVER THE PAST EIGHT FESTIVALS, the Spoleto chamber music series’ distinguished cellist, Alisa Weilerstein, has emerged as an artist that I’ve described as a true “Spoleto darling.” That came as a result of both the superb technical qualities and the emotionally overwhelming nature of her playing—as well as the public’s inevitable reaction to it.... Read »

Nuttall Concludes Chamber Series with Finesse

Monday, June 13, 2011
by Carol Furtwangler
Nuttall Concludes Chamber Series with Finesse

HARD TO BELIEVE, isn’t it, that on Sunday afternoon Director of Chamber Music Geoff Nuttall strode onto the Dock Street Theatre stage for the last time of this 35th season of Spoleto USA. Getting down to business first, Nuttall offered the full house an apt description of Niccolo Paganini, whose famed “Moses Phantasy” Variations... Read »

Final Dance at Noon by Annex Dance Company

Monday, June 13, 2011
by Eliza Ingle
Final Dance at Noon by Annex Dance Company

THE FINAL DANCE AT NOON—before Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto slip through our fingers—was performed by Charleston’s newest modern dance company, Annex Dance Company, in a concert entitled Encounter which used 9 dancers and a collection of music as well as spoken poetry in a well balanced and intriguing hour-long work. The theme of the... Read »

Artistic Collaborations

Monday, June 13, 2011
by Eliza Ingle
Artistic Collaborations

THE WORD DANCE THEATRE’s original production of Preludes: Duncan, Sand & Chopin is based on the love affair between one of the leading French Romantic female writers and the French composer, Frederic Chopin. The other part of the story is how Chopin’s 24 Preludes were interpreted by Isadora Duncan, the mother of modern dance... Read »

Ivey’s Dance at Noon

Monday, June 13, 2011
by Eliza Ingle
Ivey’s Dance at Noon

OVER THE PAST MANY YEARS, whenever I see the Robert Ivey Ballet Theatre perform, I am always struck by the vibrant young dancers with commitment in their eyes and love for their art form apparent in their energy-fueled dancing. At the end of the Dance at Noon concert performed on Friday at the Footlight... Read »

Manzo Amazes on Double-Bass

Sunday, June 12, 2011
by Carol Furtwangler
Manzo Amazes on Double-Bass

WHILE WE DO NOT get a whole lot of music at the Bank of America Chamber Music Series that host Geoff Nuttall describes as “wild and crazy,” those were in fact his first words at Chamber X Friday afternoon for the second performance that day of a program beginning with Louise Farrenc’s Piano Quintet... Read »

A Pure, Shining Talent

Sunday, June 12, 2011
by Carol Furtwangler
A Pure, Shining Talent

THE QUIRKY HUMOR of host, violinist, and director for Chamber Music Geoff Nuttall adds immeasurably to the enjoyment of the audiences at the twice-daily series of presentations at the Dock Street Theatre. In the stellar musicians’ third foray into Mozart, Handel, and Russian composer Anton Arensky Thursday afternoon, he had lots to say, but... Read »

Oliver Reels in “East 10th Street” Audience

Saturday, June 11, 2011
by Carol Furtwangler
Oliver Reels in “East 10th Street” Audience

SINCE ITS INCEPTION, but especially over the past several years, Spoleto USA has brought us a series of one-man shows ranging from artsy, hilarious, intriguing, even breathtaking, to downright dreadful. Performer and writer Edgar Oliver’s “East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House” falls squarely into the first category. A New York City resident since... Read »

Curtis Commands Intermezzo

Saturday, June 11, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Curtis Commands Intermezzo

Conductor Harry Curtis THE FOURTH AND FINAL Intermezzo of Spoleto Festival USA featured members of the Spoleto Festival Orchestra under the sure-fire baton of English conductor Harry Curtis. The concert had perfect programming: George Frederic Handel’s Water Music Suite No. 2 in D Major, HWV 349, Igor Stravinsky’s Concerto in  E-flat “Dumbarton Oaks,” and... Read »

Stunning Saariaho at ‘Music in Time’ Finale

Saturday, June 11, 2011
by Lindsay Koob
Stunning Saariaho at ‘Music in Time’ Finale

I MUST ADMIT that—among Spoleto’s three regular series—my heart belongs to Geoff Nuttall’s supremely popular Chamber Series. But where my imagination and sense of musical adventure are concerned, John Kennedy’s ever-stimulating Music in Time (MIT) series definitely reigns supreme. And that’s a judgment that was strongly reinforced at Thursday’s fourth and final MIT program... Read »

‘Gospel’ is a Bright, Rousing Romp

Saturday, June 11, 2011
by Denise K. James
‘Gospel’ is a Bright, Rousing Romp

I HAD NO IDEA what to expect when I settled into my seat and got ready to watch the Gospel at Colonus. After the lights got dimmer, I looked around with my fellow theatre-goers and saw the members of the chorus, dressed in brightly-colored robes, walking up the outer aisles of the auditorium. The... Read »

A Dancer’s Story

Thursday, June 9, 2011
by Eliza Ingle
A Dancer’s Story

“IT IS WHEN MOVEMENT starts to be awkward that it becomes interesting.” This is how Cédric Andrieux explains his experience with Merce Cunningham whose company he was with for eight years. The statement could also describe Andrieux’s one-man and self-titled show at the Emmett Robinson Theatre where, for a little over an hour, the... Read »

Top-Caliber Technique on Display

Thursday, June 9, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Top-Caliber Technique on Display

AT THE EIGHTH Spoleto Festival USA Chamber Music concert Monday afternoon, Geoff Nuttall, host and director for chamber music, addressed the Dock Street Theatre house as “the world’s best audience,” a fitting complement to the world’s best musicians. The program included a Mozart piano concerto, a solo piano piece by Mendelssohn, and sandwiched between,... Read »

Kabat’s Cello Highlights Intermezzi

Thursday, June 9, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Kabat’s Cello Highlights Intermezzi

STARTING with a tiny version of the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, John Kennedy, conductor, opened the third of the Intermezzi series late Monday afternoon with Silvestre Revueltas’ Ocho por radio (Eight for Radio), a noisy short work written to be heard on the radio. Revueltas (1899-1940) composed this piece in 1933 in a Mexican... Read »

Circa Exceeds Extraordinary

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
by Carol Furtwangler
Circa Exceeds Extraordinary

THE OPENING of “Circa” Tuesday night at Memminger Auditorium, the packed house discovered that there are no elephants, lions, tigers, or bears, oh my. You will not see any scantily clad ladies riding bareback. No popcorn, no sawdust… So how can this be a circus? It isn’t, at least not in the traditional sense.... Read »

Another Dazzler at Young Artist Series

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
by Robert Bondurant
Another Dazzler at Young Artist Series

ONCE AGAIN, Enrique Graf’s Young Artist Series provided not only splendid fare but also superlative performances of two works any artist should approach with a hefty dose of Otis Redding approved R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And maybe also a touch of nervousness. In the Bach Concerto in C minor for Two Keyboards, BWV 1060—here arranged for Piano... Read »

Mixed Blessings at Chamber VII

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
by Lindsay Koob
Mixed Blessings at Chamber VII

SUNDAY’S CHAMBER SERIES VII at the Dock Street offered a particularly generous and wide-ranging array of works (four of them), with the emphasis on vocal selections—one of which began the program. Orpheus and Euridice, Ricky Ian Gordon’s (b. 1956) take on the ancient Greek myth, is a concert-length work (around an hour)—but, as the... Read »

Flummerfelt Leads Festival Highlight

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Flummerfelt Leads Festival Highlight

EVERY YEAR, the Spoleto Festival USA’s big choral/orchestral concert is a blockbuster presentation under Joseph Flummerfelt’s steady and instinctive guidance. Monday night’s performance at Gaillard Auditorium was one of the high points of this year’s festival. Flummerfelt, considered one of the top choral conductors worldwide, led in his usual—even understated—elegant fashion the Spoleto Festival... Read »

Rousing Rachmaninoff, Pleasing Poulenc

Tuesday, June 7, 2011
by Robert Bondurant
Rousing Rachmaninoff, Pleasing Poulenc

FRIDAY’S YOUNG ARTIST SERIES program began with the Tan and See Piano Duo planting a seed of joy with Francis Poulenc’s Concerto in D minor for Two Pianos. Humor, grace, and (sometimes more than…) just a hint of loucheness are ever present in Poulenc’s work, qualities Amy Tan and Chee-Hang See brought forth with... Read »

Seeing Stars in a Different Light

Tuesday, June 7, 2011
by Carol Furtwangler
Seeing Stars in a Different Light

ONE OF THE PERIPHERAL perks of Spoleto Festival USA is the opportunity to see and hear the stars of various Big Shows in another guise and in another venue. Up close and personal, the Intermezzi Series of four concerts held for years at 5 pm at Grace Episcopal Church, allows us to see whatever... Read »

Ex-con/poet Finds Beauty and Humor in Lemonade

Monday, June 6, 2011
by Duffy Lewis
Ex-con/poet Finds Beauty and Humor in Lemonade

LEMON ANDERSEN’s autobiographical one-man show, “County of Kings: A Beautiful Struggle,” received high praise at this year’s 2011 Spoleto festival. So much so, I wondered if it was warranted. While sitting for the dress rehearsal, I realized immediately that Andersen was a master storyteller with a triumphant story to tell. His words are powerful.... Read »

Fabulous Flecktones Impress at Gaillard

Monday, June 6, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Fabulous Flecktones Impress at Gaillard

THE GAILLARD AUDITORIUM was bulging at the seams with an overflow audience for Spoleto Festival USA’s presentation of Bela Fleck and The Flecktones in their original line-up. It was one designed to appeal to lovers of many different music genres. Sunday evening the band played non-stop for a few minutes short of two hours.... Read »

Young Culture Vultures

Sunday, June 5, 2011
by Eliza Ingle
Young Culture Vultures

AS I SAT BESIDE my eight-year-old daughter and watched the Charleston Ballet Theatre’s production of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, I thought, thank goodness there is something besides the Nutcracker geared towards her age group. This is a wonderful production that uses the spoken story and songs recorded from the original and updated... Read »

Vivacious Brilliance at the Dock Street

Sunday, June 5, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Vivacious Brilliance at the Dock Street

RARELY HEARD in concert or recorded works by Ludwig van Beethoven, John Cage and Ernest Chausson filled the bill for the sixth Spoleto USA 2011 Chamber Music program Saturday afternoon. In 1801 Beethoven composed his Serenade in D Major, Op. 25. It was a momentous year for Beethoven who discovered he was going deaf.... Read »

Shen’s Way

Saturday, June 4, 2011
by Eliza Ingle
Shen’s Way

ART IS AT ITS BEST when it transports the viewer to another place, and in the case of Shen Wei Dance Arts’ performance, it is specifically the places of Tibet, Cambodia, and China that the dance takes us to. In Re- (Parts I, II, and III), choreographer Shen Wei created a three-part evening length... Read »

Visually Stunning and Emotional ‘Medium’

Saturday, June 4, 2011
by Lindsay Koob
Visually Stunning and Emotional ‘Medium’

I MUST CONFESS that, over the long haul, I’ve never been a big fan of Gian Carlo Menotti’s operas. Sure, as a teenager, I was beguiled—even moved to tears—by his Amahl and the Night Visitors. But none of his remaining operas (or other music, for that matter) has given me reason to consider him... Read »

A Musical Kaleidoscope of Modernity

Saturday, June 4, 2011
by William Furtwangler
A Musical Kaleidoscope of Modernity

SPOLETO USA’s Music in Time series second program, titled “A Sweeter Music,” featured twentieth-century music. John Kennedy, director and host of the series, introduced pianist Sarah Cahill. Cahill commissions and performs works that, outside of centers of music (the Music in Time series, New York City, San Francisco, music schools, etc.) and compact discs,... Read »

Chamber Group Sizzles at Dock Street

Saturday, June 4, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Chamber Group Sizzles at Dock Street

SPOLETO USA’s Chamber Music program No. 5 Thursday afternoon in a capacity Dock Street Theatre house featured works by Sergei Prokofiev, Franz Joseph Haydn, and Johann Sebastian Bach in sterling readings. Opening with Prokofiev’s 1923 Quintet in G Minor, Op. 39, Todd Palmer, clarinet, James Austin Smith, oboe, Livia Sohn, violin, Daniel Phillips, viola,... Read »

Festival Orchestra in Good Hands With Gaffigan

Friday, June 3, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Festival Orchestra in Good Hands With Gaffigan

SPOLETO’S FESTIVAL CONCERT is always anticipated and a chance to hear a super-sized  orchestra. The audience Wednesday night at Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, while not quite filling the place, was ready for a sonic onslaught from the Spoleto Festival Orchestra. There were two hits and one miss. Conductor James Gaffigan made it to the podium... Read »

Not So Beautiful

Friday, June 3, 2011
by Carol Furtwangler
Not So Beautiful

WHILE DEAN WHAREHAM and Britta Phillips have quite the reputation among indie-pop groupies, what they brought to the 2011 Spoleto Festival was flat, bland, repetitive, and painfully boring. “13 Most Beautiful…,” which opened Wednesday night at the College of Charleston’s Emmett Robinson Theatre, was billed as a performance art piece that promised original music... Read »

Virtuosity on Display (again)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Virtuosity on Display (again)

SPOLETO USA’s CHAMBER MUSIC series in the Dock Street Theatre continues with sold out houses. Program No. 4 Wednesday afternoon left no doubt about the continued virtuosic skill of the musicians at hand and the sustained excellent programming for the series. Geoff Nuttall, artistic director and host, stressed that the 15-year old Felix Mendelssohn’s... Read »

More Lush Liszt from the Young Artist Series

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
by Robert Bondurant
More Lush Liszt from the Young Artist Series

THE PROPER CELEBRATION of Franz Liszt’s bicentennial year has not been lost on Enrique Graf and his Young Artist Series. Tuesday’s concert set quite a high bar, but doing justice to this prolific composer’s immense body of work requires much more. And so, another full program dedicated solely to Liszt’s music provided a stupendous... Read »

Liszt Bicentennial Bash? Bravo!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
by Robert Bondurant
Liszt Bicentennial Bash? Bravo!

First, a little history: While plausible arguments can be made that Wagner’s “Tristan chord” provided the seed for much of twentieth-century music, a great deal of credit for the germination and planting of that seed must go to Wagner’s father-in-law, Franz Liszt. Liszt’s accumulation of technique encompassed nearly the entire range of physical possibilities... Read »

Weird, World-class Theater

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
by Carol Furtwangler
Weird, World-class Theater

IN BASIC WHITE UNDERWEAR, the five cast members of the UK’s Kneehigh Theatre stroll, parade, stomp, and romp around a set that appears simplistic but becomes versatile and complex in the Spoleto Festival production of “The Red Shoes.” This transformation exactly parallels the plot and the development of the characters. The actors could not... Read »

Elegant, Flamboyant Romanticism

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Elegant, Flamboyant Romanticism

SPOLETO’s  THIRD CHAMBER MUSIC program of modern, not-so-modern, and early romantic works delighted the audience. Series artistic director, Geoff Nuttall, in his entertaining and informative remarks, recalled a comment by pianist Anne-Marie McDermott about the first offering: it was psychotic and sensuous. 20th-century French composer Maurice Duruflé, best known for his Requiem, composed Prélude,... Read »

More Mesmerizing Chamber Music

Monday, May 30, 2011
by William Furtwangler
More Mesmerizing Chamber Music

DIRECTOR OF CHAMBER MUSIC for the Spoleto Festival USA, host and first violinist of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Geoff Nuttall called the program about to be performed Sunday afternoon “eclectic.” It was. Pianist Peja Muzijevic opened with the solo piano version of composer-in-residence Osvaldo Golijov’s ZZ’s Dream, heard the day before in an... Read »

‘Inishmaan’ is Candid, Bold, and Funny

Monday, May 30, 2011
by Carol Furtwangler
‘Inishmaan’ is Candid, Bold, and Funny

“The Cripple of Inishmaan” is a play so inherently Irish, you walk out of the Dock Street Theatre speaking with a decided brogue. And who better to mount this Spoleto Festival production than Druid, Ireland’s illustrious theatre company that first brought Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy to the stage in 1996? That show went on... Read »

Kennedy Leads Music in Time

Sunday, May 29, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Kennedy Leads Music in Time

SPOLETO USA’s MUSIC IN TIME programs, featuring serious contemporary music, used to require something of an open mind on the part of the audience. Whether series director and host John Kennedy has mellowed in his musical choices, or audiences have become more accustomed to new music, is not entirely clear. Friday afternoon’s performances for... Read »

Piano Heaven at Piccolo

Sunday, May 29, 2011
by Robert Bondurant
Piano Heaven at Piccolo

WHAT A WAY TO BEGIN one’s Piccolo Spoleto festival! The Young Artist Series blasted a packed house into piano heaven on Saturday with a beautifully balanced program focusing on transcriptions of early twentieth-century French works, with some Gershwin and Piazzolla thrown in as a climax to the darker seduction of the more impressionistic works.... Read »

New Magic in a Mozart Favorite

Saturday, May 28, 2011
by William Furtwangler
New Magic in a Mozart Favorite

PYROTECHNICS, EXPLOSIONS, thunder and lightning, strobe lights, and flying singers: not what is usually expected in classical period opera. But Spoleto USA’s production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) had all this and more. It lived up to an opera lover’s expectations of being well sung, well conducted, well staged, and well worth... Read »

Taylor Mac’s Latenight Glitter

Saturday, May 28, 2011
by Carol Furtwangler
Taylor Mac’s Latenight Glitter

IF YOU HAPPENED to catch Taylor Mac’s wild and crazy show in 2008—his first appearance at Spoleto Festival USA—do not for a moment hesitate to get tickets for his gig this year which plays only twice more at the College of Charleston’s Emmett Robinson Theatre, tonight and Sunday, in the late-night spot (oooh, 10... Read »

Nuttall & Friends Open Chamber Series

Saturday, May 28, 2011
by William Furtwangler
Nuttall & Friends Open Chamber Series

THE MUCH ANTICIPATED first Spoleto USA Chamber Music program was a breathtaking spectacular. Geoff Nuttall, host and director for Spoleto’s chamber music programs, bounded onto the Dock Street Theatre stage Friday afternoon to welcome the capacity audience. Nuttall delivered his comments in his distinctive up-beat style, introducing the music and musicians for the concert,... Read »

Striking Performance by Corella Ballet

Saturday, May 28, 2011
by Eliza Ingle
Striking Performance by Corella Ballet

THE CORELLA BALLET’s performance at the Gaillard Auditorium Friday night was one of those Spoleto moments where artistry and virtuosity aligned in exquisite perfection. The flawless execution by the dancer under the direction of Angel Corella showed a company beautiful to behold as well as a program that displayed the magnitude of the art... Read »

When the Old Becomes New

Saturday, May 28, 2011
by Eliza Ingle
When the Old Becomes New

IN THE PREVIEW performance of Khmeropedies l& ll that began Spoleto Festival’s 35th season at the Emmett Robinson Theatre, the idea of dance as a tradition was seen as a tenuous thing. Passing it down is tricky, as the human memory is faulty and specifics may vanish in the blip of a generation; and... Read »

A Little Spoleto Magic

Friday, May 27, 2011
by Eliza Ingle
A Little Spoleto Magic

ONE OF THE WAYS that Spoleto will be observing what would be the 100th birthday of Gian Carlo Menotti, the festival’s founder, is by presenting one of his operas, The Medium, at the Dock Street Theatre. First performed in 1946, it is the story of a phony psychic who claims to contact the dead... Read »

ARTISTS will always be born, but whether there will also be art depends to no small extent on ourselves, their public. By our indifference or our interest, by our prejudice or our understanding, we may yet decide the issue.
~ E. H. Gombrich


Read the review at A Window Into Russia blog
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