Once again, the Spoleto Festival USA wants to elevate its city | Chroniclers
It was 1977. The place was Charleston.
A southern city that had previously enjoyed stature as an international port with world-class cultural gems to prove that it was in various stages of disrepair and deep rest.
Until the Spoleto Festival USA shook the dust off the city, pushing a sleeping giant who felt the redness of the fresh, fertile air. Suddenly art lovers and artists were spilling out into the streets. Followers of national culture paid attention, and before long, art connoisseurs from all over the country and the world were part of the dynamic exchange.
The revival uplifted the city, ushering in economic vitality and firmly establishing Charleston on the international stage.
So it’s no surprise that Spoleto is emerging as the first full-scale festival as Charleston begins to wake up from an utterly mind-numbing pandemic and a social paradigm shift as well. It also reinvigorated the city at other times, such as in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo.
Given the uncertain circumstances, this year’s festival balances artistic productions with security protocols, offering fewer shows and limited seats.
The resulting effort draws on decades of experiences of what can work and what cannot work under harsh conditions.
Can you have the precious chamber music series outside of a bedroom? Definitely no. But the festival added access to the limited seating at the Dock Street Theater thanks to the availability of free video streaming on its website.
Is there a rain plan for the Cistern Yard outdoor concerts? Fear no. But with lineup including Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, and Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran’s highly anticipated Charleston premiere “Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration”, it’s worth booking a wing and a pray.
Can you do justice to a choreographic work performed outdoors if the audience cannot see all of these carefully calibrated steps? It would also be a difficult “no”. So, those who attend one of the three dance offerings – Caleb Teicher & Company, “Ballet Under the Stars” and Ephrat Asherie Dance – will see this fancy footwork from lift seats surrounding a custom-built stage above. of the College of Charleston’s Rivers Green fountain.
When Spoleto staff determined, just weeks before departure, that the announced plan to host ‘A Woman in Black’ at the Visitors Center bus hangar was untenable, it was quickly redesigned by relocating the show at Festival Hall.
The other two theatrical productions – “A Thousand Ways (Part One): A Phone Call” and “The Journey” – are tech-based, but don’t think for a skinny minute that it means falling passively with a device. Both exploit their chosen formats in such a way as to deliver relevant new theatrical experiences.
Weeks earlier, as hopes of putting on the ambitious new opera “Omar” were dashed after the cancellation of the 2020 festival, the team weighed it in and once again defeated. Work would be better served that way.
This year, the Spoleto Festival USA is also bringing Charleston something invaluable on civic roads. This is the perfect opportunity to assess how we can move forward with as much artistic conviction as prudence.
At The Post and Courier, we’ll cover this topic to report and evaluate the work, and give an idea of what it looks and feels like to come together once again.
So here’s our plan:
We will have a daily space on the home page of postandcourier.com gathering all the coverage and offering artist profiles, reviews, news, photos and more. (Pro tip: Now might be a good time for subscribers to sign up for their free digital subscription).
I’ll serve as an overview review, providing a weekly perspective in the Life section on how the festival is going.
Critics from local experts will review specific works, which will appear in the Metro section throughout the festival, as well as on the homepage of the website. Here are reviews from this year and a little bit about each one:
In dance, look for Eliza Ingle, a former performer and choreographer and current dance advocate in Charleston. She was a dance teacher at the College of Charleston for 20 years and revised dance for Spoleto for over a decade.
Covering chamber music and other concerts, Michael O’Brien is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of the Music Department at the College of Charleston. He has performed, composed, and written about music in genres ranging from classical to classical music. jazz to tango and salsa.
Heather Buffington-Anderson will discuss jazz. The musicologist and musician is an assistant professor of musical history and ethnomusicology at Claflin University, where she teaches music history and world music lessons.
Americana music is covered by Don Whitley. Known in the Charleston area by his stage name Noodle McDoodle, the Reed College graduate is often spotted in the popular group The V Tones, which revives the sounds of vaudeville. He has performed in circuses, orchestras and theater companies for several decades.
Oh, and I’ll be contributing individual theater and dance reviews as well.
Whether or not you book tickets, the cover aims to probe the state of the arts in Charleston as we all take our first steps in coming together to make sense of the world.
On that note, although tickets are fewer – and physically further away – the festival team suggest checking their website regularly for ticket availability, which may well change.
The annual opening day launch at City Hall this year is unlikely to cause its multi-colored confetti flakes to snow at a public gathering of anticipatory sun-capped heads.
Treat me to some extremely upbeat cheerleading, if you will. (After all, it’s a professional responsibility to trot the pom poms every now and then for the sake of the arts.)
It would be a good time for everyone in Charleston to make confetti like this. For now and for the years to come, consider mobilizing around the rebirth of this concerted and thoughtful initiative.
He has introduced many artists to the city, many of whom stay put and share their talent locally for decades. He also laid a solid foundation for so many years, under the leadership of Spoleto Festival USA General Manager Nigel Redden, who announced his retirement, ensuring that the world continues to identify Charleston with the highest level of the arts. .
Whether introducing yourself or chatting, now is the time to telegraph the importance of this effort as the festival prepares to change direction.
In doing so, we will honor this unique city’s centuries-old arts championship and set the tone for a dynamic and meaningful new chapter, which embraces artistic expression from near and far.
To rock past opening ceremonies, let the musicians play, the dancers dance and prepare for May 28 – the official opening of the 2021 Spoleto Festival USA.