Gregory Porter won over our critic at his Cistern concert last night. Joy Vandervort-Cobb wrote, "Although Porter has the capacity to riff and scat and holler with the best of them, he is a straight-ahead jazz singer, emotionally and rhythmically connected to the tunes he sings, even as he demonstrates he has the capacity to make the music leap forth." He's got one more show at Spoleto on Saturday night. Check out our video from his sound check for a hint of what's in store. And here's our interview with Porter if you feel like doing a little background reading before the show.
The Spoleto Festival is supposed to be about something life-affirming; at least that’s what someone says at the opening ceremonies.
I’ve generally thought of that as just a generalization handily trotted out. Yeah, yeah, of course the arts are life-affirming, except for completely nihilistic works.
Although we hinted at it yesterday, that sunny, breezy beautiful opening day wasn’t the time to bring up the theme that has already emerged in the festival: death. Now it’s not all bad because while it may be about slipping off this mortal coil and the fragility and briefness of this life, it is also, yep, life-affirming.
To repeat a few things from yesterday: this year’s festival is dedicated to its first chairman Ted Stern, who died in January at 100; this is choral music director Joe Flummerfelt’s last festival; and chamber music series founder Charles Wadsworth will give his final public performance at the festival.
The opening chamber concert featured the monumental Quintet in C Major by Schubert with two cellos to make it darker. This was Schubert’s last work, written just two months before he died at 31 in 1828. Talk about the fragility of life and the unfairness; Schubert wasn’t considered a very important composer during his life and this quintet wasn’t performed until 32 years after his death. Schubert knew death wasn’t far off and this can be heard in the works from his final and finest few years.
In the opera Matzukaze, death is more obvious when the ghosts of two sisters appear to a traveling monk. The 2011 opera by leading Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa had its U.S. premiere Friday night in an original production by the festival in conjunction with the Lincoln Center Festival. The ghosts in Matzukaze are not the quiet sort — they’re sopranos. The opera set on a sea coast took on added significance when just months after it was written, Japan was hit by a deadly earthquake and tsunami.
It's official! Welcome to the 37th annual Spoleto Festival USA! Can you feel it? (Lordy, we sure can.) This year's festival was kicked off at high noon today in front of City Hall, which has grown to be the iconic home for the festive opening. The confetti flew and streamers streamed as an upbeat Charleston Mayor Joe Riley marked the official beginning of the 17-day festival.
The Charleston Symphony Orchestra preceded the ceremony with a solemn rendition of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" in remembrance of past Spoleto committee chair, College of Charleston President, and all-around Holy City renaissance man Ted Stern, who passed away earlier this year at 100, and was bookended with a youthful, exciting display by Brazilian hip-hop troupe Compagnie Käfig. (A fitting tribute to Stern, who was known for staying active, even as a centenarian.)
Here's a quick video highlighting the ceremony:
Departures were very much a part of the first few hours of the 37th Spoleto Festival.At opening ceremonies foremost in the remembrance was Ted Stern, the founding chairman of the festival board, who died in January at 100 and to whom the 2013 festival is dedicated. Joseph Flummerfelt, director of choral music since the festival started and who leaves the festival when this one ends, was up on the stage. On the front row down at Broad and Meeting sat festival chamber music founder Charles Wadsworth, who will be making his final public performances at the final chamber concert. Up by Flummerfelt was Ellen Dressler Moryl, who recently retired as director of the Office of Cultural Affairs, a post she’s held almost continuously since it was established 35 years ago. And there was Joe Riley, who can’t be mayor forever, but who seems to be doing fine.
I’ve attended about 20 of these opening ceremonies and sometimes dread going. But even if the words were not particularly inspired this time out, the sentiments were, and the importance of recognizing those who made the festival possible — those who are, as Flummerfelt put it, “leaving the stage” — was genuinely moving.
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