College of Charleston 

More Music for your Ears: The College of Charleston's music department, Chamber Music, and the Concert Association

Another source of classical music in Chucktown is the College of Charleston, where the music department is fast becoming one to reckon with in the Southeast. Violinist Lee Chin Siow, cellist Natalia Khoma, and pianist Enrique Graf are all famous artists, and just last season they established a chamber music series at the college that rivals Spoleto's best. Their coming season hasn't been announced yet, as it won't begin until after Christmas — but it should be well worth the wait.

Yet another fresh example of community cooperation is the co-sponsorship between CofC and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra's Youth Orchestra — henceforth called the Youth Orchestra of the Lowcountry. Consisting mostly of high school-age musicians from the tricounty area, they will rehearse on Saturday mornings at the college under the direction of Richard Marcus, who also manages the school's growing student chamber orchestra.

Graf's venerable International Piano Series (IPS) will further uphold the college's honor. It'll kick off this year with star attraction Leon Fleisher, the American keyboard icon. As the season rolls on, we'll hear Russian keyboard whiz Jan Rautio and Paolo André Gualdi. Better known to Charleston crowds is Volodymyr Vynnytsky, a veteran of Piccolo Spoleto and the college's Chamber Series. Then there'll be Cuba's premier pianist, Jorge Luis Prats, who's drawn raves in previous IPS outings.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Choral Director Rob Taylor's distinguished tenure at the college. His concert choir has lately earned national recognition, and he's also been a champion of the choral community at large, directing the CSO's choirs (both main and chamber choruses). He also leads the Taylor Festival Choir, a part of Charleston's annual Taylor Music Festival, combining the Celtic and choral genres. The college's choral calendar thus far calls for an October concert plus three December events, including the ever popular annual Christmas Madrigal Feast.

While you're waiting for the CofC Chamber Series to kick in, you can feed your habits with the assorted events offered by Chamber Music Charleston, a group of excellent musicians drawn mainly from the CSO. Now in their second year, they're going in several new directions this season. Their Holy City Series will present concerts in three historic local churches in October, February, and April. Their signature house concerts series offers five intimate programs (twice each) in 10 elegant South of Broad home settings throughout the season, with five more house concerts in Kiawah Island homes, two big gala events, and a pair of kid-friendly "family concerts." Quite a few of these affairs are already sold out.

Finally, there are the imported events offered by the Charleston Concert Association. Most of these are pretty darned good, though some of their regular opera offerings have suffered by comparison to Spoleto's. Details remain sketchy just now. But we'll get two attractive programs in October: the excellent Bavarian Philharmonic Orchestra, plus Chicago's Hubbard Street Dance Company. November's offering is Gilbert and Sullivan's perky H.M.S. Pinafore, and then the Canadian Brass will help ring in the holidays. The New Year brings a selection of both hot newbies and established greats from the fabulous Monterey Jazz Festival — and the final offering will be the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre's production of Giselle, a dance world standard.

Adventurous music buffs should keep an eye out for other notable programs and events we don't have room for here — like those from Nathan Koci's New Music Collective. I've ignored Chucktown's rich sacred scene, too: our many churches are a consistent source of top-notch traditional religious music. And who knows what else will pop up as the season unfolds? Rest assured that I will strive — via my regular Eargasm music blog — to keep you informed. — Lindsay Koob

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