The Charleston Library Society and the CSO Spiritual Ensemble explore the relationship between the oral tradition of spirituals and the rich history of the written word. Part of Piccolo Spoleto Festival's Old South Music Series.
Some of the concerts in this series are audience-interactive events, and some are straightforward performances. Some aim for the Celtic-flavored and Afro-Caribbean origins of Southern folk, blues, and country music, while others concentrate on some of the vintage musical styles that bloomed from the Carolina coast.
There's wonderful variety on the schedule
On May 28, the busy Charleston Symphony Gospel Choir presents The Good News Gospel at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church. The Charleston Symphony Orchestra Spiritual Ensemble performs its own set of traditional African-American spirituals on June 5 at Trinity United Methodist Church. Some of the most authentically Lowcountry events in the series are the three Gullah-textured Old Time Camp Meeting performances at the Mt. Zion AME Church (May 30, June 4, and June 12). La Bande Pain Perdu performs as part of the Cajun dance party at Southend Brewery and Smokehouse on June 5. The Roan Mountain Hilltoppers, La Bande Pain Perdu, and the South Carolina Broadcasters play mountain music during a concert on the lawn at the Ashley Hall on June 6.
Most of the Traditional Music of Old South series offers unique lessons in the history and language of the Carolinas. For those "cum-yahs" and visitors "from off," several of these events feature songs, stories, and singalongs that draw heavily from the Gullah-Geechee dialects and vocabulary — from Gershwin's Porgy & Bess to the folk poetry of the choral and camp meeting events. There's an underlying appreciation and respect for Southern culture throughout.