Spoleto Today 2015

Mon - Fri, 9 - 9:30 am, May 22 - Jun 12, 2015

Now in its 21st year, Spoleto Today  is an inside look at the events, people, and places of the Spoleto Festival USA  and  Piccolo Spoleto.  Your host is Jeanette Guinn of the College of Charleston, who also hosts Arts Daily on South Carolina Public Radio.

Jeanette Guinn

Spoleto Today is a production of South Carolina Public  Radio, South Carolina Public Radio.

Funding for this program is provided in part by M. Edward Sellers and Suzan D. Boyd; and by membership support from listeners like you. Thank you

Thank You, Marcus Overton!

We at South Carolina Public Radio would like to take a moment to thank Marcus Overton, who has retired from his position as host extraordinaire of Spoleto Today.  More...

Ways to Connect

  The list of alumni of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Touring Company reads like a Who's Who list of comedy stars. UCB bring their show to Piccolo Spoleto's Piccolo Fringe series and company member Brandon Scott Reeves tells Jeanette Guinn how their brand of comedy improv is different from what you might expect.

The St. Lawrence String Quartet
William Struhs

  Chris Costanza plays cello with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Spoleto Festival USA's resident string quartet. But, it's not just any cello Chris plays; it comes from a special collection at Stanford University. He tells what makes this instrument special, and talks about some his favorite works on the Bank of America Chamber Music Series this year.

A scene from When It Rains.
Mel Hattie

  2b Theatre Company makes is Spoleto Festival USA debut with When It Rains,  play in the form of a live-action, existential, graphic novel. When the improbable happens, two couples are beset with misfortune, communication fractures, relationships crumble, behavior becomes absurd. Some kind of God intervenes. Or observes. Or something. Or nothing. Playwright and director Anthony Black unpacks some of When It Rains for Jeanette Guinn.

  The internationally renowned Taylor Festival Choir, founded and led by Dr. Robert Taylor, will present a concert of the choral music of the Baltic Nations. Featured repertoire will include Arvo Pärt’s setting of the Magnifcat, Veljo Tormis’ dramatic renunciation of war, Curse Upon Iron, and many others. The program will close with the patriotic songs from these singing cultures, traditionally sung by tens of thousands at their famous Folk Song and Dance National Festivals.

Robert Taylor talks with Jeanette Guinn about their upcoming Piccolo Spoleto program.

Todd Palmer
William Struhs

    Clarinet virtuoso has been playing in the Bank of America Chamber Music Series at Spoleto Festival USA for 21 years. And, he will happily keep coming to Charleston for " as long as they keep asking me." He talks with Jeanette Guinn about how he started playing, and about what he's performing this year.

A section of "The Space Between" by Alyson Shotz
Wellin Bentham/Halsey Gallery

  The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art presents an exhibition of recent work by Brooklyn-based sculptor, Alyson Shotz. With an artistic practice that examines the properties and interactions of light, gravity, mass, and space, Shotz bridges disciplines in her work, drawing on scientific methods, mathematical principles, and literature, among other diverse fields. Often employing nontraditional materials such as glass beads, linen thread, stainless-steel filaments, and welded aluminum to create large-scale abstract sculptures, Shotz expands upon conventional notions of sculptural space and form.

  National Endowment of the Arts Chairman Jane Chu talks with Jeanette Guinn about her life in the arts, and her commitment to supporting the arts in the lives of all Americans.

  For the twentieth consecutive year, The Have Nots! will perform their unique brand of improv comedy as part of Piccolo Spoleto's Piccolo Fringe series. The group, comprised of Timmy Finch, Brandy Sullivan and Greg Tavares, was founded in 1995 and is South Carolina's only professional improv company. Brandy Sullivan tells Jeanette Guinn about "improv," the Have Nots, and about what they bring to the Spoleto scene.

Geoff Nuttall, Artistic Director of the Bank of America Chamber Music Series at Spoleto Festival USA
Julia Lynn Photography

  Geoff Nuttall is the Artistic Director of the Bank of America Chamber Music Series at Spoleto Festival USA, and, as such, he hosts 33 concerts over the two-week run of the Charleston festival--and he plays violin in almost every one. How and why he undertakes this marathon each year has to do with his love of chamber music and his love for Charleston's Spoleto, as he tells Jeanette Guinn.

A scene from Romeo and Juliet performed by Shakespeare's Globe.
Helena Miscioscia

  Sara Higgins is one of the members of Shakespeare’s Globe, which makes its Spoleto Festival USA debut with a brand new production of Romeo and Juliet. Higgins talks with Jeanette Guinn about how the company brought a new energy to this beloved play.

Renowned for its authentic yet bold productions, this esteemed company hails from London’s rebuilt Globe Theatre—the venue Shakespeare called home. Spoleto Festival USA presents the first US performances of this new production. 

Kate Davis
Shervin Lainez

  Kate Davis plays the Wells Fargo Jazz series at Spoleto USA on Thursday, June 4. Whether she’s crooning rootsy ballads or plucking bright riffs from her bass, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kate Davis puts a fresh spin on the standards and brings a canonical sensibility to her own lush creations. This gutsy songstress from Portland, Oregon uses a broad musical palette, enhanced be her dazzling skill and impeccable taste. She talks with Jeanette Guinn about where all that music comes from.

Charles Ross
Lisa Hebden

  What do "Star Wars" and "The Lord of the Rings" have in common? Charles Ross is presenting both movie sagas as one man shows, part of the Piccolo Fringe theater series.

Westminster Choir
Julia Lynn Photography

  The Westminster Choir has been the chorus-in-residence for Spoleto Festival USA since its inception in 1977. Conductor Joe Miller—director for choral activities at Spoleto Festival USA and Westminster Choir College--talks with Jeanette Guinn about two sets of concerts, the first being this weekend's performances at the Emmett Robinson Theatre of David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Little Match Girl Passion with new choreography by Pontus Lidberg, along with Carissimi’s Jephte. On June 3 the choir performs in Bach's St. Matthew Passion at the Sottile Theatre.

Charleston Jazz Orchestra
Jazz Artists of Charleston

  Why is Jazz important to Charleston? Leah Suarez of Jazz Artists of Charleston answers that question, and gives us a rundown of this year's JAC Jazz Series, part of Piccolo Spoleto.

Now in its ninth year of presenting, Jazz Artists of Charleston has earned an unprecedented reputation of producing events of the highest caliber that celebrate Lowcountry jazz, with a focus on optimizing the listener’s experience. This year, JAC welcomes Piccolo Spoleto attendees with an intimate Charleston Jazz House edition of its highly acclaimed JAC Jazz Series. Up close and personal performances of an array of repertoire in the jazz canon--from traditional to modern, Latin to funk, and everything in between.

T. J. Dawe in "The Slipknot"
Diane Smithers

  In turns hysterical and heartbreaking, frantic and thoughtful, The Slipknot is a comic monologue in which TJ Dawe takes the audience through a history of dead end jobs he has held. The Slipknot is part of Piccolo Spoleto's PiccoloFringe theater series.

  Brennen Reeves just wanted to be normal. The only problem: the fatal lung disease, Cystic Fibrosis. The only solution: a double lung transplant. Reeves has turned his story into a one-person play called Breathe, and it is playing as part of Piccolo Spoleto's Stelle di Domani (stars of tomorrow) Series. Reeves and co-creator David Lee Nelson talk about bringing such a serious subject to the stage in a play that is often quite funny.

Paradise Interrupted
Julia Lynn Photography

 Spoleto Festival USA presents the world premiere of Huang Ruo and Jennifer Wen Ma’s Paradise Interrupted, an arresting new opera marrying Chinese tradition dating from the Ming Dynasty with contemporary Western idioms. Artist Jennifer Wen Ma first got the idea for Paradise Interrupted while doing a contemporary art installation in Beijing. Jennifer, who is best known to global audiences for her work on the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, also directed and designed Paradise Interrupted for Spoleto USA.

Joyce Vandervort-Cobb
File photo

  In Nalaja Sun’s remarkable, often riotously funny solo show, No Child, PURE core ensemble member Joy Vandervort-Cobb tackles more than 16 characters as a new drama teacher in a chaotic Bronx classroom of 10th graders. Based on the playwright’s first-hand experiences in some of New York City’s toughest schools, No Child is a lightening-paced, buoyant play “tethered by the cold, sobering realities of life.” (The New York Times)

Michael Grofsorean
Spoleto Festival USA

  Jazz, a veritable melting pot of musical flavors, has a broad definition for good reason. But, if you think you know jazz, Michael Grofsorean is ready to challenge your expectation. He’s the artistic director for the Wells Fargo Jazz series, and he talks with Spoleto Today's Bery Dakers about programming the rhythm of America’s original art form at Spoleto Festival USA, a task that is far from improvisation and anything but standard.

Julia Lynn Photography

  Stefano Vizioli directs one of two Spoleto Festival USA operas this season, Veremonda, l’amazzone di Aragona (Veremonda, the Amazon of Aragon). In Francesco Cavalli’s opera, a royal siege is tangled with passion and comedy. Stefano talks with Jeanette Guinn about mounting an opera in the Dock Street Theatre for its American premiere and first performance in more than three centuries.

Sharon Graci
David Mandel

  A lyrical and human portrait of a mother still awash in her grief and trying to come to terms with the meteoric rise to fame and devastating and complex loss of her son. PURE co-founder, artistic director and PURE core ensemble member Sharon Graci stars in the Piccolo Spoleto’s reprisal of this Tony and Drama Desk Award nominee for Best Play.

Conor Hanick
Courtesy of the artist

  On this edition of South Carolina Focus, we’re talking with New York pianist Conor Hanick, a veteran of concert stages from Carnegie Hall to Tokyo. He’s in Charleston to perform two concerts in Spoleto USA's Music in Time series, May 31 and June 2. He tells us how he chooses which pieces to perform and what he likes about Charleston and its audiences.

  Dianne Reeves returns to Spoleto USA's Wells Fargo Jazz series Wednesday night. Reeves is among the world’s preeminent jazz vocalists, and a standard by which others inevitably measu re themselves.  While jazz is the basis of her repertoire, she interprets songs from all corners of music, a reflection of a trend from her youth when listening audiences routinely crossed genres with ease. Today, she remains focused on moving forward into new material. Her artistic devotion has earned five Grammy Awards. Her first studio album in five years, Beautiful Life, won for Best Jazz Vocal Album at the 2015 Grammys. 

Carlos Aguirre
Maria Birba

  One of the hidden gems of Argentine music makes his North American debut at Spoleto Festival USA this week. Carlos Aguirre’s compositions and arrangements draw upon the fluidity and drama of combined musical currents as he fuses South American folklore, jazz, and chamber music idioms. For his Wells Fargo Jazz concerts, he turns principally to the piano, but also to the guitar and his voice, to find lyricism and the beauty of melody. Appealing to audiences who admire innovation that honors tradition and authenticity, Aguirre is one of the most respected musicians in South America.

College of Charleston ethnomusicologist Michael O'Brien tells Jeanette Guinn about the musical culture that has shaped Aguirre's approach to jazz.

  Charlie Chaplin’s pinnacle film City Lights—a masterpiece from the end of the silent film era—comes alive in a screening accompanied by a live orchestra performing Chaplin’s own score. Performing in the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre, which opened as a movie house just a few years before City Lights came out in 1931, Conductor William Eddins leads the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra in Chaplin’s charming and heartfelt music. He talks with Jeanette Guinn about the movie, the score, and conducting "City Lights."