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Spoleto Festival USA Announces 2016 Program May 27 – June 12 in Charleston, South Carolina

From a media release:

Spoleto Festival USA Announces 2016 Program
40th Season of America’s Premier Performing Arts Festival Takes Place 
May 27 – June 12 in Charleston, South Carolina

• Check out the festival website
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January 3, 2016 (CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA)—Festival General Director Nigel Redden announces the program for the 40th annual Spoleto Festival USA, taking place May 27 through June 12, 2016 in Charleston, South Carolina. The 2016 Festival features over 150 performances and events held in 13 venues, including the Festival’s return to the Charleston Gaillard Center that re-opened in October after an extensive three-year renovation.

“For Spoleto Festival USA’s 40th year, we wanted to make the program extraordinary,” says Redden. “Producing our first Porgy and Bess—a work based on Charleston-born DuBose Heyward’s novel, set in Charleston, and about Charleston’s people—was a celebratory choice. It is especially appropriate that this opera will be our first performance in the spectacular new Charleston Gaillard Center. A 1970 production of Porgy and Bess staged in the then-new Gaillard Auditorium is a long-remembered civic event representing unity, pride, and artistic achievement that we hope to emulate. Beyond Porgy and Bess, we celebrate the Festival’s anniversary with programming that features the signature Spoleto Festival USA blend of new works and young artists alongside established international visionaries encompassing opera, music, dance, and theater. I hope people will find many reasons to be part of this landmark 40th year.”

June 2016 will be a time of celebration for the Festival, and it will also be a time of reflection and remembrance for the city of Charleston. June 17—five days after the Festival ends—will mark the first anniversary of the murder of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Calhoun Street. Several performances will acknowledge the event and commemorate the victims. This includes the world premiere of a multi-media project conceived and directed by acclaimed visual artist Carrie Mae Weems called Grace Notes: Reflections for Now curated by Harvard professor Sarah Lewis. Originally conceived as a gift for President Obama, Grace Notes will be a provocative performance of music, song, text, spoken word, and video projection. The project poses the question “what is the role of grace in the pursuit of democracy?” and was inspired, in part, by President Obama singing “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney. Weems’s project gathers a stellar group of artists including ccomposers and musicians James Newton, Geri Allen, and Craig Harris, along with poet Aja Monet, writer Carl Hancock Rux, and singers Alicia Hall Moran, Imani Uzuri, and Esai Davis. Grace Notes will be performed Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5 in the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre. A concert by jazz singer René Marie in the Charleston Gaillard Center on Sunday, May 29 will also acknowledge the tragedy featuring a Spoleto Festival USA-commissioned song “Be the Change” inspired by the community’s response and show of unity.

“Spoleto Festival USA ends just days before the first anniversary of the Emanuel AME Church murders and several artists felt compelled to reflect upon the event and on the times we live in,” says Redden. “As a Festival that has proudly called Charleston home for 40 years, we wanted to provide an outlet for these reactions to demonstrate how art can help people to heal as well as provide an important voice in times when it can be difficult to find words.”

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, January 14 at 10:00am by phone 843.579.3100 and online at A donor pre-sale begins January 5; details can be found online at the link.

From last year's festival:

Highlights of the 2016 Festival:

First Spoleto Festival USA production of opera Porgy and Bess, directed by David Herskovits with visual design by artist Jonathan Green, featuring Alyson Cambridge and Lester Lynch in the title roles, conducted by Stefan Asbury
City-wide activities planned around Porgy and Bess to celebrate the production’s origins and history in Charleston including daily walking tours throughout the Festival
World premiere of Grace Notes: Reflections for Now directed by visual artist Carrie Mae Weems featuring music, spoken word, and video projections reflecting on grace and democracy
World premiere of “African romance” Afram ou La Belle Swita by Charleston-born composer Edmund Thornton Jenkins with stage direction by David Herskovits and performed by cast members from Porgy and Bess
US premiere of opera The Little Match Girl by contemporary German composer Helmut Lachenmann, co-directed by Mark Down and Phelim McDermott, featuring sopranos Heather Buck and Yuko Kakuta, and conducted by John Kennedy
US premiere of comic baroque opera La Double Coquette by Antoine Dauvergne with revisions by contemporary composer Gérard Pesson performed by early music specialists Ensemble Amarillis
US premiere of a new production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest by Dublin’s Gate Theatre, directed by Patrick Mason
US premiere of Golem, the latest work combining animation and live performance created by innovative theater company 1927
40th-Season Celebration Concert featuring the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, Westminster Choir, artists from the Bank of America Chamber Music series and Wells Fargo Jazz series, and special guests to be held in the newly renovated Charleston Gaillard Center conducted by former Festival Music Director Steven Sloane
• Bank of America Chamber Music series led by Geoff Nuttall to feature the St. Lawrence String Quartet in residence for the duration of the Festival and works by 2016 composer-in-residence Osvaldo Golijov
• The Westminster Choir, Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, and members of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus to perform Beethoven’s Mass in C Major and Choral Fantasy in the new Charleston Gaillard Center conducted by Joe Miller
• Members of the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra to perform a 40th-anniversary performance of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, a chamber orchestra program, and Music in Time concerts in addition to performing in Porgy and Bess, The Little Match Girl, and two Charleston Gaillard Center concerts
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company returns to the Festival, and the Aakash Odedra Company (UK), L.A. Dance Project, Sadler’s Wells’s Havana Rakatan, and choreographer Amy O’Neal’s hip hop work Opposing Forces make their Spoleto Festival USA debuts in the 2016 dance series
Randy Weston African Rhythms Sextet and René Marie to perform Wells Fargo Jazz series concerts in the Charleston Gaillard Center; jazz series also features singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, pianist Jason Moran and his Fats Waller Dance Party, and The Freddy Cole Quartet
• Cuban culture celebrated with performances of Havana Rakatan showcasing Cuban dance, and Wells Fargo jazz series concerts by Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and the Bohemian Trio featuring saxophonist Yosvany Terry
• Special Festival-eve and opening-night concerts by bluegrass luminaries Old Crow Medicine Show in the College of Charleston Cistern Yard on May 26 and 27
• Three critically acclaimed theater productions: Ada/Ava by Manual Cinema, The Gambler’s Guide to Dying with Gary McNair and Every Brilliant Thing starring Jonny Donahoe to be performed in Charleston following international festival appearances
• Wells Fargo Festival Finale held at Middleton Place to feature eight-piece soul band Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats on June 12


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