I’ve had a spectacular time exploring and experiencing as much as I could possibly take in over the last two weeks of the Spoleto and Picolo Spoleto festivals here in Charleston. This isn’t my first time attending Spoleto USA but it is my first time as a resident and living within walking distance of several of the venues. These two festivals bring in world class talent, including musicians of all range and style, opera, chamber music, comedy acts, dance and installation and visual arts. The companion Picolo Spoleto brings many of the same kinds of performances but from a more local range of talent.
The highlights of this year’s event for me were;
Jake Shimabukaro a virtuoso Ukulele player from Hawaii, this guy can play anything on his uk!
Rebirth Brass Band, a well known New Orleans Jazz ensemble who recently won a much deserved Grammy for their funky modern and always fresh takes on the brass tradition! Apparently they are always back home and playin local in NO on Tuesdays…
We also caught the lovely jazz vocals of Cécile McLorin Salvant, some cool blues on the dock of Bowen’s Island by The J Edwards Band with Big Daddy Cade and the free Picolo Sploeto finale concert at Hampton Park last PM (including Reggae and Motown bands). There were certainly a few things I really wanted to see but didn’t but I’m very grateful for everything we did get to experience!
Here are a few events from the *Spooletti Festivale you and many of the locals may have missed include the following:
Signor Agazi and his Vegetales;
This performance art piece has been acclaimed in major vegetable-producing countries around the world.
The Signor has artfully crafted as many of our vegetable friends as you can imagine from the simplest organic material, using the almost lost art of papier-mâché in the Romany manner. They’re big and they’re talking! Join the fun as the Signor interviews each one and does all the voices that so realistically bring each one alive with its own vital life story.
3½ hours, 2 intermissions.
Iron Horse Ensemble;
Join this gifted ensemble of performers in an unusual on-site work. This Dubuque-based troupe has been instrumental in renewing widespread interest in things associated with trains and their equipment for a new generation of fans. The rage in trainspotting owes much of its current popularity to this group.
Join them at the many local grade crossings to experience the excitement they bring to the movement of some truly big-ass specimens.
6-10 hours of non-stop pleasure viewing.
Continuing education credits available.
This temporary touring installation supported by a generous grant from the folks at the International Garment Workers Union offers more than you can believe in its encyclopaedic display of socks through the ages. You’ll marvel at the sheer variety and abundance provided by this diverse collection of more than 12,000 pairs of socks. Be sure not to miss the special “Laundromat of the Lost” memorial tableaux.
Fishing on the Yallu River in Plum Blossom Time;
Love opera? Finally this premiere of the long-awaited US tour has arrived on our shores. This tender tale of forbidden love bewtween a fisherman and the beautiful young daughter of a brandy merchant has everything for the whole family. The dark overtones of this tale vanish in the final wondrous moments of an impeccably performed work that had crtics from Shangai to Guang Dong raving about its purity and sensuality. Real Chinese performers clad in their working class costumes elevate the soaring melodies of authentic folk classics such as, “Where is my Pencil?”, “For the Love of a Bicycle” and “Dim Sum Summer”.
You will leave the auditorium shaking your head.
2 parts, 2 evenings with catered samplings from the famous Mr. Chow’s.
last year’s hit of the fringe festivale returns with even more excitement on the main stage. Be sure to reserve early. The lines were long last year. Who would believe the cadences and dance beats from hip-hop to Mozart that these critters can produce, especially on the back of a Stradivarius? An amazing blend of nature and conservation hits the stage with the arrival of the Ivory-bill solo. Bang on a can has nothing on this!
Hourly during daylight.
Bring suet balls for ticket discounts.
Famous best-selling author Fentwhistle Pinckney reads passages from his educative novel, “The Piazza’s of Charleston”, a companion volume to the “Chimneys
of Charleston” and “The Stoops of Wentworth Street”. Never has the life of Charlestonians behind the curtains been so barely revealed. Learn the real cause of the war between the states.
*Spooletti Festivale-A spoof written by Walt Dunlap copywrite 2012 printed with his permission here.
And I wish I could have also seen;
- Alvin Ailey dancers offering local master classes during Spoleto (charlestoncitypaper.com)
- Joy Kills Sorrow
- & Mavis Staples