Spoleto Backstage


The Spoleto Backstage podcast returns for 2020 with behind-the-scenes insights from Spoleto Festival USA and performances from past festivals. The events may be cancelled this year, but we'll take you there virtually!

With new 11 episodes released each Friday this summer, the podcast will be co-hosted by Bradley Fuller and Geoff Nuttall and will feature public-domain works from “Chamber Music from Spoleto Festival USA” as well as interviews and lively commentary on the performances.

South Carolina Public Radio

In this final episode of Spoleto Backstage for 2020, cohosts Geoff Nuttall and Bradley Fuller mark the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth by taking a tour through the German composer’s three stylistic periods — early, middle, and late — with commentary and a listen to representative performances from the past twelve years of the Spoleto Festival chamber music series. After discussing Beethoven’s musical beginnings, Geoff and Bradley hear his Piano Trio Op. 1, No. 3, followed by the second and third movements of his Septet in E-flat major, Op. 20.  The conversation then moves to Beethoven’s middle or “heroic” period, with performances of the haunting second movement of the composer’s “Ghost” Trio and the passionate opening movement of his “Kreutzer” sonata to illustrate this stylistic phase at the start of the Romantic era. A discussion of late-period Beethoven serves to introduce two pieces for string quartet by the composer, both from the final years of his life: the achingly beautiful fifth-movement Cavatina from his String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, op. 130, and the monumental Grosse Fuge, Op. 133.

South Carolina Public Radio

This episode of Spoleto Backstage highlights the music of Johann Sebastian Bach with Spoleto chamber music series performances of two works representative of the German baroque composer’s prolific and wide-ranging output: his Concerto in C minor for violin and oboe, BWV 1060, and his cantata Ich habe genug, BWV 82. Before listening to these works as performed in the festival’s 2017 and 2011 seasons, hosts Geoff Nuttall and Bradley Fuller talk about Bach’s career and legacy, considering what his music means to them and the qualities that have ensured its appeal across centuries and cultures.

South Carolina Public Radio

This episode of Spoleto Backstage rounds out Geoff Nuttall’s list of top Spoleto Festival chamber performances from the past decade with a 2011 program featuring Franz Schubert’s Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667—better known as the “Trout” Quintet. As Geoff shares with Bradley Fuller in a conversation before the music begins, this sparkling chamber work gets both its nickname and the musical material for its theme-and-variations fourth movement from a catchy lied or art song Schubert wrote two years prior: “Die Forelle” (“The Trout”), op. 32, D. 550. Baritone Tyler Duncan performs this lied just before pianist Pedja Muzijevic joins string players Hsin-Yun Huang, Christopher Costanza, Anthony Manzo, and Geoff himself for the quintet it inspired. The concert opens with Niccolò Paganini’s fiendishly-difficult Moses Fantasy for cello and piano, a work based on an operatic aria by Gioachino Rossini and allegedly shaped by its composer’s prison sentence.

South Carolina Public Radio

This episode of Spoleto Backstage highlights one of Geoff Nuttall’s all-time favorite programs from the Spoleto Festival USA Chamber Music Series: the eleventh and final concert from the 2018 season. As Geoff discusses with Bradley Fuller before the music begins, the wide-ranging, variety-packed lineup of this program is emblematic of the chamber series as a whole. To start, the men of the Westminster Choir join the regular chamber musicians for a performance of Franz Schubert’s sublime choral setting of Goethe’s “Gesang der Geister über den Wassern.”  Cellist Joshua Roman and pianist Gilles Vonsattel then perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 102. Following the late Beethoven work is Antonio Vivaldi’s stormy “Summer” concerto from The Four Seasons. For the final two pieces of the program, tenor Paul Groves takes center stage with a performance of two hit arias: Gaetano Donizetti’s “Una furtiva lagrima” (from L’elisir d’amore) and Charles Gounod’s “Salut! Demeure chaste et pure” (from Faust).   

South Carolina Public Radio

In this episode of Spoleto Backstage, Geoff Nuttall and Bradley Fuller revisit another unforgettable program from the past decade of the Spoleto Festival USA Chamber Music Series. Before moving to the music itself, the two hosts talk about what makes this 2016 concert a top-pick performance. Opening the program are two dazzling violin showpieces by Fritz Kreisler—his Praeludium and Allegro, as well as the Caprice Viennois, Op. 2. Violinist Benjamin Beilman performs both, accompanied by pianist Pedja Muzijevic. Composer Osvaldo Golijov then introduces his “Drag Down the Sky” (an aria from the opera Iphigenia), performed by baritone Tyler Duncan and the St. Lawrence String Quartet. The concert concludes with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s captivating String Sextet in D minor, “Souvenir de Florence,” Op. 70. After the music, Geoff is joined by star cellist Alisa Weilerstein for a conversation covering everything from her current projects to a memorable interaction with pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim. 

South Carolina Public Radio

This episode of Spoleto Backstage showcases a 2012 chamber series program bookended by late Romantic American works. Opening with Arthur Foote’s A Night Piece, the concert also features Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 101 in D Major, “The Clock” (arr. Salomon) before concluding with Amy Beach’s Piano Quintet in F-sharp minor, Op. 67. Geoff Nuttall and Bradley Fuller talk about the selections and the backgrounds of those who wrote them ahead of the music itself.

Following the concert, Bradley speaks with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo about his recent engagements, from performing in the lead role of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019-20 production of Philip Glass’s opera Akhnaten to keeping busy with a variety of projects which don’t involve performing before a live, in-person audience. Anthony also shares about his beginnings as a singer and how he envisions the future of the countertenor repertoire.  

South Carolina Public Radio

This episode of Spoleto Backstage features another of Geoff Nuttall’s favorite programs from the past decade of the Spoleto Festival USA Chamber Music Series. Before listening to the 2018 concert, Geoff and Bradley Fuller discuss the selections, paying special attention to the opening Vivaldi concerto for oboe and violin and emphasizing how the baroque composer’s hundreds of other concertos are anything but nothingburgers. Balancing the Vivaldi is the program’s concluding work: Johannes Brahms’ passionate Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25. After the music, Geoff catches up with pianist and frequent chamber series performer Inon Barnatan. The two talk about his career, special pandemic projects, and fond memories of past festivals.

South Carolina Public Radio

In this episode of Spoleto Backstage, Geoff Nuttall and Bradley Fuller look back on a concert performed as part of the 2016 Spoleto Festival Chamber Music Series. After discussing what makes it one of the most memorable performances from the past decade of the series, the two enjoy a listen to the program. Andrew Norman’s Garden of Follies comes first, featuring oboist James Austin Smith and pianist Pedja Muzijevic. Next is a baroque-era work inspired by a Cervantes novel: Georg Philipp Telemann’s Ouverture-Suite, TWV 55:G10 “Burlesque de Quixotte.” The concert concludes with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano, op. 19, performed by cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan. After the concert, Bradley catches up with pianist and chamber-series regular Pedja Muzijevic to learn more about his current projects, programming decisions, and musical career—including what makes his involvement with Spoleto Festival so rewarding.

South Carolina Public Radio

In this episode of Spoleto Backstage, Geoff Nuttall introduces Bradley Fuller to another of the most memorable Spoleto Festival USA chamber music programs from the past decade. This 2016 concert includes moving arias by Handel (with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo performing), an expressive keyboard sonata by CPE Bach, and César Franck’s intensely passionate Piano Quintet in F minor. Following the performance, Bradley speaks with violist, educator, and intended composer-in-residence for the 2020 chamber music series Jessica Meyer. A recording of Meyer’s Seasons of Basho—a work slated for performance in the chamber series—comes after their conversation.

South Carolina Public Radio

In this episode of Spoleto Backstage, Geoff Nuttall shares with co-host Bradley Fuller about one of his favorite Spoleto Festival USA Chamber Music Series concerts from the past ten years: a 2011 program featuring Osvaldo Golijov’s “Lullaby and Doina” from The Man Who Cried, Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s “The Union: Concert Paraphrase on National Airs,” and Franz Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major, D. 956, also known as his “Cello Quintet.” After performances of the solo and chamber selections, Spoleto Festival General Manager Nigel Redden joins Bradley to discuss the difficult decision to cancel the two-week arts event for 2020 and to highlight some of its next steps.

South Carolina Public Radio

On this first episode of Spoleto Backstage for 2020, hosts Bradley Fuller and Geoff Nuttall discuss one of Geoff’s most memorable performances from the past decade of the Spoleto Festival USA Bank of America Chamber Music Series: a 2013 concert including Antonio Vivaldi’s Chamber Concerto in G minor, RV 107, Max Bruch’s String Octet in B-flat major, and André Messager’s “Tzigane” Theme and Variations from Les Deux Pigeons as arranged by longtime chamber series clarinetist Todd Palmer. Following a recording of that performance, Palmer shares how he came to discover the Messager work. 

William Struhs/Spoleto Festival USA

Beginning Friday, May 22, South Carolina Public Radio is proud to present special Spoleto Festival USA programming as part of a new “Spoleto at Home” initiative, featuring our weekday classical program Sonatas & Soundscapes and our Spoleto Backstage podcast. 

Sid Scott/What Girls Are Made Of

On this final episode of Spoleto Backstage for 2019, host Adam Parker speaks with Cora Bissett, writer and star, and Orla O'Loughlin, director, of the play "What Dreams Are Made Of." Based on Bissett's life story, the production follows a Scottish schoolgirl's rise to rock and roll stardorm and her rollercoaster journey along the way.

Spoleto Festival USA

On this edition of Spoleto Backstage, host Adam Parker chats with Rob Taylor, director of Choral Activities at the College of Charleston, artistic director of the Taylor Festival Choir, and director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Singers, about his series of choral concerts as part of Piccolo Spoleto Festival 2019.

Sonatas and Soundscapes host Bradley Fuller speaks with Joe Miller, director of Choral Acivitives for Spoleto Festival USA and director of the Westminster Choir, about that group's performances at this year's festival.

A.T. Shire/SC Public Radio

On this episode of Spoleto Backstage, host Adam Parker speaks with mandolinist and singer-songwriter Chris Thile of the progressive bluegrass group Punch Brothers about their history of performing at Spoleto Festival USA. The two also discuss Thile's experiences as host of the public radio program Live From Here.