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Just days after the tragic shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., last year, the pews at Emanuel AME were filled for Sunday service. A black cloth was draped over the chair where Emanuel's pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, should have been sitting.

Holding worship in the church sanctuary — while its basement was still a fresh crime scene — served as a way for the congregation to move forward while acknowledging the deaths of nine of its own.

Portraits from King St-500 Block
Jack Alterman

A Charleston native and skilled photographer, Jack Alterman is best known for his diverse portraits of Charlestonians. His newest exhibition, King Street – Faces of the 500 Block is currently being presented as part of Piccolo Spoleto in the previously closed-down Morris Sokol furniture store. The show is comprised of Alterman's portraits of the people who used to live in the 500 block area of Upper King St.

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As the recovery from last October’s floods continues, long-term recovery groups have been struggling to reach one particular segment of the population: non-English speakers. In South Carolina, non-English speakers tend to be Latinos, who make up the largest growing demographic.

It's been nearly a year since a mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., shocked the nation.

"We woke up today, and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken," said Gov. Nikki Haley the morning after a gunman killed nine worshippers in what authorities describe as a race-based attack.

At the time, officials struggled to make sense of the crime that unfolded on June 17 during an intimate evening Bible study at Emanuel AME Church.

Pacolet Mill # 1, Pacolet, SC  - June 6, 1903.
Courtesy Spartanburg County Public Libraries

With the state still feeling the effects of last fall’s rain event and floods, there have been many attempts to assign the flood its place in history.  Gov. Nikki Haley has described it as a “thousand year flood.”  But a look back in history shows South Carolina has dealt with some major floods over the years. In 1908, heavy rains caused the highest river levels ever to be recorded on the Wateree in Camden and on the Congaree in Columbia, and they caused extensive flood damage.

Freddy Cole: One of the Best Jazz Singers Alive

Jun 6, 2016
The Freddy Cole Quartet to perform at Spoleto Festival USA's Wells Fargo Jazz Series.
Courtesy of the artist

Freddy Cole

  Younger brother of the late Nat King Cole, Freddy Cole has been hailed as one of the best male jazz singers of his generation. He performs with his quartet at Spoleto Festival USA.

SC Dept. of Natural Resources teams are surveying fish populations in estuaries.
Alexander Olgin/SC Public Radio

Parts of South Carolina got more than 20 inches of rain the first week of October 2015. That influx of freshwater in the rivers and marshes lowered salt levels and flushed fish downstream. Scientists at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources are studying marine life and plants to see what temporary or permanent impacts the floods had on waterways around the state. 

Spoleto Festival USA General Director Nigel Redden.
Peter Frank Edwards

  A native of Charleston, Edmund Thornton Jenkins was the seventh son of Reverend Daniel Jenkins, who, born a slave, founded the Jenkins Orphanage on King Street; the Jenkins Orphanage Band accompanied every Broadway performance of Dorothy and DuBose Heyward’s Porgy, the play on which Porgy and Bess was based. Edmund was the Ross Scholar at London’s Royal Academy of Music, winning awards in performance and composition before his premature death in Paris at age 32.

Cast and chorus in Act II of Porgy and Bess. The scene features a wrought iron gate that is a tribute to renowned Charleston blacksmith, Philip Simmons.
Julia Lynn Photography

Cabbage Row, in the Charleston of the 1920s, was the inspiration for "Catfish Row" in DuBose Heyward’s novel, Porgy​, and is the setting for Porgy and Bess. The opera by George and Ira Gershwin with a libretto by Hayward, is brought to life on the new Martha and John M. Rivers Performance Hall stage, just blocks from the historical Cabbage Row.

Greg Colleton is an artist and the Director of Operations at Redux Contemporary Art Center.  This year, he was chosen as the juror for the annual Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition.  The exhibition takes place at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park, through June 12,  and showcases paintings, photography and sculpture by South Carolina artists.

Stephen Drury is one of four pianists performing Music for 18 Musicians with members of the Spoleto Festival Orchestra.
Lisa Kohler

  Premiered 40 years ago in New York City and achieving immediate renown, Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians remains a landmark work of the 20th century, helping to define the minimalist movement with its revolutionary style. This un-conducted masterpiece showcases harmonically driven pulses that envelop listeners with waves of hypnotic and mesmerizing textures.  

Stephen Drury is one of four pianists performing "Music for 18 Musicians" with members of the Spoleto Festival Orchestra. He talks about the challenges of performing this shifting, percussive work.

U.S. premiere of Helmut Lachenmann's The Little Match Girl at Spoleto Festival USA 2016 directed by Mark Down and Phelim McDermott.
Julia Lynn Photography

  Gleb Kanasevich is no stranger to Spoleto Festival USA. Over the past four years he’s performed in various operas and as a member of the festival orchestra. This year he returns to Charleston not only as a performer in Lachenmann’s opera The Little Match Girl, but also as a composer: his piece Verpflichtet II is on the Music in Time program on Saturday, June 4th. 

Grace Notes: Reflections for Now

Jun 1, 2016
Carrie Mae Weems, 2013.
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

  Always focused on social justice, acclaimed visual artist Carrie Mae Weems offers up Grace Notes: Reflections for Now, a provocative performance of music, song, text, spoken word, and video projection that explores our historical moment.

  Cathryn Zommer is the Executive Director of arts partnership organization, Enough Pie. As part of Piccolo Spoleto, Enough Pie is holding their fourth annual event in a series entitled “Awakening.”  Awakening IV: Indigo is all about blue.

Spoleto Festival USA's Resident Conductor & Director of Orchestral Activities, John Kennedy.
Julia Lynn Photography

Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s sobering tale, Helmut Lachenmann's opera, The Little Match Girl, explores the character's last moments as she gazes into the dreams and memories conjured by the flames of the matched she lights in a vain attempt to keep from freezing to death. Working in collaboration with visual artists, Blind Summit Theatre and Improbable theater company, 106 members of the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra perform this astonishingly evocative score, full of clicks, crackles, knocks, and hisses, under the baton of John Kennedy.

Long-Time Spoleto Vocal Coach Relishes Her Work

Jun 1, 2016
Jake (Sidney Outlaw) and far right, Sportin' Life (Victor Ryan Robertson) and cast and chorus.
Julia Lynn Photography

    Dianne Richardson has been vocal coach for Spoleto performers since the beginning. She began her work, playing piano at rehearsals as well as coaching, at the invitation of festival founder Gian Carlo Menotti. In the early days, productions performed at Spoleto Festival USA would finish their run, then move to the Spoleto Festival in Italy.

Richardson says that, of all the wonderful productions on which she has worked at Spoleto, including Elektra, Salome and Die MeistersingerPorgy and Bess is her favorite.

Citizen: An American Lyric was performed previously at the Fontaine Theatre.
Ed Krieger

  Shirley Jo Finney is an actress and an acclaimed award-winning director. She will be directing Citizen: An American Lyric, at the PURE Theatre on King St. during this year’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival. The show is based on Claudia Rankine's 2014 award-winning book of poetry of the same title.

Geoff Nutall, the Charles E. and Andrea L. Volpe Director of Chamber Music for Spoleto Festival USA.
Julia Lynn Photography

  Geoff Nuttall, The Charles E. and Andrea L. Volpe Director for Chamber Music for the Bank of America Chamber Music series, today announced more details about Osvaldo Golijov’s "Drag Down the Sky," which will have its world premiere during the 2016 Spoleto Festival USA season. Golijov, the series composer-in-residence, recently completed the work, and performing musicians—baritone Tyler Duncan with the St.

Jason Moran brings his Fats Waller Dance Party to the Wells Fargo Jazz Series at Spoleto Festival USA.
Clay Patrick McBride

  The Jason Moran Fats Waller Dance Party recalls the sounds of Harlem in the 1920’s with Moran’s innovative take on the music of Fats Waller.

Chatham Baroque plays in the 2016 Piccolo Spoleto Early Music Series.
Courtesy of the artist

  College of Charleston professor Steve Rosenberg has coordinated the Piccolo Spoleto Early Music Series for 30 years.   He and  Andrew Fouts, baroque fiddle player for Chatham Baroque, talk about this year's program. And Steve looks back over 30 years of early music.

Chatham Baroque at the Piccolo Spoleto Early Music Series

   South Carolina’s voting machines were purchased in 2004.  For electronics, that’s old.  Computer technology advances quickly and needs replacing frequently.  Nevertheless, S.C. Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire and USC Computer Science Professor Duncan Buell believe that with caution, the state’s machines may get through this fall’s election with few problems. 

File photo of Hurricane Irene, 2011.

  June 1 marks the beginning of hurricane season in South Carolina.  To note Hurricane Awareness Week, Gov. Nikki Haley held a press conference at which she and various agency heads discussed the expectations for this season.  Though the season is predicted to be average, Haley stressed that every family should have a hurricane plan. 

A performance of "The Little Match Girl."
Julia Lynn Photography

Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Little Match Girl tells the tragic tale of a young girl trying to survive in the bitter cold, striking matches for warmth and reflecting on her life’s memories. Composed from 1990 to 1996, Helmut Lachenmann’s opera of the same name uses two singers to play the match girl. 

Spoleto Festival USA, Opened Friday, in Full Swing

May 31, 2016
During the opening ceremony for Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston, SC,  the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company perform an excerpt from “D-Man in the Water.”
Alexander Olgin/SC Public Radio

The 40th Spoleto Festival U.S.A. is in full swing. The music and arts festival opened Friday and runs through the middle of June. In his speech opening the event, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg says Spoleto holds a special place for him because he grew up going.

“I was like a little kid in a candy store. I was a chemistry major, but I loved music and played the piano. Every day deciding what event we were going to go to. It was just terrific.”

The Randy Weston African Rhythms Sextet will perform at the Wells Fargo Jazz Series, Spoleto Festival USA.
George Braunschweig


   Pianist Randy Weston and his African Rhythms Sextet combine the sounds of traditional African music with American jazz.

  Pianist Randy Weston was born in Brooklyn, New York, where he absorbed the influence of jazz greats such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie. He later moved to Africa to better understand his heritage and to learn how the traditional music of Africa is inherently connected with American music. He first heard the music of Africa mixed with jazz as he grew up in Brooklyn, which led him to his biggest influence, Thelonious Monk. The Randy Weston African Rhythms Sextet performs Thursday, June 2nd at 7 pm at the Charleston Gill-Yard Center.

Heather Buck, soprano.
Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

  Soprano Heather Buck describes George Crumb’s 1970 composition Ancient Voices of Children as a “hyper-colored world” of sound. With a score that includes tongue clicks and other extended techniques for the voice plus unusual instrumentation, the work has remained at the forefront of 20th century vocal chamber works. The performance is part of Spoleto Festival USA’s Music in Time series on June 1st.

Manual Cinema performs AVA/ADA.
Yi Zhao and Howard Ash

  Manual Cinema’s Drew Dir joins SCPRS’s Kate McKinney for a conversation about Ada/Ava, a multimedia work that combines Dir’s shadow puppetry with an original score. Live actors and musicians share the stage with shadow puppets to tell the story of sisters Ada and Ava while exploring the human struggles of loss and self-discovery. Ada/Ava marks performance collective Manual Cinema’s Spoleto Festival USA debut. 

Cecile McClorin Salvant
Mark Fitton

  Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk Competition, Cecile McLorin Salvant performs her interpretations of the standards and shares some original songs, too.

Steven Sloane conducts the 40th-Season Celebration Concert at Spoleto Festival USA.
Christoph Fein

Steven Sloane is a former music director of Spoleto Festival USA. He returns to the festival this year to conduct over 140 musicians for the 40th-Season Celebration Concert. The concert involves performers from all areas of Spoleto Festival USA including the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, the Westminster Choir, and musicians from the Wells Fargo Jazz series and the Bank of America Chamber Music series. Steven joins South Carolina Public Radio’s Kate McKinney to discuss the event and its program, which features music of historic significance for the festival.