spoleto festival usa

In the city where nearly half of all enslaved Africans were brought to this nation, Spoleto Festival USA will unveil a new opera based on the life of an African-Muslim slave.  His autobiography is believed to be the only surviving, unedited story written in Arabic in the United States.

Omar Ibn Said came to Charleston through Gadsden’s Wharf in 1807 and was sold as a slave.  He escaped his Charleston owner and fled to North Carolina where he was recaptured, jailed and resold.  He penned his autobiography in 1831.  His story, lost for decades and eventually held in private collections, was acquired by the Library of Congress two years ago.  It was recently translated into English.

Selecting the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra

Jun 7, 2019
Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra members carry their insturments in downtown Charleston
Victoria Hansen

They are sure signs of Spoleto in downtown Charleston; instrument toting musicians and scorching heat.  Among the jostling violin cases, is Shannon Fitzhenry.  She’s back for her second year with the annual Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, one of 92 musicians chosen to play.

“The goal is to get up in time to warm up before rehearsal,” she laughs.  The Charleston native grew up with Spoleto, but admits she didn't fully appreciate it until she  moved away to study music at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland.

Spoleto Festival USA, 2019 logo
Spoleto Festival USA

Sonatas and Soundscapes Live from Spoleto, Spoleto Backstage, Chamber Music

The Spoleto Festival USA returns to Charleston beginning on May 24th and running to June 9th. South Carolina Public Radio's Sonata and Soundscapes will be there, broadcasting live each weekday. Host Bradley Fuller will bring you the latest happenings at Spoleto, along with guest interviews, previews of upcoming performances and highlights: Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Friday May 31 and June 7, 10 a.m. to noon on our News and Music Stations.

Kids from Charleston's Meeting Street Academy go backstage for the Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company performance of the Pied Piper
Victoria Hansen

There's a melancholy to his voice and a sadness in his eyes, as the managing director of the centuries old  Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company of Milan speaks in his best English to elementary school children at the Emmet Robinson Theater at the College of Charleston prior to the company’s Spoleto performance.  Peiro Corbella paces the stage as he begins his story, 40 years ago when he became  a puppeteer, thanks to the guidance of his mentor and good friend, Eugenio Monti Colla.

Ranky Tanky/Reese Moore via Facebook

On this episode of Spoleto Backstage, trumpeter Charleton Singleton talks about the success of Gullah-inspired jazz ensemble Ranky Tanky.

Sonatas and Soundscapes host Bradley Fuller meets up with Marco Ceco, the conductor of the Colla and Sons Marionette’s production of "Il Matromonio Segreto."

Alfred Turner/SC Public Radio

Spoleto Backstage is a new short-run podcast taking you behind the curtain to meet the artists and people who make things happen at Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston.

In this teaser episode, host Jeanette Guinn introduces you to the show and previews what you can expect during the festival.