Spoleto Festival USA

The season encompasses more than 70 in-person music, dance, and theater performances on stages outdoors and in the historic Dock Street Theatre, as well as two interactive virtual works created specifically for remote audiences. This announcement follows months of considered planning for the health and well-being of artists, staff, and audience members, conducted in accordance with local and national health guidelines as well as recommendations from a team of healthcare professionals atthe Medical University of South Carolina. The Festival is operating with an overall capacity that is just 25 percent of a typical season.

“In many ways, this season will be quite different—not least because of the reduced number of performances and seats as a result of physical distancing,” says Redden, noting that one of the great disappointments was the second postponement of Omar, the Festival’s world premiere opera by Rhiannon Giddens, now slated to open the 2022 Festival. “Still, despite the constraints and challenges, this season will be remembered for its moments of immense beauty. I want each audience member to have an unforgettable, magical experience—the kind that can only come from seeing live performance.”

To accommodate an in-person season with an audience, Festival organizers are constructing two outdoor stages for use in addition to the stage at the College of Charleston Cistern Yard. On the grounds of what once was a train depot built in the 1840s, the Charleston Visitor Center Bus Shed will host 16 performances of The Woman in Black. This staging of Susan Hill’s ghost story was adapted by Stephen Mallatratt, directed by Robin Herford, and was mounted in New York City’s McKittrick Hotel in early 2020. At Spoleto, each performance of The Woman in Black will begin at 8:30pm; the space is in use by CARTA (Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority) every day until 5:00pm and will be transformed into a performance venue each evening.

The second new outdoor venue is being constructed at Rivers Green at College of Charleston — a large open lawn behind the college’s Nathan Addlestone Library—and will support three distinct dance programs. Caleb Teicher & Company will headline the 2021 dance series, which also includes Ephrat Asherie Dance and the program Ballet Under the Stars, performed by American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet’s Isabella Boylston, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Joseph Gordon, Unity Phelan, and Calvin Royal III.

The College of Charleston Cistern Yard will again house the Festival’s Wells Fargo Jazz and First Citizens Bank Front Row series. Highlighting the 2021 Wells Fargo Jazz is a special Charleston edition of Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration. Produced by Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran, Two Wings combines music and storytelling to examine stories from The Great Migration, a period from 1910 – 1970, when roughly six million Black families fled racial violence in the South and traveled to points North and West. First presented at Carnegie Hall in 2018, each staging of Two Wings is created to reflect the presenting location. Joining the Morans onstage will be Imani Winds and filmmaker Julie Dash. The Wells Fargo Jazz series also includes concerts from The Cookers and Preservation Hall Jazz Band. On May 29, eight New Orleans jazz all-stars, including Grammy Award winner Catherine Russell, will collaborate for an evening celebrating banjoist, guitarist, singer, and writer Danny Barker.

A keystone of Spoleto Festival USA, twice-daily chamber music concerts will continue in 2021.
Geoff Nuttall, Festival Director of Chamber Music, will again host these 45-minute concerts inside the historic Dock Street Theatre. Punctuating this year’s programming will be four world premieres, including two from 2021 composer-in-residence Jessica Meyer: a string quartet for the St. Lawrence 3 String Quartet inspired by 18th-century pirate Anne Bonny (program II) and a solo work for violinist Livia Sohn titled “From Our Ashes” (program III). Cellist Alisa Weilerstein will premiere a new work by Osvaldo Golijov, written for Weilerstein (program VII) and performed alongside Inon Barnatan. And on program IX, oboist James Austin Smith will play the premiere of Siegfried Thiele’s “Ballade für Oboe,” which was written for Smith after he metthe German composer in Leipzig this past fall. The season will also include Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Nonet in F minor and Paul Wiancko’s “American Haiku” for Viola and Cello, as well as new arrangements of Max Bruch’s Concerto for Clarinet, Viola, and Orchestra, op. 88, and Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, op. 33, featuring Weilerstein.

For those unable to attend in person, select movements from all 11 programs will be videotaped and shared throughout the Festival via email and on social media platforms. The concerts will also be recorded and broadcast on South Carolina Public Radio. Listeners can tune into “Sonatas and Soundscapes,” weekdays beginning Friday, June 4, at 11:00am ET—on air or at southcarolinapublicradio.org—to hear high-quality concert recordings plus interviews with artists from Spoleto’s 2021 series.

The First Citizens Bank Front Row series continues this season with three bluegrass ensembles, each playing two evening concerts at the College of Charleston Cistern Yard. Kicking off the series is singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz, followed by Steep Canyon Rangers and The Wood Brothers.

The 2021 season also marks a change of guard as it will be Redden’s final as general director; after 35 years with Spoleto Festival USA, he will step down from his post in October. To mark his lasting impression, Spoleto is hosting a livestreamed, virtual gala on May 22, featuring pre-recorded performances and messages from friends and artists whose careers Redden has impacted, including Laurie Anderson, Ayodele Casel, Rhiannon Giddens, and Bill T. Jones. Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo will emcee the event, live from New York City. The event is free to stream and will be available to watch through June 13. Donations from the event will support the Nigel Redden Emerging Artist Fund, which has been created in Redden’s honor and earmarked for use by his successor to bolster programming efforts.

The 2021 program is highlighted below and full details can be found on spoletousa.org. Performance tickets become available to the general public beginning Tuesday, April 13, at 10:00am ET by phone at 843.579.3100 or online at spoletousa.org.

Season highlights:
•A special Charleston edition of Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran’s Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration
•The Woman in Black, reconfigured for a an eerie outdoor staging
•Stars align: A mixed bill from American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet dancers
•A tribute to Black banjoist Danny Barker and his unparalleled contributions to New Orleans jazz
•Chamber Music at the historic Dock Street Theatre, featuring four world premieres from Osvaldo Golijov, composer-in-residence Jessica Meyer, and Siegfried Thiele
•The construction of two new outdoor venues
Spoleto at Home: Works from 600 HIGHWAYMEN and Scott Silven

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