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Spoleto Festival USA Announces Education and Outreach Efforts



Spoleto Festival USA has announced its schedule of community engagement, with a special focus on education, surrounding the 2018 season. In an effort to build audiences of the future, encourage artistic learning, and provide unique experiences for students, the Festival has partnered with several Charleston-area K-12 institutions. “In the face of tightening school budgets for arts initiatives, the Festival is proud to offer its most robust community-outreach efforts in recent years,” says Festival General Director Nigel Redden. “With continued generous support from private donors, the Festival hopes to expand these programs in future seasons.”

At the elementary-school level, the Festival has partnered with Meeting Street Academy, Memminger Elementary School of Global Studies, and Sanders-Clyde Creative Arts School. The endeavors, outlined in detail below, will include a behind-the-scenes puppetry workshop with Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company, music classes led by Geoff Nuttall and other Bank of America Chamber Music artists, and a circus-arts demonstration from the acrobats of Gravity & Other Myths. “The full-time creative-arts programs at Sanders-Clyde are in danger of being cut,” says music teacher Lindsay Stone, who notes that arts opportunities for students at the Title I school have enormous effects on her students’ well-being. “Experiences like music classes can help teach students other ways to express themselves and how to funnel their feelings positively and productively.”

The Festival has also worked with teachers from Wando High School and Charleston County School of the Arts (SOA), as well as the Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO) and Charleston Jazz Academy, to offer targeted learning experiences for middle- and high-school-aged students. Bank of America Chamber Music oboist James Austin Smith will lead a master class for advanced oboe students from Wando and SOA; pianist Pedja Muzijevic will instruct CSYO musicians during a weekend practice session; and Reggie Workman, acclaimed bassist of jazz group Trio 3, will present a lecture/demonstration to Charleston Jazz Academy students. These endeavors are also outlined in detail below.

In 2016, pianist Stephen Prutsman organized the first Spoleto Festival USA Azure Performance. The concerts, designed specifically for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families, were established by Prutsman (the founder of nonprofit Autism Fun Bay Area) in 2012 to provide a concert environment that is open to and engaging for all—what Prutsman calls a “shush-free” experience. On Sunday, June 10, at 9:30am, Geoff Nuttall, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, and select musicians from the Bank of America Chamber Music series will give an Azure Performance at the Dock Street Theatre. While this event is free for families and/or caregivers, seats must be reserved in advance. (Space is limited; those interested in attending the 2018 Azure Performance should contact Whitley Lewis at

The Festival will continue its partnership with the College of Charleston’s Maymester program, offering an interdisciplinary survey of the performing arts during Spoleto Festival USA. The semester-long class (3.000 credits) begins Monday, May 14, and includes at least six guest speakers from the Festival—including General Director Nigel Redden and Bank of America Chamber Music series director Geoff Nuttall. Students in the class (as many as 75, depending on enrollment) are invited to attend Festival performances.

In the past 10 years, Spoleto Festival USA has provided more than 800 complimentary tickets to a variety of community-based and nonprofit organizations in the greater Charleston area through its Open Stage Door program. This year, there are more than 10 Open Stage Door participating organizations, including the Senior Companion Program of Charleston and Jenkins Institute for Children, whose groups will attend such performances as Miami City Ballet and the Wells Fargo Festival Finale. Other ongoing initiatives include the Festival’s Spoleto Salon series, Conversations With series, and the Jazz and Front Row Talks. These events are free and open to the general public, though space is limited and tickets/reservations are required.

Spoleto Festival USA 2018 Community Engagement Details

School/Organization: Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra
When: Sunday, April 29, from 1:00pm to 2:00pm
What: Pianist Pedja Muzijevic will lead a workshop with the Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra, comprising 74 students in grades six to 12. During the session, which will take place at the Charleston County School of the Arts, students will work on the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 15 in B-flat Major. Muzijevic will perform this piece during the Festival’s Mozart and Mahler concert on June 9 at the Charleston Gaillard Center; CSYO students will be invited to attend the performance and receive complimentary tickets.

School/Organization: Memminger Elementary School of Global Studies
Tuesday, May 22, from 1:00pm to 2:00pm; and Wednesday May 23, time to be confirmed
What: Bank of America Chamber Music series artists Geoff Nuttall, Christopher Costanza, James Austin Smith, and Owen Dalby will instruct an in-school music class and perform for third- and fifth-grade students on May 22. The following day, the Australian physical theater company Gravity & Other Myths will offer an in-school workshop for 70 students, demonstrating different aspects of physical theater and circus arts. Those students will then travel to Memminger Auditorium on Tuesday, May 29, to watch a company rehearsal of Backbone.

School/Organization: Wando High School, Charleston County School of the Arts
Tuesday, May 22, at 5:00pm to 6:30pm
What: Bank of America Chamber Music series oboist James Austin Smith will lead an advanced-level oboe master class for high school students. Six oboists from Wando High School and Charleston County School of the Arts (SOA) will participate in the 90-minute session at Wando, and several middle school oboe students from Moultrie Middle School, SOA, and Thomas C. Cario Middle School will observe. Smith will also be joined by two Charleston Symphony Orchestra musicians—Kari Kistler and Zachary Hammond—to play Beethoven’s Trio in C for Two Oboes and English Horn.

School/Organization: Sanders-Clyde Creative Arts School
Wednesday, May 23, from 9:00am to 11:00am
What: Bank of America Chamber Music series artists Geoff Nuttall, Christopher Costanza, James Austin Smith, and Owen Dalby will lead two in-school workshops for 40 fifth-grade music students. The following week, the students will also attend the Festival’s 11:00am Bank of America Chamber Music concert on May 30 at Dock Street Theatre. Student tickets to this performance have been generously funded by private donors.

School/Organization: Meeting Street Academy
Wednesday, May 23, from 2:00pm to 3:30pm
What: Third- through fifth-grade students of Meeting Street Academy will experience a behind-the-scenes puppet workshop with Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company at the Emmett Robinson Theatre at College of Charleston. During this event made possible by Sherman Capital Markets, LLC, students will learn about the history and construction of marionettes, costumes, and scenery before watching a short performance. The students will also have a chance to go onstage and get an interactive, hands-on experience with the puppets.

School/Organization: Charleston Jazz Academy
 Monday, June 4, at 6:00pm to 7:00pm
What: Bassist Reggie Workman of Trio 3 will offer a lecture/demonstration for students of the Charleston Jazz Academy (3005 West Montague Ave., North Charleston). The students will be offered complimentary tickets to the following concerts/events: Trio 3 Plus Vijay Iyer (June 3), Fred Hersch Trio (May 27), Artifacts (date TBD), Jazz Talk: Creative Music and Collective Spirit (May 29), and Front Row Talk: Mining the Gullah Groove (June 1).

2018 Spoleto Salon Series
Held in The Murray Center (14 George Street) on May 1, 8, and 15, these free discussions aim to illuminate elements of the 2018 Festival, offering behind-the-scenes perspectives from various creative personnel. Moderated by Edward Hart, chair of College of Charleston’s music department, the Spoleto Salon series will feature Festival General Director Nigel Redden; members of the Tree of Codes design team and Director Ong Keng Sen; and the Westminster Choir’s Joe Miller, Festival Director for Choral Activities. Additional details for each talk can be found HERE. While Spoleto Salons are free to attend, seats must be reserved online at or by calling the Festival’s call center at 843.579.3100.

Artist Talks
The Conversations With discussion series will be held in the Main Reading Room of the Charleston Library Society. Emmy Award-winning CBS News correspondent Martha Teichner interviews Festival artists for intriguing opportunities to hear directly from the artists about their work. Tickets are free, but seats must be reserved online at or by calling the Festival’s call center at 843.579.3100.

  • Saturday, May 26, at 3:00pm: Tree of Codes director Ong Keng Sen and composer Liza Lim
  • Sunday, May 27, at 3:00pmBorders playwright Henry Naylor
  • Sunday, June 3, at 5:00pmPia de’ Tolomei conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya and soprano Natalia Pavlova of You Are Mine Own
  • Thursday, June 7, at 5:00pm: Cast members from The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

Music critic Larry Blumenfeld will also conduct two artist talks, held in the Simons Center Recital Hall at College of Charleston. Tickets are free, but seats must be reserved online at or by calling the Festival’s call center at 843.579.3100.

  • Jazz Talk: Creative Music and Collective Spirit
    Tuesday, May 29, at 5:00pm: The members of Artifacts speak to the enduring legacy of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and how the organization has influenced and empowered their work.
  • Front Row Talk: Mining the Gullah Groove
    Friday, June 1, at 5:00pm: Quentin Baxter and fellow members of Ranky Tanky discuss Charleston’s Gullah culture and how the group’s music champions this tradition within a contemporary framework.

Spoleto Festival USA
Founded in 1977, Spoleto Festival USA is an annual 17-day performing arts festival that presents leading artists in classical and popular music, jazz, dance, and theater, contributing to the rich cultural fabric of Charleston, SC. The 2018 season (May 25 – June 10) includes more than 150 ticketed events in a dozen locations on the downtown peninsula. A release outlining the entire 2018 season can be found HERE.

Press Release

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