For the 32nd year, Spoleto Festival USA has scheduled one of the most dynamic and comprehensive performing arts celebrations in the United States to be held May 23 through June 8, 2008. Over this 17-day period, artists and ensembles from around the world perform over 45 productions in a spectacular program of some 140 performances. In addition, the newly renovated Memminger Auditorium will finally take its place as one of Charleston's premier venues.
The Opening Weekend Gala will toast the 32nd season of Spoleto Festival USA. Guests will begin their night with either the Monkey: Journey to the West or a performance by the Boston Ballet. Pre-dinner cocktails and a lavish seated dinner will follow at the Gaillard's Exhibition Hall, and the evening will conclude with dancing to Nashville's Paul Ross and the Kadillacs.
The Festival will feature such artists as the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a band of three young African-American string players who have been widely heralded as leading a revival of traditional African-American string music, as well as pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Chestnut began his life in music in the church and its influence in his career has remained strong. With his trio and special guests Carla Cook (vocals), James Carter (saxophone), and the Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Chestnut explores the relationship between the sacred and the secular in an evening entitled Jazz Goes to Church.
The series will also showcase a number of female performers including the African-American vocalist Paula West. Accompanied by the George Mesterhazy Quartet, the San Francisco-based singer will perform two nights in the Cistern over opening weekend. The classical flutist Paula Robison, well-known to Spoleto Festival USA audiences for her work with the chamber music series, will display another side of her significant talents in a dynamic concert with Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista and guitarist Romero Lubambo.
Also hailing from Brazil is pianist whose Spoleto Festival USA performances will be not only her American debut but also her first appearances outside Brazil. Other musicians making their US debut include Italian saxophonist and composer Stefano Cocco Cantini and Daniel Mille. Cantini is part of a new wave of Italian musicians creating their own fresh new approach to jazz and accordionist Daniel Mille has developed a sound that is at once quintessentially French and universal. Mille's trio includes saxophonist Eric Seva and cellist Eric Longsworth.
Tickets for the 2008 Spoleto Festival USA are on sale now and range from $10 to $150. To purchase tickets, visit www.spoletousa.org or call (843) 579-3100. Tickets may be purchased in person at the Spoleto Festival USA Box Office in the Gaillard Auditorium, 77 Calhoun Street, beginning Monday, April 14, 2008.