Geoff Nuttall Is Named Artistic Director of the Spoleto Festival USA Chamber Music Series

Nigel Redden, Spoleto Festival USA General Director, announced tonight that Geoff Nuttall has been named the incoming Charles E. and Andrea L. Volpe Artistic Director for Chamber Music. Nuttall, who became associate artistic director of the festival chamber music series in 2008, will assume leadership from longtime artistic director Charles Wadsworth beginning with the 2010 festival.
nuttall_and_c__wadsworth_william_struhs.jpgNuttall says he finds the appointment bittersweet: “Charles has been a friend and mentor to me for many years and I’m sad he’s leaving. At the same time, I am excited about this opportunity, especially with Dock Street Theatre reopening next year. I feel like I’ve been given keys to a Ferrari.”
Nuttall first performed at the festival in 1995 with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, which he co-founded 20 years ago. As first violinist of this world-renowned foursome, Nuttall has performed over 1,800 concerts throughout North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. He is on faculty at Stanford University, and makes his home in California with his wife, violinist Livia Sohn, and their young son Jack.

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Spoleto Works Its Magic

POSTED ON BEHALF OF MARC OVERTON, HOST OF SPOLETO TODAY & FORMER DIRECTOR OF SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA
Our work at Spoleto has fallen into a rhythm of long days that usually end only a little before midnight, but today was different in a wonderful way. I decided just to take a break in the outside world, run some errands and get back to the studio by 9:30 or so to rejoin my colleagues.
Punch Bros3_250.jpgSpoleto magic took over: the sounds of Chris Thiele and the Punch Brothers were making the trees in the College of Charleston’s Cistern literally sway. The audience was spellbound, there was a crescent moon peeping through the trees, and dozens of non-ticketholders were lined up along the wrought iron fence, getting some musical kicks for free. That queue included several members of the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, on their way home (fiddle cases slung over their shoulders) who were enjoying a slightly different “Song of the Earth” than the one by Mahler they had just played at Gaillard.
It was all quintessential Spoleto: Mahler a few blocks away — transcendent, majestic — and Chris Thiele’s unique blend of bluegrass and traditional American folk in the Cistern, with PIccolo Spoleto theatre performances across the street. The whole panoply of theatre, music, and the balmy Charleston night: everything that makes Spoleto the unique experience of place and performance it is.

Spoleto 2009: A Theme Emerges?

POSTED ON BEHALF OF MARC OVERTON, FORMER SPOLETO FESTIVAL DIRECTOR AND CO-HOST OF SPOLETO TODAY:
At the beginning of every Spoleto Festival I have attended (that’s 18, counting this one), Festival management has claimed there is no “theme” or unifying concept for that year’s Festival. Spoleto Festival USA has always taken considerable pride in its cheerfully uncentered eclecticism, and the fact is that it’s true: the festivals don’t have a pre-determined theme.
But as sure as the sun is shining and the humidity is climbing in Charleston, a theme begins to emerge after a few days — no matter how wildly different in subject matter, in genre, and in location the performances may be.
So….what’s emerging in 2009? Here’s how it seems to me: there is a certain darkness in human nature, but it is brightened a little by an occult optimism. The brightness lurks behind the dark and keeps us from complete despair. You can see this in LOUISE, the “big” opera this year, in which even Louise’s seduction by the city of Paris (which seems at first to be an exhilarating act of liberation) leaves the viewer uneasy and unsatisfied. In KneeHigh Theatre’s DON JOHN, the hero seems to get his (ultimate) comeuppance in the end, but somehow the ending is inadequate. Even Don John’s death is not enough to make up for what he has done.
Addicted loud.jpgMaybe the picture will change as the Festival heads into its second full week. More performances could give greater shade and texture to first impressions. A glimpse at ADDICTED TO BAD IDEAS at its dress rehearsal this afternoon doesn’t lead me to think that sweetness and light are on the way. But deafness most assuredly IS on the way, if the ADDICTED audiences don’t use the earplugs SFUSA has promised to provide!

Spoleto Ready For Any Weather

POSTED ON BEHALF OF MARC OVERTON, FROM SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA IN CHARLESTON
Spoleto Festival has outdoor events — mainly jazz but sometimes dance performances presented in the outdoor Cistern at the College of Charleston. So the threat — or the fact — of rain is always a worry. Fortunately, there are backup locations in Charleston to which a performance can be moved in a hurry, if need be. And that’s what happened last night when Florin Niculescu, the Romanian jazz violinist, had to be moved to the Charleston Music Hall. FlorinNiculescu.jpg
But sometimes an unforeseen emergency turns out to be fortuitously beneficial, and that was what happened last night. Charleston Music Hall is a beautifully-equipped little music box- very modern in atmosphere. The acoustics are great; the lighting is up-to-the-minute (motorized follow spots, prismatic effects, etc.), and it’s a great place to hear jazz.
So Niculescu got in out of the rain and gave a great show for the select few who braved the weather. What a treat!
Spoleto rolls on into its first full week, with lots of great music yet to come, including Mahler’s DAS LIED VON DER ERDE this coming Thursday. Don’t miss it.