Sunday, September 6, 2009

A new year, a new life

This is the first time in 20 years I haven’t been looking at the coming arts season from inside a newspaper office. During the early 1990s, I started an annual arts guide at The State newspaper, called Arts Ahead, which provided full calendars, stories about what was coming up in the arts and tips for best enjoying and affording the arts. While I can’t do all that on this site (at least not yet) here are a few of my thoughts on what’s coming up.

I love contemporary music, so the Southern Exposure new music series is high on my list. It starts in October with the group Real Quiet.

The Cornelia Freeman September Concert Series has been around for a couple of decades – quite a bit of the music being played this year is younger than the series. The series started Sept. 6 with works from the 17th through the 19th centuries and the next one Sunday, Sept. 13 is all pre-20th century too.
But through the whole series, which takes place every Sunday at the USC music school, about 15 of 23 compositions are from the 20th century and half of those by composers 65 or younger (most considerably younger.) Among them are Graham Fitkin, Carter Pann and Roshanne Etezady (left). Not that there’s a thing wrong with Bach, Mendelssson and Mussorgsky.
Concerts with newer music have a tendency to attract younger audiences. Sunday afternoon concerts don’t. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

(By the way, the concerts are named for Cornelia Freeman a giant of music education here. Her grand-daughter Erin, associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony in Virginia, will guest conduct the S.C. Philharmonic in January.)

The College of Charleston School of the Arts is moving into its brand new home at the corner of St. Philip and Calhoun streets. This means a new home for the Halsey Institute of Contemporary art, its gallery and excellent programs.
The new place opens to the public in October with an exhibition by the solo-named art
ist Aldwyth. (right) The artist, who lives in Hilton Head, has long been one of the most respected artists in the area – but the appreciative audience has been small.
The show is traveling around the county and includes a hard-back catalog and DVD.

At the Columbia Museum of Art Larry Clark’s bleak images from 1970s Tulsa will be sure to be a bummer (in a good way.)
The museum is also unveiling 50 works it has received from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection. The middle-class couple put together a huge art collection which they are distributing throughout the county in a program called “50 Works for 50 States.” Both open in October.
The Chemistry of Color: Contemporary African-American Artists’ will bring art by some giants - Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold – to town in February.

The Charles Wadsworth and Friends concert series, now run by cellist Edward Arron, also promises some surprises. I ran the names of some of the players and works past pianist Phillip Bush and he gives lots of thumbs ups.
Among those playing are Jeremy
Denk, piano, Alisa Weilerstein, cello, and Angela Jones-Reus, flute. Oh, and Charles Wadsworth. The series starts in October at the art museum.
The museum’s Art of Music series also promises some intriguing offerings.

Looks like another good S.C. Philharmonic season under new music director Morihiko Nakahara. The first concert is Saturday, Sept. 12.
He’s looking forward to the Hayden during the second concert in October, as am I. Also for me is the Mozart concerto for bassoon played by Peter
Kolkay of Columbia in October. The orchestra will also play “Verge” by Columbia-based composer John Fitz Rogers in November.
And don’t forget that Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (right) will join the orchestra in December.

The USC Symphony also has an interesting looking season. Playing with the orchestra in October is the Shiraz Trio, a percussion group and Haim Avitsur, who plays the shofar (ram’s horn) and trombone, will do a new piece by Columbia composer Meira Warshauer.
Early next year, Columbia native Angelia Cho (left) will perform Dvork’s Violin Concert in a minor with the orchestra. Cho, who won the 2006 Concerto Competition at The New England Conservatory, has performed with many orchestras and is a member of The Academy, a fellowship program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and The Weill Music Institute.
The season wraps up with pianist Marina
Lomazov and trumpeter James Ackley playing Shostakovich’s “Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings.”

Theatre South Carolina has its usual mix of the popular with the more academic (that old romantic “Cyrano de Bergerac” and a worker-rights play called “Radium Girls.”) The new deal is that on the first Saturday it will do two performances – one at 7 and one at 11.

S.C. State University used to do some significant exhibitions at its museum, but that stopped several years back for reasons that are still a mystery to me. The good news is that the university now has a new art gallery, run by artist and educator Jim Arendt, which is turning into a real showcase for young and upcoming South Carolina artists. This year the gallery will have shows by Kara Gunter, Lee Swallie and others.

The McKissick Museum at USC has a long history of exploring traditional crafts. Early next year it opens “Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art.” It’s a craft with roots on the South Carolina coast. The exhibition was organized by the Museum for African Art in New York in collaboration with the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston and the McKissick Museum. It was curated by Enid Schildkrout and Dale Rosengarten. Rosengarten is one of two South Carolina MacArthur “genius" grant recipients. The other is Mary Jackson, who makes sweetgrass baskets in Charleston.)
Before coming to Columbia, it will be one of the inaugural exhibitions at the new Museum for African Art when the museum opens in January.
To watch a video of Jackson talking about traditional functional baskets to to:

For a while I’ve wanted to write something about double reed instruments.
I’m not joking – even if there are many oboe and double reed jokes out there. (None very good.)
These are instruments I don’t know much about and they sound great. Also, double reed players have to make their own reeds and are notoriously high strung about this and the fact that they have to blow a lot of air through a very narrow opening making it likely that their heads will explode at any moment.
So, I’m thrilled that Nov. 21 is
“South Carolina Double Reed Day”!
It will bring together players of oboes and bassoons - and with any luck someone with a
heckelphon. The day wraps up with a concert at USC - without exploding heads.

And a few other things:

The South Carolina Poetry Initiative will have a week or so of Edgar Allen Poe related- reading and events in October. We hope it will include Raven Eating.

I plan to hit Town Theatre’s opening show “The King and I,” which has a great story and music and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. I’m not a big fan of “The Producers” which opens the Workshop Theatre season or “Rent,” which Trustus is doing, but I’m sure no one will miss me when the shows sell out.

Painter Philip Morsberger of Augusta will have what I think is his first show in Columbia. It’s at Gallery 80808/Vista Studio organized by if Art Gallery. The very fine veteran artist Alex Powers of Myrtle Beach is at City Art Gallery. Both are in October.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing what sculptor Jonathan Brilliant, who recently moved to Columbia from Charleston, will do with tens of thousands of coffee-stirrers in the USC art department gallery. We’ll all find out in January.

I’ve been writing about Brian Rutenberg and his art for 15 years. Needless to say I won’t miss his newest batch of paintings when they go on display at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston in October.

Tom Stanley and Shaun Cassidy, both of Winthrop University, will do a collaborative show at the Sumter Gallery of Art in November. Candice Ivy, a South Carolina native who has created compelling installations in Sumter and Columbia, will have a show there in February.

The USC dance lineup looks excellent and varied.

Former USC dance instructor Miriam Barbosa unveils her new group, the South Carolina Contemporary Dance Company in a few weeks.

The names for USC’s Caught in the Creative Act visiting writer’s program may not be as familiar as those in past years such as Salman Rushie and E.L. Doctorow. They are: Lev Grossman, Ron Rash (from South Carolina), Tom Perrotta, Terry Tempest Williams, Ceridwen Dovey. All are excellent writers.

The fall festival of authors
hosts poet Billy Collins in
He was poet laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. Despite that he is very smart and very funny.

“The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music
barking, barking, barking,
and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven had included a part for barking dog.’”
(From the poem “Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House.”)


  1. Looks like there is a lot to look forward to in SC for the art lover. Thanks JD!
    - Jewels

  2. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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