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Tuning Up: History and art at Florence park + Wando band update

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


We hope you paused to reflect during the weekend and/or yesterday's holiday. While Veterans Day comes but once a year, a park in Florence combines history with art to honor them year-round. Yesterday it added a monument to the Korean War to its six-and-a-half-acre expanse. The park features sculptures and, for history buffs, artifacts such as a 280-pound chunk of limestone taken from the rubble of the Pentagon's eastern facade and the bell from the USS South Carolina, which served during WWI. Last week we brought you the story of the Wando High school marching band's quest for glory at a national competition in Indianapolis. Writer Karen McDonough followed up with The Hub and reported that the band advanced to the 2018 Grand National finals on Saturday and finished sixth in the nation, a first for a South Carolina band. Congratulations!

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Wando band marches in national competition today

Sculpture and music combine for an award-winning marching band show

By Karen McDonough While most high school students probably have never heard of Alexander Calder, a group of South Carolina teen musicians have become quite familiar with the 20th century American sculptor’s work. Calder’s art work is the central theme of this year’s show by the nationally-ranked Wando High School marching band in Mt. Pleasant. The band performance – which features Calder-inspired sculptures as set props and other nods to his creative force – is a moving collaboration and celebration of sound, movement, and art. And it has catapulted the school to winning back-to-back, first-place wins this fall in regional Bands of America (BOA) competitions for the first time ever. The band performs in the BOA Grand National competition Nov. 8-10 in Indianapolis.

UPDATE, 13 Nov. 2018, 12:25: Go here for an update on how they did!

In the Calder-inspired show, some 260 students –playing everything from the piccolo to the sousaphone with a highly impressive drumline – move, dance and march across a football field, along with 38 color guard wearing bold-hued costumes during the 12-minute theatrical presentation. [caption id="attachment_37721" align="alignright" width="301"] The Wando High School color guard performs on the swing prop. (Stacey Mercorelli)[/caption] “Our show is an attempt to use the abstract use of form, color, balance and motion seen in Calder’s sculptures, to create an environment on the football field that is not unlike a modern sculpture garden,” Wando Band’s program coordinator Michael Gray told MoultrieNews.com. “Each of the Calder inspired props in our show contain elements that move throughout the show, all dependent upon the environment in which they are placed.” The students play musical selections from the classic film "To Kill A Mockingbird” by Elmer Bernstein, an original score by South Carolina composer Jay Bocook and “The Big Apple” by Johan de Meij – against a backdrop of colorful, movable props – all handmade by band parents – reminiscent of the shapes in Calder’s work. The show features recorded narration which tells Calder’s story from the words of art historians, collectors and others who best knew his work. One of the props is inspired by Calder’s famous red outdoor “Flamingo” steel and glass sculpture in downtown Chicago, which the band affectionately refers to as just “Chicago.” Other bright colored props carry the childlike and innocent feel of Calder’s work. [caption id="attachment_37720" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Band parents adjust the "Chicago" prop. (Mike Terry)[/caption] The show was titled “By a Thread” because Calder’s art seemingly hangs by a thread, Gray said, as viewers must look up to see his mobiles and large-scale sculptures. [caption id="attachment_37722" align="alignright" width="250"] Michael Gray (Margie Jackson)[/caption] Gray is a Charleston-based impressionist painter whose artwork is in several galleries around the country. He’s been a part of the Wando band creative team for 18 years and came up with the idea for a Calder-inspired show eight years ago. While it took that many years for the school to get permission to use the likeness of Calder images as set props and on the color guard flags, something else had to be present. The students had to be advanced musically enough as well to tackle a show like this, Gray said. And this season everything came together. Gray designed the color guard costumes, which were inspired by circus costumes Calder had designed for the dance company of Josephine Baker, who dominated the Parisian entertainment scene of that era. Gray also designed the band’s new uniforms this year, an upgrade from the same uniform they wore for 13 previous years. Gray’s artistic vision for the program, along with the hard work and long hours of a sizable team of pros lead by Wando Band Director Bobby Lambert and Assistant Directors Lanie Radecke and Jeff Handel, has helped raise the school’s national profile. “I love focusing our attention on a specific person because it allows us to bring that person and his art to life in a way that can only be done through music,” Lambert said. “In no other activity is a young person asked to be brilliant, athletic, sensitive, and artistic all at the same time. Bringing all of those mediums together alone is a triumph but to do it at a level commensurate with some of the best in the country is extraordinary.” Wando won two first-place titles in regional BOA competitions in October, earning Outstanding Music Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance and Outstanding General Effect in each. The marching band has been a Grand National Finalist four times and the South Carolina 5-A state champions 11 times since 2005. It’s Gray’s hope to educate and entertain audiences watching this year’s show. “If one person [seeing the performance] gets on their phone and Googles ‘Alexander Calder,’ I’m at peace,” he said.
Karen McDonough is a freelance writer based in Mt. Pleasant.

Submitted material

Recording preserves famed organ’s signature sound

Earlier this year, internationally renowned musician Parker Ramsay visited Winthrop University to record an album of George Whitefield Chadwick’s organ music on the university's famed D.B. Johnson Memorial Organ. It is the last recording on the organ before renovations to Byrnes Auditorium that will temporarily prevent its use began. Enthusiasts of the historic organ can still revel in its signature sound captured in the Raven Label recording until the organ is once again available for performances. Winthrop commissioned the organ’s construction in 1952 by the Aeolian-Skinner company. It is named for the Winthrop founder and first president. The large four-manual instrument with 3,788 pipes, the last instrument of famed tonal designer G. Donald Harrison, makes the organ to this day one of the largest in the Carolinas. During its 50th anniversary in 2005, the treasured instrument underwent extensive restoration efforts thanks to generous supporters and Winthrop alumni. Given the Byrnes makeover, admirers said now it is even more critical to preserve both the sound of the instrument and the building, equally highlighted on Ramsay’s recording of Chadwick’s music. “It’s a uniquely American artifact, and this recoding preserves that signature sound … it’s a national treasure in so many ways,” said Murray Somerville, who helped establish the Friends of the D.B. Johnson Memorial Organ Performance Fund along with his wife, Hazel, a Winthrop alumna from the class of 1969. Hazel served on the faculty of Vanderbilt University as artistic director of the children's choruses at the Blair School of Music. Somerville, artistic director emeritus of Nashville's Music City Baroque period instrument ensemble, and former Harvard University organist and choirmaster, performed a recital on the classic organ in 2016 and was instrumental in coordinating the production of Ramsay’s CD. Music lovers can purchase the CD in the Winthrop Bookstore during the Nov. 16-17 Homecoming & Reunion Weekend or buy directly from Raven. The recording – featured recently on Michael Barone’s "Pipedreams" radio program – is a debut for Ramsay, a young musician already regarded for his accomplishments and blossoming career on three instruments: organ, harp and harpsichord. The CD features Ramsay on organ playing compositions of George Whitefield Chadwick, who was president of the New England Conservatory in the early 1900's and a noted composer of symphonies and orchestral tone poems. Some of the pieces on this CD are first recordings, enhanced by Byrnes’ acclaimed acoustics. “We have this wonderful memento of [the organ] … and its acoustic setting, in all its tonal splendor,” Somerville said. Other world-famous musicians have visited Byrnes solely to perform on the famous organ, including:

  • Princeton University Organist Eric Plutz, who spent the summer of 2012 recording his “French Trilogy” CD,
  • Juilliard-trained organist Christopher Houlihan,
  • Westminster Abbey organist James O'Donnell,
  • German musicians Christoph Wolff and Stefan Engels,
  • and Canadian organ virtuoso Maxine Thevenot.
For more information about how to give to the Friends of the D.B. Johnson Memorial Organ Performance Fund, contact University Advancement at 803.323.2275.

We’re looking for some jolly good fellows

Tuning Up: Busking is back in Spartanburg + NEA Jazz Masters concert

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


Not to go all meta on you, but today we bring a "Tuning Up" solely about... music. These entries are longer than normal "Tuning Up" entries, but we really, really felt like it was the perfect deployment of the feature. Enjoy! -Ed.

Busking returns to downtown Spartanburg

Chapman Cultural Center is excited to announce that the street music series is returning to the Spartanburg Downtown Cultural District starting this week! The CCC special events coordinator describes the program like this: "Street Music, or busking, is meant to be an intimate experience, not a large event. They are like micro, pop-up performances that are meant to enhance your experience downtown and encourage you to stay longer. You will be able to walk from one end of East Main Street at Liberty all the way to The Grain District and hear a variety of musical instruments, genres, and styles." The Street Music Series launched in August 2017 and ran for 13 weeks. In that time, the Cultural District was host of  145 gigs featuring nine genres of music that more than 1,800 people stopped to enjoy along Main Street.  

Free events celebrate masters in jazz

The National Endowment for the Arts is paying tribute to the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters – Todd Barkan, Joanne Brackeen, Pat Metheny, and Dianne Reeves – with a free, Kennedy Center concert in Washington on Monday, April 16. The concert, which will also be webcast live, will bring together many stars of the jazz world in performances that will highlight the NEA Jazz Masters’ careers. The concert will be hosted by Jason Moran, pianist and Kennedy Center artistic director for jazz, and include remarks by the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters, as well as Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and Deborah F. Rutter, president of the Kennedy Center. The concert will include performances by:
  • Terri Lyne Carrington,
  • Nir Felder,
  • Sullivan Fortner,
  • James Francies,
  • Pasquale Grasso,
  • Gilad Hekselman,
  • Angelique Kidjo,
  • Christian McBride,
  • Camila Meza,
  • NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri and the Eddie Palmieri Sextet,
  • Cécile McLorin Salvant,
  • Antonio Sanchez,
  • Helen Sung,
  • and Dan Wilson.
And oh, by the way, you're invited. Up to four (4) tickets per household may be reserved for this free concert in person at the Kennedy Center Box Office, at kennedy-center.org, or by dialing 202-467-4600 or 800-444-1324. Reservation confirmations should be printed at home (note: these are not tickets, but reservations), and will be valid until 7:45 p.m. Monday, April 16, 2018. Print-at-home tickets are unavailable for this concert. Those with ticket reservations should bring their printed reservation confirmations to the Kennedy Center Hall of Nations Box Office on Monday, April 16, 2018, between 5:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. to receive their tickets with seating locations. All reserved tickets not picked up by 7:45 p.m. on April 16 will be released and distributed to a ticket giveaway line. If you're not up for a trip to D.C. (those cherry blossoms, though!), the concert will be video-streamed live on the NEA and Kennedy Center websites, among others. An archive of the webcast will be available following the event at arts.gov. In addition, SiriusXM Channel 67, Real Jazz will audio broadcast the concert live.

Congratulations to the new South Carolina Arts Commission Fellows!

The South Carolina Arts Commission Board has awarded FY2016 Individual Artist Fellowships to four South Carolina artists in the categories of  visual arts, craft, music: composition and music: performance. Each artist receives $5,000. This year's fellows (pictured above, left to right):

Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of South Carolina's exceptional individual artists. Fellowship awards are made through a highly competitive, anonymous process and are based on artistic excellence only. The fellowship awards bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and employment opportunities. The S.C. Arts Commission board approves fellowships based on recommendations made by out-of-state review panelists, who select fellows based solely on a review of anonymous work samples. This year's visual arts and craft judges were Alida Fish, photographer and professor emerita at the College of Art and Design, University of the Arts in Philadelphia; Christopher Schmidt, artist and director of the Schmidt-Dean Gallery in Philadelphia.; and Mi-Kyoung Lee, artist and associate professor of Crafts and head of Fibers at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The music composition and performance judges were Robert Tanner, composer and faculty member of the music department at Morehouse College in Atlanta; and Helen Kim, violinist, assistant concertmaster of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra and faculty member at Kennesaw State University. Individual artists working in poetry, prose, dance choreography or dance performance may apply for the FY2017 fellowship awards. Applications open Aug. 3, 2015, and the deadline to apply is Nov. 2, 2015. For more information about S.C. Arts Commission programs and services, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.

Don’t delay! Final week to submit Fellowship applications and Verner Award nominations

November 3 is the deadline for Individual Fellowship applications and the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts nominations. Submissions for both programs must be hand-delivered or postmarked by Monday, Nov. 3. Nomination letters for the Verner Award are also accepted via e-mail or fax. Artists working in visual arts, craft, music composition and music performance are eligible to apply for $5,000 Fellowships, which are designed to recognize the artistic achievements of South Carolina's exceptional individual artists. (Artistic disciplines rotate each year.) Fellowships applications are reviewed anonymously by out-of-state panelists, and awards are based solely on artistic excellence. The South Carolina Arts Commission Board of Commissioners reviews panel recommendations and makes the final awards. Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Awards recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina and are the highest honor the state gives in the arts. These awards honor South Carolina arts organizations, patrons, artists, educators, members of the business community, and government entities who maximize their roles as innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts. A selection committee of arts professionals, educators, and business, government, and community representatives reviews the nomination letters and make recommendations to the South Carolina Arts Commission Board of Commissioners, who make the final awards. Detailed guidelines and submission instructions for the Fellowship program and the Verner Awards are available online. For more information about either program, call (803) 734-8696.

Artists: Apply for a $5,000 Fellowship!

Application deadline is Nov. 1, 2014. The South Carolina Arts Commission is accepting applications for the next round of Individual Artist Fellowships. S.C. artists working in visual arts, craft, music composition or music performance are invited to apply for the 2016 awards. Each Fellow receives $5,000. Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of South Carolina’s exceptional individual artists. Fellowship awards are made through a highly competitive, anonymous process by out-of-state panelists and are based on artistic excellence only. The awards bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and employment opportunities. Fellowships are awarded in four disciplines each year. Complete requirements, guidelines and the application are available online. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1, 2014. Related: Who won the most recent round of Fellowships?

Fellowships for visual arts, craft, music composition and music performance

Application deadline is Nov. 1, 2014. The South Carolina Arts Commission is accepting applications for the next round of Individual Artist Fellowships. S.C. artists working in visual arts, craft, music composition or music performance are invited to apply for the 2016 awards. Each Fellow receives $5,000. Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of South Carolina’s exceptional individual artists. Fellowship awards are made through a highly competitive, anonymous process by out-of-state panelists and are based on artistic excellence only. The awards bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and employment opportunities. Fellowships are awarded in four disciplines each year. Complete requirements, guidelines and the application are available online. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1, 2014. Related: Who won the most recent round of Fellowships?