Spoleto Festival USA director to retire

30+ years enough for Nigel Redden

Nigel Redden announced that in October 2021 he will step down as general director of Spoleto Festival USA.

“The cancellation of the 2020 Festival and the enforced isolation of the last several months have made me realize that, after nearly 35 years since I first joined Spoleto Festival USA, it is time for me to retire. The Festival continues to mean an enormous amount to me—my first real job was working as a studente assistente at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, starting in 1969.”

Spoleto Festival USA was founded in 1977 as an American counterpart to the annual Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto Italy. Redden first joined the festival in 1986 as general manager. He resigned in 1991, leaving the organization with assets of approximately $1.5 million, and returned in 1995 after the festival had suffered significant deficits. During his tenure, the festival built endowments; was involved in the renovations of Festival Hall (formerly Memminger Auditorium), Dock Street Theatre, Charleston Gaillard Center, and College of Charleston’s Sottile Theatre; commissioned numerous artists; and staged many world and U.S. premieres. Contemporary composers whose operas were given American or world premieres include Guo Wenjing, Huang Ruo, Philip Glass, Wolfgang Rihm, Kaija Saariaho, Toshio Hosakawa, Pascal Dusapin, Luca Francesconi, Helmut Lachenmann, and Michael Nyman.

Bill Medich, chairman of the Spoleto Festival USA board, thanked Redden for his long years of service to the organization.

“Nigel Redden has been an inspirational leader for the Festival,” Medich said. “Under his leadership, Spoleto has become known as America’s premier performing arts festival, fulfilling its mission each year to present the best possible program while contributing to the development of young artists and proving a commitment to all forms of the performing arts.”

Redden’s notice provides the festival more than a year to identify a successor, and the festival will begin a search immediately.