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Jason Rapp

Koger Center announces 1593 Project winner

Visual artist takes inaugural award


The Koger Center for the Arts is proud to announce that artist Kimberly Case has been selected winner of the 1593 Project – A Call for Art from the Koger Center for the Arts.

An exhibition which will focus on Kimberly Case’s work and include submissions from other artists swill be held in the Upstairs Gallery at the Koger Center for the Arts at a later date.

The 1593 Project

In the year 1593, bubonic plague swept through London, killing almost a third of the population. At that time when deaths exceeded thirty per week, London authorities closed the theaters. As acting companies fell on hard times, Shakespeare took the forced closures as a time to create, and in the year 1593 began to compose the first of what would be a brilliant collection of 154 sonnets.

With the world facing a pandemic which has disrupted normal life and shuttered performing and visual art venues, the Koger Center for the Arts, in an effort to support creative artists during this time, launched the 1593 Project – A call for Arts from the Koger Center for the Arts. More than 50 submissions were received from both performing and visual artists throughout  South Carolina and a panel of judges that represented visual and performing arts selected the winner, Kimberly Case.

Kimberly Case will receive a $500 stipend, gallery space and technical support resulting in a free public display in the Upstairs Gallery at the Koger Center for the Arts.

Ed. note: Images of Case's work were not immediately available to The Hub.

UPDATE: The winning artwork is below. (Aug. 3, 2020; 11:14 ET)


Kimberly Case

Kimberly Case photoKimberly Case is an award-winning visual artist, focusing on fine art portrait photography. Incorporating sometimes fantastical themes, wardrobe and props, her photographs are often mistaken at first for paintings, due to their tones and aura. Hallmarks of her work are richness and whimsy. “For me, storytelling is key; it’s what makes the art relevant. I seek to transport the viewer to another place and time.”

Artist’s Statement – In the Time of COVID

"In the Time of COVID is a real-time journey through the pandemic of COVID-19, through the lens of a self-portrait artist.

I wanted to have a record, something I could look back on, that would remind me of the unfolding events as well as how I was feeling on particular days. I also needed something to help keep me busy and in tune with my art and with myself.

[caption id="attachment_45106" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Kimberly Case's winning artwork The winning artwork.[/caption]

At the beginning, I had no idea I would be working on this project for several months… The first image was taken April 3; the final image was shot July 15.

The entire series is over 40 photographic self-portraits and still life works focusing on aspects of life during the pandemic such as isolation, altering of routines, search for information, tangible boredom, signals of hope, desire for normalcy.

Some images are extremely personal, such as the ones that deal with a family member’s cancer diagnosis. Many of the images address shared experiences, seemingly spanning the globe."

Submitted material

The 1593 Project: A Call for Art

Submission deadline: June 30, 2020


In the year 1593, bubonic plague swept through London, killing almost a third of its population. In times of plague, when deaths exceeded thirty per week, London authorities closed the theaters. As acting companies fell on hard times, Shakespeare took the forced closures as a time to create, and in the year 1593 began to compose the first of what would be a brilliant collection of 154 sonnets. Richard III, Venus and Adonis, Titus Andronicus, and the Taming of the Shrew were also thought to have been written during this dark time for the theater, and in 1606 when the plague returned to once again to ravage the city, Shakespeare persevered with the creation of many of his greatest plays of all time, including Antony and Cleopatra, King Lear, and Macbeth. History has repeated itself and humanity is again facing a pandemic which has disrupted normal life and shuttered performing and visual art venues. To support creative artists during this time, the Koger Center for the Arts is launching The 1593 Project: A Call for Art. We encourage submissions from South Carolina performing and visual artists through June 30, 2020. The chosen artist will receive a $500 stipend, rehearsal or gallery space, and technical support resulting in a free public performance or display in one of the areas at the Koger Center. For full details, please visit kogercenterforthearts.com.
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Musical event celebrates little known story of Jewish rescue

A largely unknown and uplifting event in the dark history of the Holocaust will be told through a concert that combines the musical forces of a full orchestra, a choir from Bulgaria, choirs from around the U.S. and soloists. Songs of Life Festival: A Melancholy Beauty, being performed for the first time in South Carolina after successful performances in New York, Washington D.C. and Boston, recounts how Bulgaria’s 49,000 Jews were saved from the Nazis by ordinary citizens, government and church officials. 2013 marks the 70th anniversary of the rescue. The performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Nov. 2 at the Charleston Music Hall and 7 p.m., Nov. 3, at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia.

Songs of Life will be performed by the University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra, augmented by Bulgarian folk instruments, the Philip Kutev National Folklore Ensemble of Bulgaria, University of Florida Chamber Choir, the Bach Festival Youth Choir, Young Sandlapper Singers, the Limestone College and Community Chorus and several professional soloists. The centerpiece is A Melancholy Beauty, a new oratorio that had its world premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and has been performed at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York and the Wang Center in Boston. A Melancholy Beauty is a creation of Varna International, a South Carolina-based organization that for 15 years has presented music festivals throughout Europe. The organization is headed by husband and wife team Kalin Tchonev, a native of Bulgaria, and Sharon Tchoneva, a native of Israel. Sharon Tchoneva's Bulgarian grandparents were saved during the rescue. This is the first time the work has been presented in South Carolina. “We felt it was important to stage the production this year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the rescue, and it seemed appropriate to bring it ‘home,’” Sharon Tchonev said. http://youtu.be/uX2kpMHCwIM The idea for A Melancholy Beauty came to Kalin Tchonev while he was attending a performance of the musical Mama Mia in Berlin. Seated nearby was a group of people with mental disabilities, and he began reflecting on the fate of such people in Nazi Germany and how Bulgarians Jews had been saved from the death camps – including his wife’s family. “I realized that if it were not for the miraculous rescue, I would not have my wife and son today,” Kalin Tchonev said. “We wanted to pay tribute to the brave people who stood up – ordinary people who arose to defy evil.” They did so by commissioning composer Georgi Andreev and librettists Scot Cairns and Aryeh Finklestein to create A Melancholy Beauty. Andreev, chief conductor of the State Folklore Ensemble, has written many works for chamber orchestra and piano and arranged 400 Bulgarian traditional songs. Cairns’ poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review and The New Republic, and he is the author of six poetry collections. Finklestein, cantor at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Massachusetts, has written the libretti for three oratorios. A Melancholy Beauty combines classical choral-orchestral music with Bulgarian musical influences and traditional instruments such as the gadulka (a type of lute) and kaval (flute). The soloists will perform the roles of several key players in the drama including King Boris, the head of the Orthodox Church; a pro-Nazi commissar; his private secretary, who warned the Jews; and a political leader who opposed the deportation. The performance will be conducted by Donald Portnoy, music director of the USC Symphony Orchestra. “Approaching Maestro Portnoy was a natural decision for us, as we always seek to work with a good local orchestra, and Kalin holds master’s degrees from the USC School of Music and was acquainted with Maestro Portnoy,” explained Sharon Tchonev. “He immediately embraced the idea.” The South Carolina productions will open with a performance by the National Folklore Ensemble. The Optimists, a film about the rescue, will be shown as well. The movie won First Prize at the Jerusalem International Film Festival for Documenting the Jewish Experience and won an honorable mention award at the Berlin International Film Festival. “Because the story isn’t widely known, we wanted to provide the audience with an understanding of the history that inspired A Melancholy Beauty,” said Sharon Tchonev. “We can’t think of a better way than screening the 20-minute version of this beautiful and deeply moving film told from a personal perspective of what happened to the filmmaker’s family.” For more information, visit the Songs of Life website. Via: Songs of Life Festival

USC Symphony opens season with pianist Misha Dichter

The University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra will launch its season Thursday, Sept. 19 with Misha Dichter, a giant presence in the piano world for nearly half a century. The concert takes place at the Koger Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. “As far as I know he’s never before performed in Columbia, and we’re very excited to have a guest artist who has led such an extraordinary musical life,” said Donald Portnoy, music director of the orchestra. Dichter burst onto the world’s music scene in 1966, winning the silver medal at the International Tchaikovsky Competition when he was just 20 and a student at the Juilliard School. He made his New York debut in 1968 with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic. The pianist’s vast discography on the Philips, RCA, and MusicMasters labels ranges from George Frederic Handel to George Gershwin. A noted exponent of Franz Liszt's piano works, Dichter was honored in 1998 with the Grand Prix International du Disque Liszt. Since winning the silver at the Tchaikovsky half a century ago, he has had a nearly non-stop career as soloist with major orchestras around the world and as a chamber musician, often performing duo-piano works with his wife Cipa Dichter, and appearing regularly at the Ravinia, Caramoor, Mostly Mozart and Aspen festivals. He will perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43 with the orchestra. Rachmaninoff composed The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43 during the summer of 1934 basing it on composer and violinist Niccolo Paganini's Caprice No. 24 in A minor, Op. 1, which Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and others had also tapped for variations. It was the last work he wrote for piano and orchestra and is one of his best loved works. For more information about the concert, visit the USC Symphony's website. Individual tickets are $30 for the general public, $25 for USC faculty and staff and seniors, and $8 for students. For tickets, call (803) 251-2222 or visit http://www.capitoltickets.com/ Via: USC Symphony Orchestra  

Columbia native Connie James comes home to perform

Columbia native Connie James returns to her hometown for her first local performance since moving to New York City in 1988. James will perform with the Sandlapper Singers, the Sandlapper Singers Orchestra and the Dick Goodwin Quintet on Feb. 8 at the Koger Center. The program features songs from the Great American Song Book, Broadway and light Jazz. A singer and actress, James has been a featured artist in the touring tribute shows "Sweet Baby James" and "Blue" for the past two years, has starred in the one-woman show "Fever: a Tribute to Peggy Lee" and performed as the opening act for American comedy icon Bob Newhart. She was nominated for a Pixie Award for Best Song/Soundtrack in a Motion Picture for the song “Three Words," which she co-wrote and recorded with composer/pianist Onaje Allen Gumbs for the short film “Whoa."  James has acted on NBC's “Law & Order," “Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit” and “Homicide: Life on the Street." Recently, James starred in the independent short film "Brothers.” James can be heard as the announcer for numerous television and radio commercials. James attended Columbia High School and the University of South Carolina, where she was actively involved in theatre and the concert choir. James was a soloist with the Dick Goodwin big band before moving to New York.

Visit the Sandlapper Singers' website for more about the performance and ticket information.

[caption id="attachment_3215" align="aligncenter" width="479"]Sandlapper Singers The Sandlapper Singers[/caption]   Via: Sandlapper Singers