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Jason Rapp

Hub E-vents: S.C. Jazz Festival starts Sunday

You want art. You crave art.

#SCartists and arts organizations want to fill that void. They live for that. It’s a calling. Yet in times of social distancing, that’s hard to do. Through the wonders of modern technology, many are trying and succeeding. So while we’re all staying home to protect vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors,  The Hub is stepping up to fill the void between artists and arts lovers. (Learn more about Hub E-vents here.)

Sunday-Saturday

South Carolina Jazz Festival Celebrate Dizzy Gillespie’s 103rd birthday and enjoy a world-class jazz festival wherever you are on your favorite streaming devices. The 2020 South Carolina Jazz Festival features regional to international jazz stars from South Carolina, New York, Brazil and more. The Town of Cheraw did not let the COVID-19 pandemic stop their annual jazz festival. They turned to ColaJazz Foundation Executive Director Mark Rapp to create an online jazz festival experience. “Unprecedented times calls for unprecedented actions and teamwork,” Rapp said. “The timeline is extraordinarily aggressive and most would say impossible; however, the town of Cheraw, the festival’s supporting sponsors, and ColaJazz were up for the challenge. I believe we have a festival that is incredible in its lineup and a powerful testament to overcoming obstacles. Overcoming is what jazz does!” The 2020 SC Jazz Festival features a wide range of jazz talent including: Grammy Award nominated artists Tia Fuller, Don Braden, Delfeayo Marsalis; New York jazz stars Alexa Tarantino and Steven Feifke; recent Savannah Jazz Hall of Fame inductee Eric Jones; pianist Kevin Bales and his octet; Gino Castillo and Cuban trumpeter Julito Padron; artists from the Greenville Jazz Collective; the Charleston Jazz Orchestra; Columbia’s own “Little Big Band: the band that could!”; Brazilian vocalist Liz Rosa; Brazilian pianist Serge Frasunkiewicz; and more. All shows and information can be found on the festival’s website: https://scjazzfestival.com

Jason Rapp

Hub E-vents: April 30

You want art. You crave art.

#SCartists and arts organizations want to fill that void. They live for that. It’s a calling. Yet in times of social distancing, that’s hard to do. Through the wonders of modern technology, many are trying and succeeding. So while we’re all staying home to protect vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors,  The Hub is stepping up to fill the void between artists and arts lovers. (Learn more about Hub E-vents here.)

So this is it for April.

The Hub doesn't know about you, but it felt only about half as long as March's approximately 250 days. Progress! (Right?) Let's dance into a new month, and get closer to returning to the people, places, and things we miss.

Here are some events for today. (Or anytime.)

Your event not here? Here's a little more on how Hub E-vents works.

Tuning Up: FatRat + more Riley fellow news + Pee Dee art

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...


FatRat Da Leprechaun? South Carolina’s godfather of hip-hop, FatRat Da Czar (above), will host the 2020 iteration of the famed St. Pat's Festival on Saturday, March 21. He'll perform his role as official festival MC from a centrally-located stage and hopes his presence will "bring a little of the hip-hop family day vibe so families with kids can come out and enjoy the day." #SCartists Band of Horses headline the festival and Columbia and South Carolina Jazz Ambassador Mark Rapp (and the Soda City Brass Band) are also booked. S.C. Phil ED named Riley Fellow. Remember this news yesterday? The arts have additional representation in the Midlands cohort. Rhonda Hunsinger, long-time executive director of the South Carolina Philharmonic, was also named a Riley Phillow. Er, Phellow. Darnit! Fellow. If there are other arts folks involved, we haven't heard because you don't send your news releases to the S.C. Arts Commission by adding this email to your media distro list, or didn't submit news to The Hub. And opening Thursday... The Florence County Museum is proud to present the 2020 Pee Dee Regional Art Competition, which highlights the best contemporary art in the Pee Dee region. One of the state's oldest juried art competitions, the first Pee Dee Regional dates back to 1954. This year's exhibition will be on display in the FCM Waters Gallery. An opening reception will be held Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The exhibit will remain on display through Friday, April 3.

Mark Rapp to be featured in EngenuitySC’s Competitiveness Week

Standout musician to close out celebration

Mark Rapp playing his trumpet
EngenuitySC, the local nonprofit that works with area leaders to make the Columbia, S.C., region a standout choice for top talent and competitive companies, will close out its annual Competitiveness Week 2020 with a celebration of one of the city’s greatest levers of growth—its thriving arts community. EngenuitySC has partnered with one of the prime movers of the Midlands’ music scene, Mark Rapp, to support this month’s jazz dinner series, “Mark Rapp and the ColaJazz Little Big Band.” Featured as the closing celebration for EngenuitySC’s Competitiveness Week 2020, the event will be held on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $10, and dinner will be available for purchase. Find info here: https://www.engenuitysc.com/competitiveness-week-2020/. EngenuitySC’s Competitiveness Week 2020 celebrates and investigates Columbia’s ability to attract talented individuals and impactful businesses through innovation, talent development, livability, a healthy entrepreneurial environment and high-impact industry clusters. When it’s time for a major corporation, a homegrown business, or even a recent graduate to choose a place to succeed, EngenuitySC — and the leaders in business, education and government that serve on its board — want to make it easy for them to choose the Columbia, S.C., region. “Columbia’s arts scene is where we see four of the five pillars of competitiveness — innovation, talent development, entrepreneurship and livability — fold together,” says EngenuitySC Executive Director Meghan Hickman. “Right now, one of the city’s most prolific artist entrepreneurs is Mark Rapp, and we are so excited to highlight his work as our culminating event of Competitiveness Week 2020.”
Rapp’s work as a creative entrepreneur is part of what makes for such high quality of life in Columbia. Viewed as a pioneer of arts entrepreneurship in the region, Rapp returned from a successful career in New York City’s music scene and has continually made moves to advance the Columbia jazz scene. With performance degrees from Winthrop and Tulane, and with big-name mentors (you may have heard of the Marsalis family), Rapp is a welcome bandleader and collaborator across the country. He had already released two acclaimed albums when he moved to Columbia in 2012 to be near family. As he ventured into the local performance world, he was impressed with the population of talented jazz musicians living in Columbia and disappointed in the lack of recognition they received. A visit to an Asheville restaurant that co-produced a giveaway CD with their house band sparked an idea that became 2015’s “Cola Jazz Volume 1,” a compilation CD of 13 of the city’s bandleaders and their ensembles. The release, and the subsequent Volume 2, are now staples in the gift shop at the Experience Columbia SC Visitors Center — a move that supports the career of local artists and drives tourism purchases. “When visitors take home our CD and play it for friends, we build the reputation of our musicians and the reputation of Columbia as a great jazz city,” he says. The collaborative relationships built through the compilation project led to new opportunities: Rapp launched ColaJazz.com to promote the CD and its players (which has become to go-to calendar for jazz performances throughout the city), and he holds ongoing jam sessions and club gigs with rotating ensemble players. He also teaches and runs an all-ages summer jazz camp, in addition to producing the annual Cola Jazz festival. In 2014, he forged a creative partnership with Columbia-based choreographer Stephanie Wilkins. The two created Woven, an original contemporary jazz ballet, as part of Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College’s Performance Incubator; they reunited for last season’s fresh take on The Great Gatsby at Trustus Theatre (a production that also featured Rapp’s wife, Columbia City Ballet Principal Dancer Claire Richards Rapp.) “When Mark chose me to choreograph his evening-length jazz ballet, Woven, in 2015, it led to a wonderful and creative partnership which has continued to flourish more than four years later,” says Wilkins. “Mark has a gift for finding opportunities that can be lucrative for both creative and business partners. I’m always grateful and excited to work with him. He is the ultimate collaborator: open, patient, always engaged, and encouraging.” Rapp recently re-homed the majority of his projects under a new ColaJazz nonprofit organization — the aptly named ColaJazz Foundation. The organization employs between one and two dozen musicians each month in its programs, which have expanded to include concerts in the lobby of Prisma Health Children’s Hospital and after-school programming using the Jazz at Lincoln Center curriculum. While Rapp has undeniably expanded paying opportunities for jazz musicians living in the Midlands, he says there are a few substantial improvements that could be made to the local entertainment ecosystem. Namely, he advocates for restaurants and bars charging a cover in order to pay their musicians wages. The standard pay rate for musicians in Columbia lags behind the rate in Charleston and Greenville, a problem he attributes to the absence of meaningful cover charges. “This can be a win-win,” he offers, “Musicians attract customers, customers help cover the cost of paying musicians a living wage and everyone gains the joy of making and listening to great music.” When asked about his professional goals for the next few years, Rapp focuses on three areas: Expanding the education work offered by the Cola Jazz organization, expanding the Cola Jazz Festival to a multi-day event, and turning his monthly event at Main Course, a venue on Main Street, into a subscription series. It is this event, “Mark Rapp and the ColaJazz Little Big Band,” that will be highlighted during EngenuitySC’s Competitiveness Week on Jan. 31. Says Rapp of the event, which charges diners a $10 cover charge to enjoy a full jazz concert over dinner (available for separate purchase from the menu), “It provides opportunities for musicians in and around Columbia and, as a ‘ticketed’ event, it begins to establish a model of value for our art.” To see the complete event lineup for EngenuitySC’s Competitiveness Week, presented by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, visit https://www.engenuitysc.com/competitiveness-week-2020/.

About EngenuitySC

Governed by the highest-ranking regional leaders in education, government and business, EngenuitySC is a nonprofit that works to make the Columbia, S.C., region a standout choice for top talent and competitive companies. Structured as a neutral and independent project management team, EngenuitySC is known for achieving progress through partnerships using a unique, highly effective process. Whether it is equipping K-12 students with career-ready skills, elevating quality of life with the Midlands Business Leadership Group, or producing Competitiveness Week and the annual Midlands Regional Competitiveness Report, EngenuitySC is a trusted force, working behind the scenes to build a community cultivated for living, working, playing and learning. Learn more at www.engenuitysc.com.

Mark Rapp designated Columbia and state jazz ambassador

He's sold out Jazz at Lincoln Center four times and played the Blue Note in Greenwich Village. He's performed solo gigs in Vienna, Geneva, Boston, Washington, and – of course – New Orleans. He's taken the stage with Branford Marsalis, fellow South Carolinians Hootie and the Blowfish, Darius Rucker, and Edwin McCain, Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson, and Delfeayo Marsalis. And according to a resolution by the S.C. House of Representatives, Mark Rapp is now also "Jazz Ambassador of Columbia and the State of South Carolina."  The resolution was presented to the accomplished jazz trumpeter in February by Reps. Beth Bernstein and Kirman Finlay and recognizes him as "master jazz musician, composer/arranger, and teacher" and lauds his many accomplishments. "I am humbled and excited by this recognition," Rapp said. "It not only reaffirms the foundations which Skipp Pearson built, but acknowledges my genuine dedication to the work of growing and serving our jazz community. "My mission is to grow, elevate, and expand the jazz community in and around Columbia through recordings, events, and education, creating a thriving scene for both the artists and our audiences.  I’m determined to enrich and advance the lives of our citizens and the culture of our communities through the wonderful art form of jazz." The designation was held by the late Skipp Pearson, also of Columbia, from 2002 until his passing in summer 2017.

Harbison Theatre’s Performance Incubator debuts “tapestry of jazz and modern dance”

Experience the beauty of live jazz matched with fluid, contemporary movement when The HT@MTC Performance Incubator debuts Woven: Life in Notes and Steps, composed by internationally touring, locally bred trumpeter Mark Rapp on Jan. 14, 2015, at 7:30 p.m. The event takes place at Midlands Technical College's Harbison Theatre in Irmo, S.C. In this one-of-a-kind tapestry of jazz and modern dance, jazz composer Rapp teams up with professional choreographer Stephanie Wilkins to meld choreography with improvisation, taking the audience on a life voyage through universal human experiences, from passion to despair, from questioning to acceptance. Woven was developed exclusively as part of The HT@MTC Performance Incubator. “Woven alludes to how everyone is connected in the giant web of life, like threads strung together,” said Rapp. “Each piece, each melody is choreographed, while the solos are improvised by both dancers and instrumentalists inspiring one another – creating an exciting, organic and unique artistic presentation each time.” During their professional careers in New York City, Rapp and Wilkins worked in the upper echelons of the performing arts industry. In Woven, their collective experiences are conveyed through an evening-length set of works featuring five jazz musicians and six modern dancers, portraying, through notes and steps, how we are all connected – woven – together in this fabric of life. Rapp has performed sold-out shows for audiences in New Orleans, New York City and Europe, playing in legendary venues such as The Blue Note and Joe’s Pub with top-tier musicians such as Branford Marsalis and Hootie and the Blowfish. In 2008, DownBeat Magazine listed Rapp on their short list of “Top emerging jazz trumpeters.” Rapp has since recorded four albums as a lead musician, including his critically acclaimed debut Token Tales (2009), and has been featured on various chart-topping jazz albums. Wilkins received her Masters of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, where she lived for 14 years. She has taught, choreographed and performed extensively in New York, San Francisco and Brazil, and has worked with many notable choreographers in NYC, including Bill T. Jones (as an apprentice), Bebe Miller and David Parsons. Wilkins has since returned to Columbia, S.C. and currently serves as an adjunct professor of dance and a choreographer for the USC Dance Company at the University of South Carolina. For ticket information, visit www.HarbisonTheatre.org or call (803) 407-5011. This project is funded in part by the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts. About Harbison Theatre Rooted in the performing arts, Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College offers programs and productions that encourage reflection, examination and discovery; and that provide entertainment, education and opportunity to professionals, learners and community members in all stages of life. To learn about upcoming events, purchase tickets, or pursue sponsorship and volunteer opportunities with Harbison Theatre, visit www.HarbisonTheatre.org. About Midlands Technical College Midlands Technical College (MTC) is a comprehensive, two-year, public college serving Richland, Lexington and Fairfield counties of South Carolina. The fifth-largest higher education provider in South Carolina and the largest provider of transfer students to four-year colleges and universities in the state, MTC offers an excellent education at an excellent value. Serving approximately 18,000 academic credit students and 15,000 Corporate and Continuing Education students annually, MTC equips students with the tools they need to meet the challenges and opportunities of the modern work world. Learn more at midlandstech.edu. Via: Harbison Theatre