A great big music update
Grab your coffee or tea for this one
Though its temperatures got cold in the past 24 hours, South Carolina's music scene is indisputably hot right now. How hot? Oxford American knows. The quarterly literary magazine focusing on Southern literature publishes an annual music issue, and this year's focus is on South Carolina's musical culture. The 21st Annual Southern Music Issue "features unforgettable songs and stories from South Carolina, the issue includes voices ranging from the Upstate to the Lowcountry, highlighting icons like Dizzy Gillespie and Eartha Kitt, as well as contemporary artists such as Shovels & Rope and Ranky Tanky." Pre-order your copy at the link above. Each issues comes with a CD compilation and digital download. But the Oxford American issue is far from being the only highlight. Sip away and enjoy some briefs.
FatRat Da Czar double album out todayYou might remember reading about this a month ago. South Carolina’s godfather of hip-hop FatRat Da Czar released his double album TRIBE yesterday, with 25 tracks and nearly 40 collaborators, including 30 features and nine of the state’s most respected producers. Czar’s highly anticipated ninth studio album is now available at all digital music retailers and streaming services. As part of the album release, Czar will perform this Friday, Nov. 15 at Arts & Draughts at Columbia Museum of Art in Columbi, and Saturday, Nov. 16 at The Purple Buffalo in Charleston, bringing on stage some of South Carolina’s most elite past, present, and future hip-hop artists.
S.C. Phil re-imagines VivaldiSeasonal changes are top-of-mind in the Palmetto State today, and no music captures the spirit of those better than the iconic The Four Seasons, completed in 1725 by Antonio Vivaldi. In 2012, composer Max Richter (right), claiming to be one of a long list of composers who reworked pre-existing music, notably Franz Liszt, Igor Stravinsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, took on Vivaldi’s ubiquitous masterpiece. The result is a minimalist transformation that leaves only fragments of the original music. Each of the twelve movements contains at least one recognizable quotation from the original, but they vary in length and nature from the famous virtuosic riffs for the solo violin to mere ostinato accompaniments. The fragments also include new, dissonant harmonies, distorted meters, loops and repetitive phrases. The S.C. Phil presents the work this Saturday evening in Columbia. Tickets and information here.
World's No. 1 jazz pianist coming to ColumbiaJapan. France. Spain. Italy. France again. South Carolina. That is the travel itinerary for Kenny Barron, recently ranked as the world's premier jazz pianist by the 67th Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll. (That puts Barron ahead of names like Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea.) On Nov. 23, Barron's travels bring him to South Carolina for an engagement with the SC Jazz Masterworks Ensemble. He is also an NEA Jazz Master, and Jazz Weekly says he's "the most lyrical piano player of our time" and he's said to captivate with elegant playing, sensitive melodies, and infectious rhythms. The SC Jazz Masterworks Ensemble is comprised of 18 of the finest jazz musicians, soloists, and bandleaders from across the Carolinas with a mission to present jazz concerts at the highest artistic level. The ensemble performs big band classics, music from the Great American Songbook and modern originals by the group's members.
Local groups highlight 2020 Charleston Jazz Festival[caption id="attachment_42702" align="alignright" width="250"] Click to enlarge.[/caption] Announced this morning! On Jan. 23, 2020, the 6th Annual Charleston Jazz Festival will open with some of Charleston’s most exciting jazz groups: Offramp The Music of Pat Metheny, Cameron & the Saltwater Brass Shake Everything You Got! and Lee Barbour’s Polyverse Art of the Modern Organ Trio featuring Justin Stanton of Snarky Puppy. Tickets are on sale now at www.charlestonjazz.com. Charleston Jazz presents the Charleston Jazz Festival every year, offering a world-class celebration of jazz by presenting timeless and creative productions that entertain audiences, stimulate arts education, foster economic growth and unite artists and audiences in Charleston. Each year, the festival line-up includes internationally acclaimed headliners, the best local jazz bands, and top youth artists performing a wide range of styles including swing, salsa, blues, Brazilian, and the American Songbook.
Sumter community band seeks musicians
'Dust off your old instrument ... and come play with us'
From the Sumter Item:
Among the band's current 40 to 45 members are teachers, military personnel from Shaw Air Force Base, lawyers, doctors, homemakers, farmers, pilots and college students; several are school band directors. Mitchum said members must be at least 18 years old, have experience in a middle or high school band and able to read music. There is no audition. Prospective members should attend a rehearsal in order to register. Dues are $15 a year, which helps defray the cost of sheet music.
A nonprofit organization, SCCB receives partial funding in the form of a matching grant from the S.C. Arts Commission, which in turn receives funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. The band also belongs to the Association of Concert Bands ...
Mitchum urges interested musicians to register this Thursday, although they may register any Thursday during the band's season. He said,"Dust off your old instrument, if you have one, and come play with us."Read features contributor Ivy Moore's full story by clicking here.
Four S.C. musicians selected for the National Youth Orchestra (NYO2)
Students among 80 selected, will perform in Miami & NYC[caption id="attachment_39994" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Image by Jason Rapp/SCAC[/caption]
Carnegie Hall this week announced the names of the 80 young musicians selected from across the country for NYO2, a three-week, intensive summer orchestral training program for outstanding American instrumentalists ages 14–17. The members of NYO2 2019—coming from 30 U.S. states plus Puerto Rico—have been recognized by Carnegie Hall as exceptionally talented musicians who not only embody a very high level of artistry, but who also come from a wide range of backgrounds, representing a future for American orchestral music that includes communities which have often been underserved by and underrepresented in the field. 20 musicians are returning to NYO2 from previous seasons. The four South Carolina students are:
- Violinist Payton Jin-Hyun Lee, 10th grade, Duncan (S.C. Governors School for the Arts and Humanities)
- Violist Ansley Moe, 11th grade, Spartanburg (S.C. Governors School for the Arts and Humanities)
- Violist Jeremiah Moultrie, 12th grade, Charleston (S.C. Governors School for the Arts and Humanities)
- Violist Hailey Xu, 12th grade, Greer (Riverside High School)
- Stravinsky’s Pétrouchka,
- selections from Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat,
- and Gabriela Montero’s Piano Concerto No. 1, “Latin,” featuring the composer as soloist.
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!
Wando band marches in national competition today
Sculpture and music combine for an award-winning marching band showBy 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.
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.
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 SpartanburgChapman 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 jazzThe 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.
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):
- Visual Arts: Jarod Charzewski, Charleston County
- Craft: Alice Ross Ballard, Greenville County
- Music Composition: Jon Jeffrey Grier, Greenville County
- Music Performance: Marina Lomazov, Richland County