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Organization Highlight: Spoleto

We are pleased to have Spoleto as one of our upcoming highlighed organizations! Below is some information on the event and its history. Scheduled to take place this year from May 25 - June 10, this years festival is sure to delight!


Spoleto Festival USA, begun in 1977, has firmly established itself as America’s premier international performing arts festival over the past four decades. For 17 days and nights beginning the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, Spoleto Festival USA fills Charleston, South Carolina’s historic theaters, churches, and outdoor spaces with more than 150 performances by renowned artists and emerging performers in disciplines including opera, theater, dance, and symphonic, choral, jazz, and chamber music.  



AUDIENCE Spoleto Festival USA sells between 70,000 and 80,000 tickets each season.


MISSION The Festival’s mission is to present programs of the highest artistic caliber while maintaining a dedication to young artists, a commitment to all forms of the performing arts, a passion for contemporary innovation, and an enthusiasm for providing unusual performance opportunities for established artists. World-renowned artists who performed early in their careers at Spoleto Festival USA include Renée Fleming, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, the Emerson String Quartet, Alisa Weilerstein, Chris Thile, and Michelle Dorrance. 


HISTORY Spoleto Festival USA was founded in 1977 by Gian Carlo Menotti, Christopher Keene, and others as the American counterpart to Spoleto, Italy’s annual Festival of Two Worlds. A Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Menotti began the Italian festival in 1958 as a forum for young American artists in Europe. When the organizers of the Festival of Two Worlds planned an American festival, they searched for a city that would offer the charm of Spoleto, Italy, and also its wealth of theaters, churches, and other performance spaces. Charleston was the perfect place.  



PROGRAM Spoleto Festival USA produces its own operas, specializing in rarely performed masterpieces by well-known composers, American premieres, and traditional works presented in new ways. The Festival also presents theater, dance, and music of all kinds from all over the world. Nationwide auditions are held for the Festival’s resident ensemble, the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. Permanent Festival fixtures include the Bank of America Chamber Music series, the Music in Time series, the Wells Fargo Jazz series, and the American Express Woolfe Street series.


LEADERSHIP Four talented directors are charged with the artistic leadership of Spoleto Festival USA. They are: Resident Conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities John Kennedy; Director for Chamber Music Geoff Nuttall; Director of Choral Activities Joe Miller; and General Director Nigel Redden. 


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