Artwork charleston

40 years of Charleston’s Spoleto Festival USA

The Spoleto Festival USA opens its 40th season today, and the schedule of events promises to be a celebration of the spirit of Charleston, South Carolina.  This year’s itinerary includes Spoleto’s first production of the opera “Porgy and Bess“.  Created by George Gershwin, Dubose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwinwhich in 1934, is set in Charleston.  A number of performances also pay tribute to the memory of the victims of the shootings at Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015.

Porgy and Bess costumes

The Spoleto Festival USA was conceived by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who sought to establish a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi (The Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto, Italy.  Championed by then Mayor Joe Riley, the Spoleto Festival USA held its inaugural year in 1977.

Spoleto Poster 1977 Christan Thee

Each year a celebration poster is created by a living artist.  This years poster, by Jonathan Green, Harvest Gathering is a vibrant image celebrating Gullah culture.
2016 Spoleto Festival poster Jonathan Green

Check out all the past poster images from the last 40 years at the Spoleto Festival website

1985 Spoleto poster Jasper Johns

While former mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. is not presiding over this years opening events, his Spoleto dedicated legacy to the festival for the last four decades will be celebrated at the 40th Season Celebration Concert.  The concert will be held in the newly renovated Gaillard Center and will be conducted by former Festival Music Director Steven Sloane, with Riley narrating.

Gillard Performance Center

Mr. H says: Life is festival only to the wise-Enjoy!

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