Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New site for Festival Preview

Hello festival-goers,

Festival Preview has recently gone through a major site upgrade and will now be posting festival news for all genres on the new beta version of The classical section of the new site can be found here. Come sign up at the new site and join in on the fun!

Jessica Bailiff
Publishing Associate & Classical Editor
Festival Preview

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ravinia lawn ticket status

If you were looking to see Alison Krauss & Robert Plant or Sheryl Crow on the lawn at Ravinia this year and hadn't yet purchased your tickets, you're out of luck. The festival just sent out an email saying they've sold out. Here are some acts that are going fast and expected to sell out, so act quickly:

6/20 - Willie Nelson [buy]
6/28 - The Temptations/Four Tops [buy]
7/11 - Feist [buy]
7/14 - The Beach Boys [buy]
7/25 - Hootie & The Blowfish [buy]
8/2 - Gipsy Kings [buy]
8/9 - The BoDeans [buy]
8/23 - Tony Bennett [buy]
8/24 - Backstreet Boys [buy]
8/30 - Donna Summer [buy]

To see daily updates on ticket sales, visit Ravinia's ticket page.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Anticipating Aspen

With Aspen Music Festival's summer season coming up on June 19th, here is a video documenting all aspects of Aspen--from opera to chamber music to symphonic programs:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Spoleto adds additional performance of Monkey: Journey to the West

An extra performance of the Spoleto hit, Monkey: Journey to the West, has been added to the festival program. Catch it on Thursday, June 5 at 2pm in the Sottile Theatre at the College of Charleston. Featuring a melding of ancient Chinese literature and culture with classical and pop music sounds of Gorillaz front man Damon Albarn, plus action, acrobatics, magic, and stunning costumes, this showing is guaranteed to sell out. Check out the video below for a preview of the show.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Free entrance into select Piccolo Spoleto events

Piccolo Spoleto is having a deal where you can get into four Piccolo Spoleto events absolutely free AND bring up to seven of your friends. To find out how you can qualify, call (843) 724-7305 or contact me at and I'll send you the details.

Spotlight Concert Series

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 6pm
New Tabernacle Fourth Baptist Church, 22 Elizabeth St.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 6pm
New Tabernacle Fourth Baptist Church, 22 Elizabeth St.

Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 6pm
New Tabernacle Fourth Baptist Church, 22 Elizabeth St.

Friday, June 6, 2008 at 6pm
New Tabernacle Fourth Baptist Church, 22 Elizabeth St.

Taylor Festival Choir: "From the Old Country to the New"

Click the image above to purchase a Taylor Festival Choir CD.

This coming Saturday afternoon, the Circular Congregational Church will be hosting the Taylor Festival Choir's "From the Old Country to the New" as part of this year's Piccolo Spoleto Choral Artist Series. The TFC will be joined by dancers from the Robert Ivey Ballet, violinist Rozanna Weinberger, and percussionist Ryan Leveille for a night of medieval Spanish love poems set to choral music, Vaughan Williams' folk music, interpretive dance, and Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei, which will be dedicated to the Charleston Nine, a group of nine firefighters who lost their lives last year in the line of duty.

The event will be held at 150 Meeting Street in Charleston at 1:30 PM. Tickets are $7. Visit the Piccolo Spoleto Web site to view all upcoming performances and events.

Monday, June 2, 2008

June deals at Ravinia

Ravinia just announced that they are offering discounted tickets for selected events during the month of June:

Tuesday June 10 - Garrick Ohlsson - Two-for-one
Tuesday June 17 - Ursula Oppens - All tickets just $15
Tuesday June 17 - Charles Rosen - All tickets just $15
Thursday June 19 - Gilberto Gil - Two-for-one
Sunday June 22 - Dianne Reeves/Manhattan Transfer - Two-for-one
Tuesday June 24 - Gary Graffman - Two-for-one

Tickets are available for purchase online here.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Monkey: Journey to the West (video)

Chen Shi-Zheng, director of Monkey: Journey to the West, discusses with the New York Times how he came up with the concept of the stage adaptation for the 400 year old Chinese story featured this year at Spoleto Festival USA.

To learn about the show, visit the Monkey: Journey to the West Web site.

Performance added to Spoleto program: The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac

Heralded by Time Out London as the drag act to see if you only see one in your lifetime, The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac will be making an encore performance at Spoleto on June 2. Its first showing is tonight at 10PM in the College of Charleston's Emmett Robinson Theatre, so get ready for a night chock-full of political tirade, costumes, humor, and ukulele.
Here's a preview of what to expect from Taylor Mac:

To buy tickets for this event, click here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 - Cast Party at the Spoleto Festival U.S.A.

Here's a behind the scenes look at a Spoleto Festival USA cast party courtesy of New York Times reporter Dan Wakin:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Happy Spoleto, Mom

Looking for the perfect gift for Mom this Mother's Day? Spoleto is offering a deal for the perfect gift: When you purchase one ticket to Rossini's La Cenerentola, you can bring your mom for half price. Pretty cool, right? Performances of this comic opera will be held at the Gaillard Auditorium on May 23, 25, 30, and June 6. Tickets start at $20 and the offer is good until May 10.

To purchase tickets, go to Spoleto's Web site, call 843-579-3100, or stop by the ticket kiosk at the Gaillard Auditorium, which is open from 10am-6pm.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend this year :-( so if you go, I want to hear all about it! Email me at or add me on MySpace or Facebook. (Seriously, add me on Facebook if nothing else--I only have FP friends on there! Then make my day and join the FP group :-) Tell your mom to add me too. I'll wish her a happy Mother's Day.)

P.S. Here are some samples of some of the more notable arias from the opera in case you're unfamiliar with it:

"Si, ritrovarla io giuro" as sung by Raùl Giminéz

"Nacqui All Affano...Non Più Mesta"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Video games at Ravinia? Say it ain't so!

It's so, alright. Eliot Van Buskirk from the Listening Post at recently reported that a new classical music based video game is touring the classical music event circuit. Virtual Maestro allows the player to conduct a virtual orchestra, performing pieces like the William Tell Overture and Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. The game is similar to the popular Play Station game, Guitar Hero, in that the participant engages in a simulated music experience: "The game is simpler than Guitar Hero; faster gestures increases the tempo, while slower ones have the opposite effect."

The best news of all is that Virtual Maestro will be making its way to FP100 festival, Ravinia, from June 23-August 18. Find out more about Virtual Maestro's stops by visiting Van Buskirk's article here. If you end up trying it out, let us know how it goes!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spoleto's $246k budget cut

In an article from the Charleston SC's Post and Courier, Spoleto Festival USA has had a $246,000 cut from its budget by the state as part of a new spending plan created by the Senate Finance Committee. Spoleto Director Nigel Redden said the cut could be devastating as the state funding means the difference between having a successful festival season and going out of business.

According to the article, the blow from the cuts affecting South Carolina organizations might have been lessened with better financial management:

Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau and a member of the Finance Committee, said the budget is pretty bare bones. The cuts, though, would not have had to be so drastic if the Legislature had managed its funds better last year when revenue flowed into state coffers, he said.
To read more about this report, visit the Charleston Post and Courier.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Debut of All Access: Spoleto TV

Welcome to Spoleto TV: All Access: Spoleto TV launches with its first preview report by host Blake Whitney. This all-Spoleto channel will be updated with new videos regularly—before, during and after the festival.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Conrad Tao

Photo Credit: J. Henry Fair

Conrad Tao

Not many 13 year olds can claim the title of composer, pianist, or violinist, but Conrad Tao can claim all three. At 18 months old, he began picking out his favorite children’s songs on the piano and by age 4, he had already given his first public piano recital. Now, at the age of 13, Tao is an accomplished musician and composer, having won prestigious awards such as the BMI Carlos Surinach Prize and ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer award, as well as having won the Walgreens National Concerto Competition and being a recipient of the Stradivari Society violin. Studying piano and violin, Conrad is enrolled in the Pre-College Division at Juilliard. He can be seen performing next month with the Russian National Orchestra at Festival of the Arts Boca, in Boca Raton FL.

Upcoming: Festival of the Arts Boca February 29-March 16

Tao Performing Prokofiev's Piano Concerto #3

Video by dimithaug.

Festival of the Arts BOCA

Photo Credit: Center for the Arts

Festival of the Arts BOCA

Florida’s keeping out the cold this season with all kinds of hot winter festivals. February is no exception. At the end of this month, the Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park will put on its second annual Festival of the Arts BOCA in Boca Raton, Florida. From the sizzling sounds of the Gipsy Kings to the Russian National Orchestra to sixteen-time Grammy winning guitarist, Pat Metheny, the 17-day Festival is guaranteed to appeal to music lovers across genres, all the while placinga high emphasis on the participation of music students in the festival, offering master classes and the opportunity to sit in at rehearsals. In addition, it features nonmusical events such as wine tasting, literature programs, and lectures by renowned authors.

Headliners: the Gipsy Kings, Russian National Orchestra, Joshua Bell, the 5 Browns, Conrad Tao, Tiempo Libre, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Rene Fleming, and Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway.

No video available.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The value of Villaume

Music director of Spoleto Festival USA, Emmanuel Villaume, received rave reviews for his performance last month with the Juilliard Orchestra. Steve Smith of the New York Times described the event as one that far surpassed his expectations, calling Villaume's interpretation of "Don Juan" (Strauss) "brawny and voluptuous, without skimping on precision and clarity."

Villaume also received praise for two pieces by Debussy and Berlioz:

The electricity Mr. Villaume mustered in Berlioz’s “Royal Hunt and Storm,” from “Les Troyens,” was all the more impressive for the control with which he wielded it. Countless details surfaced with the impact of fresh revelations during a concluding performance of “La Mer” by Debussy, which ebbed and flowed with suitable capriciousness but never lost coherence.
The good news is that if you missed his performance in New York, you can see him conduct La Mer at Spoleto on June 5 in Gaillard Auditorium. To read more about Villaume's night with the Juilliard Orchestra, read the article here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And the Grammy goes to...

Congratulations to Sir Charles Mackerras and soloists in the cast of Humperdinck's Hansel & Gretel for winning the 2008 Grammy award for Best Opera Recording. Humperdinck's opera is scheduled to be performed at this year's Aspen Music Festival by the Aspen Opera Theater Center. For more information about this performance, click here.

To hear selections from the Grammy Award winning recording, please click the image below.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Aspen Music Festival announces 2008 theme

A fairytale theme seems to be popular among music festivals this year—Spoleto has already announced its production of Rossini’s opera buffa, La Cenerentola (a comic retelling of the Cinderella story) and a Cinderella themed fund raiser gala. Most recently, Aspen Music Festival, another of Festival Preview’s favorite classical music festivals, has announced its “Once Upon a Time…” theme for 2008, which will feature musical performance pieces falling under the fairytale, folklore, mythology, and legend categories. Here we will see another performance of what Opera America has deemed the eleventh most frequently performed opera in North America, La Cenerentola. For those who may be unfamiliar with Rossini’s work, below is a video of tenor, Ramon Vargas, singing “Si, ritrovarla, io giuro,” from the opera set to be produced at the two festivals this season.

Ramon Vargas – La Cenerentola – Si, ritrovarla, io giuro

Video by Gabba02.

Other classical music items reflecting this year’s theme at the Aspen Music Festival include Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, Bartok's Romanian Dances, Kodaly's Marosszek Dances, Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder, and Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks and Don Juan. Further programming information for AMF will be available in late April.

If you enjoyed Vargas' rendition of "Si, ritrovarla, io giuro," and would like to learn more about Rossini and La Cenerentola, the Nevada Opera Web site offers online program notes from their 2006-2007 season with a section about the composer and his opera.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Spoleto: La Dolce Vita auction

For the past 28 years, Spoleto Festival USA has held a fundraiser auction known as La Dolce Vita to support the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. This year's auction was hosted January 25th. Guests experienced a night of enchantment, as the theme was Cinderella's grand ball. Ida, a blogger from the Charleston Magazine, describes the atmosphere:

Asian-inspired accents made this dinner one of the more memorable amongst recent Fete Set outings. The bellowing of a Japanese drum signaled the end of the cocktail hour and the procession to dinner. Tables were draped in silk and adorned with jewel toned pots that held a stunning variety of orchids.

The $125 ticket afforded participants cocktails and a silent auction at the beginning of the night, followed by a three-course dinner and a live auction to close the evening. Auctioning a variety of donated items from travel getaways to private gourmet dinners to entrance into a few of the festival's concerts, the event was very successful, garnering $167,000.

To read a firsthand account of the night, read Ida's blog item, "La Dolce Vita, Roper Xavier dinner, and the Lowcountry Oyster Festival."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Savannah Music Festival

At the end of March (the 20th to be exact), the Savannah Music Festival in Georgia kicks off and runs until April 5th. Tune Up for the festival by listening to tracks from the headlining acts. Because of its eclectic nature, the Savannah Tune Up playlist features cuts from a range of artists--from Audra McDonald to the Blind Boys of Alabama to Jonathan Biss, Festival Preview's got them all. Classical artists on the playlist include: Beax Arts Trio, Jennifer Larmore, Yundi Li, and Jonathan Biss.

Tune Up for Spoleto Festival USA

Spoleto Festival USA begins May 23 and runs through June 8 in Charleston SC. Tune up for the festival with this annotated playlist featuring tracks by major performers scheduled to play this year.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Savannah's TV ad contest

My recent search on YouTube for the Savannah Music Festival yielded some interesting results this afternoon. Apparently they hold a contest every year for local college students to create a 30-second commercial for the festival. With cash prizes for the first and second place winners and the opportunity for the first place winner to have his or her commercial shown on television in regular rotation, the annual contest seems to attract many entrants.

Each video entry is judged on five criteria: persuasiveness, originality, memorability of content and delivery, entertainment value, and motivational elements. Click here for a link to past winners of the TV ad contest.

Below are some of the videos I found online. They didn't place, but they're still creative and fun to watch:

Video from carlmarxer.

Video from SeanWehrli.

Video from sofritoloops.

Video from GrixieKong.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Savannah Music Festival

A top festival for Festival Preview that features classical music is the Savannah Music Festival, held annually in Savannah GA. On this year's list of classical performers, audiences will see names such as Yundi Li, Jennifer Larmore, and the Beaux Arts Trio. Adding a special touch to the festival is the Sensations series, which features chamber music programs originally produced for a group of performers selected from around the world to be performed at the festival. These performances are unique in that the performers will perform the pieces together one time only. New musicians in this series include the Emerson String Quartet and pianist Wu Han.

To keep up with news relating to the Savannah Music Festival, subscribe to their podcast.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spoleto tickets on sale

Tickets to the 2008 Spoleto Festival USA are now on sale. They vary in price (anywhere from $10 to $150) and can be purchased online by clinking the links to individual events found on this page of their Web site. For more details, visit or call 843-579-3100.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Spoleto Festival USA goodies

Spoleto Festival USA is a pretty exciting festival produced by some pretty exciting people. The creative production staff behind the 2007 Spoleto Festival USA posted a YouTube video parodying the movie 300, showing a comedic look at just how much work goes into producing the festival. Check out the Spoleto shenanigans below:

Spoleto Production Party '07

Video from brunoingram.

If audio podcasts are your thing, a few links to shows covering previous years' Spoleto Festivals are offered below:
  • has a Spoleto Festival USA podcast hosted by Marcus Overton. Past podcasts are available for the 2007 festival year on iTunes. Click here for more info on subscribing to the show.
  • The people at, part of the Post and Courier, have a podcast show where they interview people involved with the festival and review performances. The episodes, filled with entertaining banter, can be found here.
  • From Patrick Sharbaugh comes "Spoleto Buzzcast," which is hosted by the Charleston City Paper. The link takes you to podcasts from last year's festival, but features an interview with John Kennedy, who will be directing and programming the Music in Time series at this year's festival. (The SpoletoBuzz blog can be found here.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Book of Longing

Last summer in Toronto, Canada, Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen premiered their combined efforts of a musical adaptation of Cohen's collection of poetry, Book of Longing. A recording of Cohen's spoken word, thick with imagery and rasp, melded perfectly with Glass' beautifully composed song cycle while illustrations from Cohen's book were displayed. The instrumentation included a four-voice vocal ensemble and seven piece instrumental group. Performances of this collaboration were also held at Festival Preview favorites, Ravinia Festival and Spoleto Festival USA. The CD version of this work is now available for purchase on Click here for more information.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Spoleto announces program for 2008

The Spoleto Festival USA Opening Ceremonies event is the official kick off to the 17 day and night international arts festival. The 2008 Spoleto Festival USA will be held in Charleston, South Carolina from May 23 - June 8. Photo by: William Struhs.

An operatic telling of the Amistad slave ship rebellion heads an exciting, multi-genre program for Spoleto Festival USA, which runs May 23-June 8 in Charleston SC.

Spoleto, sister festival of the one held annually in Spoleto, Italy, and one of Festival Preview’s top picks for classical music, has recently announced its 2008 program. Although eclectic in nature, this festival focuses heavily on classical music. Among this year’s prominent events is Amistad, composed by Anthony Davis. Amistad, based on historical facts, is set in 1839. In the story, which will be conducted by Emmanuel Villaume, spirits and gods lead slaves from the coast of the US back to Africa, where freedom awaits. The music exhibits a variety of influences, including blues and jazz. The production will be held in the Memminger Auditorium, which has recently received a $6 million makeover.

Cenerentola, an operatic Cinderella story by Gioachino Rossini, will be performed in the Gaillard Auditorium four nights during the festival. In his version of the story, Rossini exchanges fairy godmothers and glass slippers for philosophers and bracelets. It will be directed by Charles Roubaud and conducted by Matteo Beltrami.

Spoleto is also hosting an orchestral program, featuring three concerts focusing on seven different classical composers. The first concert centers on the music of Brahms and David Newman and will feature performances by wind quintet Imani Winds and the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. The audience will be treated to Brahms’ First Symphony and David Newman’s Concerto for Winds.

The second of three concerts will be showcasing works by Beethoven, Haydn, and Brahms. The Westminster Choir and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus will join the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra for Brahms’ Nänie, Hadyn’s Te Deum, and Beethoven’s Mass in C. Conducting this concert will be Joseph Flummerfelt.

The final concert in the orchestral program features Bartók, Debussy, and Stravinsky selections to be played by American pianist Andrew von Oeyeyn. He will be accompanied by the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, led by the Festival Music Director for Opera and Orchestra, Emmanuel Villaume. Pieces to be performed are La Mer (Debussy), Firebird Suite (Stravinsky), and Bartók’s piano concerto.

Providing thirty-three concerts over the seventeen-day festival, the Bank of America Chamber Music Series is an ongoing collection of classical music concerts featuring a variety of artists. Performers in this year’s series include the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Stephan Prutsman, Alisa Weilerstien, Tara Helen O’Connor and Daniel Phillips. Performances will be held in the stunning Memminger Auditorium.

Delving into the world of contemporary music, John Kennedy will direct Music in Time. This show, held in the recital hall of the Simons Center, will highlight artists Anthony Davis, Somei Satoh, Tan Dun, and Kennedy.

Adding to a theme of contemporary music at Spoleto will be performances by Laurie Anderson in Memminger Auditorium. Electronic in nature, her featured piece, Homeland, portrays today’s obsession with information and security.

Other non classical events at Spoleto include the musical theater production of Monkey: Journey to the West, performances by the Carolina Chocolate Drops for roots fans, and Jazz Goes to Church featuring the Cyrus Chestnut Trio.

For more information about the Spoleto Festival USA, visit: