Spoleto Festival USA Celebrates its 40th season

In 2016, Spoleto Festival USA celebrates its 40th season. From May 27 through June 12, more than 150 performances and events will be held in over a dozen venues — including the festival’s return to the refurbished Charleston Gaillard Center, which recently completed its extensive three-year renovation. The $142 million neo-classical facility encompasses a world-class performance hall reminiscent of Old World opera houses, and it is certain to add a new dimension to festivalgoers’ experience.

“For Spoleto Festival USA’s 40 years, we wanted to make the program extraordinary,” says Spoleto Festival General Director Nigel Redden. “Producing our first Porgy and Bess — a work based on Charleston-born DuBose Heyward’s novel [Porgy], set in Charleston and about Charleston’s people — was a celebratory choice. It is especially appropriate that this opera will be our first performance in the spectacular new Charleston Gaillard Center. A 1970 production of Porgy and Bess, staged in the then-new Gaillard Auditorium, is a long-remembered civic event representing unity, pride and artistic achievement that we hope to emulate. Beyond Porgy and Bess, there is a celebratory feeling through the entire program that features the signature Spoleto Festival USA blend of new works and young artists alongside established international visionaries encompassing opera, music, dance and theater. I hope people will find many reasons to be part of this landmark 40th year.”

According to Redden, June will be a time of celebration of the festival, as well as a time of reflection and remembrance for the city of Charleston. Just five days after the festival ends — on June 17 — the city will mark the first anniversary of the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Fittingly, a number of performances acknowledging the event and commemorating the victims are scheduled. This includes the world premiere of a multi-media project conceived and directed by acclaimed visual artist Carrie Mae Weems and curated by Harvard professor Sarah Lewis entitled Grace Notes: Reflections for Now. The provocative performance includes music, text, spoken word and video projection. It also brings together a stellar cast of artists, including composers and musicians James Newton, Geri Allen and Craig Harris; poet Aja Monet; writer Carl Hancock Rux; and singers Alicia Hall Moran, Imani Uzuri and Esai Davis. Grace Notes will be performed Saturday, June 4, and Sunday, June 5, at the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre. A concert by celebrated jazz singer René Marie will also pay tribute to the city’s response to the tragedy by featuring a Spoleto Festival USA-commissioned song entitled “Be the Change.” René Marie will perform at the Charleston Gaillard Center on Sunday, May 29.

Other highlights include: the world premiere of Afram ou La Belle Swita, an “African romance” by Charlestonian composer Edmund Thornton Jenkins; U.S. premiere of the opera The Little Match Girl by contemporary German composer Helmut Lachenmann; U.S. premiere of comic Baroque opera La Double Coquette by Antoine Dauvergne; U.S. premiere of a new production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest by Dublin’s Gate Theatre; and U.S. premiere of Golem by theater company 1927.

Charleston Jewelry Designer Sheinata Carn-Hall Recalls Creative Journey

Local jewelry designer hand-crafts beautiful African-inspired pieces.

Built in 1804, Charleston City Market is one of America’s oldest public markets. This recently renovated market is home to nearly 300 local vendors who sell everything from paintings to gourmet foods to traditional sweetgrass baskets.

Sheinata Carn-Hall, owner of Reflections African Jewelry, is one of City Market’s longtime artisan residents. We caught up with the African jewelry designer on her deep roots in Charleston, the creative process and what’s next for her.

Where are you orginially from?

I am a native of Charleston, and my family has been here for generations. My great-grandfather was of West African descent from Benin, and my great-grandmother was Cherokee.

 

How did you begin your journey as a jewelry maker?

I’ve been here at the market for 16 years, but my jewelry-making started in college. I’d moved off campus and needed money to support myself. I started making jewelry, and the business grew from there.

 

What inspires your designs?

My work is inspired by African traditions and the ancestors. It’s also inspired by people I come into contact with every day. I design wearable art for people who love life — beautiful people. People who appreciate nature, who want to find that balance in life. An idea will come to me, and I am consumed with bringing it to life. It comes from deep inside my spirit. I realize that it’s a gift from God.

 

Where do you find materials for your designs?

Most of my beads come from Africa. Some of the beads and recycled materials I’ve used are terra cotta clay beads, Mali wedding beads, Ghana glass, cow bone, African masks, copper and even recycled records. Recently, I made a statement necklace with red tomato beads from Venice, which gave it a pop of color. Many of my beads come from shows. I go to one in the mountains of North Carolina twice a year. I’m planning to take a trip to West Africa this year to get new materials.

 

What would you like to do next professionally?

I want to grow my brand in 2015. I’m interested in building up the wholesale side of my business. A few years ago, I participated in Nolcha Fashion Week in New York [a leading showcase for independent fashion designers] as an exhibitor. It was very exciting and a wonderful learning experience. I’d like to do it again. I want to get my jewelry in stores and boutiques both locally and all around the country. That’s my goal.