by Peggy DePersia, guest blogger
Ooh la la! Maybe not the first expression you imagine when you think of Charleston, South Carolina but it is apt nonetheless.
Charleston is truly a city of delights. Though the city and its charms is reason enough to visit, the prospect is enhanced exponentially when timed with the Spoleto Music Festival, a world class festival of the arts that includes music, dance, theater and, to a lesser extent, the visual arts. It really is all about the music!
I have never heard better chamber music in my life and then to be introduced to a vocalist who is emerging on the Jazz scene and currently working out of Brooklyn, N.Y., was a fun surprise.
Kat Edmonson grabbed me with her pixie charm and quirkily distinctive, sometimes high-pitched voice punctuated with inimitable takes on the ‘art of scat’. She was backed up by a group of wonderful musicians beautifully and happily, I might add, attuned to her jazzy vocal riffs. As if this weren’t enough, she was perched on a stage set before a neo-classically styled building washed in dramatic blue light and grounded with a walled, grassy enclosure called ‘Cistern Yard’ that accommodated hundreds of jazz enthusiasts and is part of the Charleston College campus. The yard, as it’s called, houses large gnarly old trees of magnificent proportions, the branches of which were festooned with lights.
On a balmy evening in late May, the combined effect of dramatic lighting and open air music under the night time sky created a bit of magic for the concert goers.
Here and there throughout the city were symbols suggesting that the city’s love of music is part of its rich cultural heritage and way older than this spectacular 30 year old music festival. Tiles embedded in an arched motif as part of the Dockett Street Theater courtyard, tell the story.
The catalog, available at each venue, that chronicled the festival’s myriad musical events and highlighted the ‘bios’ of the festival’s performers had on its cover an artful abstraction, or so it appeared to me, of a complex construction on the college campus that looms from the roof of one of the campus buildings.
Caught in the web of this delicately rendered abstraction is a pale, shadowy silhouette of a figure. When one applies their imaginative powers to the design on the cover of the festival’s catalog and its reference to a well recognized campus construction and its auditory associations, again, there is a little room for ‘magical thinking’.