With festivals as engorged with talent and mountain-sized egos as Piccolo and Spoleto are, it’s less often a question of if there will be changes to the program than when. Both festivals’ programs have seen a number of changes in recent days  not all of them for the worse. Piccolo took a hit when National Endowment for the Arts director Dana Gioia, due to scheduling conflicts, had to pull out of an appearance scheduled for May 28. The charismatic Gioia was to present his well-honed lecture “Does Poetry Matter?” at the event, with some readings of his own award-winning work. He’s been to the festival often as a patron, and he was a presenter two years ago, so it’s wasn’t a once-in-a-festival-lifetime opportunity, but it still came as a tough loss. Over at Theatre 99’s Piccolo Fringe, where Aziz Ansari (late of last January’s Charleston Comedy Festival), Rob Heubel, and Paul Scheer were supposed to be giving us Human Giant, there’s also been change afoot. Apparently another, better offer came along. Upshot: they were forced to bail. But The Have Nots! wasted no time in filling the hole with two new, unmissable acts: Charlie Sanders’ (of Upright Citizens Brigade) one-man sketch and character show You’re Welcome for What You Are About To See
and Saturday Night Live
cast member Horatio Sanz with an improv gig called Horatio Sanz and the Kings of Improv. Not a bad pair of subs, all things considered. On the Spoleto front, the Westminster Choir’s pair of chamber concerts were originally to be led by renowned English choirmaster Timothy Brown, who stepped in as the choir’s director following Spoleto choral director Joseph Flummerfelt’s retirement from Westminster Choir College last year. But irreconcilable differences apparently surfaced, and Brown’s taken his baton and gone home. So we’ll hear Flummerfelt lead these choral concerts at least one more time. There’s also word that big box-office interest has convinced the Spoleto admins to offer an additional performance of the scheduled June 8 Sottile Concert (Sottile Theatre, 8 p.m.). Both concerts will feature Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Wagner’s music from Tristan und Isolde, and the hyper-romantic musical musings of the Love Scene from Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette. The extra outing will take place the day prior, June 7, at the same venue and time. Rejoice, ye procrastinators. PS & LK

Keep up to date on program changes, gossip, speculation, and commentary regarding the upcoming festivals at the City Paper‘s SpoletoBuzz Blog: www.spoletobuzz.com.

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