Monday’s late-afternoon Intermezzi series opener at the jam-packed Memminger Auditorium offered a tasty assortment of bonbons for small orchestra, splendidly performed by members of our workhorse Spoleto Festival Orchestra (SFO) under the deft baton of Alexander Kahn.

Folks, don’t forget what the ever-wonderful SFO is all about — or where they come from. Quite simply, these terrific young musicians are the solo, chamber and orchestral superstars of tomorrow. Most of them are grad students or recent grads from the nation’s tip-top music schools, like Juilliard, Curtis, Indiana, Peabody, etc. Nearly a thousand of them flock to nationwide auditions every year, but only around 100 of them get the nod for Spoleto, making our orchestra the cream of the cream of the national crop.

They come here because Spoleto duty is a valuable resume ticket, despite the fact that we work them like veritable slaves, something you couldn’t do with an established orchestra (union rules, etc.). Besides, they can’t chalk up this kind of performing experience anywhere else. Each of them puts in at least 12-hour days, rehearsing for and performing in multiple Spoleto gigs: the operas, the big choral and orchestral concerts, plus the Music in Time and Intermezzi series and sometimes other events, too. We like to call them Spoleto’s “orchestra of virtuosos.” Their Intermezzi performances, like this one, are routinely devoted to outstanding music for large chamber ensembles and/or small orchestras.


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