With the Gaillard closed for rebuilding, performances have had to find new homes, such as the first Spoleto Festival Orchestra concert at the Sottile Theatre. That’s a much nicer setting than the Gaillard (although I never disliked the Gaillard as much as most people who obviously haven’t been to concerts at the Koger Center in Columbia).

Minutes before the concert, I got an email from Spoleto PR director Paula Edwards alerting me about the new acoustical shell that was built for the hall. She emphasized that the shell was built in conjunction with the College of Charleston and Charleston Symphony Orchestra, something she re-iterated in a phone call. Do I sense some tension?

I’ve always been amazed at the collaboration among the festival, the college, the city, and others in organizing things and saving or fixing up venues. It’s refreshing in contrast to my experiences in Columbia where we have university, city, and country venues that are rarely shared.

Sottile only seats 800 compared to 2000 or so at Gaillard, but attendance at most festival orchestra concerts didn’t approach 2,000 anyway so it’s not a big loss in sales. And what is gained is the wonderful atmosphere. The concert of Capriccio Espagnol by Rimsky-Korsakov, The Wooden Prince by Bartok, and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances was huge, electric, and loud. That attractive wooden shell works just fine too. You can see it and hear what it does at the next orchestra concert in Sottile and it will also be used in TD Arena for Verdi’s Requiem.

The first concert of the Music in Time series, which took place Monday night, also marked a change in venue from the College of Charleston Recital Hall to Memminger Auditorium. It would have been a better move if there had been more than half a house for Pamela Z. I like the idea of moving things out of their usual spots and would love it if some events could find a place in more adventuresome places like abandoned buildings and gardens.

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