arts & culture

Concert venues may be built for the enjoyment of music, but could they also function as spaces where political engagement takes place? Jonathan Neufeld, a violist, music critic, and philosophy professor at the College of Charleston, thinks so. Jonathan's interests include exploring the link between public performances and the political public sphere. He has a book under contract with Oxford University Press entitled Music in Public: How Performance Shapes Democracy.

Music and Architecture in Harmony at Historic SC Home

Oct 24, 2017
Courtesy of Classical American Homes and The Richard Hampton Jenrette Foundation. Photo: John Teague.

With six massive columns, a strikingly symmetrical façade, and a remote location outside of Pinewood, SC, Millford has captured the eye since its completion in 1841. But on Saturday, September 23rd, the Greek Revival house and National Historic Landmark also captured the ear with The Classical Ideal: Music and Architecture in Harmony.

From Russia to the US and Back, a Mother and Daughter's Journey in Dance

Jul 21, 2017
Irina Ushakova at the Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville.
Makayla Gay / South Carolina Public Radio

At the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, Irina Ushakova teaches ballet and pointe. A native of Russia, Irina says she’s definitely different from most American teachers. Irina’s strict teaching style is influenced by her training in Russia at the Perm State Ballet School. She now calls South Carolina home, but her daughter decided to follow in her footsteps by training in Russia. South Carolina Public Radio's Laura Hunsberger has more.

Artist Peter Lenzo with a collection of his sculpture at his home in Columbia, SC.
Makayla Gay / South Carolina Public Radio

South Carolina artist Peter Lenzo creates masterful sculpture that has gained the attention of collectors from across the country. His work draws inspiration from the traditionally African American art of face jugs and is currently on display at Columbia's If Art Gallery.

Carmen Cavallaro (1913 – 1989) was known as the “Poet of the Piano,” whose tender style created an ideal atmosphere for romantics worldwide. An outstanding pianist and a versatile performer, Cavallaro played everything from beguiling ballads to swinging jazz numbers and vibrant interpretations of Latin American melodies. He was McPartland’s guest shortly before he passed away in 1989. On this Piano Jazz, Cavallaro solos on his own arrangement of “Cole Porter Melody” and joins McPartland for a piece entitled “Lover.”

Allen Toussaint
Courtesy of the artist

Pianist, singer, composer and producer Allen Toussaint is one of the leading figures of New Orleans R&B. His hits include "Working in a Coal Mine" and "Lady Marmalade." He’s worked with artists including The Meters, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello. On this Song Travels, Toussaint joins host Michael Feinstein to talk about the iconic recordings of his original songs “Mother in Law” and "Whipped Cream." Toussaint also performs his compositions live, including "Get Out of My Life Woman" and "Southern Nights."

Jay Leonhart

Bassist Jay Leonhart is a highly sought-after session musician, a trio leader, and a one-man act. He got his start as a kid playing banjo and guitar with his brother in the '40s and '50s, and was inspired to take up the bass after hearing Ray Brown and the Oscar Peterson Trio. Leonhart has played with musicians from all genres and has been on the New York jazz scene for almost five decades. On this Song Travels, Leonhart brings songs and stories from his act and joins host Michael Feinstein for a duet of the Gershwin-inspired original tune "Problem."

Marian McPartland and Dorothy Donegan during the Piano Jazz recording session in 1983.
South Carolina Public Radio

This week Piano Jazz remembers NEA Jazz Master Dorothy Donegan (1922 – 1998) with an early session from 1983. Donegan's technical command of the piano was nothing short of breathtaking, and she was known for her onstage antics and flamboyance. In the house with McPartland, she attacks the piano—hammering away with her elbows and knuckles on "Darn That Dream" and "Stormy Weather." McPartland and Donegan play two pianos on "Lullaby of Birdland" and "Rosetta."

News Stations: Sat, Apr 08, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Apr 09, 7 pm

It may go without saying that Ken Lam, music director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, is well-versed in matters relating to the study and performance of some of the world's greatest works of music--several conducting awards and time spent learning from maestros like Leonard Slatkin are proof enough of that. What might be more surprising is that his resume also includes an economics degree from Cambridge and a decade of experience in law.

Courtesy of HHIPC

Click to listen to hear the winners of the 2017 Hilton Head International Piano Competition for Young Artists. 

First Place: Ray Ushikubo

Second Place: Andrew Li

Third Place: Jaeden  Izik-Dzurko

Hear Ray Ushikubo's interview with Fred Child here.

As Observatory Manager at the South Carolina State Museum, Dr. Matthew Whitehouse is keeping busy with a few preparations for the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21st—he has even written a piece of music inspired by the event. The astronomy educator is also an organist and composer, and doesn’t mind taking an interdisciplinary approach when it comes to celestial phenomena. In fact, merging seemingly separate fields is one of his major interests.

Jessica Skinner leads a rehearsal of the Cola Ukulele Band at a Columbia music store.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Over the past decade or so, the ukulele has grown tremendously in popularity among a wide variety of people, helped by its use by popular artists such as Jason Mraz and Ingrid Michaelson.  The trend hit the Midlands recently when University of South Carolina music student Tim Hall got a grant to start the Cola (not Columbia, though that’s where it’s located) Ukulele Band.  Since its beginning, the band has attracted members of all ages, from elementary school children to grandparents. 

Travel, history, ghosts and more are among the many subjects of the USC Press' books
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

The Palmetto State has a prestigious name in the world of publishing: the University of South Carolina Press. Because it’s a non-profit, it can publish scholarly books on important subjects that would not make a profit for commercial publishers, according to Suzanne Axland. But that doesn’t mean the press doesn’t publish for the general interest. It prints a wide variety of books on art, history, Southern culture, beautiful photography and more, even novels, says Axland.

Barry Harris
Courtesy of the artist

Barry Harris is a seminal figure in the jazz world. As the “keeper of the bebop flame,” Harris is committed to preserving jazz through education and performance. His workshops play an important part in his life and in the lives of many young musicians. On this 2002 Piano Jazz, Harris demonstrates how he earned the reputation as one of the most inventive and respected pianists today when he solos on “It Could Happen to You.” Host McPartland and Harris show off their bebop chops on Charlie Parker’s “Au Privave.”

Old-Timey Piano Music

Dec 28, 2016
Courtesy of Artist

Ethan Uslan is a Charlotte based pianist who composes and improvises ragtime and jazz.  On this piano podcast a special edition of Your Compositions. Ethan talks about and performs two of his original compositions. Scroll down for audio. 

  Local theater is found both in quantity and quality throughout South Carolina. Today we hear from representatives of two of them: Columbia’s Town Theater is the oldest continually operating community theater in America, and will turn 100 in 2019. It specializes in musicals, but presents other known plays as well. Across town, Trustus Theater employs professionals to bring audiences new productions that sometimes “push the envelope.” These and many other theaters across the state help their cities both economically, drawing tourism, and, of course, enrich them culturally as well.

Inspired by Gershwin

Dec 13, 2016
Courtesy of artist

On this piano podcast listen to the Iranian born and Canadian trained Iman Habibi's piece Prelude a la Gershwin

The performer is pianist Deborah Grimmett who also happens to be the other half of the duo Piano Pinnacle with Iman, who also happens to be her husband. Terribly romantic...the way Gerswhin would want it. 

One can also subscribe to On the Keys via Itunes.

Elements of a Piano Piece: Melody

Dec 7, 2016

On this podcast an overview of melodies for the piano, how they work, what they are, and what makes them beautiful. You'll hear melodies from Bach to Thomas Ades. 

Nellie Luchter, circa 1950
Public Domain

Nellie Lutcher (1912 – 2007) started out playing piano at fifteen but soon transitioned to singing. She built a career as a prominent jazz vocalist in the 1940s and 1950s with hits such as “Fine Brown Frame.” She joined McPartland for Piano Jazz in 1986. Lutcher performs two of her most popular compositions, “Hurry on Down” and “Real Gone Guy.” McPartland solos on “Love Is the Sweetest Thing,” and the two combine their talents on “I’ve Got a Right to Sing the Blues.”

News Stations: Sat, Nov 19, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Nov 20, 7 pm

Brennan Szafron Recording Bedard
David Kiser

On this edition of Your Compositions Canadian pipe organ music played by a Canadian organist on a French Canadian organ. Brennan Szafron recorded the Suite Romantique on the Twichell Pipe Organ, a 50-some rank Casavant on the campus of Converse College. Our composer is the prolific Denis Bedard who writes contemporary music that in the words of Dr. Szafron does not sound like cats scratching each other. 

Here are Denis Bedard's notes on his piece: 

"Islands of Light," Maxwell Hills, Duncan Park Lake, 293 West Park Drive. Lights On – 6:30 p.m.
Stephen Stinson

The city of Spartanburg has unveiled a public art project with the help of a $1 million grant from the Bloomberg philanthropies public art challenge.

Nine light art projects by award-winning light and digital media artist Erwin Redl serve as the catalyst to bring the Spartanburg Police Department and community groups together to use art projects to promote community safety.

Spartanburg is one of just four cities out of some 240 that competed to be awarded the $1 Million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2015. 

Carolina Live Program Listings

Oct 20, 2016

Oct 1st & 3rd
Greenville Chorale & Greenville Symphony Orchestra
Bingham Vick, Jr., artistic director and conductor

Orff: Carmina Burana

Davidson College Music Department
Robert Kopf, tenor
David Gilliland, piano

Schumann: Dichterliebe

The emphasis is on vocal excellence in this program, as the Greenville Chorale joins with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra to present Carl Orff's dramatic and highly-regarded Carmina Burana.  Then the focus is on a single voice, as tenor Robert Kopf and pianist David Gilliland present a set of sixteen songs by Robert Schumann—Dichterliebe.


Oct 8th & 10th
Firebird Arts Alliance: Songs of the Earth

David Tang, conductor; Firebird Arts Sinfonia; VOX; Daniel Shirley, tenor; Neal Sharpe, bass-baritone

Schonberg: Friede auf Erden
Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral: Welcome, King of Heaven
Jared Johnson, conductor; Trinity Choirs; North Carolina Baroque Orchestra
Matthew Samson, countertenor
Ryan Headley, tenor
Stephen Fenner, baritone

Bach: O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht
Bach: Himmelskonig, sei willkommen

Musical forces are summoned to great effect on the next Carolina Live, as the Firebird Arts Alliance brings together in Charlotte the choral group VOX, the Firebird Arts Sinfonia and two talented soloists for works by Arnold Schonberg and Gustav Mahler.  We then hear music from Columbia's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, where several massed choirs are joined by the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra and soloists for two works by Johann Sebastian Bach.  The concert was titled Welcome, King of Heaven, and you're more than welcome to join us for the stirring music.

Oct 15th & 17th
Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra: Classics #3

Robert Moody, conductor; D. J. Sparr, guitar

Sibelius:  Symphony No. 5 in Eb
Sparr:  Violet Bond: Concerto for Electric Guitar
Dvorak:  Symphony No. 9 in e-minor (From the New World)

Carolina Live has an interesting combination of both new and older music on this program.  The concert is from the Classics Series of the Winston-Salem Symphony, and features Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 5 in Eb, contemporary composer D. J. Sparr's Violet Bond: Concerto for Electric Guitar, and the ever-popular Symphony No. 9 in e-minor (From the New World) by Antonin Dvorak..  The mix is striking, so be sure to join conductor Robert Moody and us for this edition of Carolina Live.

Oct 22nd & 24th
Greenville Symphony Orchestra: In the Company of Great Romantics

Edvard Tchivzhel, conductor; Edisher Savitski, piano

Von Weber:  Oberon
Prokofiev:  Piano Concerto No. 3 in C
Schumann:  Symphony No. 4 in d-minor

The Greenville Symphony Orchestra and conductor Edvard Tchivzhel invite you to spend some wonderful time In the Company of Great Romantics.  You'll hear Carl Maria von Weber's Oberon, Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C with guest pianist Edisher Savitski, and the concert will conclude with Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 4 in d-minor.  A distinguished group of Romantics for sure, and you'll be glad you joined their company by joining us for this edition of Carolina Live.

Oct 29th & 31st
Greensboro Symphony: Night of Mystery

Dmitry Sitkovetsky, conductor; Cathal Breslin, piano

Dukas: The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Liszt: Mephisto Waltz No. 1 for solo piano
Liszt: Totentanz for piano and orchestra
Prokofiev: Dance of the Knights from Romeo & Juliet
Saint-Saens: Danse Macabre
Sibelius: Valse Triste
Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain

From Dana Auditorium comes a Halloween edition of the program. Music Director Dmitry Sitkovetsky and the Greensboro Symphony welcome a rising young Irish pianist for a holiday-themed concert that includes devilish music by Liszt for solo piano and piano with orchestra. There are also perennially popular spooky classics from Dukas, Prokofiev, Saint-Saens, Sibelius and Mussorgsky.


Nov 5th & 7th
Greenville Symphony Chamber Orchestra: Some Enchanted Evening

Edvard Tchivzhel, conductor; Xiaoqing Yu, violin

Schubert: Symphony No. 5 in Bb
John Williams: The Tango
Manual Ponce: Estrellita ("Star of Love")
Dvorak: Slavonic Dances 7-9

Chamber Music Charleston
Anthea Kreston, violin; Ben Weiss, viola; Timothy O'Malley, cello; Jean Williams, bass; David Odom, clarinet; Sandra Nikolajevs, bassoon; Debra Sherrill Ward, horn

Strauss: Emperor Waltz
Beethoven: Septet in E-flat

This edition of the program focuses on chamber settings.  First the Greenville Symphony Chamber Orchestra presents the concert Some Enchanted Evening, featuring Schubert's Symphony No. 5 and several Slavonic Dances by Dvorak.  Then the musicians of Chamber Music Charleston offer An Afternoon in Vienna, with a well-known waltz by Johann Strauss, Jr., The Emperor, and Beethoven's Septet in E-flat.


Nov 12th & 14th
Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra: Film Composers Onstage

Robert Moody, conductor; Charles Yang, violin

Williams:  Dartmoor, 1912 from War Horse
Korngold:  Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 in d-minor

Composers who achieved great fame and adulation in part by writing wonderful music for films are featured on this program.  The Winston-Salem Symphony and conductor Robert Moody bring you a piece from John Williams' score for War Horse—Dartmoor, 1912; there's a Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D by an earlier film giant, Erich Kordgold; and the program concludes with the Symphony No. 5 n d-minor by Russian great Dmitri Shostakovich.  It may not be a trip to the movies, but it's a terrific musical journey on Carolina Live.

Nov 19th & 21st
Greensboro Symphony Orchestra: Winter Dreams

Nathaniel Beversluis, conductor

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1 in g "Winter Dreams"
Suite from Sleeping Beauty
1812 Overture

The excitement of Tchaikovsky's music is heard in abundance on this program.  From the Russian master there's the symphony that provides the title of the concert—Winter Dreams, the Symphony No. 1 in g.  There's a suite from one of Tchaikovsky's iconic ballets, Sleeping Beauty, and the concert concludes with a classic ode to bombast--the 1812 Overture.


Nov 26th & 28th
Kaia String Quartet: Returning Friends

Beethoven:  String Quartet No. 8 in e-minor
Gillespie:  Chicago-Lucerne
Piazzola:  Esqualo & Coral

Rebecca Robinson, Family and Friend: Love Songs in the Afternoon
Rebecca Robinson, mezzo-soprano; Wade Dingman, piano/organ; Mary Kay Robinson, violin; Joseph Robinson, oboe

Schubert:  Schubert's Take on Love
Gershwin:  Someone to Watch Over Me
Kern:  Bill (from Showboat)
Cumming:  Springfield Mountain & Song of the Old Maid
Bizet:  Habanera
Weill:  Farewell, Goodbye
Morricone:  Gabriel's Oboe

Two settings and two interesting groups of performers are featured on this edition of Carolina Live.  The Kaia String Quartet arrives from their base in Chicago to wow an audience at the Salt Block Auditorium in Hickory, NC, playing the String Quartet No. 8 in e-minor by Beethoven and Chicago-Lucerne by Amos Gillespie.  In Davidson, NC, mezzo-soprano Rebecca Robinson is joined by accompanist Wade Dingman and her musician parents, Mary Kay and Joseph Robinson, for a varied concert with music from Schubert, Gershwin, Bizet and more.  It's a pleasing potpourri on this week's Carolina Live.

Dec 3rd & 5th
South Carolina Philharmonic: Russian Fireworks
Morihiko Nakahara, conductor; Sayaka Shoji, violin

Shostakovich: Festive Overture
Tchaikovsky:  Violin Concerto
Prokofiev:  Symphony No. 5

There won't be explosions, but the music you'll hear on this program will pack quite a wallop!  Music Director and conductor Morihiko Nakahara leads the South Carolina Philharmonic in a concert titled Russian Fireworks.  There's the delight of Dmitri Shostakovich's Festive Overture, the beloved Violin Concerto of Tchaikovsky and the powerful Symphony No. 5 by Sergei Prokofiev.  Russian greats and great Russian music for you to hear and enjoy on this Carolina Live.

Dec 10th & 12th
Winston-Salem Symphony: Enigma Variations
Robert Moody, conductor; Brant Taylor and Brooks Whitehouse, cellos

Wagner:  Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg  Prelude
Ott: Concerto for Two Cellos and Orchestra
Elgar:  Enigma Variations 

The title of our featured concert is Enigma Variations, but the quality of the music you'll hear during this edition of Carolina Live is quite clear and straightforward.  It begin with Wagner's stately Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, moves to a distinctive Concerto for Two Cellos and Orchestra by contemporary composer David Ott, and ends with the work that provides the concert's title—Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations.  A diverse and interesting selection from the always-creative Robert Moody and the Winston-Salem Symphony.

Dec 17th & 19th  
Greenville Symphony Orchestra: Oktoberfest and Divine Mozart
Edvard Tchivzhel, conductor

Handel: Royal Fireworks Music
Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn
Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F
Mozart: Symphony No. 20 in D
                 Symphony No. 35 in D "Haffner"

Any part of the year is a good time for an Oktoberfest celebration, and we have one for you in mid-December, courtesy of conductor Edvard Tchivzhel and the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.  Their concert features the bombast of Handel's Royal Fireworks Music, the musical precision of Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn and the power of Beethoven's Symphony No. 8.  Then from a concert in the orchestra's chamber series titled Divine Mozart we'll hear Amadeus' Symphony No. 20 in D and the "Haffner" Symphony No. 35.  Highlights from two concerts on this one Carolina Live.

Dec 24th & 26th
Bel Canto Company of Greensboro: Holiday Favorites
Wellborn Young, conductor; Karen Beres, piano

A gift basket of holiday favorites, including:
Mechem: This Is the Truth, Gift of Love
Forrest: O Come All Ye Faithful
Paulus: We Three Kings of Orient Are
Snedden: O Little Town of Bethlehem
Jennings: Climb to the Top of the Christmas Tree
Poston: Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
Van: Christmas Lullaby
Plus arrangements of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Let It Snow!, Patapan and more

The music of Christmas is presented in rich abundance by Bel Canto Company, the excellent vocal group from Greensboro.  In a concert from Christ United Methodist Church, artistic director and conductor Wellborn Young leads the singers in songs that are popular gems of the season, as well as in pieces less well-known but wonderfully striking.  Enjoy the sounds of the holiday on a joyous Carolina Live.

Dec 31st & Jan 2nd
Greenville Symphony Orchestra: Poetry and Drama of Life
Edvard Tchivzhel, conductor; Xiaoquing Yu, violin; Kathryn Dey, viola; Lisa Kiser, piano/organ

Wyche: Moonbeams
Grieg: Peer Gynt
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2

The Greenville Symphony Orchestra and conductor Edvard Tchivzhel delve into the Poetry and Drama of Life on the program, with the dramatic aspects including the music written by Edvard Grieg to accompany the play Peer Gynt.  The marvelous Finnish symphonist Jean Sibelius touches on life's poetry with his beautiful Symphony No. 2 in D.  Beauty, drama, great music—it's all yours on this week's Carolina Live.

Author Pat Conroy in 2013, talking with students about their entries in USC’s annual high school writing contest.
Courtesy Aida Rogers, USC Honors College.

The University of South Carolina’s honors college sponsors a writing contest each year to encourage students to write, and to get readers for these talented young people, according to college Dean Steve Lynn, who originated the program.  The incentives to enter are several.  Not only does it award cash prizes, but the best writings are gathered together each year in a book published by USC Press to give permanent exposure to young writers.   In addition, the judges are high-profile, nationally known writers. 

Sidney Foster
Courtesy of Justin Foster

Sidney Finkelstein (changed later to Foster) was born in Florence and lived on West Evans Street. He attended the famed Curtis Institute of Music and played at Carnegie Hall numerous times. 

The Cantaloupe Thief

Oct 12, 2016

In the new novel, The Cantaloupe Thief (2016, Lion Fiction), protagonist Branigan Powers decides that too many people are staying silent about a ten-year-old murder case. Powers, an journalist, knows a good story when she sees one—and the ten-year-old cold case of wealthy Alberta Grambling Resnick's murder definitely makes the cut. Now Branigan must do some serious digging to get her story.

"Resumption," A Musical Interpretation of the Flood

Oct 3, 2016
Recording "Resumption" at South Carolina Public Radio.
AT Shire/SC Public Radio

Resumption is a violin, drums, and piano composition inspired by the flood in South Carolina last year. The trio attempts to capture the musical personality of the storm from early rain to recovery using the diverse expression of our instruments.

Edwin McCain and his band on stage at the Charleston Music Hall.

In cooperation with South Carolina ETV, the Charleston Music Hall has been the scene of a growing series of televised concerts known as Live at the Charleston Music Hall. Co-produced and hosted by Mark Bryan, guitarist of South Carolina’s Hootie and the Blowfish, the series has provided four shows for ETV and South Carolina Public Radio.

Jitterbug Vipers
Clayton Hodges

Austin, TX based quartet the Jitterbug Vipers play 1930s-style viper jazz. Their original music recalls classics by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Cab Callaway. The Jitterbug Vipers are vocalist Sarah Sharp, bassist Francie Meaux Jeaux, percussionist Masumi Jones, and guitarist Slim Richey (who passed away in 2015). We remember Slim Richey this week with the group’s Song Travels session. The band presents a set sure to make you want to get up and dance!

News Stations: Sun, Oct 02, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Oct 02, 6 pm

Grammy and Emmy Award-winning conductor, pianist, composer, and arranger Lee Musiker has long worked with leading jazz, classical, pop, and Broadway performers. He conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the National Orchestra in the US and Canada. He has also worked as a music director for top artists, and his work can be heard on the soundtracks of Hollywood films. Musiker brings a wealth of knowledge to this 2005 Piano Jazz, performing "Fascinating Rhythm" with McPartland.

News Stations: Sat, Oct 01, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Oct 02, 7 pm