May 21, 2012

Piccolo Spoleto Comes Alive During Rotary Meeting

MAY 15, 2012 -- Piccolo Spoleto organizer Ellen Dressler Moryl encouraged Rotarians to participate in some of the 720 festival events, half of which are free, at the end of the month when the arts season kicks in.

“Piccolo Spoleto has been dedicated to providing access to the festival experience, regardless of people’s ability to pay,” she said reflecting on the34-year-old eventapalooza.  Piccolo, along with its big sister Spoleto Festival USA, pump more than $85 million into the South Carolina economy during the 17-day event, she noted.

“At Piccolo Spoleto, the city is a stage and opera is for everyone,” said Moryl, who heads the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

Of the 700+ events, Moryl spotlighted six events for Rotarians:

Sunset Serenade, 8 p.m., May 25, at the U.S. Custom House.  This free event will feature an outdoor rendition of the classic American opera, “Porgy and Bess.” Guest conductor Joseph Young, a South Carolina native, will direct the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in the classic by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward.

Piccolo Spoleto Children’s Festival: “Once Upon A Time...”, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 26, Marion Square.  The children’s event will offer a whimsical day of music, dance, arts and crafts with an emphasis on storytelling and children’s literacy.  Most fun:  The zany Seed & Feed Marching Abominable band from Atlanta.

“Echoes of the Civil War,” 7:30 p.m., May 27, White Point Garden.  This sesquicentennial observance will feature 19th century military band concert with music of the Civil War Era performed by the Eighth Regiment Band of Rome, Georgia. Performing on period instruments, they will be joined by world-class bugle player Jari Villanueva performing "Tenting Tonight" and other well-known songs.

Spotlight Concert Series : Piccolo's signature chamber and choral music series includes programs by Charleston Chamber Opera, Italian pianist Laura Magnani and two special events at Mepkin Abbey .  For more, go online to:

Piccolo Spoleto Festival Finale: 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., June 9, Hampton Park.  More than 11,000 people attended last year’s finale with the popular Motownmadness! performance by the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.  Lots of music will be offered and listeners will leave with a big smile, Moryl said.

Piccolo Spoleto’s Jazz Series.  Organized by Rotarian John Tecklenburg, this year’s series includes four harbor cruises (one of which feature’s John’s band) along with performances by a variety of artists in three other locations.  For more, see the Web site.

The Tuesday meeting opened and closed with toe-tapping Dixieland music offered by the New South Jazzmen, who also will perform on a harbor cruise.

Submitted by Andy Brack, Keyway Committee

May 12, 2012


May 8, 2012: Professor Robert Freer, Visiting Professor of Ethics and Free Enterprise at The Citadel, was our speaker. In addition to years of private practice as an attorney he has served as a general council to government agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the transition team for the Reagan administration. He is a regular columnist to the Charleston Mercury, and currently heads the Free Enterprise Foundation of Charleston.

Although an active member of his political party, his message was not that of a partisan but of a concerned American. His first challenge to all is that YOU MUST VOTE! He spoke of the long term writings of Milton Friedman who worked for the FDR administration and spent 30 years as a faculty member of the University of Chicago. Friedman’s primary conclusion is that a strong nation must manage its debt and operate with a balanced budget. He cautions that when power is concentrated in one organization or theater, failure is lurking in the wings. He noted that so much depends upon the availability of oil that any break in the supply system, such as closing of the Suez Canal or the Strait of Hormuz, can shut the world down and there is nothing that we or any other nation can do about it.

Since the end of the Carter administration the national debt has climbed to nearly 85% of GNP. We are at great risk, with over 40% of our indebtedness being to China, though he does not foresee conflict between our two countries. So, what do we do?

We must regain fiscal responsibility; we must recognize that there is a lack of trust in government; we must recognize that there is a lack of trust in the future of America; and we must beware of accepting MYTHS as solutions:

We cannot grow out of debt with all the many unfunded mandates we have.
We cannot inflate ourselves out of debt.
We cannot tax ourselves enough to end the debt.
We cannot cut our way out of debt as many central services are vital.

The solutions are before us: Create forums for intelligent discussion! Balance the Books! We are free to make choices, but the number one choice is to actively work on solutions! Be ready to study the problems of the nation by establishing forums right at home, yes, in Charleston.

Thomas Jefferson told us to “pay our debts; do not leave them for the future”.

Submitted by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee

May 4, 2012


May 1, 2012: Our speaker for Tuesday was Nigel Redden, General Director of Spoleto Festival USA. Redden has been with Spoleto USA for 36 years. He graduated from Yale with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History. He also is the current Director of Lincoln Center Festival.

Mr. Nigel Redden is responsible for all aspects of Spoleto festival including fundraising, financial administration, marketing, artists’ contracts and board development.

Mr. Redden stated that Spoleto Festival is unique in its own right because it is held on the beautiful Charleston Peninsula. No other festival is held in a city like Charleston. Spoleto starts this year on May25th and runs through June 10. Last year, the festival attracted tourist from 47 states and foreign countries. For the first time ever a newspaper from China will write reviews about Spoleto along with The Wall Street Journal, The NY Times, and other publications.

Mr. Redden stressed the importance of the Gaillard Theater. This will be last year Spoleto performances will be hosted in the old building before renovations this coming fall. The theater has had a profound importance since the start of Spoleto. The new building will be a state of the art theater.

Submitted by Katie McCravy, Keyway Committee