Words, Words, Words: Shakespeare’s First Folio comes to USC by Haley Sprankle


“Come in, take a seat on the couch.”


I walked into Professor Robert Richmond’s office, and saw pictures everywhere of various productions he has directed both at the university and around the country.


Most of these productions are the works of Mr. William Shakespeare himself.


From April 14-30, the University of South Carolina is hosting Shakespeare’s First Folio, and since all the world’s a stage, there will be a myriad of ways Columbians can experience these exquisite and well-known works.


“The First Folio is a book that was created seven years after Shakespeare’s death, and is really the book that gave us Shakespeare’s works. Without that compilation of his plays, we probably would have lost many of them, and he wouldn’t have been the most performed playwright in the world. So it seemed appropriate that we should program a number of events.” Richmond explained. “The Tempest, which is the Main Stage production in Drayton Hall, was seemingly fitting because it was his last play and was his farewell to the theatre in many ways.”


The Tempest isn’t the only production on campus to catch a hint of the bard though. Louis Butelli will star in the one-man production and original piece, Gravedigger’s Tale (April 21-23, Longstreet Theatre) and a group of players will perform in an outdoor production titled “Jukebox Shakespeare” (April 23, outside of Thomas Cooper Library).


Gravedigger’s Tale is an interactive audience piece in which the audience is given a human bone and on the bone is a question. Louis Butelli, playing the gravedigger, invites the audience in a random order to ask a question, and he gives the answer back all in Shakespeare except for just a couple of little adjoining words that get in from A to B,” Richmond elaborates. “Jukebox Shakespeare will be a traveling troupe of Shakespearean players who will perform different scenes, monologues, speeches, and soliloquies on the green outside of the library. It will revolve around the crowd because it’s just really based on passers-by. People will be able to take requests from the ‘greatest hits’ of Shakespeare, so we have everything from Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet to Twelfth Night to Richard III to Henry V.”


Clearly, Richmond is no stranger to innovation. His productions often include unique takes on familiar pieces that transform the work and drop audiences into completely different worlds.

Tempest 2


“Well, I think every generation has to redefine him [Shakespeare] in that it has to become accessible and exciting and it needs to be something that a younger generation can understand and feel a part of and complicit in the action,” Richmond says. “So The Tempest is actually a weird play because it has a reputation of being very serious, but actually there’s huge amounts of fun in it. There’s clowns, magic, and fantasy characters. I wanted to try and do a production that is sort of Pan’s Labyrinth meets Shakespeare, but it has to have a sort of an appeal to our sensibilities so that we understand the science fiction of it, the fantasy element of it. Ours is not the sandy beach, castaway version of the play. Ours is a Lord of the Rings version of the play with Celtic music that is obviously very evocative that really tells the audience and makes them think about what it would be like to be stranded on an island.”


Outside of USC’s theatrics, the Thomas Cooper Library will host classes, discussions, and speeches from people such as Shakespearean scholar Stephen Orgel, the First Folio exhibit “Much Ado About Shakespeare” will be open in Hollings Library, and the South Carolina Shakespeare Company will perform Merry Wives of Windsor in Finlay Park.


“To me, it’s less about the book and more about the humanity that is in the book,” Richmond closes. “The book itself is significant; it’s changed the way that we think, the way that we talk, the language that we use. In that book are 1,700 words that had never been spoken before. His [Shakespeare’s] influence on the language that English-speakers share across the world is huge. But the book itself is just a book; it’s about what is in the book and what the book says to each and every one of us.”


For more information about the upcoming events this month, go to http://library.sc.edu/p/FirstFolio!

USC Hosts Shared Traditions -- Sacred Music in the South

Gullah Kinfolk The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum will host a music symposium entitled Shared Traditions: Sacred Music in the South on February 26th and February 27th, 2016. The program will feature live performances, a panel session, presentations, and music workshops. All Shared Traditions programs are free and open to the public. The event is co-sponsored by the USC School of Music and Brookland Baptist Church. Shared Traditions will start with a meet & greet with Gullah storyteller Anita Singleton-Prather at 3:30pm on Friday, February 26th at McKissick Museum on USC’s historic horseshoe. Singleton-Prather, a recipient of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, is a singer, actress, and the director and producer of Broadway Back In Da' Woods Productions, a full-stage musical theater experience featuring the performance group The Gullah Kinfolk. Friday evening will also include a presentation at 6:30pm by Dr. Eric Crawford on the topic of African-American spirituals in the South Carolina Sea Islands. Held at Johnson Hall at the Darla Moore School of Business on the USC campus, the talk will lead into a live performance of Circle Unbroken: A Gullah Journey from Africa to America by Anita Singleton-Prather and The Gullah Kinfolk at 7:00pm. Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia will host all program events on Saturday, February 27th. A detailed schedule of events is included with this press release. The day will begin with a panel presentation entitled “Vocal Godliness: Gospel in Black and White” and will feature current research by graduate students from Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Following this session, Dr. Minuette Floyd will present on the topic of the music of the African-American camp meeting. The keynote speaker, Dr. Cynthia Schmidt, will screen The Language You Cry In, a film based on her research chronicling an amazing scholarly detective reaching across hundreds of years and thousands of miles, from 18th century Sierra Leone to the Gullah people of present-day Georgia. Dr. Schmidt will share an update on her research and host a Q&A with the audience. Following the keynote address, conference participants will have the opportunity to attend three music workshops focusing on shape-note and hymn-raising traditions. Led by practitioners and choir leaders, these workshops will provide the opportunity to learn about the history of these traditions and the chance to participate in fellowship and song. Saturday’s program will conclude with an evening concert, highlighting the songs and styles learned during the workshops. For more information, visit http://artsandsciences.sc.edu/mckissickmuseum or call Saddler Taylor at 803-777-3714. This program is funded in part by the Humanities CouncilSC and the South Carolina Arts Commission.

PREVIEW: Herculine and Lola at USC's Center for Performance Experiment -- By Alivia L Seely


Playwright Dipika Guha

“People often think that identifying as transgender or words like 'intersex' are all new things, but the inclusion of Herculine’s story from the 1800s gives a different perspective. Struggles with gender identity and sexuality are not new--it’s just been excluded from the mainstream conversation,” -- Rachel Kuhnle, Lola in Herculine and Lola


A jump through time and a change in culture, and yet, the same problem is still seen. Will comfort be felt or sexuality understood as playwright Dipika Guha’s script is brought to the stage?

Herculine and Lola is a play that showcases the struggles of gender identity and follows two women in their search to find peace with their bodies. Herculine Barbin is a women from the past. A schoolteacher in 19th century France, Herculine writes a diary conveying her troubles as an intersex person. While leaping forward to present day, Lola is an American teenager who travels overseas with her parents, when they break some complicated news to her about her body.

“Lola looks and acts like a female and in fact believes she is a female until her parents inform her that it’s not so simple,” says Carin Bendas, a second-year MFA acting student at the University of South Carolina and playing the role of Lola.

Guha’s writing paints a picture of what it feels like to be someone struggling with gender identity. “This play has been enormously challenging to wrangle because of its structure and size. I wanted to create a three-part structure for the stage where we would depart and ‘be’ somewhere entirely different in the second part,” says Guha.

Herculine may be a piece of the past, but her problems are still prevalent in today’s contemporary culture, as audiences will see through Lola’s character. Rachel Kuhnle, also a second-year MFA acting student at USC and playing the role of Herculine, mentions never working in any production that takes sexuality and explores it so much. “People often think that identifying as transgender or words like 'intersex' are all new things, but the inclusion of Herculine’s story from the 1800s gives a different perspective. Struggles with gender identity and sexuality are not new--it’s just been excluded from the mainstream conversation,” says Kuhnle.

Most people have come across an intersex person before; we just wouldn’t normally notice it, Bendas mentions. As it seems, today’s culture is more understanding when it comes to an intersex or transgender person. Knowing that people had to deal with gender identity issues at a time when the culture was not as accepting really puts an emphasis on how evolved our culture has become-though obviously not far enough. Despite period differences, Herculine and Lola bond together through their imagination and love.“Our life experiences play a huge part in the characters we create, especially in a play where the characters' journeys are so personal,” says Kuhnle.

Audience members have to keep their imaginations going and remember the unique culture each character belongs to. With such dramatic time period shifts, showing scene changes can be a challenge, even for set designer and director Steven Pearson.“It’s a very cinematic play and to do that with a simple element, to bring to life what is written on the page, is always a challenge, especially to go from one environment to another and from one time to another. We are using more general furniture and props to have the audience’s imaginations anchor on them. But the most important part is the actors in it,” says Pearson.

This will be the first production of the play, and Guha is delighted to have Pearson behind her. “He understands what this play is after down to its marrow and has worked tirelessly to realize the story in a kind of bare theatrical landscape I had imagined when I wrote it,” says Guha. “He has given me the greatest gift that a playwright could ask for, which is the absolute commitment to staging the play as is written.”

The play will run from November 15-21 at the Center for Performance Experiment on 718 Devine St. Tickets are $5 and are available only at the door. Show times are 8 p.m. every night, and on Friday, November 20, two shows will run at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Actors’ Activism: Portraying Womanness and Feminism by Jasper intern Haley Sprankle

Feminism. Man-hating, bra-burning, hairy women running around and shouting, “Down with the patriarchy!”



While it’s true that some women don’t wear bras, some may not be interested in men, some don’t want to shave, and some are absolutely sick of the patriarchy, those behaviors and attitudes don’t define the whole movement. Feminists are not merely some stereotype running rampant through the streets, seeking to gain the upper hand over men. Feminism is simply “the belief in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.”

“Feminism means a lot to me, in a lot of different ways, but most importantly it’s a social movement and a way of being that seeks equality for all people, regardless of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and so on,” says Alexis Stratton, who is co-directing of the reading of the play We Are Women! for the Women and Gender Studies Program’s 40th anniversary celebration, explains.

“Because of negative stereotypes, a lot of people think feminists are ‘man-haters’ or want to put others down, but it’s actually just the opposite. I think most feminists want to bring everyone up and want equality for everyone,” she continues. “And while the focus has predominantly been on women, we have to understand that everyone exists at an intersection of identities, and one is not free until all are free. I also think it’s important to note that there’s no singular ‘feminism,’ but instead, there are ‘feminisms’—plural, because there are so many kinds of feminism, and I think they should all be welcomed and celebrated and recognized.”

Stratton, a program graduate and published author who currently works at South Carolina Equality, is co-directing with Suzanne Vargas, a local clinical social worker and former high school English teacher with a similar passion for melding arts and politics. “Alexis asked me to help her with the production because she knew that I have directed Vagina Monologues before, and am a huge believer in art as advocacy,” shes says. “I love new adventures, especially when they include ways to commemorate the individuals who came before us.”



The play itself was produced by the Women and Gender Studies program in 1995 and features a series of unrelated vignettes that are connected through the women in them.

“The play has a very 1990s, second wave feminism feel to it—a kind of ‘we are women, hear us roar’ feel that reminded me a lot of the feminism of my mother,” says Stratton. “As a queer, gender non-conforming woman, I have a complicated relationship with ‘womanness’ and have only grown to understand and accept my identity as a woman and a feminist by deconstructing what it actually means to be ‘woman.’ So to have ‘womanness’ spelled out so plainly before me in this play, I was initially frustrated, because as a queer and feminist scholar in the 2010s, I’m immediately struck by the question, what does ‘we are women’ even mean? And can we even say ‘we are women’ anymore? And does that ‘woman’ actually include me?”

Ultimately, Stratton believes it does. “I couldn’t get to the point of asking these questions if these women who came before me hadn’t pushed the lines and boundaries that they were able to push—and able to push only through their tenacity and sacrifice and hard labor and boundary-crossing,” she explains. “So once I allowed myself to see that, to get out of the blindness of my of presentism, I became quite attached to the play and really excited about producing it—and seeing what kinds of energy and ideas the cast could bring to it.”

While the piece holds on to some of the second-wave feminist ideals, Vargas and Stratton worked together to modernize it and make it more relatable to current audiences and what they may experience as women of the 21st century.

“It wasn’t until Alexis and I talked about how this is a historical piece honoring where we’ve come from and hope to go that I absolutely fell in love with it. It’s made me much more aware of how, in order to understand what we are advocating for currently, we must know where we’ve been,” Vargas says. “When Alexis brought up the possibility of also adding a few more modern pieces to make the performance capture intergenerational and intercenturial voices, I began to see the piece as snapshots through several generations advocating; and in that I find so much beauty. That’s why I wrote “My Kind of Woman,” because it’s a story and a voice that not only captures my own relationship with feminism and womynism, but also it speaks to a civil rights issue that is so prevalent today.”

The question of whether or not feminism is relevant and necessary today has been raised frequently as movements like “Meninism” and Women Against Feminism arise.

“The world needs feminism, period,” Stratton says flatly. “The world needs feminism(s) because it teaches people to look at the world, to interrogate it and explore it and imagine how it could be different, more just and more whole. And then it gives folks the tools to make that new world happen, even if it’s a struggle, and even if we argue about how to get there. And those struggles are okay, because feminism(s) also teaches us how to work through those differences and arguments in real and productive ways.”

The co-directors and actors have worked hard to put together something entertaining, but also something living, breathing, and real to help teach what feminism is really all about.

“I am just blown away at seeing such amazing individuals put so much love and individuality into a supportive and beautiful artistic community,” says Vargas. “I think often about how I hope this is what developed 20 years ago when they did this play. I also grow more attached to certain pieces; I get excited when I know they’re coming, because each time they’re read, I feel a different woman’s story in it, if that makes sense.”

We Are Women! is a free, a one-night-only event this Friday, March 20th, at 7 p.m. in USC’s Law School Auditorium. Come out to celebrate the past, present, and future of women and watch their stories come to life.

“We don’t live in a post-feminist America, just as we don’t live in a post-racial America,” Stratton stresses. “Feminisms are real and alive and meaningful today—as you’ll be able to see in these actor-activists on stage.”

USC Symphony Orchestra Celebrates Master of Song, Cole Porter - Feb. 24th

  Cole Porter


Warm the cold February chill with a tribute to Cole Porter, one of the major songwriters for the Broadway stage. The concert takes place at the Koger Center for the Arts on Tuesday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m. Four soloists and chorus celebrate some of Porter’s greatest hits including I Get a Kick Out of You, You’re the Top, All Through the Night, I Love Paris, Begin the Beguine, So in Love, and Night and Day.


Led by acclaimed director Donald Portnoy, University of South Carolina’s premier orchestra ensemble, the USC Symphony Orchestra, has received accolades for its fine and mature performances. Tickets are on sale now at capitoltickets.com.


Joining the USC Symphony Orchestra for the concert are USC music faculty members, Tina Milhorn Stallard (soprano), Janet Hopkins (mezzo-soprano), Walter Cuttino (tenor), Jacob Will (baritone), and the Dreher High School Chorus.


Unlike many successful Broadway composers, Porter wrote the lyrics as well as the music for his songs, which are full of double entendres, clever internal rhymes, and sophisticated uses of melody, rhythm and harmony. Some of the cleverest, funniest and most romantic songs ever written came from the pen of Cole Porter.


Born in Peru, Indiana in 1891, Cole Porter was born into a wealthy family, studying violin and piano as a child at the insistence of his mother. Although violin was a struggle for the young Cole, the piano allowed him to produce the harmonies that captivated him and that would set him on his way to a successful musical career.


Although he was not a good student, he attended Worcester Academy in preparation for an Ivy League college, and it was there that he began composing witty songs at the age of eight. He soon learned he could win over the boys his age with the risqué lyrics that would become his trademark.


Porter went on to Yale University, where he almost flunked out – he was too busy with extracurricular musical activities. It was here that he began to get his songs published. Most students at Yale knew him for the fight songs he would write, many of which continue to be Yale classics.


Surprisingly, the likeable and industrious Porter was accepted to Harvard Law School, but was subsequently transferred into the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. During his first year at Harvard in 1915, he had two of his songs performed in Broadway shows, and his own “patriotic comic opera,” See America First, made it to the Broadway stage the following year.


Porter was able to enjoy a charmed social life flitting between Paris, London and Venice. After some early flops, he eventually won over critics and audiences. He produced one of his greatest hits with Gay Divorce, Fred Astaire’s last stage show, which was later made into a blockbuster Hollywood film starring Astaire and Ginger Rodgers. Many hits followed, and in 1948 he wrote his masterpiece, Kiss Me, Kate, winning the coveted Tony Award for Best Score.


Tickets are on sale now by calling Capitol Tickets at 803-251-2222, online at capitoltickets.com, or in person at the Koger Box Office, corner of Greene and Park Streets. $30 general public; $25 senior citizens, USC faculty and staff; $8 students.

USC’s Southern Exposure Music Series announces 2014-15 season


The award-winning series of

free, innovative concerts

opens on Sept. 26


The University of South Carolina’s Southern Exposure Music Series season is a star-studded year filled with the superb artistic quality and innovative programming that Columbia has come to expect from the Southeast’s most adventurous music series. The award-winning series, in its 13th year, continues to offer concerts for free.


This year is a typically diverse season, featuring a hip, hot string quartet (Brooklyn Rider, Sept. 26), a world music giant (the return to Columbia of sitar great Kartik Seshadri, Nov. 14), a classical music legend (soprano Lucy Shelton, with the esteemed Dolce Suono Ensemble, Feb. 25), and ending with the series’ first-ever foray into USC’s brand new music space, the W.W. Hootie Johnson Performance Hall in the Darla Moore School of Business (1014 Greene St) – a rare performance of Louis Andriessen’s gigantic masterpiece De Staat (March 20), featuring USC students and faculty and conducted by Scott Weiss, director of bands.


These popular free concerts fill to capacity, but patrons can reserve a seat and support the series for the entire season for $100.

Southern Exposure New Music Series, 2014-15 Season


Brooklyn Rider Fri., Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.

USC School of Music Recital Hall (813 Assembly St)

The Brooklyn-based string quartet has been called “one of the wonders of classical music,” by the LA Times.  They tour and record regularly with the likes of Bela Fleck and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and in recent years have performed in one of the more diverse lineups of venues imaginable, including the Ojai Music Festival, the Cologne Philharmonie, the U.S. Open Tennis tournament, Lincoln Center, and Austin’s South by Southwest, where the quartet was the only classical group with an official invitation to play. Their Southern Exposure program will include Philip Glass’s second string quartet, as well works from their latest recording project, the ambitious, cross-disciplinary Brooklyn Rider Almanac (Mercury Classics). http://www.brooklynrider.com/


Music from India: Kartik Seshadri, sitar and Abhijit Banerjee, table Fri., Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m. USC School of Music Recital Hall (813 Assembly St)

If one can say that any of Southern Exposure’s past concerts deserves the epithet “legendary,” sitar virtuoso Kartik Seshadri’s Southern Exposure performance nearly 10 years ago would surely be among the first mentioned, remembered by those in attendance as a magical, emotionally-charged, unforgettable evening. He is joined by another major figure in Indian classical music, the tabla player Abhijit Banerjee.  http://kartikseshadri.com/



Dolce Suono Ensemble and Soprano Lucy Shelton Wed., Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m.

USC School of Music Recital Hall (813 Assembly St)

Acclaimed singer Lucy Shelton, perhaps contemporary classical’s leading soprano, a “new music diva” with “musicianship, technique and intelligence that are unfailing,” (Boston Globe), Shelton has premiered more than 100 major works by composers that comprise a who’s who of 20th- and 21st-century music, including Elliott Carter, Oliver Knussen, Joseph Schwantner, Charles Wuorinen, Gerard Grisey, David Del Tredici and Ned Rorem. An evening with Philadelphia-based stars Dolce Suono, with a core group of artists from world-renowned Philly institutions like the Curtis Institute of Music and Philadelphia Orchestra, led by flutist Mimi Stillman, is certain to be equally astounding. This concert is comprised of two works that set ancient Chinese poetry, by Pulitzer-prize winner Shulamit Ran and USC’s own Fang Man, and will be preceded by a 6:30 p.m. presentation by Joseph Lam, chair of the Department of Musicology at the University of Michigan.




Music and Society:  Hartke’s “Sons of Noah” and Andriessen’s ”De Staat”

Fri., March 20, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

W.W. Hootie Johnson Performance Hall

(Moore School of Business 1014 Greene St.)

Performed by a bevy of USC’s world-class faculty and superb students, these major works take on extra-musical topics relating music and society/politics – and, quite apart from any lessons that might be imparted, are masterful, mesmerizing pieces of music. Stephen Hartke’s “Sons of Noah,” featuring USC soprano Tina Stallard and three highly unusual quartets of instruments – classical guitars, flutes and bassoons – sets a short story written during the Crimean War, the first modern conflict between the Islamic world and Europe: a satirical imagining of three “missing chapters of the Bible.” Hartke’s music has echoes of old and new styles, from the Middle Ages and Renaissance to Igor Stravinsky, and strikes a powerful emotional chord. Dutch post-minimalist icon Louis Andriessen’s De Staat (which, while composed in an entirely different style than Sons of Noah, also owes something to the rhythmic legacy of Stravinsky) sets texts from Plato’s Republic. The big, robust work with a large number of singers, brass, woodwinds, strings, pianos and electric guitars onto the stage will blow the roof off of the new hall!

Jasper Literary Editor Ed Madden Reviewed in The State, Salon on Thursday, April 10 @ 7 pm

NEST Join Jasper Magazine - The Word on Columbia Arts on April 10 to hear Columbia poet and Jasper literary arts editor Ed Madden read from his new book of poetry, Nest, just published this spring by Salmon Poetry of Ireland. This will be Ed's first reading from the new book in South Carolina, which was recently reviewed in The State newspaper. Celebrate National Poetry Month with Jasper by joining us for this debut reading!

Join us for drinks at 7 with a reading starting at 7:30 followed by a Q & A with the author. Free.

Nest Snip

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Kathleen Robbins: Photographing the Most Southern Place on Earth

"Some part of photographer Kathleen Robbins permanently exists in the flat, rural, alluvial plains of the Mississippi Delta. Her family has farmed cotton there for six generations, so the soil has practically entwined itself into her DNA, creating the need to visit often and record the changing landscape of the place itself, but also a vanishing way of life. Cotton fields are being replaced by soy and corn, and communities that grew up around the cultivation of cotton are dispersing. ..." - Kara Gunter

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Imagine If: Envisioning a World Without Violence by Alexis Stratton

"A few years ago, when I was volunteering at Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM), one of their staff members asked if I could write something for them about what a world without sexual violence would look like. I was immediately drawn to this idea for a couple reasons. First, I was in the MFA in Creating Writing Program at USC, and I loved any excuse to write something new. Second, as a survivor of child sexual abuse, I'd often wondered how things would've been different for me if the abuse had never happened. ..." - Alexis Stratton For the full column and accompanying poem, click through the photo below:

Stratton Column

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Columbia & the World by Chris Robinson

"There are two art worlds in Columbia, the local arts community and artists at the university--colloquially and sometimes disparagingly referred to as the Town and Gown divide. (Full disclosure, I try hard to participate in both worlds, but am on the faculty in the Department of Art at the University of South Carolina.) While some may say that this magazine concentrates on the former, there is rich content in the latter, and I am inclined to risk characterizing each. The names in the local arts community are probably more familiar and many seek a means of art making that allows sales and survival, thereby dictating and assuring a somewhat more conventional or conservative approach. Conversely, research university faculty artists are encouraged and obliged to create new content and establish national and international reputations, but are often unconnected and/or unknown in the local community. Their work is, by necessity, more exploratory, as a research institution's role is to create new information. However, they do live here in Columbia and have similar and common interests, and it seems unfortunate that there is not more healthy and productive interaction between the two. ..." - Chris Robinson For the full column, click through the photo below:

Robinson Column

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Jessica Christine Owen: Learning and Teaching

“Packing up and moving across the country to a place where the people and culture are completely unknown can be intimidating. For some, it would likely be too daunting a task to consider. But for Jessica Christine Owen, it was a challenge willingly accepted. As an innovative photographer who grew up and attended school in New Mexico, the change was more about a new perspective and the opportunity to work with other women who created work completely different from her own. ...” – Deborah Swearingen For the full story and photos, check out page 26 of the magazine below:

Southeastern Piano Festival wraps up 10th anniversary year with great attendance, competition winners and significant donation


The Southeastern Piano Festival wrapped up Saturday night June 16 with a concert by the winners of the Arthur Fraser International Concerto Competition and the announcement of a $20,000 gift to the festival. The Festival, June 10 – 16, had its most successful year ever with record attendance at concerts including 1,500 at its opening Piano Extravaganza Concert at the Koger Center for the Arts.

“This has been an amazing year with extraordinary students and guest artists and wonderful music that has been shared with large and enthusiastic audiences. To cap it off with an announcement of this gift is the perfect way to end our 10th anniversary festival,” said Marina Lomazov, Artistic Director of the Southeastern Piano Festival.

The first place winner of the Fraser Competition was Dong Yeon Kim of Idyllwild, Calif. The second place winner was Kevin Ahfat of Centennial. Colo., and third place was won by Evelyn Mo of Herndon, Va. Discretionary awards went to Vanessa Meiling Haynes of Shrewsbury, Mass.; Michael Lenahan of Rossford, Ohio; and Rieko Tsuchida of Mill Valley, Calif.

Artistic Director Marina Lomazov announced that an anonymous donor will match dollar for dollar up to $20,000 all donations made to the Piano Festival. The unnamed donor is a long-time supporter of the festival.

Also announced at the closing event is that Joseph Rackers, an assistant professor of music at the USC School of Music and Festival faculty member, will become co-director of the festival.

The Southeastern Piano Festival is composed of a week-long training program for pre-college students coupled with a series of concerts by accomplished pianists. This year 20 students from around the nation and one from Australia took part in the competition.

The top award winner Dong Yeon Kim has been grand prize winner of the Lake Lewisville Competition and in the Lynn Harrell Concerto Competition and has won top awards in the New Orleans International, Dallas Symphonic, National Young Artist Institute, MTNA, Wysong-Joplin and Denton Bach Society competitions. He has performed with the Dallas Symphony under conductor Jaap van Zweden. A native of South Korea, He moved to the United States in 2007 to continue his music studies.

As first place winner, he will receive a $3,000 cash award sponsored by Rice Music House-Steinway Pianos and the opportunity to perform with the South Carolina Philharmonic. The competition is sponsored by the Symphony League of the S.C. Philharmonic and named in honor of the founding music director of the Philharmonic.

Kevin Ahfat was a Silver Medalist at the Fifth Schimmel USASU International Piano Competition, first prize winner in the Boulder Philharmonic, Steinway & Sons and Bradshaw & Buono international competitions. He has performed with the Colorado Symphony, Arapahoe Philharmonic and will perform with the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra in August as first prize winner of the 2012 Schmitt Music Competition. He will begin studies at the Juilliard School in the fall.

Evelyn Mo is an eighth grader whose awards include first prizes at the 2012 Blount- Slawson Young Artist Concerto Competition, 2011 Chopin International Piano Competition, 2011 MSMTA Beethoven Sonata Competition, and the International Young Artist Piano Competition in Washington, DC, in 2008 and 2010. She has been invited to appear on NPR’s “From the Top’’ and has performed at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and the National Gallery of Art.

The second and third place winners receive $1,500 and $1,000 respectively.

The competition jury was composed of Boris Slutsky, jury chairman and Peabody Conservatory Piano Department Chairman; pianist Alessio Bax; Natalya Antonova, Eastman School of Music Professor of Piano; and Morihiko Nakahara, Music Director of the S.C. Philharmonic. Dong Kim was also awarded the Young Jury Prize selected by a panel of USC School of Music graduate and doctoral students.

-- Jeffrey Day


Reach Jeffrey Day at Carolinaculture@hotmail.com and visit us at Jasper at www.JasperColumbia.com