During what would have been Spoleto Festival USA’s 44th season, we’ve spoken with several artists who were slated to arrive in Charleston about their weeks in quarantine. How do they practice? What’s in their ovens? How do the folks who inspire us so much stay inspired themselves? Our “What I’m Watching” series asks just that. Read on to hear from Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra’s percussion coordinator Sidney Hopson.

Sidney Hopson has been performing with the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra since 2011, while also serving as the Festival’s Orchestra Operations Manager and Percussion Coordinator. As a musician his wide-ranging career spans classical, popular, and TV/film realms: he’s performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and LA Opera; recorded with Stevie Wonder and Rhianna; and can be heard on more than 100 soundtracks, from Illumination’s The Grinch and Netflix’s Dolomite Is My Name. On May 30, Hopson joins 10 other Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra members for a virtual performance of Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together. Ahead of the digital premiere, caught up with Hopson to find out what’s on his daily to-do lists.

What are you binge-watching?

I recently finished season 3 of HBO’s Westworld and just started Avenue 5, also on HBO.

What tops your recent Spotify playlists?

I’ve been playing albums by Jorja Smith, Fink, and (2020 Spoleto Festival USA artists) The War & Treaty on a loop.

What book is on your bedside table?

I’m always working on 2 or three books at a time. This week it’s The Situation and the Story, by Vivian Gornick; On Grand Strategy, by John Lewis Gaddis; and Stony the Road, by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. 

Do you have any guilty-pleasure snacks?

I love cooking to a fault. Recently, I’ve been perfecting a recipe for mocha-chip crêpes…

Do you have quarantine buddies?

I’m blessed to have weekly zoom calls with friends, family, and colleagues across the U.S. and abroad. We’ve helped each other navigate personal and global challenges, while always finding something to laugh about (so many memes…) and events to celebrate.

What’s your quarantine schedule? 

It varies daily. Between the morning and early evening, I always find time to practice, read, write, exercise, follow national and global news, and strategize current and future projects.

How are you continuing your daily practice?

As a percussionist, there’s always a way to practice! Some days I prep specific repertoire on my instruments, while others I work specifically on technique and do mental exercises with a metronome, drumsticks (or just my hands), and a practice pad. I also experiment regularly with new music tech and apps, and constantly study new music and productions by solo artists, ensembles, and companies from around the world.

My personal musical projects are closely tied to my worldview and values; those are both intimately shaped by my readings and writings. So getting/staying informed is a key facet of daily practice routine.

What are you most looking forward to when things get back to normal?

I look forward to seeing loved ones in person, returning to the stage, eating at my top restaurants, exploring book stacks, and doing it all day after day! I cannot wait for Spoleto’s 2021 season, and I’m excited to work within our arts community to make post-covid “normal” even more vibrant, empathetic, and joyful than pre-covid normal.


Want more? Follow Sidney Hopson on Instagram @sidney.hopson and be sure to watch him in the virtual performance of Coming Together, available May 30 through June 7. Follow @SpoletoFestivalUSA on Instagram for more Spoleto at Home content. 

Photo at top by Leigh Webber.