At Spoleto, we tend to do things a bit differently—inviting opera stars to produce (and sing and play) new variations of historic pieces, setting classic plays en pointe, presenting artists who occupy multiple corners of the music industry. Yet one of the most surprising aspects of the 17-day performing arts festival is revealed twice daily inside Charleston’s historic Dock Street Theatre: the Bank of America Chamber Music series.
Not your typical chamber music concert
Now, if you’ve pictured a staid, buttoned-up classical concert, during which only polite golf-clapping and snooty, know-it-all chittering are acceptable—well, think again. Instead, imagine 33 rollicking, immersive concert experiences, full of laughter, jokes, and the world’s best musicians just generally rocking out.
This is the world of chamber music at Spoleto. Through 11 programs weaving vibrant and wide-ranging perspectives, compositional styles, and historical periods, the concerts reflect a dynamism represented across the multidisciplinary festival. This was passionately championed by Geoff Nuttall, Spoleto’s late Director of Chamber Music, who embodied Spoleto’s creative ethos. Geoff made each concert wildly engaging and active—rallying the audience to hum along or answer trivia. His onstage banter spoke to novices and musicologists alike. In 2022, he said from the stage: “The cool thing about music is that you don’t have to know anything to get it, to be affected by it.”
What’s on the program in 2023
Though Geoff is no longer with us, his philosophy—his undeniable love for the genre, for musical curiosity and education—lives on. The programs in 2023, curated by several of Geoff’s closest musical colleagues, are both informed and inspired by his omnivorous musical taste. The concerts feature more than 35 pieces—a compendium spanning pre-17th-century pieces to 21st- century triumphs with no composer represented more than once. Said Nuttall in a 2019 statement: “I love combining the old with the new, the standards of the repertoire with rarely heard gems. I want to encourage audience members to open their ears, discover new things from a musical point of view, and think about possibilities for future listening.”
This season, the musicians pull out all the stops. There’s a silent film set to music on Program III, a set of George Gershwin songs on Program VI, and more surprises to come. From saxophones to violins, harpsichords to opera singers, the Bank of America Chamber Music series continues to know no bounds. For the most incredible musical party, book tickets today.