Spoleto Festival Announces 2020 Season

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Courtesy of Spoleto Festival)

General Director Nigel Redden has announced the details of the 44th season of Spoleto Festival USA. The festival will feature a wide array of music, performances, screenings, talks and opera. For this article we have only concentrated on the vocal performances.


The festival will show the world premiere of “Omar” based on the life of Omar Ibn Said, an enslaved Muslim African sold in Charleston in 1807. The work, featuring music and a libretto by Rhiannon Giddens and co-composed by Michael Abels, follows Ibn Said’s spiritual journey from his life in Senegal to his enslavement in the Carolinas. Award-winning director Charlotte Brathwaite will direct the opera with Jamez McCorkle in the title role, Daniel Okulitch, Cheryse McLeod Lewis, Laquita Mitchell, Catherine Anne Daniel, Adam Klein, Ashley Emerson, Michael Redding, and and Anthony Webb.

Performance Dates: May 22-June 7, 2020 at College of Charleston Sottile Theatre


The Westminster Choir Concerts will led by Festival Director of Choral Activities Joe Miller. The choir will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a program including Benjamin Britten’s “Hymn to St. Cecilia” and works by Paweł Łukaszewski, Daniel Elder, and Jake Runestad, as well
as favorites from Westminster’s vast repertory.

Performance Dates: May 23 & 30, 2020 at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church

The Bank of America Chamber Music program directed and hosted by Geoff Nuttall will feature 11 programs of bright contemporary compositions and canonic treasures. The Charles E. and Andrea L. Volpe Director of Chamber Music Geoff Nuttall organizes and hosts each concert. This season artists will include countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, pianists Inon Barnatan, Pedja Muzijevic, and Gilles Vonsattel, oboist James Austin Smith, clarinetist Todd Palmer, violinist Jennifer Frautschi, and violist Hsin-Yun Huang.

Performance Dates: May 22−June 7 at Dock Street Theatre

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will be presented to celebrate the composer’s 250th anniversary. The Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, Westminster Choir, and Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus will join forces under the baton of r Ruth Reinhardt.

Performance Date: June 4, 2020 at Charleston Gaillard Center


Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration will be produced by MacArthur Fellow and pianist Jason Moran and famed mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran. The multifaceted program will delve into the harrowing and inspiring stories from the Great Migration. Guest artists will include filmmaker and writer Julie Dash, singer/composer Toshi Reagon, and the ensemble Imani Winds.

Performance Date: May 27, 2020 at Charleston Gaillard Center