At noon today, a series of speakers and musical performances officially opened the 36th Spoleto Festival USA.

Daniele Benedetti, mayor of Spoleto, Italy, and National Endowment of the Arts chairman Rocco Landesman joined Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley on the steps of City Hall to issue opening remarks for the 17-day arts extravaganza.

The hour-long ceremony features a sneak peek at some of this year’s performers. Tenor Gregory Schmidt, who appears in Philip Glass’s “Kepler,” sang the National Anthem and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Brass Ensemble performed Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.”