Unusual events

“Wheel” by Long-Bin Chen, a work at the Halsey Gallery of Contemporary Art.

With the opening of Piccolo Spoleto and Spoleto Festival USA this week, there are just too many fantastic things to do in the arts to pick any favorites.

It’s such a wonderful time in our city, that cusp between spring and summer beach season, and there is something to do every hour of the day and evening, depending on your artistic taste.

Because of the great variety, I’m just highlighting a few unusual events, but The Post and Courier will be offering daily coverage for the run of the two festivals.

First, it’s finally time for Chamber Music Charleston to make its Carnegie Hall debut. The young ensemble group has been waiting for this event for almost a year, and at 8 p.m. Wednesday, they take to the stage in New York.

Chamber Music Charleston’s ensemble of six core musicians and guest pianist Andrew Armstrong will present music of Mozart, Brahms and Gershwin as a way to highlight Charleston’s contributions to music.

The program also includes the world premiere of “Charleston Episodes,” composed by Terry Vosbein specifically for the ensemble and this event.

“We will highlight Charleston’s contributions to classical music ... with nods to the famed 19th-century St. Cecilia Society and the influence of George Gershwin’s stay in the 1930s. Our cultural heritage continues a rich and progressive association with classical music,” says Sandra Nikolajevs, bassoonist, president and artistic director of Chamber Music Charleston.

Chamber Music Charleston was founded in 2006 as a nonprofit dedicated to presenting concerts of high artistic quality within Lowcountry settings. The majority of concerts are presented as intimate performances in downtown Charleston’s historic homes and the resort homes on Kiawah Island.

Musicians will be Frances Hsieh and Nonoko Okada, violins; Ben Weiss, viola; Timothy O’Malley, cello; Regina Helcher Yost, flute; Nikolajevs, bassoon; and Andrew Armstrong, piano.

Tickets are $50 for general seating, available at Carnegie Charge at 212-247-7800, carnegiehall.org or the Carnegie Hall Box office.

One of the fascinating contemporary arts exhibits always happens around Spoleto at the Halsey Gallery for Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston.

In this exhibit, books are the main topic. While the form of books is changing with technology, reading is at an all-time high. But like other art forms such as photography, the old structure of books on paper, and bound with leather, is beginning to feel antiquated.

So it’s not surprising that contemporary artists are exploring the play among the function, structure and format of books. “Rebound: Dissections and Excavations in Book Art” brings together the work of five mixed-media artists from around the world who, using books as a point of departure, sculpt, scrape, bend and carve to create their compositions.

Doug Beube, Long-Bin Chen, Brian Dettmer, Guy Laramee and Francesca Pastine transform various types of literature and/or printed books through sculptural intervention.

The fascinating range of examples, as diverse as books themselves, offers proof that despite or because of the advance of digital media for sources of information the book’s legacy as a carrier of ideas and communication is being expanded today.

Some artists, like Chen and Laramee, directly address the parallels between the disappearance of natural spaces and books as an outdated mode of expression. Alternatively, Beube, Pastine and Dettmer want to find a place for books in the future by digitizing them. Here, images are created that are reminiscent of topographical maps, weather maps, readings from seismographs, or cross sections of the “bodies” of the books. These works are treated as surgeries or dissections; scalpels and needles are used to carve away the books’ exteriors.

The exhibition will be on view at the Halsey Gallery starting Thursday and running through July 6. Special events for the opening include a gallery walk-through with the artists 5-6 p.m. and an opening reception 6-8 p.m. All events are free. The gallery is at 161 Calhoun St. Hours are 11-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and until 7 p.m. Thursdays.

Finally, the fun musical spoof “slammergirls” addresses the explosion of female prison movies in the 1960s. These awful movies, often referred to as “sex-ploitation” films, typically were shown at drive-in theaters. They featured stock characters: the innocent girl wrongly convicted, the psychopathic murderer, the manly female matron and the overheated man-hater. Female prison films were designed to take full advantage of the loosening in the 1960s of censorship laws and were mostly a format through which sexual exploitation of women (and sometimes men) could become commercially viable.

“Slammergirls” chronicles the lives of Francine, a former flight attendant-turned-prison matron; Princess, the “air-head” nymphomaniac; Bonnie, the coupon-clipping charity embezzler; Blossom, the earth mother; and Grace, the dominatrix.

It being presented by Footlight Players at 20 Queen St. starting Saturday and running through June 9. Tickets are $26 for adults and $21 for seniors/students/military with ID. Call 866-811-4111 for reservations.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or sharvin@postandcourier.com.