Piccolo to be international affair

Charleston mayor Joe Riley (left) and Ellen Dressler Moryl (right) applaud Charleston artist Dr. Richard Hagerty as his Piccolo Spoleto poster is unveiled at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park on Wednesday. The festival will celebrate its 30th anniversar

An international theme will wind through the 2008 Piccolo Spoleto Festival as it celebrates its 30th anniversary.

This year's festival will have 700 events, including theater, classical music, dance, visual arts, jazz and poetry.

Initially founded for arts lovers who didn't have the money to attend the newly founded Spoleto Festival USA, the "little" or "piccolo" festival has morphed into one of the largest arts events in the region, reaching thousands of people over the last three decades.

The 2008 Piccolo program was announced Wednesday by Ellen Dressler Moryl, executive director of the Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park.

Also unveiled was the official 2008 poster: "Celebration," by local artist and physician Richard Hagerty. It will be featured on T-shirts and other items.

The public also was given a look at the classical music Spotlight Series poster image, "For Sarah...Who Loved Chamber Music," by Sandy Logan, vice president and design principal of LS3P Associates Ltd., and the Jazz & Blues poster, "Jazz," by Varre, who was born in Turin, Italy. Varre is a professional painter and sculptor whose art has been collected all over the world.

One of the most-vibrant highlights will be a Cuban Block Party at Marion Square, headlined by Havana Son, directed by Cuban-born Fernando Rivas. The Garage Cuban Band will perform traditional Cuban folk music.

"Music From the British Isles" will open the festival at the U.S. Customhouse and will include "A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," performed by the Charleston Symphony Orchestra led by CSO resident conductor Scott Terrell. Dancers from the Charleston Ballet Theatre will move to choreography by Jill Eathorne Bahr.

The Irish fiddling troupe Na Fidleiri will perform with Suzuki violin students from Charleston County schools. Musically traveling north to Scotland will be "Scottish Fantasy," to be performed by violinist Audra Claire McCall.

Musicians from Russia and Indonesia will appear in the Spotlight Concert Series in a stellar lineup of chamber music artists from the past 30 years. Featured performers will include Lee Chin Siow of Singapore and the St. Petersburg (Russia) String Quartet.

The festival will present numerous other events, including A Children's Festival "Tell Me a Story II" co-presented by The Stories for Life Festival and Piccolo Spoleto. Performing will be jugglers, singers and dancers, with children invited to participate in painting a giant mural.

The 2008 Piccolo Spoleto finale, "Around the World in An Afternoon," will be staged at Hampton Park, featuring Israeli jazz artist Avram Pingus and his Middle Eastern World Beat Ensemble and Ghana master drummer Obo Addy.

The 2008 Piccolo Spoleto Festival will run from May 23 to June 8 at various local venues, concurrent with the Spoleto Festival USA.