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Charming Charleston—The Spoleto Festival…and so much more

Fort Sumter (photo: Kevin Filipski)
 
The charms of Charleston—stemming from its dual role as a laidback southern city and bustling college town—make it the ideal setting for the annual Spoleto Festival, which presents dozens of concert, theater, opera and dance performances over two weeks each May and June.
  
The 39th edition of Spoleto Festival USA (May 22 to June 8) included operas by Leos Janacek, Michael Nyman and John Adams; theater from Ireland’s renowned Gate Theatre; various dance troupes; and concerts by Lucinda Williams, Bela Fleck, Michael Nyman and the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra.
 
Kata Julia LynnConversely, it was difficult to sit through Facing GoyaMichael Nyman’s unlistenably tedious opera that—via Victoria Hardie’s impossibly pretentious libretto—combined the eponymous 18th century Spanish painter of genius, Nazi eugenics and modern science’s ability to play God, garbled together to no discernible point. I felt sorry for the talented quintet of singers, especially soprano Anne-Carolyn Bird, who amazingly nailed some treacherously high notes; Nyman’s minimalist music, which can be quite diverting in the context of Peter Greenaway’s visually entrancing films, becomes unbearable when it pounds away unrelievedly for two-plus hours.
 
I sampled a recital from the Bank of America Chamber Music series, which is curated and introduced by the personable Geoff Nuttall. The hour-long afternoon program comprised Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio, George Crumb’s bizarre Voice of the Whale—which must be seen to be truly appreciated—and Ottorino Respighi’s lush setting of a Shelley poem, Il tramonto, beautifully sung by mezzo Charlotte Hellekant and sensitively played by the St. Lawrence String Quartet, with Nuttall playing the first violin part. 
 
I also caught an hour-long Intermezzi concert, consisting of Richard Strauss’s melodrama Enoch Arden: actor Stephen Brennan spoke the text to Tennyson’s narrative poem, accompanied by pianist Lydia Brown. Just getting the chance to hear Respighi’s and Strauss’s musical rarities performed on the same day at two splendid settings—the Dock Street Theater (built in 1809) and the Grace Episcopal Church (completed in 1848)—made attending Spoleto worth it by itself.
 
Rachel Julia LynnThe versatile Brennan was also onstage for the Gate Theatre’s thrilling dramatization of Daphne Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel, which was as seductive as the eponymous title character. Shrewdly adapted by Joseph O’Connor and slickly staged by director Toby Frow, the drama kept its vice-like grip thanks to estimable acting across the board, led by Hannah Yelland as an Italian countess whose arrival at an Irish family’s estate won’t quash rumors that she was complicit in her husband’s suspicious death.
 
Checking out Charleston’s attractions was easy enough thanks to the layout of the eminently walkable city, whose narrow streets are lined by a ridiculous array of fine restaurants, high-end shopping, art galleries and historic buildings.
 
 
For a history buff like me, a visit to Fort Sumter was a must. Located three miles offshore in Charleston Harbor, the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired can only be reached by boat, and Fort Sumter Tours provides several trips daily from two locations. I boarded at Liberty Square, right behind the Fort Sumter Visitor’s Center, and was treated to a leisurely ride and narrated tour of the area before reaching the fort, which—though only a ghost of its former formidable self—remains a treasured artifact of the inglorious War Between the States.
 
Named for James Shoolbred Gibbes, Sr., who bequeathed funds for its founding, the Gibbes Museum of Art (which opened in 1905, six years after Gibbes’ death) has a manageable and enticing collection of paintings, sculptures and photographs. Highlights are Italian sculptor Pietro Rossi’s stunningly detailed Veiled Lady, Childe Hassam’s voluptuous painting April (The Green Gown), and the gorgeous stained-glass rotunda dome, which looks like a gigantic Tiffany lamp hanging overhead.
 
 
 
Veiled LadyWalking through Charleston’s streets is also an immersion in American history, with historic houses everywhere—several are available for tours—along with remnants of the original fortifications of the Colonial era walled city, which date back to the early 1700s. Walking through the old Unitarian Church cemetery—whose many gravesites, some centuries old, are grown over by mosses, trees and plants of all types—is a ghostly but do-not-miss detour; a walk through another cemetery yielded the grave of one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution, John Rutledge.
 
For art, culture and history (as well as scrumptious food), Charleston has few equals

International Film Fest Summit & Music Fest Con Converge on Austin

As the world gets smaller and smaller, we tend to forget about the power of gathering like minds in one place. Here at Film Festival Traveler we embrace the idea of the festival as a communicative and all-encompassing experience. Whether it’s an art-house theater showing Pasolini films or an international music summit, festivals bring together great artistic minds and let the public join in the experience. But putting together a film fest or a huge multi-act concert is not the easiest task, so to help learn how to better manage these experiences are the International Film Festival Summit and the International Music Festival Conference. Both are happening December 8 – 10, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Austin.

IMFCON includes panel discussions on how to better improve safety at concerts, keynotes by the  President of Global Touring and Chairman of Global Music at Live Nation, Arthur Fogel and boxing manager Shelly Finkel, a at in-house ticketing vs. giant ticket companies, how to book talent, the difference between managing a festival versus a tour, and much more.

The IFFS investigates how to utilize digital distribution for film, how the acclaimed Toronto International Film Festival selects its programming, a conversation with acclaimed writer John Sayles and Associate Dean of Entrepreneurship and Special Initiatives for the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA, Barbara Boyle, and how to effectively utilize sponsors.

Both events are must-sees for anyone looking to break into the festival industry and provide valuable expertise.

To learn more, go to: http://www.filmfestivalsummit.com/ or http://www.imfcon.com/

The International Film Festival Summit & The International Music Festival Conference

December 8 – 10, 2013

Hyatt Regency Austin
208 Barton Springs Rd.
Austin, Texas 78704

Here are some pictures from IMFCON and IFFS 2012

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more-crowd

 

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imfcon-folks

Taste of the Nation NYC: Hot Dogs & A Good Cause

Arriving at Taste of the Nation NYC 2017, I was elated to find Walters Hotdogs of Mamaroneck serving from there truck at the entrance.  The venerable art deco pagoda was a regular culinary destination of my misspent youth in Westchester.

While waiting for my dog, I chatted with Danny Meyer, honorary chair of the benefit for the worthy No Kids Hungry charity. The restaurateur was pleased with the turnout and told me that he was awaiting upcoming reviews of his newly relocated  flagship Union Square Cafe.

Inside the multi level space, I feasted on offerings from more than 50 purveyors of food and drink. Standout dishes included a delicious gnochetti with rabbit ragout from Freek's Mill and and a toothsome "eggs and ham" deviled eggs with prosciutto di Parma from restaurant  Pig Bleeker.

Upstairs there was a casino, where the restaurant from the Empire Casino served buttery lobster ravioli and prime beef sliders.

Desserts included amazing strawberry and cream donuts from Underwest Donuts. Nobody left this splendid event hungry.

Experience the Future of Food at Food Loves Tech June 11-12, 2016

 

Food Loves Tech — taking place from June 11-12, 2016, at The Waterfront (241 11th Ave at 27th St) — offers the chance to see, smell, touch and taste the technologies that are transforming our food culture. From farm drones and smart ovens to cultured meat and hyper-personalized coffee blends, attendees get to stroll through the food chain oftomorrow, while tasting and sipping from Edible‘s signature roster of local food and drink makers. Launched by the Edible Magazine family — with editions for Brooklyn, East End, Long Island, and Manhattan — embrace the future of flavor.

Enter a portal into the future, when food tech innovators, start-ups and thought leaders join with food aficionados and enthusiasts alike at the intersection of food and technology.

Discover the latest tech shaping our food via interactive installations, conversations and other immersive food experiences, both high tech and low — from 3-D printing and virtual reality to DIY food crafting and alt agriculture.

Partners and participants in this the food tech spectacular  are listed here:

  • BeeHex 
  • C-Fu Foods 
  • Edenworks 
  • EXO 
  • Farmbot 
  • Farmer’s Fridge 
  • Gelzen 
  • Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
  • Grove 
  • Home Grown Cricket Farms 
  • Ingredient1 
  • Juicebot 
  • June Oven 
  • Loliware 
  • Oliso 
  • One Hop Kitchen 
  • Pryme Vessyl 
  • Seedsheet 
  • Sir Kensington’s and Smarty Pans
  • 6Sensor Labs 
  • AeroFarms
  • Bartesian  

Featured chefs include José Andrés and Marcus Samuelsson and the Food Team at Google's #makefuturefood competition will be participating as well.

There will be a Food Tech Bazaar with Califia Farms, Eboost, Lavit, Le Fusion and Make My Cake.

Interactive dinner tickets are still available. Day-time tickets start at $35 (use code EDIBLEFLT), with discounts for buying a pair or a foursome. So bring a few friends and join the Edible team at this three-day event.

For more info go to: http://foodlovestech.com/

Food Loves Tech
June 11–12, 2016

The Waterfront
241 11th Ave (at 27th St), NYC

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