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One of the best insider hangouts during Spoleto is Millennium Music's Classical/Jazz Room (full disclosure: I spend a lot of time there because I work there). Many festival musicians (both big festival and Piccolo) drift in and out during their off-time or between rehearsals. As gossip and chatter goes, the place can be both a goldmine of unofficial 411 and a confusing cesspool of speculation. But there's always a surfeit of intriguing gossip, unsubstantiated rumors, festival buzz, and sometimes even verifiable news being discussed. I'll do my best to glean the wheat from the chaff in the coming weeks, and report that which is fit to blog.

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The first bit of verifiable news comes from no less than the mouth of Spoleto music director Maestro Emmanuel Villaume. He dropped by on Sun. May 7 with resident Spoleto piano whiz Andrew von Oeyen, who tried out several pianos parked here by Fox Music (to whom falls the thankless task of keeping Spoleto's various pianists supplied with decent instruments).

It seems that advance box-office interest has convinced the Spoleto powers-that-be that they should offer an additional performance of the scheduled June 8 concert (Sottile Theatre, 8:00 PM). Both concerts will feature Beethoven's remarkable Fifth Symphony, Wagner's supremely sensual music from Tristan und Isolde, and the hyper-romantic musical musings of the Love Scene from Berlioz's Romeo et Juliette.) The extra outing will take place May 7 at the same venue and time. Rejoice, ye procrastinators.

Another reliable tidbit comes straight from Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt of Westminster Choir fame during a telephone interview. The advance Spoleto brochure tells us that the Westminster Choir's pair of chamber concerts at the Episcopal Cathedral will be led by renowned English choirmaster Timothy Brown. Following Flummerfelt's retirement from Westminster Choir College last year, Brown was serving as the choir's interim director. But irreconcilable differences (which I can't speculate on here) apparently surfaced — and Brown took his baton and went home. Dr. Flummerfelt was thus obliged to step into the breach, and so we will hear him lead these supreme smaller choral concerts at least one more time (he remains Spoleto's choral director, and will also conduct the big June 5 choral-orchestral concert featuring Mozart and Brahms).

Stay tuned for more chatter — both frivolous and factual — from my side of the tracks —Lindsay Koob

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