by John Stoehr
Geoff Nuttall called yesterday. It was the first time he talked to City Paper since being appointed the new director of Spoleto's chamber music series. He succeeds Charles Wadsworth, who originated the role 30-plus years ago. Nuttall begins in 2010. He's been associate director since 2008.
What did we talk about? Not surprisingly, we talked about the Dock Street Theatre. The city of Charleston and Spoleto are in the middle of a $20 million rehab project. On Thursday, Nigel Redden, Spoleto's general director, gave Nuttall and three other chamber series musicians — violinist Scott St. John (also of the St. Lawrence Quartet), clarinetist Todd Palmer, and flutist Tara Helen O'Connor — a tour of the project. I tagged along, as did Adam Parker, reporter for The Post and Courier.
By the time Nuttall call me on the phone, he was "psyched."
On the Dock Street in general
"I'm really psyched about it. I think it's going to be one of the country's greatest destinations."
On its sophisticated HVAC system
"I was so glad to see such care put into the air system. Before, we had to turn it off, because it was so noisy [the unit was literary backstage, so was inevitably loud]. Then people would complain because it was too hot and we'd have to turn it back on. It was a constant struggle."
On Spoleto's role in the city-led renovation
"You can see Spoleto's influence in the care that went into the air system. The engineers are getting right from the start and it's going to ideal for chamber music."
On his vision for the chamber series
"You know, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But we can't be Charles, because no one can be Charles. We're not going to lose the intimacy and we'll continue to involve the audience in everything we do."
On refreshing the ranks of an aging audience
"I'd like to connect more with a younger audience. One of the things [the St. Lawrence String Quartet does] is go into the schools and put on a preview of a show we'll do later. Then we'll bus them downtown for the concert. That way we'll get more people exposed to this music."
On additions to the series
"One thing Charles did for a while was a composer-in-residence program. I'd like to see that come back. We want the audience to be a part of the creative and cultural process of a living composer making new chamber work."
On chamber series programming
"The format is going to be the same. You buy a ticket and you don't know what the program is going to be. And they'll still be eclectic. I agree with Charles. I'm also anti-theme. But we have a variety of music and there's something for everybody from baroque to the work of living composers."