The finale wraps the '09 festival

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The rain held off, the moon came out, and the orchestra was fired up for an outdoor finale that capped off this year's Spoleto Festival USA. Middleton Place didn't seem as full this year, but the spirits were high as picnickers and music-lovers strolled the wonderful grounds before the Festival Orchestra gave the audience a little bit of Bartok. And what better accompaniment for a early 20th-century Hungarian modernist composer than wine, hors d'œuvres, and the sound of a cackling peacock. I saw one sipping water from a puddle and heard another, I think, squawking from one of the many ancient live oaks. Between movements and phrases (they had great timing), the brilliant birds would offer their two cents, sending many in the audience into fits of laughter. And they kept on squawking through Rimsky-Korsakov's beautiful Scheherazade. But like I said, nice touch, especially for something as exotic as Scheherazade. After the concert came the fireworks. It's always good to end with a bang. -JS

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