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Charleston planning $90,000 Civil War Sesquicentennial schedule

Highlights include sunrise concert, outdoor documentary screening, photo retrospective

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The City of Charleston is expecting a quarter of a million people to come to the Lowcountry next April with events stretching from White Point Gardens to Marion Square to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, the first shots of the Civil War.

A schedule outlining the events will be submitted to The Humanities Council this week for potential grant funding — one of several requests the city will be submitting over the coming months.

"The firing on Fort Sumter was a pivotal moment in the history of America and we feel it is important to mark this significant milestone with dignity, respect, and mutual understanding for all sides involved," said Mayor Joe Riley in a letter supporting the grant request.

The city will host an outdoor presentation of Ken Burns' PBS documentary "The Civil War" in Marion Square on April 9, including an introduction by composer Jay Ungar regarding the score.

Ungar's music, along with other pieces related to the Civil War period, will be included in a concert at White Point Gardens on April 11, including musicians from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and the Mt. Zion AME Church Spiritual Ensemble.

The long weekend will wrap up in the early morning hours of April 12 — when the first shots were fired from James Island 150 years earlier — with a candlelight concert at White Points Gardens at 4 a.m., including the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Brass Ensemble.

The City Gallery at Waterfront Park will host "Post Civil War Charleston — 1865: A photographic retrospective." Currently housed in the archives at the Library of Congress, the pictures taken on the fourth anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter have been digitally restored by local photographer Rick Rhodes. The gallery will also host lectures from Rhodes and historian Robert Rosen on the photographs.

Planning will begin in earnest next month with the announcement of an official poster competition. The winning image will be used in promotional materials, along with a $1,000 award for the artist. Many of the submissions will be on display in a special exhibit during the month of April.

The city is estimating the cost for it's Sesquicentennial events at $90,000, funded from grants, corporate sponsors, private donations, and merchandise sales. Other events are being planned by the National Park Service and the Town of James Island.

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