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Charleston Spoleto Festival

Spoleto Festival USA


Thursday, May 11, 2006 - Last Updated: 7:37 AM

Spoleto to show off rare Revolutionary War flags


The Post and Courier

Three rare Revolutionary War battle flags valued between $2.5 million and $6.5 million will be displayed during Spoleto Festival USA's opening weekend.

The flags, once carried by Continental patriots, will be shown publicly for the first time in more than two centuries.

British forces seized the flags as trophies from the Third Virginia Detachment at the Battle of Waxhaws near the North and South Carolina border. Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton sent them home to England, where they have since remained in his family's possession.

The main regimental flag, which bears a canton of 13 stars, is the earliest example of an American flag. This Memorial Day marks the 226th anniversary of the battle.

"We are particularly proud to have this exhibition in Charleston, as this city was the intended destination of these heroic soldiers," Festival General Director Nigel Redden said Wednesday. "The flags highlight the major role that Charleston played in the Revolutionary War."

The exhibition consists of the three regimental colors captured on May 29, 1780. The Third Virginia Detachment, comprised of 450 Continental troops, was en route to Charleston to help relieve the British siege of the city. But the regiment turned back to North Carolina after hearing Charleston had fallen.

Led by Tarleton, the British covered 100 miles in 54 hours to intercept the group. More than 100 Continental troops died at Waxhaws, and many more were severely wounded and captured. Continental Col. Abraham Buford reported that many of his soldiers were massacred after they surrendered.

The exhibition, organized in conjunction with Sotheby's, is scheduled for May 26-29 at the Old Exchange Building. It precedes the scheduled auction of the flags on June 14 at Sotheby's in New York City.

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Spoleto 2005 off and running

Ceremony kicks off Lowcountry's 17-day showcase of the arts


Of The Post and Courier Staff


Lavender hydrangeas bloomed in window boxes of nearby shops, and street vendors were selling Italian ices to visitors and residents as the 29th Spoleto Festival USA opened Friday in front of the Old Exchange Building on East Bay Street.

"Spoleto is like a great painting, technically perfect and elegantly framed by Charleston," said Jay Cohn of St. Louis, who came for the third consecutive year with his wife, Marilyn.

The opening ceremonies mark the start of a 17-day festival with 130 performances that will have the city overflowing with opera, classical music, theater, dance, jazz and visual arts.

Piccolo Spoleto, which occurs at the same time, also began its run of more than 700 performances.

It seemed to be a day for reflection as the Charleston Symphony Brass Ensemble played a fanfare dedicated to the memory of arts critic Robert Jones, who covered the festival for The Post and Courier for more than a quarter of a century. Jones died in November. In a commanding tenor voice, opera singer Eduardo Valdes sang the national anthem, and the Rev. Randolph Miller of Emanuel AME Church delivered the invocation.South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford was introduced by Spoleto board Chairman Eric Friberg, who told the crowd of 1,000 that Gov. Mark Sanford couldn't make it because of state business.

Jenny Sanford told the crowd that, on behalf of her husband, she wanted to thank the festival for attracting tourism to Charleston. She praised the festival for generating $61 million a year in state revenues and attracting at least 45,000 people annually in recent years to the festival.

Julius Rudel, conductor of the American premiere of Walter Braunfels' opera "Die Voegel" and who fled from Hitler's Germany to America 67 years ago, told the crowd, "I was intrigued that this opera was banned by the Nazis, but also that its creative history goes back 2,500 years to Aristophanes, who used his plays to criticize the folly and hubris of political leaders who lead people into wars and then fail to win them."

Also speaking was Sandra Gibson, president and CEO of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in Washington, D.C. She said that of the 1,700 members of the association, Spoleto was at the top in showing the economic power of the arts.

Before opening the festival with his usual salute in Italian to the Festival of Two Worlds, which, like Spoleto, was founded by Gian Carlo Menotti, Mayor Joe Riley said it was appropriate the festival opening be held in front of the Old Exchange Building while City Hall is being renovated.

"Welcome to the first City Hall of Charleston," the mayor said. "Prior to 1818, city government operated on the second floor of this building, and so we have returned to our ancestral roots."

As the bells of St. Michael's chimed, balloons floated down from the top of the building as two members of the Italian modern dance troupe Emio Greco/PC bounded onto the stage, leaping, turning and moving like the wind.

Another Spoleto Festival USA had begun.



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