Francis Marion University (FMU) hosted talented performers and orators from around the globe at the second annual South Carolina Chamber Music Festival from Feb. 24 to March 1.
Dr. Paolo Gualdi, assistant professor of music, is the artistic director and coordinator of the event. According to Gualdi, the festival was primarily held in the Black Box Theatre at FMU’s Performing Arts Center (PAC); however a special performance was held at the National Bean Market Museum in Lake City. Gualdi said that he was very pleased with the outcome of this year’s festival and that he looks forward to continuing to expand the event throughout the Pee Dee area.
“Thanks to ArtFields, Lake City has acquired a new venue at the Bean Market National Museum,” Gualdi said. “I was invited to play the inaugural concert back in October, and since then I have collaborated with the Community Museum Society of Lake City on a few occasions.”
Gualdi was able to invite some of the best musicians he had ever heard and that he found immense pleasure in being able to perform with some of them. An accomplished pianist, Gualdi said that he aimed for a variety of instruments and styles when planning the programs. Gualdi said that the music chosen this year covered a span of over 200 years.
“We went from late 18th century Beethoven to newly composed work by Dr. Brandon Goff which was completed only a few weeks ago,” Gualdi said. “At the Bean Market National Museum, I had the opportunity to perform using a wonderful Bösendorfer (an Austrian piano). It is one of the most beautiful instruments I’ve ever played in my life.”
According to Gualdi, a lot of planning goes into pulling off the festival each year, especially when organizing the performers. Gualdi said that due to his many years of concert activity and musical studies, he was able to gather a large network of exceptional musicians. However, as many of the performances required a specific combination of musicians, scheduling proved to be a challenge.
“I had to line up musicians with very busy schedules and, I had to do so while keeping in mind the several options for programming.” Gualdi said. “If one of the musicians I had in mind could not make it to a specific date, I had to reconsider the original plan and come up with a different program depending on who would be available. Meanwhile, I also had to add a lot of new music to my repertoire, so I spent countless hours practicing the piano.”
Gualdi went on to say that though organizing the event was by no means an easy feat, he was greatly pleased with the amount of student involvement the festival saw this year. He said that he saw a lot of students participating in the afternoon events. FMU music students were involved on many levels with the festival, from the organizational aspects to the audio recording of the concerts. Music students were also offered the opportunity to assist with the rehearsals so that they could see the work that goes on backstage and to be exposed to a real world professional setting.
Gualdi said that there is a virtually endless list of supporters he would like to extend his gratitude toward. Gualdi sends thanks to the FMU, Florence and Lake City communities, and he sends a special thank you to the REAL Program committee, the Fine Arts Department, the College of Liberal Arts and the Public and Community Affairs Office for supporting and believing in this project.