Top Ten Refined U.S. Music Festivals

Spoleto USA, Charleston, South Carolina
Noche Flamenca performs at the Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston
Noche Flamenca performs at the Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston (Zarmik Moqtaderi)

5. Spoleto USA, Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina, is not remotely close to Italy, but its long-running Festival of Two Worlds was founded in 1977 by composer Gian Carlo Menotti as a counterpart to his more opera-centric festival in the Italian city of Spoleto. Today Spoleto USA has evolved into a vibrant 17-day series in one of the South's most distinctive cities, and the festival includes dance, theater, opera, music, and the visual arts. It embraces innovative contemporary works and young performers without neglecting the old standbys. Its director, Nigel Redding, is also the guiding impresario of New York's Lincoln Center Festival.

It starts in late May, offering more than 100 performing arts events. The mix includes such elements as world-class dance companies, flamenco, unusual theater, and even puppeteers. Also, there is morning and afternoon chamber music, orchestral concerts, and jazz. Performances take place all over town in churches, theaters, recital halls, and outdoor locations.


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