Tuesday, March 19, 2013



Music Tourism In South Carolina

By Doc Lawrence

AIKEN, South Carolina –This lovely city is well known for thoroughbred horses and all sorts of stylish equestrian competition. Like much of the South, when you look around, there’s always more to keep a visitor occupied and entertained.

The 5th annual Juilliard in Aiken Festival just concluded and what an event it was. Yes, this is the same New York City headquartered music school so identified with excellence. What may not be well-known is the school’s very prestigious Jazz program, turning out some distinguished alums like Jazz greats Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea and Christian McBride who rank musically with other Juilliard graduates like Academy Award winning composer John Williams and classical pianist Van Cliburn. The Juilliard in Aiken Festival is firmly established as one of the most impressive, mutually beneficial relationships in the country.

The schedule featured an evening performance at the Green Boundary Club by the Juilliard Jazz Artists Diploma Ensemble, composed of Juilliard’s most advanced jazz musicians.  The selections included a song by Hoagie Carmichael and more than one arrangement inspired memories of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Just prior to my leaving for Atlanta, the group surfaced for a repeat performance at The Willcox, one of the best luxury hotels anywhere in America, The intimate concert in the bar was what you’d expect in New Orleans or Key West.

Even with their busy performing schedules, the Juilliard artists who range from classical vocalists to violinists stay busy with daily performances in regional schools as part of the Juilliard in Aiken Outreach Program. Dr. Sandra Field, President of Juilliard in Aiken, said that “outreach is very important to Juilliard’s mission, and to ours, too. It’s a huge part of what the Juilliard artists are here for. When they’re not on stage they’re in the schools. They teach in their disciplines, but they also serve as mentors and role models.”

The exclusive Juilliard in Aiken Performing Arts Festival and Outreach Program is the only partnership of its kind maintained by Juilliard anywhere in the world. The Festival began in 2009, thanks to an extraordinary gift to Juilliard by two Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, Aiken residents Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh, who bequeathed the use of their mansion, Joye Cottage, to the school.  

Tourism’s trajectory is soaring high here in this wonderful part of America. Offer excellence and people will come. The truly lucky ones will stay.

Be proud, Aiken.

Gourmet Baseball 2013. Come along and watch spring baseball games in Florida, then join me for dinner:

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