Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A little bit taller, y'all

The Library Society hosts a lot of programs.  In the Fall of 2010, for example, we offered over fifty extracurriculars.  So far in 2011, the story is the same.  Let's take a two-week period from last Friday (January 21) to next Friday (February 4): the Poetry Society brought in Billy Collins; the 263rd Annual Meeting of the Society was held; the Charleston Symphony Orchestra is playing a concert tonite; and a week from tomorrow we'll have our first Unedited concert of the new year.  That's well over 500 plus folks in the Library Society after hours amongst those four events alone, more than enough hustle and bustle to make up for the quiet library-like moments around here.

But we know there's going to be a big crowd for these events.  When you're hosting literary rock stars like Billy Collins, you put out all the chairs.  [Every last one you can find- thanks Gibbes Museum!]  When something is a 260 year old tradition, you expect strong attendance (free wine and passed hors d'oeuvres help).  We can rest easy knowing programs like these are going to be well-attended.

It's the smaller events, the events without a "built-in audience", that we worries about (and email about, and advertise, and talk about, etc.).  So it's always nice when such a program takes off successfully, and our new "Grecian Architecture in Charleston" has been just like that.  This Lifelong Learning Series class, hosted by Peg Eastman and Christopher Liberatos (who made the cover of the latest Charleston Mercury), starts next Tuesday and runs for three weeks.  This time last week it had approximately zero people enrolled.  Today, we registered half a dozen new students.  Spots are still open: $150 for members, $200 for non.  Call us at 723.9912 to sign up, or for more information.

Also, one week from Thursday: Unedited: Chanteuse, Chocolate and Champagne.  Sopranos Margaret Kelly Cook and Laura Ball will be cranking out the chansons fran├žaises.  $15.  It's a great early Valentine's present, and ticket sales are clipping along.  Get yours online here, or call us at 843.723.9912.

Or you could buy her some Valentine's basketball shoes.
Make sure to have a divorce lawyer, too.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It was also the Army's name for certain nuclear bombs... don't know if that's insulting or not.

  Friday, January 21st.  Your loyal blogger almost wrote in celebration of the 198th birthday of pathfinder of the West, Republican presidential candidate, and fellow College of Charleston alumnus John C. Fremont (who, for the record, led a thoroughly amazing life). Instead, I'll briefly celebrate an inanimate object: the bassoon.

  Subject to all forms of jokes and insults, there are some admitted quirks to the instrument.  For one, the bassoon is big.  A performer has to strap it to the chair or the floor or to their person just to hold it.  A cheap one costs as much as a good used car, and a nice new one as much as a small BMW.  Fingering is incredibly complicated, there is a huge variety of playing styles and methods, reeds need to be custom-cut, and there are two significantly different systems of construction.  And once upon a time in the 1960s, the father of erectile dysfunction medicine- a Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire, famous for once demonstrating the positive effects of his chemical treatments by dropping his drawers in the middle of a urological conference- tried to turn the instrument electric.  It didn't take.

  It's a frequently mocked, maligned, and altogether under-appreciated instrument.  Which is quite sad, really; think of all the great places where the sound of a bassoon just works.  The creepy opening solo in Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.  The bassoons (and contrabassoons!) in Beethoven's 9th.  The stiff-but-smooth, so-very-Edwardian baritone running throughout the works of Elgar.  Nothing but bassoons.  Blast it, imagine some other instrument as grandfather in Peter and the Wolf (I'm lookin' at you, cello- knock it off).  The bassoon is a wonderful instrument.

  Happily for your loyal blogger, we're gonna have a bassoon here at the Library Society next week.  Yuriy Bekker, concertmaster, alongside seven other CSO principal musicians, will perform Schubert's Octet in F Major next Wednesday, January 26th, at 7PM.  Tickets for the event, Time Machine: Schubert in Vienna will be available at the door starting at 6PM.  $15 ($10 for students).  Check out for more details.

And to get you in the mood: some bassoonists playing Lady Gaga!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


A new year; a new web look, and an exciting new slew of upcoming programmes and events to share!  For the 263rd consecutive year, January's most exciting news is, of course, the Annual Meeting of the Charleston Library Society.  5PM, Tuesday the 25th.  Gordon Rhea will be our guest speaker, and will guest speak on "Marketing Disunion: How the Fire Eaters Persuaded the South to Secede".  As always, ham biscuits, teeny-tiny cream puff pastries, and general merriment will follow the meeting and lecture.

Activities between now and the Annual Meeting: next Tuesday, 01/11/11, we've got a pair of events with local author Brian Hicks.  Mr. Hicks' newest book, Toward the Setting Sun: John Ross, The Cherokees, and the Trail of Tears, has been well reviewed by Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, and called both "important" and "a pleasure to read" by historian Nathaniel Philbrick.  Not too shabby.  He'll be discussing and signing it, twice, here in the Library.

First, at 12:30, Brian will be here for a bring-your-own-brown-bag-lunch book signing.  It is free and open to all.  Later that evening he'll return for a Lecture and Reception (Starts at 6PM, tickets $5).  Copies of Toward the Setting Sun will be for sale at both events ($26).

Other news: an exhibition of original silhouettes from Clay Rice's The Lonely Shadow is on display in the Main Reading Room through the end of the month.  January is the time to sign up for Lifelong Learning Series classes, which start February 1.  Nan's back, teaching the Histories of Shakespeare; and Peg Eastman and Christopher Liberatos will do a three-session course on Grecian Architecture in Charleston.  Also, the Poetry Society will be holding their 90th anniversary meeting here on the 21st with special guest Billy Collins (the PSSC reports tickets for the event as quite sold out, as well they should be, and a big "congratulations" to them on this happy anniversary.)  Finally, we're gonna be closed on the 17th.

 A man who crossed a bridge but refused to use one... if you were this awesome, they'd give you a federal holiday too.