Earlier this month I was in Charleston and Savannah for a week-long recital tour. The trip coincided with P’s school holiday, so he was able to join me, which was awesome. It’s so nice to have someone around to help with concert logistics! During the 8 days I was there, I was working a ton: I performed 9 times, taught master classes, met lots of great people, and even did a live-broadcast interview for South Carolina Public Radio, but I also ate delicious food, wandered around looking at all of the gorgeous houses and gardens and squares and completely fell in love with both cities. If anyone offered us jobs there, we’d be hard-pressed to say no!
What we did
(When I didn’t have a cello in my hand)
Walked along the Battery and zig-zagged through the neighborhoods south of Broad street. These houses are amazing and the window boxes! Must be steep competition around these parts, but that’s good for the rest of us!
Middleton Place Plantation. This place is enormous, and I would recommend having at least a couple of hours there to wander around and not feel rushed. There are plenty of little benches and areas to sit and have a picnic, though I wouldn’t recommend the butterfly lakes as a picnic spot ‘cause there are alligators walking around in the grass. Little ones, well–at least they were little last week–fair warning for anyone who goes there 6 months from now! They (the Middleton Place people, not the alligators) give you a little map with a self-guided walking trail around the property and there are little numbered markers throughout so you can read about what everything is. Don’t miss the stable area with the horses, sheep, cows, chickens, rabbits, etc. They are very sweet.
Fort Sumpter. Where the Civil War started. There is a great museum in Charleston-at the end of Calhoun street, and then you take the ferry over to the fort where there is another (different-and also great) museum, and you can walk around the grounds. I learned a lot of things that I probably learned in 6th grade, but had forgotten. Tell me again why I didn’t take US History in High School? Hmmmm.
(Side note: as soon as we got of the ferry, it started to rain a bit. P and I figured it wasn’t too bad and we started walking over to 167 Raw–about a 10 minute walk–but the the drizzle turned into a monsoon, and there is NO SHELTER over there-nowhere to hide. The streets flooded, we were soaked to the bone, and of course, no one inside of Raw 167 was going to leave, so there we were—no room at the inn—and finally found shelter a few blocks down at Cane, which is a super fun rum bar. Dark and Stormies were ordered, and we sat by the fake fireplace and pretended to dry off.)
I was so charmed by the city of Savannah! It’s small and quaint, and has a wider variety of Architectural styles than Charleston, so there was a lot to look at and drool over. The main “downtown” section of the city is dotted with little squares every few blocks and everywhere you went, you’d see people sitting on a bench with a friend having a bite to eat or sipping a coffee. It was all very fun and civilized. We spent all of our free time walking around the squares, Forsyth park, the river front, shopping on Boughton Street, so many cafes there! Bonaventure Cemetery was beautiful too.
Other than that, I was pretty busy with concerts and school visits. Friday, I went to College of Charleston and met with Natalia Khoma, Tchaikovsky Competition winner, and the cello teacher over there. She introduced me to some of the faculty, I got to hear some of her wonderful students play for me, and she gave me a tour of the campus.
Monday, we drove up to Columbia, S.C. where I was a guest on Sonatas and Soundscapes, on South Carolina Public Radio’s Classical Station.
Tuesday and Wednesday, I did a two-day mini-residency at the Savannah Arts Academy. I performed for them, and got to work with the orchestra and with some of the cellists. What an amazing school! I had so much fun working with everyone there. The kids were kind, warm, welcoming, curious and funny. There is a lot of talent in Savannah, GA!
It is always such a fun experience to play the same program multiple times in a week. While I think I will always feel that adrenaline rush before I go on stage, doing it day after day (and sometimes multiple times a day) means that you stop doubting whether you can do it, and that whole “how does this piece start?” feeling goes away too (yessss!) I did a wide variety of performances over the week: from big featured recitals in gorgeous venues to private house concerts to outreach concerts in schools and assisted living homes. One thing they all had in common, was that I was able to talk with each audience, share what I love about the pieces I was playing for them, and then talk with them individually after the concert.
Where we ate:
There are so many great restaurants in Charleston, and to be honest, it was a bit overwhelming. By the end of the week, our favorite thing to do was to grab a seat at the bar and order a glass of wine and an appetizer or two. That way we could check out more than one place. We were also prone to having a dinner of wine and cheese over at Bin 152 because it’s our most favorite place in the world. Huge selection, with a knowledgeable and friendly staff and delicious cheese. ALSO: they actually give you an appropriate amount of bread to serve with the cheese you ordered because I don’t get why other places hand you a platter of cheese with 3 tiny little toasted crisps.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip, and I am excited to be going back to both cities for more concerts next season. Let me know if you try any of these restaurants, or if you find new ones to add to the list!