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Reconstruction Era monument celebrated at ceremony

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Photo above: Raul Bradley (in yellow) leads the Beaufort Mass Choir in a musical selection during the unveiling ceremony of the National Park Service Reconstruction Era National Monument at Penn Center on St. Helena Island. Photos by Bob Sofaly.

By Kat Walsh

“Today is the day,” Dr. Abraham Murray, pastor of Brick Baptist Church, told a nodding audience seated outside on the grounds at Penn Center. “Yes, today is the day when government is at its best and we see the fruit of the labors of local, regional, national leaders.” 

Murray’s invocation opened the dedication ceremony of the Reconstruction Era National Monument on March 18 at Penn Center on St. Helena Island.

The “monument” is actually three historic sites in Beaufort County that played a huge role in the Reconstruction Era.

The Reconstruction era began during the Civil War and lasted until the dawn of Jim Crow racial segregation in the 1890s. During Reconstruction, four million African Americans, newly freed from bondage, sought to integrate themselves into free society and into the educational, economic and political life of the country.

Reconstruction began in November 1861 in Beaufort County, after Union forces won the Battle at Port Royal Sound and brought the Lowcountry under Union control. More than 10,000 slaves stayed behind when their owners fled the cotton and rice plantations that for generations brought tremendous wealth to the Lowcountry. The Lincoln administration started the Port Royal Experiment in Beaufort County to help the former slaves become self-sufficient.

With historian Dr. Larry Rowland serving as the master of ceremonies at the dedication event, the community celebration acknowledged the individuals whose hard work that went into making what started as a dream 17 years ago into a reality.  

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-SC, left, U.S. Sen. James Clyburn, D-SC, Port Royal Mayor Sam Murray and former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt taking part in the unveiling ceremony on March 18 of the National Park Service Reconstruction Era National Monument at Penn Center on St. Helena Island.
U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-SC, left, U.S. Sen. James Clyburn, D-SC, Port Royal Mayor Sam Murray and former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt taking part in the unveiling ceremony on March 18 of the National Park Service Reconstruction Era National Monument at Penn Center on St. Helena Island.

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-SC, tightly scheduled to host a town hall on Hilton Head, kept his opening remarks brief. 

“This is a sacred day. We are here to celebrate construction of Reconstruction and its role in our history,” he said. “It’s part of who we are and where we have been.” 

Among those Sanford thanked was fellow U.S. Sen. James Clyburn, D-SC, saying, “No one in the United States Congress has worked harder to bring today about.” 

In a heartfelt welcome address, Bruce E. Babbit, of the Conservation Lands Foundation, complimented the Lowcountry community, calling the monument “an incredible citizen-based group effort.” 

Babbit said the monument serves two main purposes. 

“First, we have to tell the story of Reconstruction, that it was the beginning of a long journey toward opportunity and equality. Second, we have to say that this story is not yet finished. That the journey to justice and opportunity for all continues.”

Mike Reynolds, acting director of the National Park Service, began his opening remarks with an apology: at a formal occasion he would be in full uniform to represent the National Park Service. However, he explained, his full uniform, hat and all, was currently in the possession of United Airlines. 

Wearing a mostly-fitting suit jacket kindly borrowed from a fellow presenter, Reynolds said, “This beautiful site reminds me of a national park, because now … it is. So much of Reconstruction happened right here, under your feet. It should send chills down your spine.” 

He also seconded Babbit’s comment on the power of community. “Today is a moment in history,” he said. “And it was the spirit and character of the Lowcountry that did it.”

In his keynote address, Clyburn also stressed the significance of the very ground where everyone sat and shared a story of his own experience with desegregation in the Civil Rights era. 

Pointing to a building about 100 feet away, Clyburn said, “On March 15, 1960, this is where we all gathered. This was the only place in the state of South Carolina where black and white people could meet and not worry about getting arrested.” 

Clyburn said he hopes that significant sites in nearby areas – such as Mitchellville on Hilton Head Island and the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor – will also be become part of this national monument. 

Progress and updates on the Reconstruction Era National Monument will be posted on the park’s official website at www.nps.gov/reer. 

U.S. Sen. James Clyburn, D-SC, makes his remarks while Union soldier re-enactor Terry James of Company I, 54th Mass., stands guard during the unveiling ceremony of the National Park Service Reconstruction Era National Monument on Saturday at Penn Center on St. Helena Island.
U.S. Sen. James Clyburn, D-SC, makes his remarks while Union soldier re-enactor Terry James of Company I, 54th Mass., stands guard during the unveiling ceremony of the National Park Service Reconstruction Era National Monument on Saturday at Penn Center on St. Helena Island.

The Monument Sites

When complete, the Reconstruction Era National Monument will be composed of historic buildings and landscapes at three sites in Beaufort County (more sites are expected to be added in the future):

• Darrah Hall and Brick Baptist Church, within Penn School National Historic Landmark District, the site of one of the country’s first schools for freed slaves and a church built by slaves in 1855 and then turned over to the former slaves in 1862.

• The Camp Saxton Site, on U.S. Navy property in Port Royal, where some of the first African Americans joined the U.S. Army, and where the Emancipation Proclamation was first read on New Year’s Day 1863. 

• The Old Beaufort Firehouse, which is within walking distance of dozens of other historic Reconstruction properties.

Lowcountry Life

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Rent Hanckel drives his 37-inch modified Jeep during the first round of the fast track on March 19 during theYemassee Mud Run. For a video of the mud run, visit www.facebook/theislandnews.com. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

To submit a Lowcountry Life photo, you must be the photographer or have permission to submit the photo to be published in The Island News. Please submit high resolution photos and include a description and/or names of the people in the picture and the name of the photographer. Email your photos to theislandnews@gmail.com. 

Symphony is music to hospital foundation’s ears

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Beethoven's 9th Symphony Concert at Duke University's Baldwin Auditorium. Reception in Music Building.

Photo above: Duke Symphony Orchestra Conductor Harry Davidson will conduct the symphony on Saturday, April 1. Photo provided.

Staff reports

Duke Symphony Orchestra Conductor Harry Davidson will once again be leading some 60 students through the works of well-known and emerging classical composers on Saturday, April 1, at the USCB Performing Arts Center. 

From the first thrilling drum roll of Rossini’s Overture “La Gazza Ladra” to the beautiful cadences of Walton’s “Passacaglia – Death of Falstaff” and familiar toe-tapping energy of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 “Italian,” this concert promises something for everyone.

The students volunteer their time and tremendous talents for this event, which is one of the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation’s major fundraisers – and results are always amazing.

“Our musicians look forward to the concert each year,” said Davidson. “As our only performance away from Duke, the Beaufort concert is really a highlight of our schedule.”    

Another feature of the evening is the collaboration of the orchestra with the USCB University Chorus directed by Victor Varner. 

As one of the foundation’s most popular and successful fundraisers, the annual event has raised nearly $285,000 to support BMH’s Healing Arts Program in the Keyserling Cancer Center and other facilities.

The foundation is especially pleased that Bill and Josie Paddock will serve as the honorary chairs for this 14th annual event.  As longtime supporters of Beaufort Memorial and avid music lovers, the Paddocks have always enjoyed the concerts.  

“The conductor does an amazing job of drawing the audience in as he sets the stage for each new piece” explains Josie. “It’s fun and interactive, and we always come away with a much deeper appreciation of the music.” 

Bill and Josie Paddock are serving as the honorary chairs for the fundraiser.
Bill and Josie Paddock are serving as the honorary chairs for the fundraiser.

Bill Paddock was a member of the Beaufort Memorial Hospital board for 12 years, half of them as chairman, during which time he saw the hospital grow and expand its services at an impressive pace. 

He also knows how much the hospital depends on community support, noting that “this concert is a wonderful opportunity for us all to come together for a really good cause.” 

After the concert, patrons have the opportunity to join Davidson and the musicians for a special Conductor’s Reception at the historic Louis Reeve Sams House on Bay Street, the home of Scott Myers and Dr. Gwen Myers.

The concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, April 1, at the USCB Center for the Arts. 

General admission tickets are $35. Patron tickets start at $75 and include premium seating plus an invitation to the post-concert Conductor’s Reception.

To purchase tickets, visit bmhfoundationsc.org or call 843-522-5774. Ticket prices are $5 higher at the door.

‘Idomeneo,’ Mozart’s first great opera, coming March 25

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By Alan Schuster

The day after Mozart’s premiere of “Idomeneo” in Munich in January 1781, he wrote to his father that “to write operas now is my one burning ambition.” 

In the next 10 years before he died at the age of 35, he composed, among others, “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Don Giovanni,” “Cosi Fan Tutte” and “The Magic Flute,” all classics which rank high – very high! –  in the opera repertoire.

John Stone, BBC music critic, considers “Idomeneo” “his first great opera, a creative explosion, befitting its classical Greek theme of human sacrifice and assaults on the senses.”

The opera will be performed live at the Metropolitan Opera and broadcast live in HD at 12:55 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at the USCB Center for the Arts.

Two prominent biographers of Mozart’s life have offered thoughtful comments as well.

Sir Denis Forman: “To seria he brought nobility and drama. ‘Idomeneo’ was no longer a stop-start procession of arias. Its mighty choruses and dramatic music push the story along and its deeply-felt solos give the characters a chance to become almost human.”  

Charles Osborne: “From the Italians he has learned the importance of melody, from Gluck how to involve the chorus in the drama, and from the Germans the value of expressive recitative. But he is no longer a pupil. Now he has become a master.”  

Act I

King Idomeneo has sent prisoners from Troy back to Crete, including Ilia, King Priam’s daughter. Unknown to Idomeneo, Ilia and Idamante, Idomeneo’s son, are in love, and Idamante is also loved by Elektra. Idomeneo is set to return to Crete, at which point the prisoners will be granted amnesty, but a storm forces him to offer to Neptune a sacrifice of the first living thing he meets as he steps ashore. This turns out to be his son. 

Act II

Idomeneo tries to avoid his obligation to Neptune by sending Idamante to Argos as an escort for Elektra. But Neptune raises a terrible storm out of which appears a monster which then begins to tear the island apart. The people realize that someone has offended the gods, and Idomeneo confesses.

Act III

Idamante prepares to battle with the monster. Before doing so he tells Ilia that he loves her. 

The jealous Elektra bursts in with Idomeneo, who then tells of his vow to Neptune. Idamante kills the monster, then offers himself in fulfilment of his father’s promise to Neptune. The voice of Neptune intervenes, sparing Idamante’s life, but demanding that Idomeneo abdicate. Idamante duly takes the throne, with Ilia at his side.  

The Music
Act I

From the opening moments, Mozart created a continuity of action, often linking one number to another in order to discourage applause. This is particularly true in the first act where “the plot moves with breathless immediacy, plunging the characters into extreme emotional states, taking the audience with them at incredible velocity.” [Source: DVD booklet] 

Act II

The finale,”Pria di partir, o Dio!” (Before leaving … ), in which a fine trio becomes an even finer quartet, as they pray for a safe ending to the storm. 

Act III

“Andro ramingo e solo” (I go my wandering ways alone), in which this quartet takes us from the old world of opera seria into a new age where the theatre, not the salon, becomes its home.

James Levine conducts the orchestra with Matthew Polenzani in the title role; Elza van den Heever as Elektra; Nadine Sierra as Ilia; Alice Coote as Idamante (pants role); and Alan Opie as Arbace.

All seats are general admission. Tickets are $20 for adults; $18 for OLLI members; and $10 for students. Order online at www.centerforthearts.com, or by calling 843-521-4145. The box office opens noon.

‘Route 66’ musical comedy coming to arts center

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You can drive from Chicago to Los Angeles in about 31 hours – if you stick to the interstates.  

However, for the road warrior who isn’t in a hurry, a cruise along old Route 66 can be an unforgettable journey – one with surprises beyond every curve.

Now, a musical comedy comes to town – “Route 66” by Roger Bean – that celebrates the golden era of the quirky old highway.

Often called “America’s Main Street,” U.S. Route 66 is a retro-fantasyland of art deco motels, roadside attractions, Indian trading posts, novelty drive-ins and old-fashioned spit-and-polish service stations.  

In its heyday, the highway boasted such landmarks as the Spooklight in Quapaw, Okla., the giant Jackalope in Fort Worth, Texas, Meteor Crater in Leeup, Ariz., the Wigwam Village in Holbrook, Ariz., El Sombrero Restaurant in Albuquerque, N.M., the Regal Reptile Ranch in Alanreed, Texas, the Chain of the Rocks Bridge near St. Louis, the giant Rocketman in Wilmington, Ill., and the Iceberg Café in Albuquerque.

In the 1940s and ‘50s, hundreds of fancifully-designed motels, motor lodges and motor courts sprung up along the great highway, many of which are still in operation today.

One prominent feature of Route 66 was also the popular Burma Shave signs that dotted the landscape with their humorous poems from 1927 to 1963. Each phrase of a poem was on a different sign, sometimes miles apart. One example:  

Don’t stick
Your elbow
Out too far
It might 
Go home
In another car
Burma Shave

A rambunctious musical comedy, “Route 66,” leads the audience along the great “Mother Road” in a nostalgic celebration of music and whimsical highway fun.

The show arrives in Beaufort on Friday, March 31,for one performance at the USCB Center for the Arts .

The high-octane musical is performed and produced by Springer Theatricals, which is on a 10-week tour of 27 states.

In “Route 66,” a gang of rowdy Chicago service station attendants strip off their snappy Texaco uniforms and head off on a westward-bound road trip filled with music, dance and highway mischief. 

The talented quartet of singing grease monkeys leave Chicago and follows the Mother Road down through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and conclude their travels at the beach in Santa Monica, Calif.

The show features rock and pop music from the 1950s and ‘60s including hit tunes like “King of the Road,” “Dead Man’s Curve,” “Six Days on the Road,” “Hot Rod Queen,” “I Get Around,” “Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” “GTO,” “Fun-Fun-Fun” and, of course, “Route 66.” 

Because of its comic antics and tight-harmony vocals, the show has been called a hybrid of  “Grease,” “Forever Plaid” and “Pump Boys and Dinettes.”

The show’s author, Roger Bean, first created “Route 66” for the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and then developed it further at the famous Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Bean has now turned the production over to the 145-year-old Springer Theatre, which is Georgia’s official state theater. 

“Route 66” will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday, March 31, at the USCB Center for the Arts. Tickets for the show are adults $30; senior/military $25; and student $20.

Visit www.uscbcenterforthearts.com.

Girls get free prom dresses at service league event

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The Junior Service League of Beaufort (JSLB) hosted its sixth annual Prom Boutique March 11 at the YMCA of Beaufort. 

Members hosted 30 VIP attendees for a specialty hour where they were given first choice on racks of dresses. Each young lady left with her very own special dress, jewelry and accessories, as well as makeup, nail polish, and a choice of either a free hair styling session for the night of prom or a bra from Kalon and Company. The hair styling sessions were donated by Bangs Salon, Cirque 1838 Salon, and HairPlay Salon & Color Bar. The bra was courtesy of Kalon and Company. 

The event then opened up to any junior or senior in Beaufort, Jasper or Hampton counties. Another 45 girls attended and nearly all left with dresses. 

“We are so excited to continually grow this every year,” said Missy Nelson, JSLB Prom Boutique co-chairwoman. “This year we had more deserving young ladies during our VIP hour and we’ve given away more dresses than ever. Due to the gracious donations of the ladies of Beaufort County, our dress collection has grown so we could extend this opportunity to young ladies in Hampton County and reach further than ever.” 

Visit www.jslbeaufort.com.  

Mayors honored by sorority

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Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the oldest Black Greek lettered organization for women, has now existed for 109 years. Nu Delta Omega Chapter in Beaufort observed the birthday with a program/luncheon on Feb. 11. It is during such observances that the chapter recognizes members of the chapter and the community for their services.  Among those receiving such honors this year was Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling and Port Royal Mayor Samuel Murray.  Each has supported the chapter in many community endeavors throughout the years. 

Palmisano to exhibit at gallery

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Lane Palmisano will present her oil paintings at Thibault Gallery, 815 Bay St. in Beaufort.

She was first introduced to the earthy scent of oil paint at age 9 and has been intoxicated with the medium since. 

After graduating with an art degree from Monmouth University, she began exhibiting, competing and teaching at Tidewater Community College in Portsmouth, Va., and Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Va. From there she was juried into the acclaimed Torpedo Factory Art Center outside of Washington D.C., where she maintained a studio for 28 years and taught at the Art League School. In 2012 Lane migrated to Bluffton and decided to stay.

“Being primarily a figurative and still life artist, the dazzling light and the soulfulness of the Lowcountry tidal marshes captivated me and seduced me to further explore landscape painting,” she said.

Lane has received numerous awards and has had many solo and juried exhibitions in New York City, Washington D.C., New Jersey and Virginia. Her colorful paintings are in public and private collections worldwide.

Color is paramount to her. Lane’s contemporary landscapes, are more accurately “Spiritscapes”, drenched in lush, thick paint, rich textures and evocative veils off delicate glazes.

“When working from one’s imagination, a painting can only be coaxed … eventually you must follow ITS own life force, be it playful, forceful or impulsive. Each painting deserves its own voice.”

Lane oil paintings are her personal tribute to all the Impressionists.

Join Palmisano at the Thibault Gallery for First Friday After Five on opening night from 5-8 p.m. Friday, April 7. Lane will be there to discuss her work and answer any questions.

There will be wine and hors d’oeuvres and entertainment by guitarist David Laughlin.

A wee bit of the Irish coming to Lowcountry

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Photo above: Last year’s Shamrock Shakedown had plenty of fun auction items. Photo provided.

Staff reports

Ah, sure, there are St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the Lowcountry!

Here are a some ways to get your green on about town:

• Beaufort: Beaufort Academy will host the Shamrock Shakedown at Beaufort Inn’s Tabby Place from 5:30-11 p.m. Friday, March 17. Food will be catered by Saltus River Grill. There will also be an open bar all night, a live band, dancing and silent and live auction items. Additionally, one of the raffle prizes will be a golf cart. The event is open to all those 21 years old and older. Tickets are $20; buy five and get one free. Visit www.beaufortacademy.org and click on “Shamrock Shakedown.

• Beaufort: St. Paddy’s Day Running Tour will be held Friday, March 17. Participants will explore Beaufort, get exercise and have a free Guinness at Hemingway’s afterwards. Participants must be over 21 years old to participate. Visit www.beaufortsc.org.

• St. Helena: St. Helena Branch Library at 6355 Jonathan Francis Sr. Road will hold a St. Patrick’s Day Party for the wee ones at 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 17. This event is for ages 4-10 and will feature making green crafts for luck, getting lucky playing a game and having green snacks. 

• Savannah: The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Savannah will take place starting at 10:15 a.m. Friday, March 17. For a map of the parade route, schedule of events and more, visit savannahsaintpatricksday.com.

• The world-renowned Budweiser Clydesdales will parade through the town of Bluffton’s Historic District at about 1 p.m. Saturday, March 18.

The parade will start on Calhoun Street and continue through the Promenade, circling back to Calhoun Street.  This is the third year in a row that the Clydesdales have made an appearance in Bluffton in conjunction with the St. Patrick’s Day.

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