A year after the shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Spoleto Festival USA, which opened on May 27, is responding to, remembering and mourning eight of its parishioners and its pastor, killed on June 17, 2015. From a New York Times overview of the festival:
On Friday, [Emanuel’s] new pastor, the Rev. Dr. Betty Deas Clark, gave a stirring invocation at Spoleto’s opening ceremony. And the festival has responded to the shooting in various ways.
René Marie gave the premiere of the festival-commissioned song “Be the Change” on Sunday. The performance of the festival’s new “Porgy and Bess” production on Monday was dedicated to one of the victims, and members of her family attended. “Grace Notes: Reflections for Now,” a multimedia production written and directed by the artist Carrie Mae Weems, will address the shooting on Saturday and Sunday, and the festival has allotted 200 tickets to the families of the victims.
But a particularly touching and little publicized interaction occurred on Sunday morning, when three singers from the “Porgy” production — Lester Lynch, Lisa Daltirus and Indra Thomas — took part in the church’s morning service. Ms. Daltirus brought the members of the congregation to their feet with the rousing spiritual “Ride On, King Jesus.” This and the thrillingly exuberant work of the church choir throughout seemed to indicate that the parish’s spirit and resolve have survived this devastating assault undiminished: a heartening example to all.
Photo: René Marie, photographed May 29 by William Struhs