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This year’s Spoleto Auction was a truly incredible affair. The annual benefit was held at the Memminger Auditorium, where a fabulously dressed crowd gathered to enjoy cocktails and conversation before a delicious tapas dinner and phenomenal concert by the renowned Rene Marie Quartet.

Guests sipped adult beverages and munched on hors d’oeuvres while flitting through the crowd to mingle, and servers discreetly circled the room with trays of fried ginger-tuna wontons and cosmopolitans. Everyone was buzzing about the night’s performance however, and partygoers readily took their seats as dinner was called.

Each table held a two-tiered rack with trays of savory bites for people to munch on at their leisure, and each place had an individual cheese plate as well. As the cheese plates and shrimp bites gave way to spring rolls and delicious beef-topped toast points, the Rene Marie Quartet (Rene Marie, vocals; Quentin Baxter, drums; Kevin Bales, piano; and Rodney Jordan, bass) took the stage to enthusiastic applause.

The music was powerful and absolutely captivating. The soulful sound of Rene Marie’s voice filled the auditorium, and food and drink as untouched as guests found themselves swept away by the incredible performance before them. “I’ve got goosebumps!” one guest was overheard whispering. Perhaps the highlight of the first set was a performance of Black Lace Freudian Slip, from Marie’s upcoming album.

The band stepped aside for a break as the last strains of music faded to another round of applause, and the live auction got underway. Everyone seemed inspired to support the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, and several bidding wars broke out.

The auction drew to a close and Marie took to the stage for another phenomenal set, but the most surprising and exciting part of the fundraising portion of the evening actually came at the very end of the evening.

Rene Marie said that she had something special planned as a last minute edition to the auction, and announced that guests had the opportunity to bid for their chance to enjoy drinks with the band. The bidding came high and fast, finishing with a bid of $7,000, and with this final addition to the auction, the Spoleto USA committee reached their goal of $90,000.

The Spoleto Auction benefits the Spoleto Festival USA in order to support the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, and the online portion of the event’s auction will continue through February 11. Spoleto Festival USA is an annual, internationally recognized 17 day festival of the arts which takes place in Charleston, SC. While providing performances of the highest caliber, Spoleto Festival USA maintains a dedication to young artists, a commitment to all forms of the performing arts, a passion for contemporary innovation, and an enthusiasm for providing unusual performance opportunities for established artists.