Child’s Play: Every festival season, Nuttall spends about six hours with local kids for outreach programs. Here, some children get a close look at Nuttall’s violin and bow after a special concert for individuals with autism and their families.
11 a.m. - Commanding Performances: For the first concert of the day, the 463-seat Dock Street Theatre is filled to capacity, and concertgoers hang on Nuttall’s every word as he riles up the audience, tucking in facts and listening tips before each selection.
10:45 a.m. - Pre-show Pep Talk: Students and chaperones from Sanders-Clyde Elementary meet upstairs in the Dock Street’s Wadsworth Room before the morning concert. Nuttall (seated) and cellist Joshua Roman lead a quick demo, teaching the kids harmonies from Roman’s composition that will be performed. During the show, Nuttall will ask the audience to hum along, led by the students.
2:45 p.m. - Top Speed: “At home in California, I’m super active—I bike 15 miles a day and play sports with my kids,” Nuttall says. “Here, I ride this bike everywhere; it’s by far the best way to get around Charleston. Our head stage manager, Walter Crocker, has a whole fleet of bikes that he loans out, and for the last 15 years, he’s given me this 1953 English three-speed.”
3 p.m. - Family Matters: The whole Nuttall crew—wife, Livia Sohn (a talented violinist herself) and sons, Jack and Ellis—comes to town each year. “My main challenge during the festival is balancing all the rehearsals and performances, plus schmoozing and meetings, with time to hang out with my family.
I start to feel really torn.” As a festival fan-favorite, Nuttall has gotten to know Spoleto’s dedicated supporters, including Susu Ravenel, who hosted the couple’s wedding in 2000.
5 p.m. Practice Makes Perfect: Grammy-winning violist Masumi Per Rostad; St. Lawrence String Quartet violinist Owen Dalby; and bassist, composer, and Juilliard faculty member Doug Balliett rehearse with Nuttall at Spoleto headquarters before a special donor party and concert.
Nuttall’s violin case
5 p/m. - Fan Club: As the guests start to arrive, Balliett takes the ensemble through one of his compositions.
Martha Rivers Ingram, a Spoleto board member and former board chair, introduces herself to Dalby. “We’ve become close with some of Spoleto’s biggest champions,” Nuttall says. “We’ve met amazing and super generous people through the years—some really interesting and cool friends.”
Late-Night Bites: Post concert, Nuttall and the gang head uptown for dinner at Leon’s. It’s a favorite, and whenever he needs a spot for a musicians’ party (or his and Sohn’s 15th anniversary fête), he calls co-owner Brooks Reitz. “I got to know Brooks when he was at FIG, which is still a chamber music hangout. The food in this town simply can’t be beat. How lucky am I to have called Charleston home for three weeks for the past 25 years?”
The exuberant violinist celebrates his 10th season as director of Spoleto’s chamber music series in Charleston—his home away from home for three weeks each year