She's one of the world's preeminent opera personalities, a legend whose career spans four decades and 70 recordings.
She's also "the most down-to-earth woman, the kindest you'll ever meet," said Tom Hofstetter, the chairman of the Aiken Performing Arts Group.
The group has coordinated a master class, performance and sold-out benefit dinner with von Stade, who is traveling the world on a farewell tour. The events support local music scholarships and the School of Music at the University of South Carolina.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have Ms. von Stade visit our little Aiken," Hofstetter said. "We're proud. This isn't London. This isn't Paris. But it's a vital community for the arts, and we're glad to have her attention."
Von Stade's performance, Ah, Spring! , is April 28. A master class featuring six college-age performers is open to the public April 29. A sold-out benefit dinner, including a meet-and-greet with von Stade, will also be held April 29.
The April 28 concert is such a unique and momentous occasion that, for the first time in a decade, a new local symphony has been created, Hofstetter said.
The Orchestra of the Midlands will be conducted by maestro Donald Portnoy, the longtime conductor of the Augusta Symphony.
Portnoy worked with von Stade to develop a special program including Grand Opera overtures, arias and Broadway music. The result, Hofstetter said, is an experienced 30-member orchestra that can keep up with von Stade's artistry.
The group, Portnoy said in a statement, will continue to perform after von Stade's event.
"We will be making plans for future concerts, not only in Aiken and other areas of the Midlands, but hopefully all sections of South Carolina," he said.
The evening, Hofstetter added, will be full of unique twists, such as a rendition of Stephen Sondheim's Send in the Clowns . He said they're moments made possible by von Stade's ease on stage.
"She's known in the opera world for the comfort she has with audiences and the comfort audiences have with her," he said. "Her personality comes through and audiences are endeared to her. Name a principle orchestra conductor in the world. They want her. A legend of this magnificence doesn't reach Aiken every day."