Features an Array of Award-Winning Artists
Photo by Mary Ellen Mark
Topping the list of performers who will take to the stages of the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts and other campus venues are Virginia native and pop music icon Bruce Hornsby, JMU alumnus and world-famous guitar virtuoso Mike Rayburn, and renowned playwright and performer Anna Deavere Smith, who is hailed by Newsweek as “the most exciting individual in American theatre.”
The Masterpiece Season opens Sept. 7-8 with Eisenhower Dance Ensemble headlining the New Dance Festival. Called “funny and touching” by The New York Times, the company is recognized as one of the Midwest’s foremost performance ensembles. The festival also features new works by JMU faculty members Suzanne Miller-Corso, Shane O’Hara, Cynthia Thompson and Kate Trammell.
Other dance events include “Metaphors in Motion” featuring JMU’s Virginia Repertory Dance Company, “New Voices in Dance” featuring JMU’s Contemporary Dance Ensemble, as well as a performance by West Virginia Dance Company, the only professional touring dance company in that state. The company will perform work choreographed by Doug Varone, “one of the few modern dance choreographers … still able to convey depth of emotion through movement,” according to The New York Times.
Combining dance moves, a vibrant stage presence, comic interludes and impeccable timing, Rockapella takes the stage for two performances during JMU’s Family Weekend. The high-energy quintet has evolved into a worldwide phenomenon with a full-band sound that is a meld of rock and a cappella. Other professional music performances include Boston Brass, a quintet of “spectacular and technical musical wizards …” (Charleston Today); Chanticleer, “the world’s reigning male chorus” The New Yorker); and Scotland-based Julie Fowlis, an esteemed folk singer and multi-instrumentalist featured in PIXAR’s new animated film, “Brave.” Seven other guest artists with world-class reputations join this season’s Masterpiece offerings, including multiple Grammy nominee and jazz pianist Fred Hersch.
Jazz enthusiasts can also experience Birdland Big Band straight from Manhattan’s Birdland Jazz Club. This dynamic new ensemble features legendary drummer Tommy Igoe. Jazz 4 Justice, which features the JMU Jazz Ensemble and faculty members, returns for a second season for a concert in partnership with Virginia State Bar’s Diversity Conference that benefits the Diversity Conference, Blue Ridge Legal Services Inc. and JMU School of Music scholarships. The JMU Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Band will also perform a centennial tribute to one of the most significant arrangers in jazz, Gil Evans.
The Forbes Center will host composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as part of the three-day Contemporary Music Festival, as well as the second annual Sing Out! A sellout last season, this celebration will feature JMU’s a cappella groups, an a cappella group from Harrisonburg High School and a visiting university. JMU’s music ensembles will perform in concerts of their own including the JMU Symphony Honors Concert featuring the JMU Symphony Orchestra and Mozart Requiem: Mass in D Minor (K. 626) featuring the JMU Chamber Orchestra, Madison Singers and Chorale. The Pops Concert and Marimba Orchestra and Friends return this year, as does Holidayfest after selling out the last two seasons.
For its autumn opera, the JMU Opera Theater will perform Gaetano Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love,” one of opera’s most popular and effervescent romantic comedies. Spring opera performances include songs and scenes from the world’s greatest operas in Opera Spotlight and Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.”
Professional theater productions include Really Inventive Stuff actor Michael Boudewyns with JMU’s Montpelier Wind Quintet for family friendly presentations of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Mozart’s “Toy Symphony,” as well as a national touring production of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps.” The School of Theatre and Dance presents “subUrbia” by Eric Bogosian, “For Sale” by Garret Lee Milton, “Anna in the Tropics” by Nilo Cruz, “Spring Awakening” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sater and book by Duncan Sheik, “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, as well as “Six Degrees of Andrew Lloyd Webber: A Musical Theatre Revue.”
Taste of the Forbes and JMU Gallery Crawl incorporate the visual arts into the mix of Masterpiece events. Taste of the Forbes features music, theater/dance and visual arts presentations, a reception with appetizers and drinks, as well as dessert. JMU Gallery Crawl includes exhibition tours, curated talks and receptions in three galleries on JMU’s campus. Both events are new this season.
Masterpiece Season and additional Forbes Center offerings are now available. For tickets and event listings, visit www.jmu.edu/JMUarts or call the Forbes Center Box Office at (540) 568-7000. Contact Jen Kulju, public relations/marketing specialist at the Forbes Center, at (540) 568-4394 or by e-mail at email@example.com for further information.