Papo Vázquez Mighty Pirates Troubadours Brings Latin jazz and Afro-Puerto Rican Rhythms to Blue Bell

by Lauren Somers

PapoVasquez

Papo Vázquez

An exciting brew of Latin jazz and Afro-Puerto Rican rhythms will take center stage at Montgomery County Community College as internationally known trombonist, composer and band leader Papo Vázquez performs with his orchestra, Mighty Pirates Troubadours, on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 8 p.m. in the Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. Tickets cost $30. Visit mc3.edu/livelyarts or call 215-641-6518 for more information and tickets.

Heralded by The New York Times for its “jolting energy,” the group’s sound has been described as “high-powered, Afro-Puerto Rican small-group jazz…building jazz harmony on top of bomba rhythms.” The orchestra is led by Vázquez, whose remarkable career spans more than three dozen years. The Grammy-nominated artist, who grew up in Puerto Rico and North Philadelphia, discovered his talent with the trombone as a child and was playing professionally in New York by the age of 17.

A co-founder of Jerry Gonzalez’s Fort Apache Band and of Puerto Rico’s popular Latin fusion band Batacumbele, Vázquez has traveled with Tito Puente’s Latin Jazz Ensemble as principal trombonist and toured Europe with the Ray Charles Orchestra and Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra.
He received composer commissions by Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra and was invited to direct the U.S. Marine Band in its first Afro-Caribbean jazz performance. His expert playing can be heard on several film soundtracks, including “The Mambo Kings” and Spike Lee’s “Mo’ Better Blues.”

This performance is just one of many in the College’s 2014-15 Lively Arts season. Upcoming performances include master guitarist Lionel Loueke on Jan. 24; Grammy-winning jazz-soul fusion artist Gregory Porter on Feb. 8; Thelonious Monk Competition winner Cécile McLorin Salvant on Feb. 21; Latin American folkloric and jazz musician Miguel Zenón on March 21; and legendary harmonica player Grégoire Maret on April 18.

The Lively Arts programs have connected the community for more than a quarter century. In addition to performances from internationally acclaimed artists, each season features a Young Arts Explorers series; student choral, jazz ensemble, guitar, dance and theater performances; the Presidential Symposium and Richard K. Bennett Distinguished Lectureship for Peace and Social Justice; and the Betzwood Film Festival. Most Lively Arts events are held at the College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, with selected events held offsite or at the College’s West Campus in Pottstown. Tickets can be purchased individually or as part of a season subscription. Season subscription benefits include premium guaranteed seating and savings on regular ticket prices.

For more information, visit mc3.edu/livelyarts, email livelyarts@mc3.edu or call the Box Office at 215-641-6518. Follow the College’s “Destination Arts” page on Facebook at facebook.com/DestinationArts.

Lively Arts Series Features Acclaimed American Jazz/Pop Singer, Pianist Diane ‘Deedles’ Schuur

by Lauren Somers

Photos by LaniAs part of Montgomery County Community College’s Lively Arts season, American jazz/pop singer, pianist and Grammy Award winner Diane “Deedles” Schuur will perform songs from her wide-ranging catalog on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. in the Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. Tickets cost $38. Visit mc3.edu/livelyarts or call 215-641-6518 for more information and tickets.

Blind since birth but blessed with perfect pitch and the ability to play piano by ear, Schuur has built a solid following by embracing traditional and contemporary jazz, pop, country and rhythm and blues.

“As far back as I can remember, singing was in my blood,” she recalls. “My parents loved music, and I loved to sing. I was scatting at an early age. I was determined to succeed at what I wanted to do. I wasn’t going to let my disability stand in my way.”

Throughout a distinguished career that has earned her two Grammy Awards and three additional nominations, she has recorded nearly two dozen albums over the past three decades―including her latest, “I Remember You: With Love to Stan and Frank,” which pays homage to mentors Stan Getz and Frank Sinatra. She has toured the world, headlined at Carnegie Hall and The White House, and collaborated with an incredibly diverse cross-section of musical greats, from B.B. King, Ray Charles and the Count Basie Orchestra to Barry Manilow, Vince Gill and Alison Krauss.

Other performers in this year’s Lively Arts season include Afro-Caribbean jazz trombonist Papo Vázquez on Nov. 22; master guitarist Lionel Loueke on Jan. 24; Grammy-winning jazz-soul fusion artist Gregory Porter on Feb. 8; Thelonious Monk Competition winner Cécile McLorin Salvant on Feb. 21; Latin American folkloric and jazz musician Miguel Zenón on March 21; and legendary harmonica player Grégoire Maret on April 18.

The College’s Lively Arts programs have connected the community for more than a quarter century. In addition to performances from internationally acclaimed artists, each season features a Young Arts Explorers series; student choral, jazz ensemble, guitar, dance and theater performances; the Presidential Symposium and Richard K. Bennett Distinguished Lectureship for Peace and Social Justice; and the Betzwood Film Festival. Most Lively Arts events are held at the College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, with selected events held offsite or at the College’s West Campus in Pottstown. Tickets can be purchased individually or as part of a season subscription. Season subscription benefits include premium guaranteed seating and savings on regular ticket prices.

For more information, visit mc3.edu/livelyarts, email livelyarts@mc3.edu or call the Box Office at 215-641-6518. Follow the College’s “Destination Arts” page on Facebook at facebook.com/DestinationArts.

Acclaimed Country Singer Kathy Mattea Returns to Lively Arts Series

by Lauren Somers

Kathy Mattea, photo by David McClister

Kathy Mattea, photo by David McClister

As part of Montgomery County Community College’s 2014-15 Lively Arts season, Grammy Award-winning singer Kathy Mattea will perform songs from her eclectic catalog of well-known country pop hits and newer Appalachian music on Saturday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m. in the Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. Tickets cost $38. Visit mc3.edu/livelyarts or call 215-641-6518 for more information and tickets.

An American country music performer who has incorporated many styles into her songs, Mattea has recorded 18 albums featuring numerous chart-topping singles, including the #1 hits “Goin’ Gone,” “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” “Come From the Heart” and Burnin’ Old Memories.” The West Virginia native’s current tour comes on the heels of two recordings, “Coal” and “Calling Me Home,” that have brought her back to her Appalachian roots.

“As I get older and as the culture changes, I realize how special this music is,” she says. “Appalachian music encompasses more than just bluegrass; there are a lot of Celtic, blues and old-time influences. This music got brought over and isolated in the mountains and developed its own flavor. It’s a very rich tapestry.”

Other performers in this year’s Lively Arts season include American jazz/pop singer, pianist and two-time Grammy Award winner Diane “Deedles” Schurr on Nov.15; Afro-Caribbean jazz trombonist Papo Vázquez on Nov. 22; master guitarist Lionel Loueke on Jan. 24; Grammy-winning jazz-soul fusion artist Gregory Porter on Feb. 8; Thelonious Monk Competition winner Cécile McLorin Salvant on Feb. 21; Latin American folkloric and jazz musician Miguel Zenón on March 21; and legendary harmonica player Grégoire Maret on April 18.

The College’s Lively Arts programs have connected the community for more than a quarter century. In addition to performances from internationally acclaimed artists, each season features a Young Arts Explorers series; student choral, jazz ensemble, guitar, dance and theater performances; the Presidential Symposium and Richard K. Bennett Distinguished Lectureship for Peace and Social Justice; and the Betzwood Film Festival. Most Lively Arts events are held at the College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, with selected events held offsite or at the College’s West Campus in Pottstown. Tickets can be purchased individually or as part of a season subscription. Season subscription benefits include premium guaranteed seating and savings on regular ticket prices.

For more information, visit mc3.edu/livelyarts, email livelyarts@mc3.edu or call the Box Office at 215-641-6518, Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Follow the College’s “Destination Arts” page on Facebook at facebook.com/DestinationArts.

World Renown Jazz Guitarist, Singer John Pizzarelli Kicks Off Lively Arts Season

by Lauren Somers

John Pizzarelli

John Pizzarelli

Montgomery County Community College will launch its 2014-15 Lively Arts season with the classically creative jazz, pop and swing stylings of John Pizzarelli―an internationally known guitarist and singer who effortlessly channels legends from Frank Sinatra to the Beatles―on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 8 p.m. in the Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. Tickets cost $38. Visit mc3.edu/livelyarts or call 215-641-6518 for more information and tickets.

An Ella Fitzgerald Award winner called “madly creative” by the Los Angeles Times, Pizzarelli has established himself as one of the prime interpreters of classic and contemporary music. He brings to audiences a 21st-century take on standards as well as more contemporary music, paying homage to a wide spectrum of artists and songwriters from Nat “King” Cole to Richard Rodgers to James Taylor. He has performed with the Boston Pops, opened for Sinatra and been hailed by the Boston Globe for “reinvigorating the Great American Songbook and re-popularizing jazz.” With 10 albums under his belt, Pizzarelli has recorded songs with Paul McCartney, Kristin Chenoweth, Rickie Lee Jones and Rosemary Clooney. In addition to performing throughout the world and on America’s most popular national television shows, he has hosted a nationally syndicated radio program and led a 40-member live orchestra at Radio City Music Hall for a Sinatra tribute.

Pizzarelli fans may also enjoy some of this year’s other Lively Arts performers, including American jazz/pop singer, pianist and two-time Grammy Award winner Diane “Deedles” Schurr on Nov.15; Grammy-winning jazz-soul fusion artist Gregory Porter on Feb. 8 (Sunday, at 4 p.m.); Thelonious Monk Competition winner Cécile McLorin Salvant on Feb. 21; Latin American folkloric and jazz musician Miguel Zenón on March 21; and legendary harmonica player Grégoire Maret on April 18.

The College’s Lively Arts programs have connected the community for more than a quarter century. In addition to performances from internationally acclaimed artists, each season features a Young Arts Explorers series; student choral, jazz ensemble, guitar, dance and theater performances; the Presidential Symposium and Richard K. Bennett Distinguished Lectureship for Peace and Social Justice; and the Betzwood Film Festival. Most Lively Arts events are held at the College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, with selected events held offsite or at the College’s West Campus in Pottstown. Tickets can be purchased individually or you can Create-Your-Own Subscription by selecting any four shows. Season subscription benefits include premium guaranteed seating and savings on regular ticket prices.

For more information, visit mc3.edu/livelyarts, email livelyarts@mc3.edu or call the Box Office at 215-641-6518. Follow the College’s “Destination Arts” page on Facebook at facebook.com/DestinationArts.

Show Your Support for Student Candace Benson: Vote Now-Aug. 30

by Diane VanDyke

BLOG Candace Sunday BestMontgomery County Community College student Candace Benson, of Pottstown, made her final performance on BET’s Sunday Best competition Sunday. Now it’s up to the audience to determine the winner of the two finalists—Benson or Geoffrey Golden—by voting via phone or online.

Click HERE to Vote For Candace

Benson, a 22-year-old music education and audio production major at the College, auditioned last April with hundreds of hopeful singers to compete in the weekly gospel-based singing competition. She was one of 20 contestants selected to sing on the weekly television show starting in July. Throughout the past several weeks, she successfully made it through each round getting closer to her dream of winning the competition.

Now, she seeks the support of her ever-growing fan base, family, and friends and supporters at the College, Montgomery County and beyond to vote for through noon EST on Saturday, Aug. 30. The winner will be announced on Sunday, Aug. 31.

To vote for Benson, call 1-888-5-BEST-01 or 888-523-7801 or go online at BET.com/SundayBest and follow the instructions to complete the voting process. You can also vote by using the BET Now mobile app.

Voting is limited to 15 votes via the toll-free landline method and is unlimited via online and BET Now app. Airtime and roaming charges may apply if using a cell phone to call the landline numbers.

The winner will receive a new Ford Fusion, a national recording contract with Fo Yo Soul/RCA Records and a cash prize. For Benson, this is her opportunity of a lifetime and represents the culmination of singing performances at her church, locally and during Music Wednesdays

Click HERE to Vote For Candace

Dance Program Offered in Pottstown This Fall

by Diane VanDyke

Dance students perform during the fall Performing Arts Showcase at Montgomery County Community College. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Dance students perform during the fall Performing Arts Showcase at Montgomery County Community College. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College is now accepting registration for its Associate in Arts degree program in Dance to be offered at its West Campus in Pottstown starting Fall 2014.

This 63-credit program provides both a liberal arts background and dance courses comparable to classes offered during the first two years at a four-year institution. Classes include modern dance, ballet, jazz, hip hop, dance improvisation, dance composition, dance repertory and performance, dance wellness and fitness and dance history.

“The program is unique in that it offers courses for dancers of all levels, from beginners to experienced dancers,” said Dr. Melinda Copel, Coordinator of Dance, indicating that novices can take fundamentals-level dance courses while simultaneously taking degree courses.

Dance classes are open to all students, regardless of their majors, and will meet core education requirements for Exercise and Health Sciences and Aesthetic Sensibility and the Arts.

The Associate in Arts degree program in Dance allows students to transfer into a baccalaureate program in dance at many colleges and universities.

“There are a number of career possibilities in dance including performer, choreographer, teacher, dance or movement therapist, dance historian and writer, dance critic, arts administrator, and dance notator,” Dr. Copel said. “There are performance opportunities in a variety of settings including dance concerts, opera, musical theater, musical productions, television, movies, music videos, cruise ships and theme parks, such as Disney World or Sesame Place.”

“Many dancers combine performance with careers in dance education or choreography,” she said. “Dance educators teach in higher education, K-12 schools, private dance studios and community centers. Some open their own studios. Students may wish to combine their studies in dance with a related field such as technical theater or physical therapy. The arts are a big industry in the Philadelphia area, and there are plenty of opportunities.”

Beyond courses, students have performance opportunities with the College’s Dance Performance Ensemble, which is open to all students. Both the Dance Ensemble and the Dance Repertory class perform at the end of each semester.

For more information or to register, contact Dr. Melinda Copel at mcopel@mc3.edu or 215-641-6346.