Check Out February’s Lively Arts Programming

by Diane VanDyke (unless otherwise noted)

The College’s Theatre Arts students, in collaboration with Theatre Horizon, Norristown, will present a unique storytelling event, Hidden Rivers II: The Courage to Change, on Thursday, Feb. 3, at 4 p.m., in the South Hall Community Room at the West Campus, and on Saturday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. in the Blackbox Theater at the Central Campus.

The two performances of Hidden Rivers II feature several community members who will share their inspiring personal accounts of how they embraced and pursued change in their lives and communities.

“The art of theater is about people generously sharing a personal truth and engaging the audience through a story,” said Theatre Instructor Michael Whistler and co-producer. “Everyone has a story to tell. The audience will enjoy seeing their neighbors and hearing about what they have accomplished as catalysts for change.”

The storytellers include Rochelle Culbreath, a former city council member of Norristown who is active in the revitalization of the town; Artilia Brown, a resident of Montgomery County for about 70 years who will share her philosophy of change; Lauren Des Londe, a Montgomery County Community College alumna and a mentor for the Upward Bound program; Chris Shepherd, who overcame a drug addiction; Diane Reilly, who is a community activist; and Dominic Barr, a junior at Norristown Area High School who will talk about her efforts to achieve her dream of going to college.

Hidden Rivers II is the continuation of Hidden Rivers: Stories of Lifelong Learning, created and directed by Whistler in 2006, which celebrated the journeys of student and faculty of Montgomery County Community College. This second part is a collaboration between the College’s Theatre Arts students and Theatre Horizon.

Theatre Artist/Administrator David Stradley is the director and co-writer of the production, and Theatre Horizon Artistic Director Erin Reilly is the co-producer. Montgomery County Community College student Morgan Doman is the set designer.

“I’ve been humbled to work with and learn from these individuals,” Stradley said. “They are each successful change agents in their own way, be it big or small. I hope the audience walks away from hearing these stories with a sense that positive change is possible in our communities, and is, in fact, happening every day.”

The performances are made possible by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors and $5 for children and are available by visiting or calling 215-641-6518.


Legendary jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb and the So What Band will perform Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” at Montgomery County Community College on Friday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. in the Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

The performance, as part of the College’s Lively Arts Series’ “The American Dream in Transition . . . The 50s,” is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces Program.

Davis’s “Kind of Blue” album, originally released in 1959, is considered one of his masterpieces and is one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time with more than four million copies sold. Cobb is the last remaining player of the original band, which included jazz giants John Coltrane, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and Bill Evans.

In June 2008, Cobb received the Don Redman Heritage award in recognition of his music and contribution to the jazz genre. He was one of six performers to receive the 2009 National Endowment for the Arts NEA Jazz Masters award.

Tickets cost $25 for general admission, $20 for students and seniors and $10 for children. For more information and tickets, visit or call 215-641-6518.

For more information about Jimmy Cobb, visit


Ensemble Español will perform an array of Spanish music and dance styles, including innovative ballet, traditional folkloric suites and fiery Flamenco dramas, at the College on Friday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. in the Science Center Theater, Central Campus. The Ensemble will also present “Tales of Spain” for young audiences on Friday, Feb. 18 at 10:30 a.m. in the Science Center Theater.

Ensemble Español, founded in 1976 by Dame Libby Komaiko, includes more than 40 dancers, singers, musicians and guest artists. The Ensemble celebrates Spain in American by presenting and promoting cultural pluralism through a mosaic performance of world cultures including Spanish, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Columbian, Peruvian, Chilean, Guatemalan and Honduran.

The Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater is the in-residence dance company at Northeastern Illinois University.

Tickets for the morning performance cost $5 each.  Tickets for the evening show are $25 for general admission, $20 for students and seniors and $10 for children. For more information and tickets, visit or call 215-641-6518.

For more information about Ensemble Espanol, visit


As part of the ongoing Multicultural Film Series, the College will host the screening of Deepa Mehta’s “Fire” on Friday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. in Room 214 of the Science Center at the Central Campus.

This 1996 film in Hindi with subtitles explores the relationship between two women born of their confinement by social expectations.

The films featured in the Spring 2011 LGBT Cinema series present a historical and cultural perspective on the gay and lesbian experience.

The screenings are $5. For information, visit or call 215-641-6518.


‘Blues at the Crossroads’ Stops at College as Part of National Tour
by Jocelyn Moye

On Feb. 26, the Montgomery County Community College Lively Arts Series will pay tribute to the Delta blues legend Robert Johnson. Helen Haynes, Director of Cultural Affairs at the College, says, “It is a historic show,” of the Blues at the Crossroads Centennial Concert. She continues, “It will feature legendary, original jazz men.”

The event, supported by a grant from the Philadelphia Music Project, is a multimedia presentation of historic footage of Johnson with the live music performances.

Big Head Todd and the Monsters

The musicians paying tribute to Johnson are Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and Blues Hall of Fame Artists Hubert Sumlin and David “Honeyboy” Edwards.

“Honeyboy” Edwards, 95, performed with Johnson seven decades ago and was present the night of his untimely death. The musicians will not simply replay Johnson’s music, but interpret it with modernity while paying respect to the original soul.

David "Honey Boy" Edwards

Johnson is known for his music, as well as the myth behind his skill. Johnson’s status is tied to a widely believed myth about a deal with the devil. At midnight, at a crossroad in rural Mississippi, he was given the gift of music in exchange for his soul.

Whether this is true or not, Johnson became an important figure at the heart of American music, and his legacy has remained. Johnson, like some of the most talented and memorable musicians, died at the age of 27. Other musicians in what listeners call the “27 Club” are Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison (The Doors), Jimi Hendrix, and Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones).

Like the others, Johnson left a musical legacy, but his death preceded theirs by several decades. His music influenced these musicians who later turned it into rock n’ roll. Although the Delta blues is American music, it didn’t gain appreciation outside of African American culture for decades. The interpretations by British musicians like Eric Clapton and the Who heightened a more universal interest in America.

To this day, an age and culture range of listeners appreciate the Delta blues as the foundation of American music.

The show “will bring in a multi-generational, multi-racial audience,” says Haynes. “It’s how people know American music all over the world.”

She expects to see a change in the demographic of the usual MC3 Art Series attendees. “Most of my audience are boomers,” says Haines, “Younger people are looking into the roots of rock.”

Many rock n’ rollers realize that there would be no Led Zeppelin or The Sword without the Delta Blues.

Tickets cost $25 for general admission, $20 for students and seniors and $10 for children. For more information and tickets, visit or call 215-641-6518.


Jocelyn Moye is a Liberal Studies major at Montgomery County Community College. She is a writer and photo editor for The Montgazette student newspaper.


The College will present the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra on Sunday, Feb. 27, at 3 p.m. in the Science Center Theater, Central Campus.

The Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra, a special ensemble of the acclaimed Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, has become one of the premiere youth orchestras in the region.  The orchestra’s instruction, through the use of standard orchestra repertoire, emphasizes the development of musicianship and large-ensemble performance skills.

Under the direction of Conductor Geoff McDonald, the ensemble with perform several selections, including Mozart’s “Overture to Die Entfürung aus dem Serail,” Haydn’s “Symphony No. 100 – Military,” Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides,” and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 2.”

Founded in 1939, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra has offered opportunities for gifted and talented students to be involved in extraordinary music education through its orchestra training and performance programs. Musicians, ages 8 through 21 years, from the Delaware Valley area and beyond audition for positions with this impressive ensemble.

Tickets cost $10. For more information and tickets, visit or call 215-641-6518. For more information about the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra, visit

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