Preview: Lively Arts Season – ‘Meeting at the Crossroads of Culture’

by Lauren Somers

As the leaves fall and students begin to hit the books, Montgomery County Community College will bring the world to campus with its 2013-14 Lively Arts season, “Meeting at the Crossroads of Culture”―where diverse audiences, artistic excellence, stimulating ideas and exhilarating performances converge.

From new and classic theater, music and dance performances and political humor to panel discussions on contemporary issues and special events in honor of the College’s 50th anniversary, the global pulse of today’s artists, scholars and innovators will vibrate throughout the Philadelphia region. Visit or call 215-641-6518 for more information and tickets.

For more than a quarter century, the Lively Art series has opened a window to the world by sharing the heritage, traditions and creative expression of established and emerging artists through high-caliber performances, workshops, pre-concert lectures, Young Arts Explorers events and meet-the-artist receptions. And the excitement ratchets up even higher this year with a host of 50th anniversary happeningsSome of the season’s many events include:

“America’s Music” series―Each session of this series features a complete documentary film or excerpts from longer documentaries to provide the basis for scholar-led discussion of the history of six different genres of American popular music, including blues and gospel on Sept. 21, rock ‘n’ roll on Sept. 28, Broadway on Oct. 5, Latin rhythms from mambo to hip hop on Oct. 26, country and bluegrass on Nov. 9, and swing jazz on Dec. 7.

“Jazz Cubano” series―Highlighting the Afro-Cuban influence in jazz, this series will showcase performances from accomplished, award-winning musical artists Poncho Sanchez and His Latin Band on Oct. 26, Omar Sosa and his Afri-Lectric Experience on Nov.16, and Ninety Miles―comprised of jazz musicians Stefon Harris, David Sanchez and Christian Scott―on Dec. 14. Poncho Sanchez will also lead a workshop on “Fundamentals of Latin music for the rhythm section” earlier that day at The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, Broad and Fitzwater streets, at 10:30 a.m.

Other musical performances include jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, a member of John Coltrane’s ensembles in the mid-1960s, on Oct. 12, and the legendary Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio on March 22.

Theater performances include “Beyond Glory,” the celebrated Broadway one-man show featuring the true stories of eight war veterans brought to life by award-winning playwright, stage actor and screen star Stephen Lang (“Avatar,” “Death of a Salesman,” “Terra Nova”), on Oct. 18, and Aquila Theatre’s “Fahrenheit 451,” a modern take on Ray Bradbury’s visionary parable of a bleak future where literature and knowledge are on the edge of extinction, on Nov. 22.

Dance performances include “Come, and Back Again,” a poetic exploration of life’s messiness, mortality and hope produced by David Dorfman and inspired by influential singer-songwriters Patti Smith and Benjamin Smoke of the underground Atlanta band Smoke on Jan.18, and the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, one of the nation’s premier contemporary dance companies, celebrating the African Diaspora through multicultural dance traditions on Feb. 22.

In commemoration of its 50th anniversary, the College will also hold a variety of special events, including Madhouse Theatre performing a satirical spoof on the 1960s on Jan. 23 and 25; Beatles tribute band Strawberry Fields on Feb. 15; The Richard K. Bennett Distinguished Lectureship for Peace and Social Justice on Feb. 24; and the Presidential Symposium featuring Judy Shepard on March 27.

Additionally, the College will host Ballet Hispanico on March 8; Road to the Isles, a troupe performing the traditional music and dance of Ireland and Scotland, on March 15; the popular political song and sketch comedy troupe Capitol Steps on April 12; and the Betzwood Silent Film Festival, an homage to films produced at the Betzwood Motion Picture Studio in Montgomery County, on May 3.

Each year the Lively Arts season also features student performances from the College Choir, Chamber Choir, Jazz Ensemble, guitar program, digital music and songwriting classes, Dance Performance Ensemble and theater arts program. This year’s fall semester Performing Arts Showcase is scheduled for Dec. 2, 4 and 5, with the spring semester Performing Arts Festival happening April 21, 23 and 24.

And through its Young Arts Explorers series, the College will open children’s eyes to the wonders of the world’s cultures. Young Arts Explorers events include stories and jazz renditions of familiar children’s songs by master storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston and her brother, renowned jazz violinist John Blake on Feb. 5, along with child-friendly performances by the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble on Feb. 21, Ballet Hispanico on March 7 and Road to the Isles on March 14.

Most 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 by choosing any four shows for just $96. Season subscription benefits include premium guaranteed seating and savings on regular ticket prices.

For more information, visit, email or call the Box Office at 215-641-6518. Follow the College’s “Destination Arts” page on Facebook at

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