2014-15 Lively Arts Season Preview

by Lauren Somers

Montgomery County Community College has announced its 2014-15 Lively Arts season, “Old School, New School” ― with a nod to the resurging popular interest in jazz, Americana and eclectic dance and theater, by presenting a generation- and genre-spanning collection of exhilarating performers. From the classically creative jazz stylings of John Pizzarelli―a world-renowned guitarist and singer who effortlessly channels Sinatra, Gershwin and the Beatles―to the innovative choreography of Brian Sanders, hailed as “Philly’s most imaginative perpetrator of dare-devilish physical theater,” the traditional and the modern blend seamlessly in this year’s series. Visit mc3.edu/livelyarts or call 215-641-6518 for more information and tickets.

For more than a quarter century, the Lively Arts series has connected the community artistically through breathtaking musical, dance and theater performances, sidesplitting political satire, thought-provoking art, stimulating workshops and lectures, Young Arts Explorers events and meet-the-artist receptions. This year’s series reflects the ageless continuity of the arts, offering an electrifying season of events that include performances by:

  • John Pizzarelli, an Ella Fitzgerald Award winner called “madly creative” by the Los Angeles Times, on October 18;
  • Kathy Mattea, an American country and bluegrass performer who brings folk, Celtic and traditional country sounds to her music and has recorded 17 albums featuring numerous chart-topping singles, on October 25;
  • Diane “Deedles” Schuur, an American jazz/pop singer, pianist and two-time Grammy Award winner who has performed with B.B. King, Dizzy Gillespie and Stevie Wonder, on November 15;
  • Papo Vázquez Mighty Pirates Troubadours, a group led by the Grammy-nominated trombonist and composer whose remarkable career spans three dozen years in the jazz, Latin, Afro-Caribbean and classical music and recording worlds, on November 22;
  • Monnette Sudler’s Philadelphia Guitar Summit featuring Lionel Loueke, a West African native and veteran of bands led by Terence Blanchard and Herbie Hancock whose performance caps on January 24;
  • Gregory Porter, a Grammy-winning jazz-soul fusion artist heralded as “the next great male jazz singer” channeling the “soulful spirit of the ’70s,” on February 8;
  • Cécile McLorin Salvant, a prodigy and Thelonious Monk Competition winner who shares interpretations of rare jazz and blues compositions while extending the lineage of Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, on February 21;
  • Brian Sanders’ JUNK, a troupe led by “the city’s most exciting choreographer” performing an innovative dance theater piece featuring the ingenious use of found objects and clever inventions, on February 28;
  • Miguel Zenón, a Guggenheim and MacArthur fellow who blends Latin American folkloric music and jazz and has been heralded for “re-establishing the artistic, cultural and social tradition of jazz while creating an entirely new jazz language for the 21st century,” on March 21;
  • Grégoire Maret, one of the world’s most sought-after harmonica players who has played with such legendary musicians as Youssou N’Dour, Meshell Nedegeocello, Pete Seeger, David Sanborn and George Benson, on April 18; and
  • The Capitol Steps, a popular political satirist group performing song parodies and skits that play off recent headlines in this year’s “Fiscal Shades of Gray,” on May 2.

In its Young Arts Explorers series, the College will engage children and families through several highly entertaining, educational performances, including:

  • Janet’s Planet: Tour Through our Solar System, a live performance from Janet Ivey of the popular TV show in which she will explore the wonders of the galaxy through an imaginative, interactive learning adventure, on January 22;
  • Cuentos: Tales from the Latino World by David Gonzalez, who paints a vivid picture of the people and rich cultures of the Spanish-speaking world with colorful Afro-Cuban tales from the Caribbean, South America and the Bronx, on February 12 at 9:30 a.m.;
  • Finding North by David Gonzalez, who brings the powerful stories of the strivings, sacrifices and dreams to the stage of the African-American Underground Railroad hero John P. Parker, as well as contemporary American immigrants on February 12 at 1 p.m.; and
  • SKINK, by Brian Sanders’ JUNK, a collection of 14 fast-paced vignettes designed for younger audiences in which performers use unusual props, costumes, lighting effects, dance and physical theater to create worlds of magic and wonder set to a wide range of music from pop to classical, on February 27.

Each year the Lively Arts season also features student performances in music, dance and theater. The Fall Performing Arts Showcases will be held December 1, 3 and 4 with a special 10th Anniversary Celebration of the MCCC Choir on December 3. The Spring Performing Arts Showcases will be held April 27, 29 and 30. Dance Performance Ensemble Concerts are December 5 and April 24, and the Chamber Strings Concerts are scheduled for December 7 and May 3. A special Faculty Music Concert will be held on November 7.

The Theatre Arts Program and West End Student Theatre will present “Rabbit Hole” Nov. 13-15 and “Black Comedy” April 23-25 in the South Hall Community Room at the West Campus, Pottstown. The Theatre Arts Program and Drama Club will present “The Glass Menagerie” Nov. 20-23 and “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” April 16-19 in the Black Box Theatre, Central Campus, Blue Bell.

The series also features the College’s annual Presidential Symposium with Poet Richard Blanco on March 26 and the Richard K. Bennett Distinguished Lectureship for Peace and Social Justice with investigative journalist and author Sonia Shah on March 9.

The season closes out with a bang on May 9 with the annual Betzwood Film Festival, which celebrates the works and history of Betzwood Studios―Montgomery County’s own version of Hollywood―where more than 100 films were produced and circulated worldwide in the early 1900s. This year’s festival showcases a retrospective of the adventurous life and films of Wilna Hervey, an acclaimed fine artist who starred in “Powerful Katrinka” and hosted some of the Catskills’ wildest parties. The retrospective, which will feature film clips accompanied by live organist Don Kinnier, will be followed by a “Meet the Author” reception and book signing with festival founder Joseph Eckhardt, author of the Hervey biography “Living Large.”

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. Patrons can create their own subscription by selecting any four performances. 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 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Follow the College’s “Destination Arts” page on Facebook at facebook.com/DestinationArts.

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