Krannert season brings new visitors and old faves

Krannert season brings new visitors and old faves

The biennial Ellnora Guitar Festival will kick off the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts 2013-14 season, starting with the popular Opening Night Party on Sept. 5.

But you have to wait a few weeks to discover the Ellnora lineup: Krannert will release that information June 11.

Suffice it to say that the performers — several are Ellnora veterans — represent an international roster of styles, and Krannert director Mike Ross is "extremely pleased" with the lineup.

The all-things-guitar extravaganza will feature at least 20 performances — at least 10 of which are free.

Among the post-Ellnora performers at Krannert next season will be a number of other familiar faces and some new ones as well.

Among the first-timers:

Veteran keyboardist Dr. Lonnie Smith's In the Beginning Octet, on Sept. 14. Smith has had a long and storied performance career that has taken him around the world.

Multiple Tony Award-winning actress-singer Audra McDonald, whom Ross called a superstar, on Sept. 21.

The veteran pianist-conductor Peter Nero, who will dedicate part of his program to his late friend, Marvin Hamlisch, on April 12.

The Vijay Iyer Trio, a young, hot jazz trio headed by the cerebral pianist and known for breaking boundaries while laying down a groove, on Feb. 20-22.

The Haifa Symphony Orchestra of Israel, on its first U.S. tour, on Feb. 22. Its musicians are Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, who will be released by the Metropolitan Opera in New York to come here May 1 to perform with her friends (and local favorites) Nathan and Julie Gunn. The world-famous baritone and his wife, a pianist, will offer a program tailored for the local community.

Among the artists returning to Krannert:

The Kronos Quartet, celebrating its 40th anniversary, will perform a new Philip Glass composition and other pieces on March 19.

The venerable Takacs Quartets, one of a handful of elite quartets, will be back, on Dec. 5.

And the Jasper and Jupiter quartets will perform in a double bill Sept. 12.

The Jupiters, in-residence at the University of Illinois School of Music, also will perform a "Bagels and Beethoven" concert at 10 a.m. March 15. Beforehand a light breakfast will be served in the lobby, and patrons will be allowed to take coffee or tea into the Foellinger Great Hall.

Writer-director-performer Ain Gordon, with his new work, "Not What Happened," Sept. 19-20. In it, a historical re-enactor in period costume meets up with the actual historic figure she portrays. The piece will include projected images by rural documentary photographer Forrest Holzapfel. Gordon brought his hilarious "Family Epic" in 2007 to Krannert.

The Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club, with young Cuban pianist Robert Fonseca as opening act, Sept. 28.

The Chicago and San Francisco symphony orchestras with their music directors Riccardo Muti and Michael Tilson Thomas on Oct. 12 and Nov. 15, respectively.

The Hungarian State Folk Ensemble, presenting "Gypsy Romance," on Oct. 23. Ross called its performances energetic, beautiful and joyous.

Flutist Sir James Galway with his wife, Lady Jeanne Galway, also a flutist, and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, on Nov. 7.

The Joshua Redman Quartet on Nov. 21. Among prior performances by the Redman Quartet at Krannert was the brave, memorable concert it delivered on Sept. 12, 2001.

The Moscow Festival Ballet, this year performing three rather than two ballets: "Swan Lake," "Giselle" and "Cinderella," on Jan. 21-23. The Russian ballet performances are popular date nights among college and high school students and suitable for children age 8 and up.

Mikel Rouse, who will bring his new piece, "The Demo," on Feb. 28. He is working on it with the eDream Institute at the UI; "The Demo" should be of particular interest to this campus: It's about the day in 1968 when Douglas C. Engelbart and his fellow researchers at the Stanford Research Institute presented a live demonstration of an "oN Line System" as well as the computer mouse, hypertext, dynamic file linking and shared-screen collaboration. "The archival footage in this is amazing," Ross said.

Pinchas Zukerman, who will play violin and viola, with pianist Yefim Bronfman, on April 3. This will be Bronfman's first concert at Krannert.

The dance companies Diavolo, in the vanguard of acrobatic and gymnastic dance, on April 30; and Mark Morris Dance Group on March 14-15.

The Morris Group, an annual visitor, will present new works — among them Morris' take on Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring."

One of the underlying themes of the 2013-14 season is how we humans are rethinking our relationship to the planet, Ross said.

"It is a season that invites audiences to come and hear what artists have to say about this," he said. "Some address it obliquely and others directly."

Among those events that address environmental issues head-on:

The world premiere on Sept. 24 of "Fables on Global Warming," created by director/choreographer Karole Armitage in collaboration with composer/lyricist Corey Dargel and visual director Doug Fitch. They will all be at Krannert this summer to continue to develop the piece. In it, three extinct animals roam the Earth as troubadours among anthropomorphized animals portrayed by dancers.

"MU: One World, One Ocean," Oct. 4, developed by playwright Brenda Wong Aioki, composer Mark Izu and choreographer Kimi Okada. Co-commissioned by Krannert, the new piece explores through music, theater and dance the lost continent of MU off the shores of Japan.

Meredith Monk's "On Behalf of Nature," on March 6. Her newest music-theater work, "Nature" is a poetic meditation on our connection to nature and the fragility of its ecology. Ross promises it will become an iconic piece.

Compagnia T.P.O.'s "Bleu! The Mediterranean Sea," on April 25-26. The Italian company explores the Mediterranean habitat using "playful spectator interactions and immersive tricks of technology," according to the Krannert season brochure.

Among other new pieces coming to Krannert is the world premiere on Feb. 1 of composer Paola Prestini's "Labyrinth," which will feature two installation concertos for cellist Maya Beiser and violinist Cornelius Dufallo.

Technology will be involved to create stunning visuals. The UI's eDream (Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media) Institute also helped on the technology for this piece.

Another new piece is David Rousseve/Reality's "Stardust," on May 3. Developed in part through Krannert's Intensive Development Lab project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, "Stardust" redefines the coming-of-age story in the electronic age via the journey of an African-American gay urban teen-ager.

Also coming to Krannert, on Nov. 20-21, is "Chocolate Woman Dreams the Milky Way," written by Monique Mojica, a First Nations playwright and actress. She has revised this piece for the Krannert presentation; it layers the stories of a girl soldier, a Daughter from the Stars, and Sky Woman Falling with retellings of cultural stories of the Grandmothers of Creation.

Krannert remains committed to classical music, hence the Great Hall, Classical Mix and Sunday Salon series. The artists in those that we haven't mentioned yet:

Apollo's Fire, The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, with conductor Jeannette Sorrell, on Oct. 30.

The Venice Baroque Orchestra, with conductor Andrea Marcon and countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, on March 1.

Cellist Jay Campbell, the Concert Artists Guild first-prize winner, on Nov. 3. Ross said this young musician has a unique stage presence.

Soprano Julia Bullock, a Young Concert Artists Winner, on Feb. 9.

The winner of the upcoming 2013 Van Cliburn Competition, on April 6.

And the Krannert Center Debut Artist, a top UI School of Music student, on May 4.

Of course, the UI Department of Theatre, School of Music, Department of Dance, Sinfonia da Camera and Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra will be part of the new season as well. Look in future editions of The News-Gazette for information on their offerings.


Dates to know

Things to put on your calendar as you think of the 2013-14 season at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts:

The lineup for Ellnora The Guitar Festival will be announced June 11.

Season books and online show descriptions will be available starting July 18.

Tickets go on sale for Ellnora and the rest of the season at 10 a.m. Aug. 10.

Tickets may be purchased online at; by phone at 333-6280 or 800-527-2849 or 333-9714 for TTY, or at the ticket office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Topics (2):Music, Theater

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