Krannert director excited for musical highlights of 50th season

Krannert director excited for musical highlights of 50th season

URBANA — Fifty years is not at all stodgy on Goodwin Avenue.

The Krannert Center for the Performing Art is looking spiffy a half-century after 1969 saw several blocks of houses give way to a temple designed by a University of Illinois alumnus, Max Abramovitz, who was also the architect of the State Farm Center and David Geffen Hall in New York City's Lincoln Center.

But what's happening on the inside is more important.

More on jazz and theater later; Krannert Director Mike Ross spoke mainly about new takes on classical music.

The Fall Marquee Great Hall season leads off with the Los Angeles Master Chorale performing Sept. 15 in the Great Hall.

"Lagrime di San Pietro," or Saint Peter's Tears, is a lengthy series of songs by Orlande de Lassus and "a masterpiece of the Renaissance," Ross said.

It's a one-of-a-kind performance, Ross said, because the singers perform it "from memory, and they are performing it in a theatrical manner. There's movement that has been choreographed for them.

"It's very expressive, even down to the facial expressions. It's impressive that these singers weren't trained as actors."

The Los Angeles Times described it as "a major accomplishment for music history."

There's also hands across the waters April 2 with Johann Sebastian Bach's "Goldberg Variations" "as a living art form, a collaboration between the Scottish Ensemble and a contemporary dance company from Sweden, the Andersson Dance Group."

There's a tradition of surprising combos that contributes to what Ross sees as a micro-urban community. Tech companies consider the quality of life when they decide to have offices in Champaign, and Krannert makes the most of being part of the University of Illinois, famous for engineering, computer science and other STEM programs.

"We need to think of a different way of portraying this community to avoid the preconceptions that some people have about a population of this size located in this part of the country," he said.

"I love the fact that this is a community that has such a strong diversity of demographics, and a lot that contributes to the quality of life in this community in the heartland," Ross said.

"Krannert is recognized as the premiere performing arts center on any campus and is critical to recruitment and retention. I hear that from the business community outside the arts world," he said.

Krannert embraces the Urbana campus' variety of strengths.

"The university offers a course in which each section is taught by a pair of faculty members, one from inside the College of Fine and Applied Arts and the other a creative thinker from another domain on campus," he said.

"We've had a physicist teamed up with a choreographer. The stuff that comes back is extraordinary. Being in a place where high level expertise and experimentation in the STEM areas is coming into contact with this high level creative research in arts and humanities — this place is a hotbed of collaborative work," he said.

"We think of this place as a discovery zone."

There is also a classical tradition that goes back 50 years — 20 of them led by Ross, the longest running director in the center's history.

The longest tradition of visitors — 36 performances — is with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a partnership that goes back to CSO recording in Krannert, and in return giving master classes to UI musicians. It appears near the end of the season.

Another regular is the CU Ballet's "The Nutcracker" from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9.

"Classical music is a living art form; it continues to evolve even as the warhorses remain incredibly important," Ross said.

Tickets go on sale July 14.

Krannert 50th season schedule


— 7th: Opening Night Party: 50th-Anniversary Celebration Kickoff

— 8th: 50th Anniverary Celebration Family Day; Japan House 20th Anniversary Celebration

— 13th: The Builders Association: Strange Window: "The Turn of the Screw"

— 14th: Red Hot Sardines

— 15th: Los Angeles Master Chorale: "Lagrime di Pietro" (Tears of St. Peter)

— 27th: Pygmalion Festival


— 3rd: Ellnora Reverb: Marchcus Tardelli, guitar

— 4th: Jupiter String Quartet and Jasper String Quartet

— 6th: Nathan and Julie Gunn and Frends: An Evening on Broadway

— 18th-20th: Ann Hampton Callaway and Susan Werner

— 25th: Daniel Hope and Friends: "Air — A Baroque Journey"


— 4th: Circa: "Carnival of the Animals"

— 6th: Circa: "Humans"

— 9th: Ballet Folklórico de México

— 10th: Itzhak Perlman, violin, with Rohan De Silva, piano

— 13th: Eroica Trio

— 15th: Cythnia Oliver/COCo Dance Theatre: "Virago-Man Dem"

— 29th: Manual Cinema: "No Blue Memorie, The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks"

— 30th-Dec. 9: The Nutcracker


— 2nd: Cleveland Quartet Award Winner: Rolston String Quartet

January 2019

— 19th: Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble

— 22th: Russian National Ballet Theatre: "Giselle"

— 23rd: Russian National Ballet Theatre: "The Sleeping Beauty"

— 26th: Savion Glover Fearing Marcus Gilmore

— 27th: Concert Artists Guild and M-Prize Winner: Argus Quartet

February 2019

— 2nd: Sun Graham, mezzo-soprano: "Frauenliebe und-leben: Variations"

— 5th: Sonic Illinois: 20th Annual 21st Century Piano Commission Competition Concert

— 7th: Sonic Illinois: Jupiter String Quartet wi Chungliang Al Huang, Tai Ji master

— 10th: Young Concert Artists Winner: Hanzhi Wang, accordion

— 14th: Sonic Illinois: Electroacoustic Concert: Music from the UI Experimental Music Studios

— 16th: Free Family Fun Concert: Artist TBA

— 16th: Sonic Illinois: Eighth Blackbird and Third Coast Percussion: Steve Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians"

— 17th: Sonic Illinois: Rachel Barton Pine, violin with th e University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra

— 21st- 24th: Sonic Illinois: "The Rape of Lucretia"

— 27th: Sonic Illinois: A Thound Thoughts — A Live Documentary by Sam Green and Kronos Quartet

March 2019

— 1st: Sonic Illinois: Illinois Modern Ensemble and Guests: Carlos Carrillo's and "then in dreaming"

— 2nd: Day of the Drum; Kodo

— 8th-9th: Mark Morris Dance Group and MMDG Music Ensemble: "Pepperland"

— 12th: Tall Stories: "Emily Brown and The Thing"

— 13th: Sonic Illinois: Illinois Modern Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble, fearing works by UI composers

— 14th: Dorrance Dance: "ETM: Double Down"

— 27th: San Francisco Symphony

— 29th-30th: Les 7 doigts de la main: "Réversible"

— 30th: The Other Guys 50th-Anniversary Reunion

April 2019

— 2nd: Andersson Dance and Scottish Ensemble: "Goldberg Variations — ternary patterns for insomnia"

— 7th: Canadian Brass

— 9th: Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Memphis Soulphony: "Memphis ... Yes, I'm Ready"

— 10th: Canadian Brass with the University of Illinois Wind Symphony

— 12th-14th: Come Home to Krannert Center: A 50th-Anniverary Weekend

— 14th: Krannert Center Debut Artist

— 16th: Chicago Symphony Orchestra

— 23rd: Jupiter String Quartet

— 28th: Compagnia TPO: "Panda's Home"