To director Mike Ross, the aspect that makes Krannert Center's 2019-20 season special goes beyond the splashy names.
Those, of course, are crucial to the season. Artists like Pat Metheny, Wynton Marsalis and Joshua Redman, who Ross calls "giants of the jazz world," will grace the halls of Krannert along with world-renowned acts like the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
"You put these giants and these legendary artists and ensembles, and then you have these artists that no one's ever heard of practically, they're under the radar," Ross said, "so that combination of the original, the familiar, the legendary, the up and coming, the overlooked and the unfamiliar, I do think we hit a certain sweet spot in that mix this time around.
Next year's Krannert Center season hits notes from across the performing-arts world. After starting with Ellnora Guitar Festival, which Ross calls a microcosm of what the center wants to produce in terms of its variety, acts from all over the world will perform. From drag artist Sasha Velour to institutions in the jazz world to children's plays to symphony orchestras from Chicago, St. Louis and Siberia, Ross and his staff tried to curate a season that hits as many notes as possible.
"It's about hopefully offering a season that's celebratory across the spectrum, that celebrates the full spectrum," Ross said. "And obviously we care about creating experiences that will be uplifting and joyous and entertaining but also hopefully will provoke reflection and meditation about where we stand as a human collective with all of the stuff that's out there."
The March 31 performance of "The Song of The Earth — Art, Science and Humanity," which incorporates Gustav Mahler's composition, Chungliang (Al) Huang's Tai Ji artistry, and words from scientists, is something, in particular, that Ross hopes makes an imprint on the artistic world.
"It's about taking this iconic classical masterpiece that Mahler wrote and recontextualizing it, putting it into a new context for experience," Ross said. "Usually when it's performed, it's performed as the second half of a concert evening performed by an orchestra with guest soloists. But we're creating a different contextual frame for it to be experienced within. To have scientists sharing thoughts about elements of nature and the human mind and spirit and soul and having Chungliang's Tai Ji artistry onstage as the piece is being performed."
The set of acts is so diverse that selecting a set of performances to attend, Ross knows, can be difficult. Whatever a person's interest in the realm of the performing arts, though, Krannert likely has it covered.
"Some people are by nature proud of their explorer characteristics and other people aren't," Ross said. "If you're an explorer, there's a lot to explore. But if what you want is, 'I just need comfort food,' if your mindset or the moment in your life is, 'I'm curious about a bunch of that stuff but what I really want is just to be comforted with familiar stuff or stuff that has a high probability of just giving me that comfort feeling,' that's okay too. Think about yourself and think about that discoverer or explorer factor."
Krannert Center unveiled its lineup of marquee artists for the 2019-20 season today. Fans can curate their own schedule from a diverse array of almost 50 performances.
5-7: Ellnora The Guitar Festival
13: David Roussève/REALITY: Halfway to Dawn
14: Sasha Velour's Smoke & Mirrors; Chris Botti
17: Jupiter String Quartet with Jon Nakamatsu, piano
19-21: Nathan and Julie Gunn: Drytown, A Living Room Vaudeville
20: Bizhiki Culture & Dance Company (above)
26-28: Pygmalion Festival
27-28: HOME by Geoff Sobelle
1: Isango Ensemble: Aesop's Fables
3: Apollo's Fire: Vivaldi's Four Seasons — Rediscovered
12: Chick Corea Trilogy with Christian McBride and Brian Blade
23: The Four Italian Tenors: Viva Italia (above)
26: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
1: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (right)
5: The King's Singers: Finding Harmony
7-9: Trick of the Light Theatre: The Bookbinder
10: Concert Artists Guild Winner: Yi-Nuo Wang, piano
12: Theatre Re: The Nature of Forgetting
14: Harlem 100 — Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance
17: St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
21: Tere O'Connor Dance: Long Run
5-8: The Nutcracker (above)
24: Brush Theatre: Yao Yao
26: Naumburg International Violin Competition Winner: Grace Park, violin with Joseph Liccardo, piano
28-29: Shanghai Ballet: The Butterfly Lovers
1: Still Dreaming with Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley and Brian Blade
4: Jupiter String Quartet
6-7: Step Afrika!: Drumfolk
11: St. Olaf Choir (right)
16: Young Concert Artists Winner: Jonathan Swensen, cello
18: Anna Deavere Smith
19: CultureTalk: Anna Deavere Smith
23: Cirque FLIP Fabrique: Blizzard
25: Michael Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble
27: Murray Perahia, piano
29: Siberian State Symphony Orchestra
5: Venice Baroque Orchestra: The Swedish Nightingale
10: Cahoots NI: Penguins
11: TAO: Drum Heart (above)
28: The Song of the Earth — Art, Science and Humanity
31: Fauré Quartett
3-4: Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble
18: Amir ElSaffar's Rivers of Sound Orchestra
21: Takács Quartet with Erika Eckert, viola (above)
26: Krannert Center Debut Artist
28: Jupiter String Quartet with Tyler Duncan, baritone
5: Mariachi Herencia de México