Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tech’s Performing Arts Series A Cultural Beacon

By John Larson

SOCORRO - From Chinese drumming to gypsy jazz to a Mexican brass band, the Performing Arts Series at Macey Center is bringing to Socorro a diverse lineup of music and entertainment for the 2010-2011 season. The 54th season kicks off Thursday, Sept. 23, with Haitian singer and songwriter Emeline Michel.
From its small beginnings known as “Community Concerts”, the Performing Arts Series at New Mexico Tech has grown to be a cultural beacon for arts and entertainment in Socorro.
According to Ronna Kalish, director of the Performing Arts Series since 1992, what began as one concert a year, the series now offers anywhere from eight to 16 shows nationally touring shows a year at Macey Center, plus numerous youth performances.
“It started out as a totally volunteer effort, working through the Community Concerts Association, which helps schedule acts at local venues,” Kalish said. “There was a place on campus called the Tin Can, a Quonset hut used for a lot of different things, from student parties and dances to concerts.”
According to her records, the first music concert booked at the Tin Can was in 1956.
“A number of people through the years donated their time and energy to bringing good music and entertainment to Tech,” she said. “Alan and Mary Miller, Elise and Kay Brower, and a lot of other people, most notably Jacques Renault.”
In 1968 the group dropped their affiliation with Community Concerts Association and the name Performing Arts Series was adopted. “By then the booking of acts was done almost entirely by the volunteer staff anyway,” Kalish said.
By 1982 the newly built Macey Center became the home for the Performing Arts Series.
“Tech President Kenneth Ford was responsible for getting Macey Center built,” she said. “In the beginning it had little support from the community, and people were calling it 'Ford's Folly'. But eventually people donated enough money to get it built.”
Going into the 2010-2011 season, Macey Center continues to be Socorro’s cultural center for art exhibits, concerts, theatrical productions and other activities.

Thursday, Sept. 23
Emeline Michel

Named the "Joni Mitchell of Haïti," Emeline Michel has emerged as the reigning queen of Haitian song. Her songs merge native Haitian compas and rara with jazz, pop, bossa nova and samba. A captivating performer, versatile vocalist, accomplished dancer, songwriter and producer, Emeline sings in French and Haitian Creole, and her world-wide concerts and seven CD recordings have catapulted to international acclaim.

Saturday, Oct. 16
Bless Me Ultima

New Mexico's beloved novel by Rudolfo Anaya comes to the stage in its Southwest Premiere adapted by Mr. Anaya in collaboration with the Vortex Theatre, UNM Theatre Dept. and the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Set in the small town of Guadalupe, New Mexico during World War II, the main plot line involves Ultima's struggle to stop the witchcraft of the three daughters of Tenorio Trementina, the main villain. In the story Antonio, who is witness to several deaths, is forced to deal with religious and moral issues.

Wednesday, Nov. 3
Jigu! Thunder Drums of China

Hailing from the Shanxi province, this world-renown company of drummers, percussionists and musicians will astound you in this ultra-sensory entertainment experience.
Performances by Jigu! are deeply rooted in folk origins, which are blended with many modern musical elements. In this totally new show concept, tech lighting and special effects add to the drama of this spectacular and awe-inspiring cultural event. Not only can you see and hear the action, but you can actually feel the intense sound.

Friday, Nov. 19
Belleville Outfit

For a rootsy mix of sassy swing, country, jazz, blues and folk, The Belleville Outfit from Austin, Texas delivers. According to the band’s Phoebe Hunt, “The only music that hasn’t influenced us is the music we haven’t heard.” Gigs connected by long winding roads through North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and on to Colorado and California, via the many places in between, have helped weave the charm and energy that defines The Belleville Outfit’s music.

Wednesday, Dec. 8
The Nutcracker by State Street Ballet

State Street Ballet is a vibrant, innovative professional dance company based in Santa Barbara, California. Known for combining the rigors and timeless beauty of classical technique with updated looks, special effects and digital technology, the company produces original works that captivate today's diverse audiences. By melding familiar storylines with exciting dance movement and state-of-the-art sets, production design, and lavish costuming, State Street Ballet gives each tale a modern, passionate and unique twist.

Friday, Jan. 28
Fishtank Ensemble

High-energy, cross-pollinated gypsy music. From California, they bring their unique blend of Romanian, Gypsy jazz, Flamenco, Balkan, Turkish and Tango influenced music to the world.
The LA Weekly calls them “cross pollinated gypsy music….one of the most thrilling young acts on the planet.” Tackling everything from French hot jazz to wild Serbian and Transylvanian gypsy anthems, Flamenco, and oddball originals, the band is a not-to-be-missed event for world music lovers.

Friday, Feb. 11
Michael Chapdelaine

Michael Chapdelaine is the only guitarist ever to win First Prize in the world's top competitions in both the Classical and Fingerstyle genres. From New York's Lincoln Center to the Cactus Cafe in Austin, from Milano to Bangkok, Michael continues to enchant, dazzle and surprise audiences and critics alike as he redefines the modern acoustic guitar with his amazing technique. His performances, played on both steel string and classical guitars, include musical styles ranging from blues to Bach to country to rhythm n' blues.

Friday, Feb. 25
The Lowe Family

Versatile with many instruments, the Lowes offer an amazing blend of show-stopping classical, Broadway, Irish, jazz, bluegrass, old-time favorites, spectacular dance, 6-part harmony, gospel, and more. Through music, song, and dance, the Lowe Family shares their talents via TV, radio, and live performances throughout the world. With over 250,000 hours of practicing, 10,000 music lessons, 50 instruments, and 25 years entertaining, the Lowe Family had earned the reputation as America's Most Talented Family.

Friday, Mar. 25

The Irish Times calls Slide “traditional musicians with attitude” and credits the group with “bringing drawing room grandeur and high spirits together” with diverse songs, which range from soulful and sorrowful to contagiously energetic. This rollicking band’s origins date back to Ireland in 1999, when Slide performed in various pubs for a local music festival in Bandon, County Cork. The group’s music easily won over the crowd, which demanded more of the unique sound. Irish Music Magaize awarded Slide its Best Newcomer distinction in 2001, leading to gigs for the band throughout Europe.

Friday, Apr. 1
Karin Muller’s “Perilous Journeys”

This Swiss-born author, filmmaker, photographer and adventurer set out to travel the world's historic highways. Karin Muller is an expert lecturer for the National Geographic Society and Smithsonian. Her high-energy, multi-media performance offers insights into world traveling that few ever experience. Karin's expeditions have taken her to the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam; the Inca Road, a 4,000-mile trek from Quito, Ecuador to Santiago, Chile; and Japan, where she joined a samurai-mounted archery team and completed a 1,300-kilometer pilgrimage around Shikoku.

Friday, Apr. 8

A collage of traditional and cutting-edge circus acts featuring former Cirque du Soleil artists.
Montage is a show of daring and skill that defies the perception of what is impossible. Strength, flexibility and technique foster a deep appreciation for the human body - both its capabilities and its beauty. Acrobats on German wheel, aerial straps, aerial lyra and aerial chiffon, balancers on canes, contortionists, pole climbers, jugglers, and duo hand balancers will inspire and awe every audience.

Friday, Apr. 29
Metales M5

M5, a lot of brass, a lot of music and a lot of fun! Metales M5, Mexico’s leading brass quintet, breaks the barriers of musical genre as they take the blues to the opera, Bach to the roads of Michoacan, uniting classical and world music, contemporary repertoire and pops arrangements in programs that range through the brass literature and beyond. The five gentlemen of Metales M5 have been playing a wide variety of music without regard to genre: Baroque and contemporary music, opera, blues, pop, movie soundtracks, and folk music from Spain, Mexico, and other Latin American countries.

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