Middlebury College launches the new arts season with a delightful mix of first-class music, theatre, dance, exhibitions, films, and more. The 2010-2011 arts season marks a series of important 40th anniversaries: internationally-renowned, Vermont-based classical pianist Diana Fanning celebrates 40 years of performing professionally; the Middlebury College Museum of Art marks 40 years of collaboration with its Friends of the Art Museum group with a stunning retrospective exhibition, and the Performing Arts Series presents brilliant young organist Nathan Laube performing in honor of the 40th anniversary of the magnificent Gress-Miles Organ in Mead Chapel.
PERFORMING ARTS SERIES
Now in its 91st season, the Performing Arts Series brings a variety of world-class artists to the Middlebury campus, with a mix of encore performances by past artists and fresh faces. Among those returning favorites is British pianist Paul Lewis, who wowed Middlebury audiences with a multi-year series playing all of Beethoven's piano sonatas, and who begins a similar Schubert series this year. "Lewis' playing is amazing without ever drawing attention to itself, full of sudden gleams of insight...his ability to realise the way Schubert breaks off suddenly and leaves us hanging on for grim life-or death-works shatteringly every time it happens"-International Record Review. His three performances this season take place on Oct. 12, Feb. 15, and May 1.
The annual free Performing Arts Series event on Nov. 11-made possible by the Institute for Clinical Science and Art-features the Jupiter String Quartet,
recently named "one of the strongest young string quartets in the country" by the New York Sun. The Quartet also performs with Vermont-based, internationally renowned concert pianist Diana Fanning, who celebrates 40 years of performing professionally with a special program of Chopin, Schumann, and Dvorak on Nov. 12.
Other returning performers include young cellist Sophie Shao, with an ensemble of virtuosic musical friends on Oct. 29 and Mar. 4; Slovenian pianist Dubravka Tomsic, who enjoys "something of a cult status among pianophiles"-Gramophone, on Apr. 13; and Dutch mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn on Nov. 30. New faces include Austrian pianist Till Fellner, who opens the season on Oct. 9 with a program of Beethoven works. The Washington Post proclaims that Fellner "plays Beethoven sonatas like a poet." Organist and Curtis Institute of Music alumnus Nathan Laube performs on the 40th anniversary of the magnificent Gress-Miles organ in Mead Chapel on Feb. 27. "I wish Juilliard had an instrument like this," mused past Performing Arts Series star Paul Jacobs.
A highlight of the theatre season is the Abbey Theatre of Dublin, Ireland's national theatre on Mar. 12. Playwright and director Mark O'Rowe weaves three interlocking, rhyming monologues into a truly original, gripping drama presents Mark O'Rowe's gripping original drama titled "Terminus." "Hilarious, startling, surprisingly touching and enormously satisfying ... a thrill ride"-Irish Times.
Middlebury College's Theatre Program, always known for its excellent and provocative work, plans an exciting season that includes two new interpretations of classical tragedies, "Hecuba" and "Eurydice," as well as two plays directed by Richard Romagnoli: George Bernard Shaw's classic drama "Major Barbara" in October, and Howard barker's intense political drama "Victory" in April.
The vibrant dance season begins on Oct. 29-30 with "Diagnosis of a Faun." Drawing inspiration from Jerome Robbins's "Afternoon of a Faun" and lead dancer Gregg Mozgala's first-hand experience with cerebral palsy, choreographer Tamar Rogoff creates a creature that moves through the seemingly disparate spheres of the operating room and the forest in the company of dancers and doctors. The performance leads one to wonder what is more powerful: medicine, or art?
Coming in January, the Dance Company of Middlebury will present "Culture, Cash, and Community: To Have or Have Not," under the artistic direction of Visiting Lecturer in Dance Christal Brown. The company will later take their work to New Orleans's 7th Ward for a week of community engagement through dance and music.
In March, Big Action Performance Ensemble (or Big APE, for short) reacts to dance competition reality shows that evaluate who is qualified to dance, with the new work "Everyone Can Dance," a community-based performance project that celebrates the contagious allure of movement and the dynamic capabilities of the human body. The project includes a statewide tour and a four-week residency with Middlebury College students and local community participants.
The Department of Music sponsors series of exciting performances by faculty and students throughout the year. Highlights this season include a Blues Weekend, Sept. 17-18, with performances by Mark Lavoie, harmonica and Paul Asbell, guitar; a concert by Scottish bagpiper Timothy Cummings on Oct. 30, including music from the British Isles, Appalachia, and his own imagination; and two concerts by beloved tenor and Artist-in-Residence Francois Clemmons, on Oct.8 and Mar. 18. A three-day Middlebury Bach Festival is being planned to cap off the year, with concerts and events all over Middlebury, both on- and off-campus.
The Middlebury College Museum of Art celebrates 40 years of collecting with "Friends Bearing Gifts: 40 Years of Acquisitions from the Friends of the Art Museum", opening Sept. 17. The exhibit, which continues through Dec. 12, highlights the works selected by the loyal and generous membership group that has been instrumental in helping build a remarkably diverse and distinguished permanent art collection for the College. Museum Director Richard Saunders gives an associated lecture on Sept. 30.
Also on view this fall is "Moving Images: Works from the Permanent Collection of Photography and Video Art," from Sept. 3 through Dec. 12. The exhibition includes works by time-lapse-photography pioneers Eadweard Muybridge and Harold Edgerton, whose images capture bodies in motion, and more recent artists, like Hiroshi Sugimoto, who uses extremely long exposure times to create visions of stillness. The exhibit also includes video works by Tracey Moffatt, Peter Campus, and the Swiss team of Peter Fischli and David Weiss.
Coming in 2011, the exhibition "Mixed Signals: Artists Consider Masculinity in Sports" explores the lingering American stereotype of the straight male athlete as someone who is typically aggressive, hyper-competitive, and emotionally undemonstrative. "Mixed Signals" focuses on artists from the mid-1990s to the present who question the notion of the male athlete as the last bastion of uncomplicated, authentic identity in American culture during the preceding decades.
Admission the Middlebury College Museum of Art is always free.
The Hirschfield International Film Series returns this season with its varied collection of independent films from around the world. Selections this year include newsmaker Roman Polanski's political thriller "The Ghost Writer," starring Evan MacGregor and Pierce Brosnan, on Sept. 11. "Tibet in Song," a Sundance-winning documentary that filmmaker Ngawang Choephel set out to make in 1995, before he was imprisoned for seven years by the Chinese government on an accusation of espionage. On Oct.9 (please note new date), Choephel introduces the screenings and discusses his career, including his time as a Fulbright Scholar at Middlebury College. He was awarded an honorary degree in 2002. Films in the series are free and shown twice on Saturdays - at 3 p.m. and at 8 p.m. - in Dana Auditorium in Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125).
A timely special event takes place later in the season, on Apr.7. Filmmaker Ana Sofia Joanes introduces "Fresh," her insightful documentary that celebrates the farmers and leaders across America who are reinventing our food system, confronting the consequences of industrialized food: contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Main characters include urban farmer and activist Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur's 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma; and supermarket owner David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.
TICKETS AND OTHER INFORMATION
Performing Arts Series tickets are $24. Department events are $10. Information; tickets for all music, theatre and dance performances; a color 2010-2011 Middlebury College arts calendar and the quarterly newsletter, "Arts at Middlebury College," are all available through the college's box office at 802-443-6433 or http://go.middlebury.edu/boxoffice. The box office opens on Monday, Sept. 6, for Middlebury College students, faculty, staff, alumni and other ID card holders; and on Monday, Sept. 13, for the general public. Patrons may also sign up for Middlebury College ArtsMail - an information service that delivers e-mail updates on arts and cultural events. Museum exhibition information is available at 802-443-5007 or at www.middlebury.edu/arts/museum. Open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 12-5 p.m., the museum is located in the Middlebury College Kevin P. Mahaney '84 Center for the Arts. Admission is free.