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Middlebury Performing Arts Series Celebrates 100th Anniversary

August 22, 2019

Centennial Provides Highlight of the Mahaney Arts Center’s 2019–20 Season

One female and three male string players dressed in black and yellow with their instruments

Middlebury, VT—Middlebury College’s Mahaney Arts Center is proud to announce the 2019–2020 season lineup, with diverse performances in music, theatre, and dance, as well as exhibitions, films, spoken word events, and more. Always a highlight of the year, the Middlebury Performing Arts Series celebrates an important milestone this year with its 100th anniversary, making it the longest running performance series in the state.

The centennial season toasts the return of some of the Performing Arts Series’ favorite artists from the past, while also inviting new voices to point to the future. Several exciting new commissions of original work dot the year’s programs. The anniversary also coincides with other milestones—Beethoven’s 250th birth year and the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote—which are reflected in the season’s ambitious programming. We invite the on- and off-campus communities to join us throughout the year.

Middlebury Performing Arts Series 100th Anniversary Season, by the numbers:

  • 20 public performances
  • Almost 70 individual artists hailing from over a dozen countries
  • 5 collaborative performances with world-renowned artists and/or ensembles
  • More than 4 weeks of residency activities
  • 4 commissions or co-commissions of new works
  • 2 world premieres and 1 Vermont premiere

Performing Arts Series

The Middlebury College Performing Arts Series is known for presenting the finest in chamber music, a tradition that will continue throughout the centennial season. The series kicks off September 20 with audience favorite, cellist Sophie Shao. Applauded by the New York Times for her “eloquent, powerful” interpretations, Shao will perform works by Brahms and Schoenberg alongside a quintet of world-class musical friends.

One female and three male string players dressed in black and yellow with their instrumentsThe Gramophone award-winning Heath Quartet (pictured)—the series’ first-ever quartet in residence—will return to help us celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth with a full Beethoven string quartet cycle over six concerts, bookending weeklong residencies with our campus and community (October 5 and 11, January 11 and 17, and May 2 and 8).

Chamber music audiences will have plenty more to enjoy with three-time Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble Stile Antico, bringing women of the Renaissance to life through song (November 9); British pianists Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne in a tour-de-force four hand concert (February 19); and the peerless Takács Quartet playing a full Bartók cycle (April 18–19).

 four male string players stand in tall grassThis year’s series is also distinguished by important commissions and premieres of new work, starting with the Turtle Island String Quartet with jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut (pictured) (November 22). The concert will feature the world premiere of a new work by Middlebury Assistant Professor of Music Matthew Evan Taylor. Grammy-winning contemporary vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth will join the acclaimed Dublin Guitar Quartet in the east coast premiere of  Vermont native Nico Mulhy’s new arrangement of “How Little You Are” (January 30). Cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, “chamber music’s busy power couple” (New York Times), will present the world premiere of a new work by Vermont-raised, prize-winning composer Pierre Jalbert (February 28). The Imani Winds and Catalyst Quartet will join forces for the Vermont premiere of a new work by Jessie Montgomery, inspired by the Great Migration (April 3).

A trip of folk musicians play in front of a colorful backgroundA highlight of the year is the young folk trio Dreamers’ Circus (pictured), a new driving force in Nordic world music. Led by violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen of the Danish String Quartet, they will perform a lively and popular concert at the Mahaney Arts Center on March 6.

The Performing Arts Series also reaches beyond music, with L.A. Theatre Works’ riveting live radio play SEVEN, based on the true stories of seven remarkable women who faced life-threatening obstacles yet later brought heroic changes to their home countries of Pakistan, Nigeria, Ireland, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Russia, and Cambodia (March 3–4). Choreographer and dance faculty member Lida Winfield will mix dance, theater, storytelling, and original music in IMAGINARY, a quirky and innovative yet socially poignant work that explores perception in relationship to the imagination (March 13–14).

Tickets go on sale September 11 (with earlier dates for Performing Arts Series Society members and Middlebury College ID card holders) at (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or


Museum of Art

A vintage photo of a woman in 1919 with "votes for women" written on her backThe Middlebury College Museum of Art will celebrate a different centennial—the upcoming 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment—in the new exhibition Votes…for Women? This exhibit of vintage photographs, banners, and memorabilia will be on view September 13–December 8. History professor Amy Morsman will speak at the opening reception Friday, September 13; award-winning journalist Elaine Weiss will speak about “The Woman’s Hour: Sex, Race, and Money in the Fight for the Vote” on October 4.

Also on view this fall is MuseumLab, an experimental exhibition inviting visitors to observe the reactions sparked when our “teaching laboratory” displays art supporting courses in religion, neuroscience, gender studies, political science, environmental studies, art history, biochemistry, and more.

The Museum is open Tuesdays–Sundays year round, and selected Thursday evenings. Admission is free. Check the museum website for hours and event listings (



One female and three male dancers lunge to the rightThe Dance season opens with the Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project (pictured) in “When Birds Refused to Fly” on October 12. This work explores multiple facets of generational transformation, culturally and geographically, and examines what it is to build up and break down in the name of change.

The Dance Program always showcases the work of its talented student and faculty artists. The Fall Dance Concert (November 22–23) will feature emerging student choreographers and the annual Newcomer’s Piece. On January 24–25, the Dance Company of Middlebury will explore radical engagement and radical attentiveness in “Presence as Performance,” directed by Scholar in Residence Karima Borni and Butoh artist Meshi Chavez. This year’s one-night-only Faculty Dance Concert (April 16) will feature samples of work by Karima Borni, Christal Brown, Tori Lawrence, Laurel Jenkins, and Lida Winfield.

Tickets to Dance Program shows go on sale two weeks prior to opening night.



Student works are the focus of several screenings this year, including “Sight and Sound II” on December 5 at Sunderland, and “Collaborative Video Screening” on January 30 at the Axinn Center. Both events are free and open to the public.

In an effort to program current theatrical releases, the Hirschfield International Film Series is now being programmed on a month-to-month basis instead of a full year in advance. For the most up-to-date schedule, please visit Screenings are held most Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 P.M. and are free of charge.


History of Art and Architecture

A female curator stands near an exhibition of sculptures

The Department of History of Art and Architecture will present several fascinating public talks throughout the academic year, starting with Dr. Elizabeth Otto and “Queer Bauhaus” on September 11. She will explore her research on the role that gender fluidity played in the development of Modernism’s legendary art school. Security expert, investigator, and bestselling author Anthony Amore will speak about a multibillion-dollar-per-year illicit industry in “Theft at the Gardner” (September 27). Andrea Rosen (pictured) of UVM’s Fleming Museum will argue that the best curators are also the best teammates in “Curation as Collaboration” on October 10. Robert Echols ’69, curator of landmark retrospective shows in Venice and Washington, will honor the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jacopo Tintoretto with a new assessment of the Venetian Renaissance master in a public talk on November 13.

These talks are free and open to the public.



An orchestra plays in front of a screen showing a filmThe Vermont Symphony Orchestra (pictured) will make a stop at the Mahaney Arts Center on September 28 for its “Made in Vermont” tour, featuring music composed for film by Middlebury’s own music professor Matthew Evan Taylor. Tickets go on sale September 11.

The Department of Music will highlight its talented students and affiliate artists in several public concerts this season. The Dick Forman Jazz Group will play sparkling mainstream jazz September 14; the Middlebury College Orchestra will give its fall concert on November 15; Seventeen mostly young musicians, dressed in suits, pose with their instrumentsthe Sound Investment Jazz Ensemble will play contemporary jazz and big band classics on November 16; and the Middlebury African Music and Dance Ensemble and Afropop Band perform together on November 19. In the new year, Piper Tim Cummings will lead a Breton Night Festival on January 19; flutist Anne Janson will give a Valentine’s Day concert, “Sweet on Debussy,” February 14.

Vocal music offerings include the Middlebury College Community Chorus on November 23–24, a student vocal recital under the tutelage of affiliate artist Carol Christensen and Susanne Peck on December 7, and the annual holiday program “Lessons and Carols” on December 8.

The first of many guest artists this year is Harpsichordist Gwen Toth ’77 and singer-actor Sarah Chalfy, presenting the story of 17th-century painter and feminist heroine Artemisia Gentileschi in a production of music, theatre, and image on October 12.

The annual January term musical, a co-production with Town Hall Theater, will be The Light in the Piazza (January 24–27). Tickets go on sale January 9 at Town Hall Theater.

Most Music Department events are free and open to the public.


Stories and Speeches

Spoken word events make up an important part of the Mahaney Arts Center’s programming. Cocoon, now in its seventh year, is a popular live storytelling event inspired by The Moth (September 27). Speakers include Hawa Abdullahi Adam ’22, Tara Affolter, Sabian Edouard ’21, Tania Flores ’18, Jack Mayer, and Pierre Vachon. Tickets go on sale September 11. Original prose and poetry selected from the New England Review literary magazine and delivered by Middlebury College oratory students will be featured in NER Out Loud (November 8, free). In the championship round for the Spencer Prize in Oratory, five first-year students will face-off for the win (February 18, free).



A man in a black turtleneck sits with his hands clasped on the tableThe Theatre program’s mainstage season will open with The Bacchae 2.1, playwright Charles Mee’s update of the classic Greek play (October 31–November 2 at the Seeler Studio Theatre). Mee (pictured) creates striking images of obscenity and beauty in this poetic, quiltlike piece, to be directed by Michole Biancosino ’98.

Other productions this season will include One Flea Spare, Art, and Julius Caesar. Tickets to Theatre Program shows go on sale two weeks prior to opening night.


Full season listings are available at For more information, or to request a printed brochure, call 802.443.3168 or go to



Image captions:

The Heath Quartet will perform the full Beethoven string quartet cycle this season at the Mahaney Arts Center. Photo Kaupo Kikkas.

The Turtle Island Quartet will share the stage with jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut on November 22 at the Mahaney Arts Center. Photos Crystal Broussard, Johnathon Abbot.

Nordic folk music ensemble Dreamer’s Circus (March 6) is a highlight of the Middlebury Performing Arts Series’ 100th anniversary season. Photo Kristoffer Juel Poulsen.

The Middlebury Museum of Art presents Votes…for Women? starting September 13. Pictured: Advocate of “Votes for Women” creates sensation with plea for cause painted on her back. Photograph by Underwood & Underwood. Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art, purchase with funds provided by the Memorial Art Acquisition Fund and the Reva B. Seybolt ’72 Art Acquisition Fund, 2018.

Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project will perform “When Birds Refused to Fly” October 12 at the Mahaney Arts Center. Photo Géry Barbot.

Curator Andrea Rosen of UVM’s Fleming Museum will speak on “Curation as Collaboration” October 10 at the Mahaney Arts Center. Photo Chris Dissinger.

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra visits the Mahaney Arts Center September 28 as part of its “Made in Vermont” festival tour.

The Sound Investment Jazz Ensemble will perform contemporary jazz and classic big band tunes on November 16 at the Mahaney Arts Center. Photo Silvia Cantu Bautista ’20.

The Middlebury College Theatre Program will present The Bacchae 2.1 by playwright Charles Mee (pictured) October 31–November 2 at the Mahaney Arts Center.

Mahaney Arts Center
Middlebury College
South Main St./Route 30 South
72 Porter Field Rd.
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 443-3168 phone
(802) 443-2834 fax