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Middlebury College 2003-2004 arts season features dynamic new artists, returning favorites, exhibitions, films and events showcasing new talent

August 29, 2003

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.--Middlebury College launches its arts season this fall with three days of events dedicated to the tercentenary of the Russian city of St. Petersburg. The Nicholas R. Clifford Symposium, "What Became of Peter's Dream? Petersburg in History and the Arts," runs Sept. 18-20 and features a lecture, panel discussions, a concert, a film and related exhibitions highlighting Peter the Great, Petersburg and early 20th century Russia.

The exhibitions will take place from Sept. 19-Dec. 7 at the Middlebury College Museum of Art.  On display will be "What Became of Peter's Dream? Court Culture in the Reign of Nicholas II," a collection of ceremonial artifacts, religious objects, luxurious household items, and family portraits and memorabilia designed by Fabergé and other Russian gold and silversmiths.

The museum will also host "City of Shadows: Photographs of Petersburg by Alexey Titarenko." Using long exposure times, the photographer captured scenes of Petersburg's architectural monuments, people and weather. The collection has toured Russia, Europe and other cities in the United States.

Performing Arts Series

The Middlebury College Performing Arts Series lineup for 2003-04 offers an eclectic array of performers both fresh and familiar to local audiences. Mamadou Diabate who hails from West Africa is one such new act. Born in Kita, Mali, Diabate plays the kora, a 21-string harp-lute. Accompanied by two other instrumentalists and a vocalist, Diabate serves up his native music now influenced by American jazz and blues Oct. 4.

A 19-year-old German violinist takes center stage at the College's Concert Hall Nov. 9. Julia Fischer has been called a prodigy and is working her way across Europe and the U.S. She recently debuted with the New York Philharmonic and has played recitals in Amsterdam and London's Wigmore Hall. Fischer and pianist Robert Kulek will play a program of sonatas by Brahms, Debussy, Beethoven and Prokofiev.

The renowned Takács Quartet has become a sellout highlight with Middlebury audiences in recent years. One of the world's foremost string quartets, known for its recordings of Bartók and Beethoven, the Takács Quartet is based at the University of Colorado. The foursome returns April 16 for an all-Beethoven program.   

Later in April, the Performing Arts Series brings the prolific and legendary recording artist, recitalist and concert performer Krystian Zimerman to the Concert Hall stage. His lifelong passion for the piano?he often travels with his own?is evident in the sheer volume of his recordings and his vigorous touring schedule that takes him throughout Europe and the U.S. regularly. He performs April 27.


Dancer, actress and cultural historian Brenda Dixon Gottschild returns to Middlebury with her husband, choreographer and master modern dance teacher Hellmut Gottschild, for a series of events Oct. 1-3. His master class for actors and dancers Oct. 1 is free and open to the public, who can observe or participate. Oct. 2, Dixon Gottschild's lecture will touch on how cultural realities are embodied and overlooked in performance. Afterward, she will sign copies of her latest book, "The Black Dancing Body: A Geography From Coon to Cool."

Finally, Oct. 3, the pair will perform an original movement-theatre piece, as part of the Performing Arts Series, focused on issues of race, gender, nationality, memory and guilt within the perspective of one couple. "Tongue Smell Color" promises to be sensuous, humorous and provocative, giving voice to familiar fantasies, biases and taboos often hidden by society. The artists plan a discussion with the audience afterward.

Thanks to funding from the Expeditions Program of the New England Foundation for the Arts and the Performing Arts Series, the Middlebury arts community welcomes Ronald K. Brown, one of America's foremost contemporary dance choreographers, and his company, Evidence, to campus with three days of events on March 10-12.  The public is welcome to observe an open rehearsal, and view or participate in a master class alongside Middlebury College dance students during the residency.

From March 11-12, the dance troupe performs Brown's new work, "Come Ye," inspired by the work and legacy of Nina Simone. A second work, "Walking Out the Dark," is based on poems and letters Brown wrote following his mother's death in 1996 and is set to a score by Philip Hamilton, a member of the Middlebury class of 1982.

Another season highlight is the Dance Company of Middlebury's performances on Feb. 20-21. The ensemble plans a variety of new works with guest choreographers that include Paul Matteson, a 2000 Middlebury alumnus. Faculty member Andrea Olsen directs the program based on her experiences in New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar.


The department of theatre and dance teams up with the Performing Arts Series in January to present "Capsize" performed by Sprung, an international movement theater company led by Julie Beavers and Jon Sherman, a member of the Middlebury class of 1994. The production explores a foundering relationship through the metaphor of a capsizing ship and is slated for Jan. 17.

Middlebury playwright Dana Yeaton brings a freshly revised adaptation of Vermont writer Chris Bohjalian's "Midwives" April 29-May 1.  The play tells the story of a Vermont midwife on trial for manslaughter after a complicated labor and delivery go awry.

Another emotional tale is served up in "Perfect Pie" by Judith Thompson, presented by the department of theatre and dance Oct. 23-25. The story of an afternoon reunion between two long-estranged women brings out a haunting memory from their teenage past. "Perfect Pie" is appropriate for mature audiences.

Student Talent

Audiences eager to glimpse upcoming student talent at Middlebury College will have opportunities to sample both visual and performing arts. The Middlebury College Orchestra will perform several free concerts this year starting on Oct. 10, as will conductor Jeff Rehbach and the Middlebury College Chamber Singers, who plan an a cappella choral concert Nov. 8, and another April 24. 

The 37th Annual Student Art Exhibition runs May 6-23.  The free exhibit showcases the best work of graduating students in studio art including paintings, prints, photography and sculpture created during the 2003-2004 academic year. 


Also in May, two exhibitions open at the Middlebury College Museum of Art for the summer offering a variety of expression. "Revelations and Reflections of American Self-Taught Artists" presents the works of artists from all walks of life depicting heaven, hell, purgatory, angels, devils and demons. The pieces include paintings and sculpture.

"Vermont in 1904: A Photographic Portrait" features the work of amateur photographer A. B. Lane, whose images of early 20th century Vermont include scenes in Barre, and on Lake  Champlain and Camels Hump. The exhibit also draws upon student research.

Both exhibits open May 20 and run through Aug. 11.


Film enthusiasts have come to rely on Middlebury's Hirschfield Film/Video Series for an eclectic mix of American and foreign films in 35-millimeter format. More than 20 award-winning independent films from the U.S. and around the world are scheduled this season. One highlight is the Sept. 27 showing of the art-house success "Bend It Like Beckham," which tells the touching coming-of-age story of a teenage Indian girl in Britain who longs to play soccer like David Beckham despite her very traditional parents who do not approve of soccer as a girl's sport. 

Films in the Hirschfield Film/Video Series are shown free twice on Saturdays?once at 3 p.m. and again at 8 p.m., in Dana Auditorium in Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125). 

Tickets, Program and Dinner Information

Performing Arts Series tickets are $12 for regular admission and $10 for seniors. Department events are $5 for regular admission and $4 for seniors. Many events are also free. Pre-performance dinners for select engagements take place at Rehearsals Cafe in the Center for the Arts.

Information; dinner reservations; tickets for all music, theatre and dance performances; a free color 2003-2004 Middlebury College arts calendar and the free quarterly newsletter, "Arts at Middlebury College," are all available through the College's box office at 802-443-6433.  Patrons also can visit the Center for the Arts on the Internet at to order tickets or sign up for Middlebury College Arts Mail, an electronic information service that delivers e-mail updates on arts and cultural events.

Museum exhibition information is available by calling 802-443-5007 or visiting the museum's Web site at  Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Museum admission is free. 

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