MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? Middlebury College promises an exciting start to its arts calendar this fall with such events as the opening of an outstanding collection of traditional Chinese art; an energetic and evocative dance event by the Big Action Performance Ensemble; the annual free concert in Mead Chapel performed by the internationally beloved Takács Quartet; as well as a packed schedule of films, music, theatre and studio art events throughout the season.


The Performing Arts Series musical offerings open with pianist Vladimir Feltsman on Sept. 19. Widely regarded as an inventive and accomplished pianist, Feltsman is a regular guest soloist for orchestras throughout the United States, and New York Times critic Paul Griffiths said of a recent performance, “He was phenomenally alert and dexterous, brilliant in color, neat in shaping, exact at high speed and all the time utterly relaxed, as if he could let his fingers just get along with the job by themselves.”

Many artists are returning to Middlebury for repeat performances. The Takács Quartet will give a free concert on Sept. 28 in Mead Chapel. The group has played frequent annual concerts at Middlebury and has risen to the peak of world chamber ensembles, acclaimed for their impeccable execution, elegant sound and deep reading of the music’s intention. Other familiar faces include cellist Pieter Wispelwey; cellist Sophie Shao and pianist Pei Yao Wang, who form a new quarter of stellar young chamber musicians; mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn; pianist Ivan Moravec; and legendary pianist and Middlebury favorite Paul Lewis.

New faces include North Indian classical musicians Kartik Seshadri on sitar, with Rajeev Taranath on sarod and Arup Chattopadhyayon the tabla; violinist Arabella Steinbacher; celebrated French pianist Cedric Tiberghien; organist Ken Cowen; the Keller Quartet; the Johannes Quartet; and mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink, who has performed with some of the greatest orchestras throughout the world.

On Oct. 6 and 7, “The Kite Runner” will be performed by the exemplary actor Arian Moayed of American Place Theatre. From Khaled Hosseini’s novel about contemporary Afghanistan, this verbatim theatrical adaptation illustrates the improbable friendship between two boys on opposite ends of their society in the 1970s. A lunch and discussion with Moayed will take place on Monday, Oct. 6, and is free and open to the public.

On Nov. 13-15, Middlebury College 1988 graduate Alex Draper will direct Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” which tells the age-old romantic comedy of Viola and Sebastian, twins shipwrecked and separated at sea, who wander the coastal Dukedom of Illyria and create a series of attractions and distractions in everyone they encounter. A lunch and discussion, led by Draper, will take place on Nov. 11, and is free and open to the public.

Upcoming for Jan. 22-24, Middlebury College 2003 graduate Kate Pines will direct Wendy Wasserstein’s “Uncommon Women and Others,” which tells the story of seven female college students at an elite liberal arts school who stand at the threshold of graduation. As they negotiate the expectations and demands being placed upon them by their families, their professors, society and, of course, themselves, they question what it means to be uncommon women in the shadow of second-wave feminism. A lunch and discussion, led by Pines, will take place on Jan. 20, and is free and open to the public.

Later in the spring, Middlebury College Professor of Theatre Richard Romagnoli will direct Howard Barker’s “The Europeans” from April 30 through May 2. In the aftermath of driving the Ottoman Empire away from the gates of Vienna, the Hapsburg emperor rebuilds a culture but cannot count on the support of his national hero. “The Europeans” captures how culture makes and remakes itself within the catastrophic context of a siege that brought an empire to its knees. A lunch and discussion, led by Romagnoli, will take place on April 28, and is free and open to the public.

Dance enthusiasts will enjoy several performances, beginning with “I’m Right, You’re Wrong” by the Big Action Performance Ensemble, Sept. 26-27. Middlebury College Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Tiffany Rhynard’s newly formed dance company will address the question, “What is justified?” Using an interactive environment created by digital-media artist Marlon Barrios Solano, the dancers explore the complexity and consequences of conflict. The piece features recent Middlebury College 2007 graduates Jamie Gutierrez and Louisa Irving, and 2008 graduate Adriane Medina, as well as current seniors Yina Ng and Simon Thomas-Train.

On Oct. 24-25, Middlebury College 1994 graduate Lisa Gonzales and her Columbia College faculty colleague Darrel Jones will premier “Traitor.” These two talented and intrepid artists have packed their new collaboration with the elegance, awkwardness, humor and poignancy that arise in human connection.

On Jan. 23-24, the Dance Company of Middlebury presents its 2008-2009 season under the direction of Middlebury College Artist-in-Residence Leyya Tawil. Featuring the work of Tawil and guest choreographers Boris Willis and Omar Rajeh, the company premieres on campus and then tours in Tabor and Prague in the Czech Republic.

On March 6-7, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE Dance Company returns to Middlebury to perform “One Shot,” an exuberant new work by Brown inspired by the life and art of noted African American photojournalist Charles “Teenie” Harris. Using the music of Phyllis Hyman, Billy Strayhorn, and other jazz masters, the work offers a series of “shots” or vignettes with Harris’ stunning photos as a backdrop.

Opening Sept. 12 and continuing through Dec. 7, “Artists and Ancestors: Masterworks of Chinese Classical Painting and Ancient Ritual Bronzes” will be the featured exhibit in the Christian A. Johnson Gallery of the Middlebury College Museum of Art in the Mahaney Center for the Arts. This exhibition explores two of the most revered traditions in Chinese Art: paintings of landscape and flora, and bronze vessels and bells used in antiquity to venerate the ancestors. Included are works by some of the greatest artists of the Yuan (1279-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties. The exhibition will coincide with several related events including an opening reception on Sept. 12; an Oct. 2 gallery talk by Middlebury College Curator of Asian Art Colin Mackenzie on the political, moral and aesthetic values of Chinese bronzes and painting; and a slide lecture by celebrated Chinese artist and MacArthur award winner Xu Bing on Nov. 6 about his art and his exploration of language and signs.

From Jan. 6 and through April 19, the Overbrook Gallery will feature “Art Now: Doug and Mike Starn” in which enlarged photomicrographs of snowflakes and a newly acquired image of a tree are featured in an installation of works by the two brothers.

Coming this spring, from Feb. 13 through April 19, “Confronting History: Contemporary Artists Envision the Past” will be featured in the Christian A. Johnson Gallery. Kara Walker’s “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated),” a recent gift to the museum, provides a focus for understanding contemporary artists’ determination to probe the historical record. At the opening reception on Feb 13, Chief Curator Emmie Donadio will introduce the exhibition, and, in conjunction with the exhibition, Middlebury College Visiting Twilight Scholar Kymberly Pinder, an associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an authority in the field of African American art, will give a slide lecture on Feb. 17 and, on April 2, President Emeritus and College Professor John McCardell will discuss how historical memory - individual and collective - will shape the approaching sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War.


The Hirschfield Film/Video Series returns this season with its signature collection of more than a dozen mostly independent films from around the world. Selections this year include such popular award-winning titles as “Persepolis,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and “Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”
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). 

Performing Arts Series tickets are $20 for regular admission and $15 for seniors. Department events are $8 for regular admission and $6 for seniors. Many events are free. Pre-performance dinners for select engagements are held at Rehearsals Cafe in the Center for the Arts.

Information; dinner reservations; tickets for all music, theatre and dance performances; a free color 2008-2009 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 or www.middlebury.edu/arts. The box office opens on Monday, Sept. 8, for Middlebury College students, faculty, staff, alumni and other ID card holders; and on Monday, Sept. 15, for the general public. Patrons may also sign up for Middlebury College Arts Mail - 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.