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By Ilene Ladd
LEWISBURG, Pa. — World-class musicians, actors and dancers from the United States, Canada, Ireland, Germany, and South Africa will come to the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University this year.
"The Weis Center Series provides unparalleled opportunities for residents of the Susquehanna Valley," says Bill Boswell, the center's executive director. "Besides bringing top-notch arts and entertainment to the area at affordable prices, the series also offers pre-performance talks, lecture-demonstrations or open rehearsals with opportunities to learn from as well as interact and talk with the artists."
The Bacon Brothers will open this year's season on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Weis Center. The brothers have performed professionally as a band only since 1995 though their making music together goes back decades. Michael Bacon won an Emmy for his scoring of The Kennedys. His songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as Jerry Lee Lewis and Perry Como. Kevin Bacon began acting as a teenager and is recognized as one of the film industry's most respected actors. The band has released four CDs to date.
The Weis Center will ring with the glorious sounds of voices when Chanticleer visits on Saturday, Oct.1. Chanticleer is a multiple Grammy Award-winning all male a capella vocal ensemble of 12. Its repertory spans 10 centuries from Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony and the Romantic art song to jazz, spirituals and contemporary music. The performance will include music of Bucknell professor Jackson Hill, whose composition Voices of Autumn was on Chanticleer's recent Grammy-nominated album, Our American Journey.
The sounds of laughter will fill the center Friday, Oct. 14 when only three actors present all 37 plays and 154 sonnets in under two hours in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). A meet-the-artist pre-performance chat will be held that night at 7 p.m. in the Rooke Recital Hall of the Weis Music Building.
The Aulos Ensemble and Orchestra will perform G.F. Handel's Water Music in its entirety on Saturday, Oct. 22. The program also includes other baroque masterpieces by Torelli and J.S. Bach. A meet-the-artist pre-performance talk will be held at 7 p.m. in the Rooke Recital Hall.
Lewisburg's own internationally recognized conductor Rick Benjamin brings the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra to the Weis Center with a wonderful cast of singers to perform Treemonisha, Scott Joplin's only opera, on Saturday, Oct. 29. The opera portrays an African-American community's emergence from slavery. Led by a young woman, Treemonisha, the townspeople reject superstition in favor of hard work and learning. A meet-the-artist lecture-demonstration will be held on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Rooke Recital Hall.
The Weis Center stage will become a small farmhouse in the remote parish of Teampall an Ghleanntain in the west of Ireland on the night before Christmas when Tomáseen Foley's A Celtic Christmas performs music, dance, storytelling and much more on Saturday, Dec. 3.
The Paper Bag Players return to Bucknell for their annual holiday family performance at 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10. Through the generosity of Janet Weis, this performance is free to the community, with no tickets required and no reserved seating. Adults planning to attend must be accompanied by as many children as they can manage to round up.
The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis returns to the Weis Center on Friday, Jan. 20. The LCJO performs a vast repertory ranging from rare historic compositions to pieces commissioned by Jazz at Lincoln Center. Among countless accolades, Wynton Marsalis was the first jazz artist to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music for his work Blood on the Fields.
The orchestra I Musici de Montréal with the quintet Kleztory will present Classic Klezmer at the Weis Center on Saturday, Feb. 4. Traditional Klezmer music evolved from many musical influences — synagogues, gypsies, Greco-Turkish dances, Central European folk music, art music and more — distilled through the centuries to create the current contemporary addictive mix of soulful emotion, upbeat excitement and red-hot instrumental virtuosity. A meet-the-artist pre-performance chat will be held on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Rooke Recital Hall.
Pianist Paavali Jumppanen first appeared at the Weis Center after winning the Pennsylvania Presenters Prize along with a first prize and other awards in the 2000 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. He returns Friday, Feb. 10, to perform music by Ravel, Mozart and Chopin. The performance is the centerpiece of a week-long residency including a meet-the-artist lecture demonstration on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m.
Ballet NY comes to the Weis Center for three days in February. On Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m., the troupe will give a meet-the-artist open rehearsal and talk. Ballet NY will perform works from today's leading choreographers Friday, Feb. 17, at 8 p.m. The company will present a special concert for families Feb. 18 at 1 p.m. This matinee performance is free through the generosity of Clayton and David Lightman and other members of the Weis Center Green Room Board.
The Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet with Jon Nakamatsu, piano, performed an exquisite concert in the Weis Center two years ago. They have been invited to perform again on Friday, Feb. 24.
Hemispheres, an exciting evening-length dance with live music, will be performed Friday, March 3, by Molissa Fenley and Dancers. The work will be performed by six dancers, including the choreographer, and 10 musicians, including Anthony Davis, who wrote the Bessie Award-winning score. A special meet-the-artist open rehearsal and talk will be held Thursday, March 2, at 7 p.m.
Having performed to cheers and standing ovations the world over, the Soweto Gospel Choir will move and inspire the Weis Center audience with its earthy rhythms and rich harmonies. The a capella singing group performs in eight languages a rich mix of inspirational, tribal, traditional, popular and gospel music. The choir will perform Friday, March 31.
The 2005-06 Weis Center season will end with a performance by Solid Brass, assisted by the Bucknell University Concert Chorale, on Friday, April 21. Founded in 1982, Solid Brass is one of the premier brass ensembles in the United States. With a basic group of 10 brass players and a percussionist, Solid Brass remains the only professional ensemble of its size and kind in America.
Reserved seating for series evening performances range from $20 to $35 depending on the event; all evening performances begin at 8 p.m. Meet-the-artist presentations are free, as are the family matinee performances, with unreserved seating limited only by the size of the venue.
Tickets and more information are available weekdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and one hour prior to events after the Campus Box Office in the Weis Center opens Aug. 29. Also beginning Aug. 29, tickets can be charged on the Internet at http://www.bucknell.edu/boxoffice/ or by calling 570-577-1000.