Veteran’s Day is next Tuesday (Nov. 11), and this weekend is a great time to celebrate and honor our veterans with a performance of Basetrack Live. The show is Saturday (Nov. 8) at 7:30 p.m., and we’re excited to bring several free corresponding events to enrich your experience even further.
Kicking off the weekend on Friday is a photo installation featuring stunning images by photojournalist Balazc Gardi that will bring Basetrack Live right into our Grand Lobby (here’s a sneak peek of two of his images). You’re invited to experience the installation and follow Basetrack Live’s progress online. The photo installation will be on view Friday-Sunday. Click here for hours.
From Basetrack Live:
“In the current decade, more American soldiers have returned home from war than we have seen in a generation. They face an uphill battle reintegrating into a society where less than 1% of the population shares the experience of serving in the military, and even well-regarded cultural representations of war – such as The Hurt Locker – reinforce fictional stereotypes. Despite significant nationwide support for veterans of the post 9/11 era, an absence of genuine understanding contributes to isolation and depression that are unacceptably common obstacles to successful reintegration into civilian life.”
Basetrack Live follows ordinary people transformed by extraordinary circumstances. Learn so much more in this recently released trailer for the performance.
Before the performance, join us for Stories We Carry with Scott Thompson, M.S., M.Div., LMHC, on Friday (Nov. 7) at 6 p.m. Right or wrong, acknowledged or not, civilian or soldier, every citizen carries the moral burden of war. And yet, there are few resources for civilians and veterans to confront the moral and ethical challenges together. Stories We Carry aims to start conversations that create community. Stories We Carry is a guided conversation series that brings together veterans and civilians to openly share their stories, misperceptions, and experiences about war. Stories We Carry is not: Therapy. Counseling. Political. Judgment.
Made possible by a grant from the The New York Community Trust, Stories We Carry is a project of Mental Health Association of New York City; co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Rhetoric in Society. Stories We Carry is free, but registration is required. Sign up here.
By the time the performance is over and the cast and musicians take a bow, we’re sure you won’t want the Basetrack Live experience to end. Luckily, you can join us in the Cube for a fascinating post-performance panel discussion on the myriad impacts of war. Panelists include local veterans, servicemen and women, mental health professionals, and faith leaders.
Tickets for Basetrack Live are still available–you can get yours today right here.
We can’t imagine a better start to our second season in the Moss Arts Center than Kathy Mattea’s “Calling Me Home.” Her songs, all hitting so close to home here in Appalachia, filled the performance hall, as did a heartwarming theatre-wide sing-a-long.
In case you, like us, are are still thinking about opening night, here are some images to help you relive it. From lobby activities (a huge thanks to Just a Bunch of Guys String Band for filling the Moss Arts Center with some music from our home) to the meet and greet with Mattea herself after the performance, we’ve got it all here!
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Mattea delivered such a warm, easygoing performance–we couldn’t believe how quickly the minutes seemed to evaporate away!
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After the performance, Mattea took time to meet as many fans as possible–including some new faces and some old friends.
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We hope those of you who made it to the show thoroughly enjoyed it, and we hope to see as many of our patrons as possible throughout the season.
Kathy Mattea will bring us all home during her performance at the MAC in the season opener on Friday. (Where did the summer go? Where?!)
We can’t wait to have you all back in our casa again, though, and we have so many fun things planned for you all throughout the season, above and beyond the lineup of performances. How about live music on our patio? Check! A chance to meet Mattea herself and get signed copies of her CD? Check!
We’re also offering a chance for you all to hear a talk by Mattea herself, outside of her Friday performance. Join us Thursday, starting at 7 p.m., for “My Coal Journey,” which focuses on her family’s ties to coal mining culture and her current environmental advocacy efforts. And did we mention it’s free?
Before the talk, we welcome local and regional organizations and exhibits that are a part of this community. Learn about local and regional initiatives and experience the transformative power of Appalachian creative arts. Groups will be in the lobby beginning at 6 p.m.
We hope you all are ready for two evenings of fun as we kick off our second season! Be sure to check out our other exciting engagement events, coming up throughout the year.
Check out these costume sketches for the upcoming children’s opera The Three Feathers. Jane Stein, associate professor of costume design in the School of Performing Arts, is the creative mind behind these awesome costume ideas!
An original opera commissioned by the Center for the Arts, The Three Feathers is based on a Grimm’s fairytale, and we’re getting so excited for the premiere in October! These beautiful costumes will be perfect to help paint the picture of the enchanting world of The Three Feathers.
Characters like Dora, the Frog Prince, Gilda, the King, and Tilda all feature brightly colored costumes with intricate details. It will be amazing to see them in person, beautifully lit on stage!
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Which costume is your favorite?
Last week, we asked you fabulous folks to tell us what you consider to be the top moments from our inaugural season in the Moss Arts Center. We got all sorts of comments, emails, and tweets from all of you. So without further ado, here’s the list of the top moments of the 2013-14 season!
15.) The Opera Gala Closing Concert of the Vocal Arts and Music Festival
This year’s two-and-a-half week long Vocal Arts and Music Festival was filled with extraordinary singers and musicians. The Opera Gala Closing Concert, along with several other performances during the festival, showcased these talents for the first time in the new Street and Davis Performance Hall. And, man, did those voices soar. Pictured above are International Vocal Arts Institute singers Gina Perregrino and Marc-Antoine d’Aragon.
If you liked the Vocal Arts and Music Festival, you’ll love The Three Feathers.
Join us next season for the world premier of the one-act children’s opera The Three Feathers, commissioned by the Center for the Arts. Composed by Lori Laitman, conducted by Scott Williamson, and directed by Beth Greenberg, with libretto by Dana Gioia, The Three Feathers is based on a Grimm’s fairytale with a mysterious world inhabited by a king, his three princess daughters, and courtiers; and the fantastical underworld kingdom of the Frog Prince and his chorus of rats, bats, and frogs.
14.) Community Open House
The Community Open House marked the end of our first week of performances and events in the Moss Arts Center, bringing together singers and community members from all across campus, Blacksburg, and the region. The mood in the building by that point was a mix of elation, excitement, and quiet relief–the inaugural performance had gone off without a hitch, and you all were really there in the building, enjoying performances and events! Local singers, dancers, spoken word artists, musicians, a capella ensembles, and a community chorus led by visiting artist Elise Witt were all peppered throughout the center, with all of these community members coming together for the culmination of the event with An Impromptu Glorious Chorus, led by Witt (pictured above, far right).
Staff says: Susan Bland, our communications manager, loved having all members of the community gathered in the lobby for the open house. She said, “seeing the Moss Arts Center filled with people singing, dancing, smiling, and celebrating their community was nothing short of magic!”
If you liked the Community Open House, you’ll love all the other exciting engagement events and opportunities we’ll have throughout the new season!
Be sure to take a look at our single ticket guide, out in August, for the first information about upcoming community events at the Moss Arts Center.
13.) Martha Graham Dance Company
Appalachian Spring smack dab in the middle of spring in Appalachia. (Sorry, SORRY, so terribly pun-y, we know!) What made the time that members of the Martha Graham Dance Company spent here in Blacksburg so special was not only the extraordinary performance on March 29, but also the engagement events with–and for–the community. Radford University dance students learned from these professional dancers during a master class, and the company’s artistic director, Janet Eilber, gave an artist talk, which was open to the public.
If you liked Martha Graham Dance Company, you’ll love Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.
Heralded as “a breath of fresh air” by The New York Times, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet brings their unique mix of graceful and elegant ballet and a repertoire of sharp new works to the stage in the Street and Davis Performance Hall in October. Dance lovers won’t want to miss this evening of gorgeous choreography and extremely skilled dancers.
12.) Ira Glass
Ira Glass, of NPR’s This American Life, brought stories to life with both humor and poignancy during his performance of Reinventing Radio on stage in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre. But his interaction with our community wasn’t just limited to the deep belly-laughs he doled out on stage. Glass worked with Virginia Tech and Community High School journalism students during a workshop prior to the show, and he met with local journalism and public relations professionals during a private reception in the Miles C. Horton Jr. Gallery.
Staff says: Jon Catherwood-Ginn, partnerships and engagement manager at the center, said his favorite moment came from that workshop with students. He said, “Ira Glass — meeting with journalism students from Community High School in Roanoke and Virginia Tech during a small-scale class and Q&A. He played audio clips and teased himself about his early reporting from years back in D.C., critiqued students’ pieces, and shared all kinds of wisdom about finding your unique voice as a journalist. Unforgettable!”
Click below to hear an ArtCast that journalism students Andrea Ledsema, Michelle Sutherland, and CJ Riculan compiled with stories about community in the lobby at the Moss Arts Center before Glass’s performance of Reinventing Radio in November.
If you liked Ira Glass, you’ll love David Sedaris.
Known for his sardonic wit, David Sedaris is a master of satire and a brilliant humorist with more published titles to his name than we would dare attempt to count. If you’d love another smart look at the human condition with all of the eccentricities (at which you can’t help but laugh), you won’t want to miss Sedaris in October.
11.) Crooked Road Festival
The nearly week-long festival featured all sorts of events and activities, from heritage exhibitions and local performers to square dance and clogging workshops and big headlining acts. We even saw some incredible work with local students from musicians Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle, who helped the students create and sing in their own Crankies performance, complete with hand-drawn images for their hand-cranked lightbox (hence Crankies!). We loved seeing such a broad audience for Crooked Road–there were plenty of new faces we hadn’t seen as often so far throughout the season. And, of course, the best part of the festival was the chance to celebrate the heritage that runs so deep in this beautiful area.
If you liked the performances of the Crooked Road Festival, you’ll love Kathy Mattea.
Kathy Mattea’s heart and soul is in Appalachian coal country, and she’ll bring her acoustic roots music to the Moss Arts Center, along with an artist talk the night before her performance, My Coal Journey. Author Barbara Kingsolver said, “the particular genius of Kathy Mattea is to call up the touchstones of hope and heartbreak that we all carry in our pockets. Even if these mountains are not yours, the fact is everybody has a home stretch, where you feel a little torn up because no matter which way you’re headed, you are going towards home and also leaving it behind. Believe me, this is the soundtrack for that journey.”
10.) Anderson & Roe
This youthful duo brought their energetic performance to the Moss Arts Center, imbuing the classics with their passion for their craft and giving the audience a glimpse at some of their favorite contemporary works painted in a classic light. The entire performance was beautiful and mesmerizing, but when they performed Radiohead’s Paranoid Android on two nine-foot Steinway & Sons pianos…whew.
Staff says: Shana Buzzard, marketing and events coordinator for the center, says her favorite moment of the season was “when Anderson & Roe performed one of my favorites, Rite of Spring.” (As the person sitting beside her, watching her subtly nod her head along to the music, I can vouch that she did, indeed, love it.)
If you liked Anderson & Roe, you’ll love the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
The youthful Australian Chamber Orchestra will be channeling Anderson & Roe’s performance during their time on stage next April, as they mix the classics of Mozart and Hadyn with a new work commissioned by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. The Australian Chamber Orchestra is renowned for inspired programming and the rapturous response of audiences and critics alike.
9.) Blacksburg Master Chorale performing Mendelssohn’s Elijah
Seeing over 200 local singers and musicians on stage was absolutely a highlight of the year. The Master Chorale members were joined by singers from Virginia Tech, and musical accompaniment was provided by Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, who took the stage again after their Holiday Pops performance in December. It’s incredible that we have such fine talent so close to home.
If you liked Blacksburg Master Chorale, you’ll love Cantus and Theater Latté Da.
Renowned vocal ensemble Cantus and Theatre Latté Da present All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 in November. The evening brings European carols and war-songs for a capella voices as we commemorate the Christmas truce of 1914, when a young German soldier stepped into no man’s land singing Stille Nacht.
8.) Roanoke Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops performance
We were delighted to welcome our friends from down the road to the stage in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre for an afternoon of everyone’s holiday favorites. We also dedicated the afternoon to a very special friend of the center, Keith Cedras.
If you liked Roanoke Symphony Orchestra’s performance, you’ll love seeing RSO not once, but three times next season!
Roanoke Symphony Orchestra returns with three performances next season, featuring violinist Akemi Takayama; mandolin player Jeff Midkiff; and pianist Tanya Gabrielian, as well as the triumphant return of the Holiday Pops program to the Moss Arts Center.
7.) Visual art exhibitions (that’s right–all of them!)
From our very first exhibitions featuring Jennifer Steinkamp, Leo Villareal, and Joan Grossman, to the current exhibition featuring artists from our own Virginia Tech community, the gallery spaces at the Moss Arts Center have been packed all year with colorful, thought-provoking, incredible works. And with several talks from the artists themselves (Kehinde Wiley was incredible!) to the many, many My Take Talks from local community members, we’ve offered ways for you to engage with the works and to think about them in new and exciting ways.
Staff says: Graduate assistant Meggin Hicklin had a hard time narrowing her favorite moment down to just one–she picked seven! But one thing is clear: her top moments involve her time working around the visual art exhibitions. She said she loved “the opening of our first show–especially my first view of Leo Villareal’s Digital Sublime from the street. Magical. And the arrival of the Aspects show art work was like Christmas morning.”
If you liked what you saw last season, keep your eyes peeled for our single ticket guides, set to hit the mail in August.
In it, you’ll see details about our upcoming visual arts exhibitions next season and get a sneak peek at the beautiful things bringing life to our gallery spaces.
6.) Zakir Hussain
Often called the “Elvis of India,” it’s no surprise that Zakir Hussain and his fellow musicians’ performance ended up on the list. You all proved right away how excited you were for Hussain’s performance–tickets seemed to be flying out of the door! With such a rich cultural experience, it was hard not to fall in love with the energy of the group of musicians, headed by tabla virtuoso Hussain. But in addition to that, folks enjoyed a master class with Hussain in the intimate setting of the Cube, and Virginia Tech Dhamaal enchanted us all with their performance in the lobby prior to the performance. This was absolutely a night for the books!
If you liked Zakir Hussain, you’ll love The Senegal St. Joseph Gospel Choir.
Percussion and voice blend in next season’s performance by the decades-old Senegal St. Joseph Gospel Choir. Immerse yourself in the culture of Senegal, with gospels in the country’s four languages. The choir represents the humanity and the fraternity that exists within the capital city, Dakar, and throughout the country.
5.) Dance Theatre of Harlem
Like so many of the performances this season, the action on the stage was just one component of what made this event so special. The story behind this performance, in particular, is so wonderful. Carol Crawford Smith, of The Center for Dance here in Blacksburg, was a former dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem. Her friend and former colleague, Kellye Saunders, led a master class for Crawford Smith’s students at The Center for Dance while the company was in town for the performance. Above and beyond that, some of the dancers at The Center for Dance had the incredible opportunity to join Dance Theatre of Harlem on stage as the “Gloria girls.”
If you liked Dance Theatre of Harlem, you’ll love BeijingDance/LDTX.
BeijingDance/LDTX was the first professional dance company founded independently of the Chinese government, and serves as an important voice in the evolution of modern Chinese thought and society. The company’s technically exquisite dancers and diverse repertoire ensure a beautiful night of dance at the Moss Arts Center–and we certainly can’t wait!
4.) Philip Glass Ensemble
This one’s a no-brainer: it marked our first official performance in the Moss Arts Center, to a full house, by world-renowned talent. After so many long weeks and hard work leading up to it, we could not have been more proud to welcome you all into our home, this center, for an incredible performance. (And, full disclosure: there may or may not have been a few tears of joy shed during Ruth’s curtain speech by some staff members. Okay, one. Specifically the one typing this.)
3.) The on-stage proposal during Tomáš Kubínek’s performance
Ken Knott and Jen Sharp are possibly the cutest couple ever, and being able to play a part in the story of their romance is such an honor. Ken had no idea when he walked into the center with Jen and her two kids that he’d later be standing up in front of about 1,000 people, asking for the hand of the love of his life. You can read more about their story here.
If you liked this, you’ll love…just kidding. We have no idea when another proposal might happen in the Moss Arts Center next!
2.) The Center for the Arts Gala Celebration featuring Natalie Cole and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra
Gala. Gala! This was an amazing night–everyone was dressed to the nines, the food looked and tasted incredible, and the performances were stunning. But, of course, Natalie Cole was the star of the show. Hearing some favorites and some of her father’s classics was a total treat, but some of our staff loved (LOVED) when she broke out in that Michael Jackson song. And, really, two words: ice sculpture.
If you liked Natalie Cole, you’ll love Audra McDonald.
Currently on Broadway starring as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emmerson’s Bar and Grill, Audra McDonald is such an incredible actress and singer, and she’ll bring to life some of your favorite Broadway numbers, with the strong backing of her trio.
1.) Diavolo Dance Theater
There’s no big surprise here: one of the most explosive and engaging events of the inaugural season came with Diavolo Dance Theater’s visit to Blacksburg. Not only did their performance onstage astound (at least, it did us!) but their visit to town was jam-packed with a special free performance for local middle school students, professional development workshops for teachers and area employees, and a hands-on experience for Virginia Tech dancers and cadets. The dancers in the company captivated their audiences with their high energy, enormous personalities, and wild, wild talent!
Staff says: One of our student workers, Dag Yeshiwas, said Diavolo was hands down his favorite of the season. “One of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had. I was at the edge of my seat throughout the performance.”
If you loved Diavolo Dance Theater, you’ll love Cirque Mechanics.
Next season, BMX biking meets the circus when Cirque Mechanics takes the stage with dance and performance art in Pedal Punk. You won’t want to miss the fantastic “Gantry Bike,” which acts as a moving interactive set for the performers.