Upcoming Performing Arts Series Season Sizzles

SOCORRO, N.M. August 14, 2014 – The New Mexico Tech 2014 – 2015 Performing Arts Series (PAS) season fuses contemporary with classical as part of a diverse lineup that opens with roots Americana and closes with percussion – and with a whole lot of sass and sizzle in between.

            The season opens on Friday, Sept. 12, and closes next April.

            “It’s always invigorating to design a season series that at some level can appeal to young and old, families and friends,” said Ronna Kalish, who has been doing just that for over 20 years as PAS director. “We have such a diverse audience, from our student base to the PAS patrons who have been the foundation of this program for generations,” she said.

            Kalish embraces her role; and, as a musician herself, she has an inherent appreciation for, and understanding of, the diverse genres of art and entertainment.

            “I am constantly amazed at the incredible talent we have the opportunity to tap into,” Kalish said. “We are so fortunate in Socorro for the chance to enjoy first-class entertainment in an intimate venue at a fraction of the cost people in big cities pay.”

            All PAS series performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center, unless otherwise noted. Shows are affordably priced, $16-22 with discounts for seniors and youth. Parking is free.  If you are a member of Tech Club ($20/Year), and 21-years and up, there is a free social hour ($5/person for non-members) before every performance, and special events throughout the year.  Performances are free for New Mexico Tech regular students enrolled in 6 hours or more.

            In addition to the subscription series, PAS also hosts four Willy & Friends concerts under the umbrella of the Presidential Chamber Music Series, scattered throughout the year and free to all; NDI-NM: Broadway Bound! in December; the 19th annual Community Arts Party in February; and the Santa Fe Opera Apprentices on Tour in April, another gratis performance.

            Ronna urges families of New Mexico Tech students to plan their visits around a performance!  It’s a great way to spend quality time together.

            Kicking off the new PAS subscription series on Friday, Sept. 12 is singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz, accompanied by her Trio. In addition, Aoife O’Donovan, singer-songwriter and lead singer of the band Crooked Still, will open the concert.

            Jarosz, an Austin, Texas native, will perform selections from her 2013 album, “Build Me Up from Bones,” which was nominated for Best Folk Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards; its title track was nominated for Best American Roots Song.

            The multi-talented 22-year-old performer said this about last year’s release: “It has rocking numbers, and it also features the trio I play with – it incorporates those guys more. It feels true to me – unique and new.” She also has received critical praise for her on the banjo, guitar and mandolin.

            Returning by popular demand are the Golden Dragon Chinese Acrobats, who once again will delight and amaze audiences with a breath-taking and thrilling performance on Friday, Oct. 3.

            “These incredible performers consistently draw huge family audiences, and we are pleased to have them return to Socorro and Macey Center,” said Kalish. The Golden Dragons, she added, are recognized throughout the U.S. and abroad as one of the premiere Chinese acrobatic touring companies of today, even as they represent the best of a time-honored tradition that began more than 25 centuries ago.

            Then it’s time for satire and skewering, when the Reduced Shakespeare Company comes to town on Thursday, Oct. 30. The troupe has skewered history, the Bible and the world’s most celebrated playwright. With “The Complete History of Comedy (abridged),” they take on comedy, from Vaudeville to Charlie Chaplin, from The Daily Show to Anthony Weiner.

            “This show is nothing less than zany, witty and very, very funny,” Kalish said of the upcoming performance. “The Company riffs on Monty Python-themed humor by taking serious subjects and turning them into short and smart comedy skits,” she said.

            Also called “the bad boys of abridgement,” the Reduced Shakespeare Company players have created seven stage shows, two television specials, several failed television pilots, and numerous radio pieces – all of which have been performed, seen, and heard the world over.

            Now let’s segue from the neo-classical to the contemporary with Bodytraffic, a dance troupe that reflects the vibe of Los Angeles’s diverse cultural landscape, scheduled to perform on Friday, Nov. 14.

            One critic cited the “speed and refined athleticism” of the dancers in performances that were “superfast, super sexy, super expressive.”

            “Troupe members mesmerize audiences with their talent, strength and grace in choreography that reflects the sheer beauty and joy of dance,” Kalish said. “Plus, as a non-profit organization, Bodytraffic typically offers educational outreach programs to school children on tour stops,” she said.

            Closing out the month on Friday, Nov. 21, is a double-bill concert with the California and Montreal Guitar Trios performed by six extraordinary musicians, and featuring original compositions and new arrangements of progressive rock, world, jazz and classical music.

            The six virtuoso guitarists hail from four countries – Japan, Canada, Belgium and the U.S. – and fuse over 40 years of combined performing experience into one unique six-by-six-string “phenomensemble.”

            “We are very excited to bring these two talented groups to town,” said Kalish, explaining that the show spotlights both the California Guitar Trio (CGT) and the Montreal Guitar Trio (MG3)

            Inspired in 2009 by an impromptu studio session together in Montreal, CGT and MG3 have proceeded to release a live recording (2011), land showcases at numerous arts presenter conferences, and sustain frequent co-bill touring throughout North America.

            The PAS series tour moves into unchartered territory on Dec. 3 with DakhaBrakha, a world music quartet from Kyiv, Ukraine, an “ethnic chaos” band that creates a world of unexpected new music, influenced by a myriad of cultural traditions, hence, the “chaos.”

            “Even the group’s name is original,” chimed Kalish. “It’s unique and authentic at the same time, a name that means ‘give/take’ in the old Ukrainian language.” DakhaBrakha was created in 2004 at the Kyiv Center of Contemporary Art, “DAKH,” by avant-garde theatre director, Vladyslav Troitskyi. Theatre work has left its mark on the band performances – their shows have never been staged without the scenic effects.

            Returning to the Macey Center stage for a third time with a 3 p.m. matinee performance on Sunday, Dec. 14, is the spectacular Mariachi Christmas, conceived and produced by Noberta Fresquez for UNM’s Popejoy Hall for 15 years.

            Stomping feet, twirling dresses and lively violins will fill the air, when Mariachi Christmas, featuring Mariachi Aztlan & Ballet Folklorico Paso del Norte, makes its holiday season stop in Socorro.

            “For many in our community, the holiday season would be incomplete without a festive musical homage to the beautiful and diverse culture that is New Mexico,” Kalish said. “PAS is proud to bring back the Mariachi Christmas this year.”

            In January, look for a literal change-of-face when Jekyll and Hyde, The Musical takes to the stage on Wednesday, Jan. 14, to kick off the 2015 leg of the season, bringing to life the epic struggle between good and evil as first penned by Robert Louis Stevenson.

            “This is a modernized version of the classic story of two women in love with a man with two opposing personalities,” said Kalish. “What sets this version apart from other productions is this incredible score written by two award-nominated and Grammy-winning songwriters.”

            Indeed, the 1997 Tony-nominated Broadway production of Jekyll & Hyde is the longest running show in the history of the Plymouth Theater. The show has seen four major tours and over 500 regional productions in the U.S. and Canada, and more than 100 international productions.

            Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Hotel California’s “A Salute to the Eagles” on Friday, Feb. 13 – and make plans to arrive early for a special dinner sponsored by Tech Club – Club Macey; tickets will be sold separately for the dinner.

            “Every February, we try to arrange for a gourmet dinner to precede a performance with style and panache, and Hotel California’s tribute to the Eagles fits the bill,” Kalish said.

            Hotel California’s “A Salute to the Eagles” was formed to fill the void left by the breakup of the Eagles in 1982. The group, comprised of five multi-talented music industry professionals, faithfully and accurately recreates the iconic band’s timeless music in a modern, action-packed performance.

            March performances reflect an Irish-music theme; this year, on Thursday, March 5 with a return performance by Luñasa, internationally recognized as being among the finest traditional Irish instrumental troupes on tour.

            “We are incredibly fortunate to have snagged this diversely talented and in-demand group for a PAS performance,” Kalish said. “Since their inception in 1997, Luñasa members have performed over 1500 shows in 36 countries, bringing them to the forefront of Celtic music.”

            Indeed, band members are renowned for their stunning shows honed by superb musicianship and a constant touring cycle, from the Hollywood Bowl to the Moscow International House of Music.

            Coinciding with the annual New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair is a show with built-in appeal for the young exhibitors and their families – as well as anyone who enjoys the art of magic and illusion.

            Nelson Illusions: Smoke and Mystery, the largest touring illusion show in the United States, complete with over 30,000 pounds of equipment, will astound and confound audiences with a performance on Friday, March 27.

            Show highlights include a girl sawed in half in plain view, an elegant lady who floats in circles, a woman who climbs into a sheet of solid steel, a girl who risks death on the point of a giant industrial drill, and much more.

            “The highlight of the performance is a 21-foot-long ‘Drill of Death’ which goes through a woman and lifts her 18 feet in the air,” said Kalish. “That alone is worth the price of admission, and a bargain at that!”

            Closing out the PAS subscription series is an innovatively “green” performance by Scrap Arts Music set for Friday, April 17, just in time for Earth Day.

            This Vancouver-based ensemble bounces on stage with a show that combines gymnastics and percussive drive, alternating among hitting, moving and bowing their instruments to intricate and eye-catching choreography.

            “Again, this performance is ideal for young and old, with its energetic and athletic choreography, and an inventive musical style using recycled materials, such as old bike parts, PVC pipe, industrial odds-and-ends – and a set of drumsticks,” Kalish said, adding: “Warning – children might want to take up the drums after watching this show.”

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By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech