Samford University's Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center has announced additional programming for the 2013-14 Season. In addition to the previously announced "Signature Series" of presented performing arts events, the Wright Center will be hosting events produced by the Alabama Ballet, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Opera Birmingham , the Alabama Dance Council and Samford University's School of the Arts.
According to Sean Wright, Samford's director of venue management, the continued partnership with local arts organizations is at the core of the Wright Center's vision.
"As we continue to grow as the home for the performing arts in Birmingham, it is important we recognize the world class artists working right here in the city," Wright said. "The ballet, the symphony, the opera and the dance council are nationally renowned organizations, and we are proud to work with them as partners. Additionally, we are honored to showcase the next generation of artists by hosting events produced by our own School of the Arts. Combined with our Signature Series, the Wright Center is hosting the absolute best in dance, music and theatre this coming year."
The Alabama Ballet will begin their work at the Wright Center this season with their annual production of George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker." Performances are Dec. 13-14 and Dec. 20-21 at 7:30 p.m. with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 21-22. The Alabama Ballet remains one of only seven companies in the world granted the right to perform this holiday classic by the Balanchine Trust. Performed to Balanchine's exacting specifications, the dazzling choreography, opulent costumes and extravagant sets make this production unlike any other, Wright noted.
The Ballet returns Feb. 21-23 to perform "Romeo & Juliet." Performances are at 7:30 p.m., Feb 21-22 and 2:30 p.m. on Feb 22-23. Choreographed by Associate Artistic Director Roger Van Fleteren, this story of star-crossed lovers continues to captivate audiences as they witness the unfolding of one of the greatest love stories of all time. This original production remains an all-time favorite, Wright said.
The Wright Center is once again the official home of the Alabama Symphony's Red Diamond SuperPOPS! Series. The series begins Sep. 27 at 8 p.m. with "The 3 Broadway Divas." Whether delivering breathtaking solos, saucy duets or showstopping trios, these three leading ladies of Broadway are guaranteed to bring down the house. It's an evening of music not to be missed by any fan of the Great White Way, according to Wright.
The series continues Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. with "The Music of Ella Fitzgerald with Patti Austin." Grammy Award-winner Austin delivers wit, exhilaration and a drop-dead gorgeous voice in this celebration of Ella Fitzgerald's work. Wright said, "You'll hear all the classic Ella songs with Austin's fresh, sentimental take on the legendary jazz singer's legacy."
For Christmas, the SuperPOPS! series presents "Swinging Holiday Pops with Michael Andrew" Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. Ring in the holiday season with Rat Pack-styled crooner Michael Andrew and the ASO. Celebrate the season with arrangements both traditional and upbeat, and bring your singing voice to join in.
The Symphony's resident POPS conductor Chris Confessore returns for "Rhapsody in Blue: The Best of Gershwin" March 29 at 8 p.m. He will lead the ASO in the sweeping sounds of America's beloved composer, George Gershwin, featuring "Rhapsody in Blue," "An American in Paris" and much more.
The series concludes May 10 at 8 p.m. with "Disney in Concert: Magical Music from the Movies." Four talented vocalists bring everyone's favorite songs to life as scenes from the films play overhead. Wright said, "Bring the kids or just the young at heart for a multimedia tribute to the music of Disney films both classic and new."
Opera Birmingham will returns for two performances on the Wright Center stage. On Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 26 at 2:30 p.m. the Opera presents "Rigoletto." Maestro Steven White conducts this classic tale of court intrigue, revenge and betrayal. Todd Thomas, who appeared as Sharpless in last season's "Madame Butterfly," returns to sing the title role.
In March, the Opera presents two timeless tales: "Pagliacci" and "Suor Angelica."The first featuring a murderous clown and the second a suicidal nun, this production will feature soprano Inna Los. Last year's star of "Madame Butterfly," Los will sing the role of Nedda in "Pagliacci" and the title role in Puccini's shattering "Suor Angelica." Performances are March 14 at 7:30 p.m. and March 16 at 2:30 p.m.
The Wright Center is happy to once again partner with the Alabama Dance Council on the Alabama Dance Festival in January. As previously announced, the Festival and the Wright Center will co-present Koresh Dance Company Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. Founded in 1991 by Israeli-born choreographer and artistic director Ronen (Roni) Koresh, the Koresh Dance Company is known for its engaging performance and technically superb dancers, according to Wright. Over the years, Mr. Koresh has developed a vast repertoire of work that ranges from explosive and passionate, to intimate and restrained.
In addition, the Wright Center will be the home of the Alabama Dance Festival's New Works Showcase on Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. This showcase features brand new choreographed works, created and performed from among the region's finest dance companies and universities. "This is a chance to see the dance starts of tomorrow, today," Wright added.
Additionally, the Wright Center and Samford's School of the Arts will host the Samford Honor Band Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. and the All-State Choral Festival April 5. These two events feature high school students from throughout the state who have been selected to perform in these concerts. Under the direction of highly regarded professional conductors, these concerts are always a musical highlight of the year, Wright noted.
More information on all events held at the Wright Center can be found online at www.samford.edu/wrightcenter. Tickets for the Alabama Dance Festival, the Samford University School of the Arts or the Signature Series can be purchased either online at www.samford.edu or by calling (205) 726-2853. Single event tickets for those series will be available later in the summer.
For tickets to the Alabama Symphony's Red Diamond SuperPOPS! Series or the Alabama Ballet, call (205) 975-2787. For tickets to Opera Birmingham performances, call (205) 322-6737.