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Samford’s Wright Center to Present Garrison Keillor

Posted by Philip Poole on 2013-02-06


Garrison KeillorSamford University's Wright Center Presents Series continues March 25 with Garrison Keillor: A Brand-New Retrospective. The 7 p.m. show is co-presented with Samford's Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies as part of the annual Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Authors Series.

The Keillor program is described as "A man at 70 relives the good times - and the music that brings it all back: hymns, jingles, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, pop tunes, limericks, rock 'n roll, Beethoven, love sonnets, rags, blues, rousers, with Richard Dworsky, Rob Fisher, and Christine DiGiallonardo."

Sean Wright, Samford's director of venue and event management, noted that the program is a change from the originally announced Evening with Garrison Keillor. While it will not be a broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion," it will include some of the regular performers from his radio program.

"We are excited to partner with the Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies to bring Garrison Keillor to Samford and to Birmingham," said Sean Wright, Samford's director of venue and event management.  "Mr. Keillor has been delighting fans of public radio for over four decades, and this brand-new retrospective has something for everyone, from fans of 'A Prairie Home Companion' to readers of his many books.  We are looking forward to a very memorable evening, one worthy of the Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Author Series."

Tickets range from $25-$55 and are on sale now at the Samford Arts Box Office in Swearingen Hall, by phone at (205) 726-2853 or online at http://www.samford.edu/wrightcenter. Box office hours are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and 1 hour prior to performances.

Keillor is considered one of America's most beloved radio hosts and acclaimed humorists, Wright said. He went to work for Minnesota Public Radio in 1969, and on July 6, 1974, he hosted the first broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion."  Some 4 million listeners on more than 600 public radio stations coast-to-coast and beyond tune in to the show each week. Keillor has been honored with Grammy, ACE, and George Foster Peabody awards, the National Humanities Medal and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His many books include "Lake Wobegon Days", "The Book of Guys", "Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance" and "Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny."

Each week on "A Prairie Home Companion," Dworsky leads The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band and appears as keyboardist, composer and arranger. A PHC regular since 1986, he's accompanied Keillor on U.S. and European concert tours and provided original music for many Keillor recordings. He's recorded with Peter Ostroushko, John Gorka, Robin and Linda Williams, and the Guy's All-Star Shoe Band. One of Dworsky's songs was recorded by Tony Award-winning singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth. 

An authority on American music and musical theater, Fisher spent four seasons leading the Coffee Club Orchestra for Keillor's "American Radio Company." He has been a guest of virtually every major orchestra in the U.S. as conductor or pianist, and he has made numerous appearances on the "Lyrics & Lyricists" series at the 92nd Street Y in New York. For his work as music director and conductor of the Tony-winning "Encores!" series at New York's City Center, he was presented the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Special Achievement.

When singer-actress DiGiallonardo and her two older sisters were kids in Brooklyn, they loved stacking up three-part harmonies and entertaining family and friends. They even put on elaborate backyard shows and charged the neighbors admission. Today, DiGiallonardo's credits include "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (Shakespeare in the Park Festival), "My Fair Lady" (Lincoln Center), and "Monica! The Musical" (New York Musical Theatre Festival).

The Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Authors Series was launched in 2011 to highlight reading and literacy and to provide endowment support for Samford's Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies. The series is named for Samford's 17th president and his wife. Marla Corts was instrumental in establishing the series following her husband's untimely death in 2009.

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