From classics to contemporary offerings, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is returning to complete in-person performances after a three-semester absence because of the coronavirus pandemic.
UNCSA will also livestream concerts by faculty artists and guest artists in the School of Music through the new series Live from Watson Hall, as well as offer film screenings online for a limited time.
“We are thrilled to welcome back our loyal audiences for in-person performances this coming season at UNCSA,” Chancellor Brian Cole, said. “There is no replacement for the energy of live audiences and the community engagement that results from being together in a room experiencing transformative art.”
“I am particularly proud that UNCSA will offer a season of compelling works from across our cultural landscape, created centuries ago and written today,” Cole added. “From Balanchine’s classical ‘Symphonie Concertante’ to Stew’s contemporary comedy-drama rock musical ‘Passing Strange,’ our season amplifies a wide range of artistic expression.”
Cole said that UNCSA will continue streaming select performances and film screenings this year.
Tickets to most live-audience productions are $20 or $15 for students with valid ID at uncsa.edu/performances or by calling the box office at 336-721-1945. Selected events are priced individually as noted. UNCSA performance venues will be open at full capacity, but all performers and audience members are required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.
Here are some of the 2021-2022 season’s highlights:
School of Music
The UNCSA Symphony Orchestra will present two programs this fall, featuring major fifth symphonies from the great symphonic composers and followed in the spring by a program that includes selections from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Led by superlative guest conductors, the programs will showcase the talents of student musicians.
The orchestra season begins on Sept. 18 with Shostakovich’s jubilant Symphony No. 5, conducted by alumnus Robert Franz (B.M. ‘90, M.M. ‘92). Next, Thomas Wilkins, principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, will conduct Mahler’s massive Fifth Symphony on Nov. 20.
On March 26, Michael Butterman, music director for the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Philharmonic, will conduct a program that includes the orchestral suite from Prokofiev’s ballet “Romeo and Juliet.”
“These fantastic works from the symphonic repertoire will highlight our student musicians at their very best and will illuminate the full range of training we provide in the School of Music,” said Saxton Rose, dean of the School of Music.
On April 30, A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a gala concert by notable alumni of the institute, current Fletcher Fellows, the UNCSA Cantata Singers and the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra. James Allbritten, Founding Fletcher Artistic Director and current music director, will lead the orchestra.
The institute will also present two fully staged operas in collaboration with the School of Design and Production (D&P): Donzetti’s “Linda di Chamounix” Feb. 4, 6 and 8; and “Volpone,” John Musto’s contemporary comedy on April 20, 22 and 24.
The School of Music will also offer concerts by world-class faculty ensembles and prestigious guest artists, both in person and livestreamed in the Live from Watson Hall series.
School of Dance
“The Nutcracker” will return to live performances at the Stevens Center from Dec. 10-19 for 10 performances, including four matinees. Guest conductor Jiannan Cheng will lead the UNCSA Nutcracker Orchestra. A collaboration between the schools of Dance, Design & Production and Music, “The Nutcracker” will feature choreography by dance faculty member Ilya Kozadayev.
“The UNCSA production of “The Nutcracker” has earned a reputation as a must-see,” said Endalyn Taylor, dean of the School of Dance. “Noted for the exquisite dancing, live orchestration and superb staging, this full-scale production is of the highest caliber.”
Additional performances by the School of Dance will include classical ballets, cutting-edge contemporary works and a reimagining of “The Seven Deadly Sins” that blends the two.
The dance season will begin with an all-contemporary Fall Dance that will be presented Sept. 28 through Oct. 2, featuring premieres by three guest choreographers: award-winning Yoshito Sakuraba of New York’s Peridance Center and alumni Andrew Harper and Ashley Lindsey. Winter Dance will run Feb. 24-Feb. 27 and Spring Dance will be April 21-24.
School of Drama
The voices of contemporary playwrights from diverse backgrounds will resonate throughout the School of Drama’s season, beginning with Paula Vogel’s “Indecent” Oct. 28-31 and Nov. 4-6, directed by Acadia Barrengos as her senior thesis project. Dean Scott Zigler, assistant dean Krisha Marcano and stage combat instructor Kelly Mann will co-direct “Heathers: The Musical” Thursdays through Sundays, Nov. 11-20.
Stew’s contemporary comedy-drama rock musical “Passing Strange” will be offered Thursdays through Sundays, March 24-April 2, with visiting faculty member Christopher Burris directing. A new devised work, “Mother Tongue,” is the senior thesis project of Marina Zurita and is based on research and interviews done with the community of “trash pickers” in her native country, Brazil, this past summer. It is scheduled for Thursdays through Sundays, March 31-April 9.
“It is part of our mission in the School of Drama to make sure our students are deeply immersed in the landscape of contemporary playwriting, even as they develop the skills necessary for older works,” said Scott Zigler, dean of the School of Drama.
School of Filmmaking
The School of Filmmaking will offer two “best of” screenings that showcase films from varied genres, created by second-, third- and fourth-year students last year — one on Oct. 1 and another on Feb. 25. Closing out the performance season are screenings of films by this year’s third- and fourth-year students May 5 and 6, respectively. Screenings will be in person and online for a limited time.
“I have seen many films created by UNCSA students during the past few years,” said Deborah LaVine, dean of the School of Filmmaking. “I’m very impressed by the quality of the work and the originality of vision and voice that is showcased. I am excited to see what we will accomplish together this year, and I am pleased to again be offering the films to a broader audience through our online screenings.”
School of Design and Production
In addition to providing all of the design, technical and production support for performances in dance, drama and the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute, the School of Design and Production also presents its wildly popular “Photona,” a themed multimedia show of lighting, projection and sound.
With help from a team of underclass students and mentored by Lighting Program Director Eric Rimes, each senior lighting designer creates a dazzling projection using the latest lighting equipment on loan from industry partners. Audience members can ask the designers questions and offer critiques, and at the end of the night, the audience votes for its favorite piece. The free event is at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 in Freedman Theatre.
“This is an exciting season with rich opportunities for our student designers and technicians,” said D&P dean Michael J. Kelley. “With such a wide range of plays, musicals and operas, plus support for student films, our students are getting hands-on, real-world experience that will serve them well as they graduate and begin rewarding careers.”