The world premiere of a newly commissioned contemporary dance work by award-winning choreographer Larry Keigwin is just one of the highlights of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ 2021 spring performance season.
UNCSA recently announced that it will present a range of events from its five arts schools — dance, music, film, design and drama — with a robust series of virtual performances as it continues to adjust to the limitations of COVID-19. The majority of the performances are free and information to access them is at www.uncsa.edu/performances.
“Performance opportunities are one of the hallmarks of rigorous conservatory training," UNCSA Chancellor Brian Cole, said. “UNCSA continues to create innovative yet safe and industry-approved protocols for rehearsing and performing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud to share the work of our talented student-artists with our community of arts lovers and reach even more people through our virtual events.”
The university also announced its livestreamed guest artist series for spring 2021. Tickets for each performance are $10 and are available at www.uncsa.performances or by calling the UNCSA Box Office at 336-721-1945.
A few highlights
The School of Music is putting on 45 concerts that consist of faculty and guest performances and student ensembles.
That’s about the same number it normally does, said Saxton Rose, interim dean of the School of Music.
“They’re going to be all livestreamed, and it’s a mix of live performances and prerecorded stuff, but mostly live concerts that will be livestreamed with a very small live audience,” Rose said.
Because pandemic safety protocols prevent UNCSA from doing large ensemble performances, the School of Music has created smaller ensembles.
“That has given us the opportunity to explore some repertoire that we might otherwise not have played, performed or studied,” Rose said. “It is also giving us the opportunity to work on our chamber ensemble skills more than we might otherwise.”
As a result, students have a chance to play a more varied and diverse repertoire, he said.
This year, the School of Music, is also highlighting more works by composers of historically underrepresented groups such as women and people of color.
In terms of guest performances, the Borromeo String Quartet will be in concert April 10, featuring Beethoven String Quartet No. 2 in G major, Op. 18; Bartók String Quartet No. 4; and Beethoven String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132. The quartet will perform from original composer manuscripts on digital devices.
“They are a really exciting group,” Rose said. “They work a lot with technology and computers. They’ll have video presentations going during their performance. They are a progressive, forward-thinking string quartet.
The School of Drama is relying on virtual video capture this year to make a video recording of plays such as “Down in the face of God,” a post-apocalyptic mashup of Greek tragedies “Bacchae” and “Antigone” by up-and-coming playwright Tim J. Lord that will livestream March 5-6, and Pulitzer Prize-winning “Sweat” by Lynn Nottage that will livestream March 12-13.
“When you do video capture, you’re not adapting a play into a film,” Scott Zigler, dean of the School of Drama said. “You’re making a video record of a theatrical production.”
“Sweat,” which is set in the Rust Belt town of Reading, Pa., in 2000 and 2008, touches on themes of economic disadvantage, despair and reconciliation.
Zigler said Nottage is one of America’s leading playwrights today.
“She also has a very keen eye for what’s going on, not only in the country but around the world right now, and really reflecting her insightfulness in her playwrighting and in the stories she chooses to tell,” Zigler said.