One of the bright spots of every January is the arrival of the Wesleyan Center for the Arts Spring offerings. This semester's catalogue does not disappoint.
The Crowell Concert Series, in its 34th season, presents 3 shows this season. Saxophonist-flautist-composer Henry Threadgill (pictured) makes a rare Connecticut appearance on Friday February 6 with Ensemble Zooid. Threadgill, a contemporary of and sometime collaborator with Wesleyan Professor Anthony Braxton (when both resided in Chicago and were members of the AACM - Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians),, creates music that comes from many traditions. It's truly an amalgam of all he has heard, from gospel to marching band to blues to avant-garde jazz. He first came to critical notice in the mid-1970s with Air, a trio that also included the great percussionist Steve McCall and bassist Fred Hopkins. In the 1980s, he formed the Threadgill Sextett, a 7-member band that, at different times, featured former Wesleyan music Professor Bill Lowe and current Private Lessons Instructor in drums Pheroan ak Laff. Next came the Very Very Circus, Make a Move, Flute Force Four and Zooid. The 8 p.m. concert will be preceded at 7:15 by a Pre-concert talk featuring Professor Braxton.
The series continues on Saturday February 28 with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The ensemble, in existence since 1969, will perform music by Dvorak and Bartok. Assistant Professor of Music Yonatan Malin will present the Pre-concert Talk at 7:15 p.m. followed by the 8 p.m. performance.
The series concludes at 8 p.m. on Saturday May 2 with internationally-acclaimed kora master Toumani Diabate and his Symmetric Orchestra. The kora is a 21-string harp with its origins in West Africa. For this project, Diabete blends voices, traditional dress, percussion, guitars and more into a world music stew that is hypnotic and irresistible. The music of Mali comes alive when this ensemble hits the stage. Associate Professor of Music Eric Charry will give an overview of the music and artists at 7:15 p.m. For more information about the Crowell Concert Series, go to www.wesleyan.edu/cfa.
Crowell will also be the home to the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend Friday and Saturday April 24-25. The first night, a free performance at 8 p.m., features the WJO, conducted by Adjunct Professor of Music Jay Hoggard, and the Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble, directed by Noah Baerman. On Saturday, Dr.Lonnie Smith, an organist who has been on the scene since 1969, performs his fusion of jazz and groove-based music at 8 p.m. Call the number above for more information.
In subsequent postings, I'll write about Ives Vocal Marathon taking place Thursday January 29 - Sunday February 1, the Breaking Ground Dance Series, and other fascinating arts events on campus.