2CELLOS, FORBIDDEN BROADWAY, Alvin Ailey American Dance and More Set for SPA's 2013-14 Season
As Houston's leading performing arts presenter, Society for the Performing Arts (SPA) has announced its 2013-2014 season filled with music, dance and family entertainment from the world's best artists and companies.
"Overall, our 2013-2014 season is a tribute to several of America's great choreographers," said SPA CEO June Christensen. "We begin the season with the up-and-coming Jessica Lang and her Dance Company that began just a couple of years ago, and end with Alonzo King's LINES Ballet, which has been part of the dance scene for a while, but has not toured to Houston. Between the two, we welcome back four paramount American companies including Paul Taylor Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Group, Joffrey Ballet and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater."
The big names do not stop there. SPA welcomes back the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) for the first time since 1993, led by Principal Guest Conductor Gianandrea Noseda. Other performances that will join the IPO on SPA's Music Series include The Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medalist (to be announced June 9); the GRAMMY Award-winning Takács Quartet joined by double bassist (and Rice University professor) Timothy Pitts; 24-year-old French pianist Lise de la Salle; and dueling pianists and identical twins, The Naughton Sisters.
Family Fun series performances include 2CELLOS, a Croatian cello-playing duo breaking boundaries among different genres of music; YAMATO-The Drummers of Japan and their 20th Anniversary Tour titled "The Beat on the Road"; and, always a Houston favorite, The Peking Acrobats.
Making Houston debuts are Shanghai Ballet performing the full-length work Butterfly Lovers; Forbidden Broadway, which parodies Broadway's top musical hits; The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Heart, performed by The National Theatre of Scotland, which offers a unique theater experience; the virtuosic and high-spirited Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; and Taiwan's premier contemporary Dance Company Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan.
SPA will offer a Concert Series during the 2013-2014 season which will feature soprano and five-time TONY Award-winner Audra McDonald; ABBA - The Concert, a two-hour musical extravaganza celebrating Sweden's most famous band; and ELVIS LIVES - The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Tour, a multi-media and live musical journey across Elvis's life.
Thanks to a collaborative partnership with Legacy Community Health Services and Bayou City Performing Arts (BCPA), one of SPA's education and outreach endeavors will culminate for a stage performance in May. The It Gets Better Project, an effort to raise awareness surrounding bullying and its effects on young people, will include a weeklong residency with Houston-area affinity groups and a musical stage performance in Jones Hall.
SPA 2013-2014 season subscriptions are on sale now! Renewing subscribers will be seated first; all other orders will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis. For more information regarding performance dates, times and details, call 713-227-4772 or visit www.spahouston.org.
Founded in 1966, Society for the Performing Arts (SPA) is the largest independent non-profit presenting organization in the Southwest. Since its inception, SPA has sponsored more than 1,000 performances of the world's finest music, dance and theater events, in adherence to the belief that the arts are fundamental to the overall enrichment and quality of life within the community. In addition to presenting artists, SPA seeks to provide a variety of learning experiences for adults and children through master classes, lectures and special student performances, as well as build relationships between the performing arts and other interests within the greater Houston area and throughout the state of Texas.
Jessica Lang Dance*
8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013
Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
Great American Dance Series
Prolific American choreographer Jessica Lang has attained exceptional success in a short time. Hailed as "a master of visual composition" by Dance Magazine during her company's debut at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in 2012, Lang transforms classical ballet language and rigor into artfully crafted, emotionally engaging, contemporary works. Her company, Jessica Lang Dance, was born in 2011, coincidentally after receiving a 2010 Joyce Theater Residency. While her company is new, Lang is a dance veteran having performed with Twyla Tharp's company, THARP!, and since 1999, has created more than 75 works for such ballet companies as Birmingham Royal, Joffrey, Kansas City, Richmond, Cincinnati, Colorado, Ailey II, ABT II, Hubbard Street 2 and New York City Ballet's Choreographic Institute, among others. Since the company's inception, Jessica Lang Dance has thrilled audiences with repertoire ranging from minimal and simplistic to rich and dense with stunning visuals including remarkable sets and costumes. Working on and off pointe, JLD produces and performs dance works associated with music, opera, mixed media compositions and public art installations, while delivering an organic blend of classical and contemporary styles. Driven by Lang's interest in creative and artistic partnerships and inter-arts exploration, her company has collaborated with visual artist Shinichi Maruyama, composer Jakub Ciupinski and Vancouver-based design firm, molo, dedicated to the research of materials and the exploration of space making. Lang was recently nominated for a Manchester Theatre Award in the dance category for her work Lyric Pieces, performed and commissioned by Birmingham Royal Ballet. While in Houston, Jessica Lang Dance will perform Lines Cubed, Among the Stars and The Calling.
The Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medal Winner*
8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 28, 2013
Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
Be one of the first to witness the next piano sensation when the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medalist, makes his/her Houston debut. Held every four years in Fort Worth, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, named for the American who won Moscow's First International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958, is widely regarded as the supreme piano competition in its potential for launching careers. Attracting talented
candidates from all over the world such as former winners Nobuyuki Tsujii, Alexander Kobrin and Olga Kern, the competition winner is awarded the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Gold Medal, along with three years of international concert engagements coordinated by IMG Artists (U.K.) Limited, and a compact disc recording of his or her award-winning Cliburn Competition performances for the Harmonia Mundi USA label. The winners of the Fourteenth Cliburn Competition will be announced Sunday, June 9, 2013.
Hungarian State Folk Ensemble
8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 11, 2012
Regarded as one of the greatest folkloric dance ensembles in the world, the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble returns to Houston this fall. Celebrate the rich history and culture of Eastern Europe as the 90-member Ensemble performs choreography based on authentic folk dances, some dating back hundreds of years. The extraordinary folk music that inspired Liszt, Bartók and Kodály is performed live on-stage by the Folk Orchestra and the Gipsy Orchestra, performing authentic Hungarian folk instruments.
Live Music Performed by Mercury, the orchestra redefined
8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013
Great American Dance Series
Paul Taylor Dance Company returns to Houston for one night only with a program that includes Airs, Esplanade and Sunset, and will feature live music performed by Houston's own Mercury! The last living member of the pantheon that created America's indigenous art of modern dance, Paul Taylor continues to win acclaim for the vibrancy, relevance and power of his recent dances, as well as his classics. As prolific as always, he observes life's complexities and tackles society's thorniest issues. For more than 50 years he has made some of the most romantic, athletic and humorous dances ever put on a stage. While he may propel his dancers through space for the sheer beauty of it, he more frequently uses them to illuminate such profound issues as war, piety, spirituality, sexuality, morality and mortality. Mercury, the orchestra redefined, serves the community by celebrating the power of music, Baroque and beyond, teaching, sharing and performing with passion, intimacy and excellence.
Audra McDonald, Vocalist
8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013
BrownTheater, Wortham Center
Broadway legend Audra McDonald returns to the concert stage after four seasons on the hit ABC television series "Private Practice," and after winning a record-tying fifth Tony Award for her unforgettable performance in the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess. Joined by her Houston-born music director, Andy Einhorn, McDonald will perform an intimate evening of favorite show tunes, classic songs from the movies, and original pieces written especially for this extraordinary artist who is at the height of her expressive powers. "Ravishing of voice and Olympian of stature, she's an overwhelming presence." (The New York Times) McDonald made her opera debut in 2006 at Houston Grand Opera, where she starred in a double-bill: Poulenc's monodrama La voix humaine and the world premiere of its companion piece, Send, written by one of McDonald's frequent collaborators, Michael John LaChiusa.
with Timothy Pitts, Double Bass
8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013
Stude Concert Hall, Rice University
An irresistible blend of virtuosic technique and engaging personality has made the GRAMMY Award-winning Takács Quartet a favorite for more than 20 years. Founded in Hungary in 1975 and now based in Boulder at the University of Colorado, the Quartet plays with a unique blend of drama, warmth and humor, combining four distinct musical personalities to bring fresh insights to the string quartet repertoire. Founded by Gabor Takács-Nagy, Károly Schranz, Gabor Ormai and András Fejér while students at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, the Quartet tours today with Schranz and Fejér, as well as Edward Dusinberre and Geraldine Walther who joined in 1993 and 2005 respectively. In 2012, Gramophone announced that the Takács was the only string quartet to be inducted into its first Hall of Fame, along with such legendary artists as Jascha Heifetz, Leonard Bernstein and Dame Janet Baker. The ensemble also won the 2011 Award for Chamber Music and Song presented by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London.
The Quartet will perform Mozart's String Quartet K458, Janacek's String Quartet No. 2 and Dvorak's Bass Quintet Op. 77. For the final piece, the musicians will be joined by double bassist and Rice University professor Timothy Pitts. His orchestral career began as a member of the Cleveland Orchestra after which he was appointed principal bass of the Houston Symphony, a position he held for 17 years. Mr. Pitts also served as principal double bass of Boston's Handel and Haydn Society and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra under the direction of John Williams.
YAMATO - The Drummers of Japan
ROJYOH - "The Beat on the Road"
20th Anniversary Tour
7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 25, 2013
Family Fun Series
YAMATO - The Drummers of Japan have impressed audiences for nearly 20 years with passion, excitement and sheer force. With a massive six-foot diameter drum made from a 400-year-old tree as their centerpiece, the highly skilled men and women YAMATO play 40 taikos of various sizes, blending phenomenally powerful and dramatic drumming with music of delicate beauty and humor. Athleticism, superhuman feats of coordination and incredible intensity are the trademarks of this irresistible ensemble.
7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013
Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
Family Fun Series
Young Croatian cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser have achieved success by taking the cello to a new level and breaking the boundaries among different genres of music. Their unique cello version of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" took the world by storm in 2011. Since then,
the duo has appeared on such TV shows "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Ellen," "Lopez Tonight" and more. 2CELLOS was also the first instrumental act to ever perform on the hugely popular TV series "Glee," where they appeared as special guests in the Michael Jackson tribute episode, performing "Smooth Criminal." The 2CELLOS' arrangement of the song, which featured Naya Rivera, debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 Digital Songs Chart and landed the 2CELLOS' debut album in the Top 100. They have performed with Elton John and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and just released their second album IN2ITION (January 2013) featuring such musical guests as Steve Vai, Lang Lang, Zucherro and more. Sulic and Hauser have played the cello since childhood; Sulic graduated from the acclaimEd Royal Academy of Music in London, and Hauser from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Both have appeared in major classical music venues throughout the world including Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Southbank Center, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna's Musikverein and Konzerthaus.
8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013
Direct from China, the renowned Shanghai Ballet will come to Houston performing one of its signature works, The Butterfly Lovers. This four-act ballet is an Asian version of Romeo and Juliet that includes a perfect combination of Western ballet and Chinese dancing. Founded in 1966 this regional Dance Company was named Shanghai Ballet in 1979 following several successful tours of its first work, The White-Haired Girl, which won a Gold Medal for one of the
Best Classical Dance Works of the 20th Century in China, and helped establish the Company as one of the country's leading ensembles. Today, Shanghai Ballet's repertoire includes such classics as Swan Lake (Derek Deane), Coppélia (Pierre Lacotte), La Sylphide (Jean-Paul Gravier), The Nutcracker (Tetsutaro Shimizu), Romeo and Juliet (Derek Deane) and Serenade (George Balanchine), in addition to several modern ballets.
Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain*
8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013
Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
Playing instruments "bought with loose change," the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, fondly referred to as the "Ukes," proudly asserts that all music, whether by Tchaikovsky or Otis Redding, is ripe for reinterpretation-as long as it is played on the ukulele. With cheerful nods to the pompous and the trivial, the Ukes' performances are at once moving and amusing, hailing the popular and the highbrow, and may include everything from Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer," to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," to Handel, Saint-Saëns and Queen. This group of all-singing, all-strumming ukulele players has been charming audiences from London's Royal Albert Hall to Carnegie Hall. Funny, virtuosic and infectiously high-spirited, the musicians play a range of ukuleles (small and large, and in high and low registers), the world's only "bonsai guitar" and integrate a bit of whistling and a kaleidoscope of voices.
ABBA The Concert*
8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, 2013
Get ready for a live, two-hour musical extravaganza direct from Sweden when ABBA The Concert comes to Houston. Follow the quartet through songs from ABBA's Eurovision beginnings in 1974 with such hits as "Dancing Queen," "S.O.S." and the many others that eventually inspired the phenomenally popular Broadway musical, Mamma Mia! Formed in 1996, ABBA The Concert will have an original member of the ABBA rhythm section! Previous tours have included one of the following: legendary bass guitarist Mike Watson, guitarists Mats Ronander, Lasse Wellander and Janne Schaffer and drummers Ola Brunkert and Roger Palm. The Swedish band ABBA formed in 1970 with Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Anderson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog. They achieved international success as one of the best-selling pop groups in history.