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Minnelli and LuPone Part of Virginia Arts Festival's 2009 Season

In its 13th Season, the Virginia Arts Festival will present the world’s great performers to audiences throughout Hampton Roads, in six whirlwind weeks that will bring over 50 performances to more than two dozen venues in ten cities across the region.

Performances include the best of Broadway, breathtaking ballet, electrifying modern dance, colorful performance traditions from around the world—and great music for every taste, from the world’s most acclaimed classical artists to top performers of pop, country, bluegrass, and jazz.

Showstoppers Liza Minnelli and Patti LuPone, two of the most extraordinary voices in American theater, bookend the 2009 Festival.

Winner of virtually every award including an Oscar, three Tonys, and an Emmy, stage and screen icon Liza Minnelli performs at Norfolk’s Chrysler Hall on April 24.

Two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone, who conquered Broadway audiences again this year in her mesmerizing performance in Gypsy; will perform two shows at the Williamsburg Lodge, May 24.

Ballet and Contemporary Dance -  Long known for its exciting presentations of ballet and contemporary dance, the Virginia Arts Festival brings a spectacular array of renowned companies to the 2009 season. May 8-10, the Festival presents a headline-making event created by one of modern dance’s most influential choreographers, Mark Morris: Sergey Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet, On Motifs of Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet is one of the most popular ballets of the 20th century—but until recently, no one knew that the ballet so beloved by audiences was not, in fact, the one imagined by its composer. Now, in a stunning new work the Mark Morris Dance Group brings Prokofiev’s authentic score to vivid life in a Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College/Mark Morris Dance Group production in association with Virginia Arts Festival; barbicanbite08, London; Cal Performances, Berkeley; Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Millennium Park, Chicago; Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The Virginia Arts Festival performances mark only the second time this historic new work has been performed in the United States.

A great international ballet company makes a rare U.S. appearance as part of the 2009 Virginia
Arts Festival. The Czech National Theatre Ballet, one of the oldest and most renowned companies in Europe, mixes the great classics with the breathtaking energy of contemporary choreographers, under the direction of their acclaimed artistic director, choreographer Petr Zuska. The company will perform May 2 and 3 at Norfolk’s Harrison Opera House.

The final Festival weekend brings the critically acclaimed Richmond Ballet to Newport News’ Ferguson Center for the Performing Arts May 29 and 30, as part of the company’s 25th anniversary celebration.

Israel’s Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company captures the tragedy and triumph of the human spirit in a powerful, visceral modern dance, May 16 and 17 at Virginia Beach’s Sandler Center for the Performing Arts.

Ballroom dance showcases win millions of fans, and hit television shows like “Dancing with the
“Stars,” and “So You Think You Can Dance” have fueled a passion for the art. April 29 at Norfolk’s Chrysler Hall, the Virginia Arts Festival presents Simply Ballroom, a dazzling show that gathers world champion ballroom dancers, American Idol star singers, and celebrity host Debbie Reynolds for an unforgettable evening of entertainment.

Classical Music - From intimate chamber concerts to an orchestral performance of one of the great choral masterworks of all time, the 2009 Virginia Arts Festival brings a wealth of classical performances to music lovers throughout Hampton Roads.

Five of the most renowned chamber ensembles in the world will perform in the Festival. On April 26, the Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet, celebrated for its singular artistic vision and spirit of fearless exploration, takes the audience on a musical adventure. Known for its “impassioned, richly coloured performances” (The Daily Telegraph, London), the Jerusalem Quartet performs on April 27.

The award-winning Tokyo String Quartet brings “exemplary chamber music: a passionate, richly toned discussion among intelligent, charismatic equals” (The New York Times) to Norfolk, May 3.
On May 6, the Festival unites two of the most acclaimed ensembles for one unforgettable evening
of music, when the great Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio join the prize-winning Miami String Quartet. The group will be performing a new Septet by Ellen Zwillich, co-commissioned by the Virginia Arts Festival, along with the Tisch Center for the Arts, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, and the Kennedy Center.

More great chamber music awaits audiences in performances created by the Festival’s Chamber
Music Director, André-Michel Schub. Audiences may choose from evening concerts or the popular “Coffee Concerts” that offer 10:30 AM performances in intimate venues throughout the region. This Chamber Music festival-within-the-festival gathers such renowned artists as the Imani Winds ensemble, hailed for their adventurous programming that blends classical music with jazz and ancient, ethnic forms; the critically acclaimed cellist Alisa Weilerstein; and the New England Conservatory String Quartet.

Piano lovers will have much to celebrate in the 2009 Virginia Arts Festival. The ensemble of gifted siblings known as, simply, The 5 Browns has thrilled audiences from Oprah and 60 Minutes to concert halls around the world; this extraordinary family of pianists performs at Portsmouth’s Willett Hall, May 7. And the “prodigiously gifted” pianist (The New York Times) Gabriela Montero, known for her inspired flights of improvisation, performs at Norfolk’s Chrysler Museum Theatre on April 14.

One of America’s most heralded conductors of choral music, Robert Page, leads the Virginia Symphony and a specially selected chorus in Haydn’s transcendently beautiful oratorio, The Creation, in a performance at James City County’s St. Bede Catholic Church, May 21. And in a concert that blends classical music with the exotic, the Brasil Guitar Duo glides effortlessly from the intricacies of Bach to the sensuality of Gypsy jazz, April 23 at Norfolk’s Chrysler Museum Theater.

Music for Every Taste - The 13th Annual Virginia Arts Festival brings music from around the world and the top of the charts to venues throughout the region.

Declared “the godfather of world music” by George Harrison, sitarist Ravi Shankar performs with his daughter Anoushka Shankar at Norfolk’s Chrysler Hall, April 28. “The living patriarch of bluegrass” (The New York Times) Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys perform at Norfolk’s TCC Roper Performing Arts Center May 11, with area favorite, singer Elizabeth LaPrell, the current William & Mary student who created a sensation in her 2005 performance on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, broadcast live as part of that year’s Virginia Arts Festival.

May 15 at Virginia Beach’s Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, percussionist extraordinaire Dame Evelyn Glennie explores a world of sound in instruments of all timbres, tones, and sizes,
with unrivalled showmanship and an adventurous soul. Her performance is part of a weekendlong

“drum festival” that will include a beach-front drum circle, a display of champion college drumline performers, and the young steel drum players of the Virginia Arts Festival’s Rhythm Project. For patrons who like to dance, two performances at the Williamsburg Lodge offer chances to show off your mambo or foxtrot. Two-time Grammy-nominated Cuban sensation Tiempo Libre brings the irresistible rhythms of Latin music May 22; and the legendary Tommy Dorsey Orchestra performs classics like “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” and “Manhattan Serenade”  May 23.

The final Festival weekend brings 12-time Grammy Award winner Emmylou Harris to Newport News’ Ferguson Center for the Performing Arts, May 30. A star beyond boundaries, Ms. Harris is
a country icon who has also recorded with such diverse artists as Ryan Adams, Beck, and Elvis
Costello.

On four Saturday evenings during the Festival, Norfolk’s historic Attucks Theatre hosts the Attucks Jazz Club, April 25, May 2, May 9, and May 16.

Virginia International Tattoo - A tradition since the beginning of the Virginia Arts Festival in 1996, the Virginia International Tattoo has become a destination for travelers from around world--so many that the premier tourist organization the American Bus Association named it one of the Top 100 Events in North America. Honoring a military musical tradition that dates back centuries, the Virginia International Tattoo has grown to become one of the largest such celebrations in the world, rivaling the famed Edinburgh Tattoo. May 1, 2, and 3, the Virginia International Tattoo will bring more than 850 performers from the United Kingdom, Norway, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Germany, Canada, and the United States to Norfolk’s Scope Arena in an awe-inspiring display of music and might.

Outdoor Celebrations - Two popular outdoor celebrations return in the 2009 Festival: the Virginia Beer Festival brings brews from distinguished international and American beer-makers, along with music and fun on April 25. And the PANorama Caribbean Festival celebrates the steel drum in oceanfront performances in Virginia Beach, May 8, 9, and 10.

Tickets for 2009 Virginia Arts Festival performances are on sale now in “Festival Select” packages of four or more performances, available online at www.vafest.org, by phone at 757-282-2822, or in person at the Festival Box Office at MacArthur Center, 300 Monticello Avenue, Norfolk. Single tickets will go on sale in February 2009.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.

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