FirstWorks Announces Sets 2015-16 Season

FirstWorks Announces Sets 2015-16 Season

FirstWorks, Rhode Island's premiere organization for connecting art with audiences and the nonprofit producer of the recent Providence International Arts Festival, rode the post-festival momentum today with the announcement of its 2015-16 season. Their new season kicks off the week of Nov. 16, 2015, and brings together a diverse roster of luminary artists across the genres of music, dance, spoken word and interactive performance. Now entering its second decade, FirstWorks is expanding its Artistic Icons Series at The Vets, inaugurating a new Frontier Series of genre-defining artistry, and making each performance a festival unto itself with free, pre-show programs designed as local cultural showcases in event venue lobbies.

This season's "firsts" include:

· East Coast Premiere: Cloud Eye Control's "Half-Life", Nov. 21, 2015

· Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, "Big Band Holidays", Dec. 4, 2015

· Rhode Island Premiere: London's BalletBoyz, Jan. 31, 2016

· World Premiere Tour: Urban Bush Women's "Walking with 'Trane", Feb. 27, 2016

· World Premiere: Aurea Ensemble's "Chromatic Fantasy", March 12 and 13, 2016

· Rhode Island Premiere: Rosanne Cash, "The River & The Thread", April 10, 2016

· Season-long project of engagement and community partnership with Urban Bush Women as part of Widening the Circle, a program produced in partnership with American Dance Legacy Initiative and Rites and Reason Theatre

Fresh off the magnificent success of the Providence International Arts Festival, during which FirstWorks provided a full day of free programming for 100,000 visitors, the arts organization continues to introduce audiences to rising stars and living legends from around the world. Now in her 11th season of curating FirstWorks programming, FirstWorks' Executive Artistic Director Kathleen Pletcher said, "We're entering our second decade and Rhode Islanders remain ready to be dazzled by something new, innovative, and exciting. That's exactly what we'll deliver with the diverse array of stunning talents on deck for our 2015-16 season."

FirstWorks' season begins with the first performance of their new Frontier Series: Los Angeles-based, multimedia performance art troupe Cloud Eye Control in their East Coast debut of "Half Life" on Nov. 21, 2015. "Half Life" is a mix of projected animation, theater, and music that examines the psychological fallout of global disaster. This highly visual, visceral piece recently drew rave reviews for its world premiere at L.A.'s famed REDCAT Theater. Cloud Eye Control performances are tours-de-force through the innovative and unexpected, exploring themes of human adaptation in a technological world.

This performance also marks the beginning of FirstWorks' new cross-promotional partnership with the historic Columbus Theatre, where "Half-Life" will be staged. During the week leading up to the performance, members of Cloud Eye Control will share their inventive hybrid art of animation, experimental theatre, pop music and puppetry with FirstWorks Arts Learning students and university students through workshops, talks and a performance lab.

The first performance of FirstWorks' 2015-16 Artistic Icons Series celebrates the return of a FirstWorks favorite, the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, bringing the spirit of the season to The Vets on Dec. 4, 2015 with "Big Band Holidays". America's preeminent jazz orchestra consists of 15 of the finest musicians working today, under the direction of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer/trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. They'll ring in the season with a night of swinging holiday favorites, New Orleans inflections and jazzy good cheer featuring the vocal stylings of special guest, Denzal Sinclaire.

This is Jazz at Lincoln Center's fourth year of a unique educational partnership with FirstWorks. Together, they've developed curricula to teach Rhode Island students subjects like civics, social studies, and math through jazz. This year's "Big Band Holidays" performance will feature student ensembles playing in the Vets lobby and gallery.

On Jan. 31, 2016 London's BalletBoyz, one of the most original forces in the world of modern dance, makes its Rhode Island debut as part of FirstWorks Artistic Icons Series at The Vets. This stereotype-smashing, all-male ballet troupe was founded in 2001 by Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt, two former Principals with the Royal Ballet, and since then has won just about every award for dance that the UK has to offer. Celebrated for their energy and grace, the artists of BalletBoyz lend a "fearless, crunching physicality" to a traditionally more feminine form.

The FirstWorks Artistic Icons Series continues on Feb. 27, 2016 with an electrifying dance salute to a jazz masterpiece. FirstWorks brings Urban Bush Women with their world premiere tour of "Walking with 'Trane" to the Vets, gracing its historic stage with unbridled energy, innovative choreography and live music. For three decades this electrifying, all-female, "unstoppable force in American dance" has shaken theaters and inspired communities while celebrating the culture of the African diaspora. "Walking with 'Trane" is their salute to John Coltrane's landmark album, "A Love Supreme", and features an original score from Grammy Award-winning pianist/composer George Caldwell, one of modern jazz's preeminent players.

In Fall 2015 FirstWorks will launch Widening the Circle, a series of distinct, yet interconnected programs designed to engage audiences with dance at clubs, in schools, and in the community. Details of the full series, a collaboration between FirstWorks, American Dance Legacy Initiative and Rites and Reason Theatre, featuring the Urban Bush Women as well as other dance artists and innovators, will be announced in coming months.

The FirstWorks 2015-16 season features a second world premiere: Rhode Island's own Aurea Ensemble will premiere "Chromatic Fantasy: The World Of ?iurlionis" on March 12-13, 2016 at a venue to be announced. This performance ensemble with a superb string quartet at its heart explores the intense cross-pollination of art, poetry and music at the turn of the 20th century by focusing on the fascinating, synesthetic output of Lithuanian composer, artist and writer Mikalojus ?iurlionis (1875-1911). Interposing ?iurlionis' music and writings with projections of his highly imaginative, symbolic artwork, "Chromatic Fantasy" also incorporates the works of Bach, Scriabin, Bartok, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt and contemporary influential writers to further highlight the striking vibrancy of his unique vision. Aurea has premiered five different pieces with FirstWorks, some of which went on to appear at major events like the Chicago Humanities Festival.

FirstWorks' 2015-2016 season comes to a stunning conclusion on April 10, 2016 with Artistic Icon and legendary singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash and her full band, appearing at The Vets for a multimedia celebration of Americana music and concert of her career-crowning album, "The River & The Thread". These songs, written by Cash and her longtime collaborator and husband John Leventhal, evoke the American South's rich landscape -physical, musical, and emotional -and examine the indelible impressions it has made on our collective culture. The album, which won three Grammy Awards, portrays a multigenerational cast of characters across 11 tracks: from a Civil War soldier off to fight in Virginia, to a New Deal-era farmer in Arkansas, to a present-day couple in Alabama.

On April 11, 2016, FirstWorks Arts Learning students will have the chance to engage with Cash as she shares her cultural legacy and what led to her kaleidoscopic examination of the geographic, emotional, musical, and historic landscape of the American South.

Tickets for the FirstWorks Artistic Icons Series at The Vets and Cloud Eye Control: "Half Life" at the Columbus Theatre are on sale now. The full Artistic Icons Series is available now as a package offer with 25 percent savings on select tickets. More details and the full schedule are available at www.first-works.org.

"Each FirstWorks season proves more exciting than the last, and each performance of the 2015-16 season builds on the artistic and creative momentum we have established over the past ten years," said Pletcher. "We are thrilled to begin our next decade of presenting Rhode Islanders with new, exhilarating, and challenging works."