Hermitage and Booker VPA Launch New Partnership and Artist Series, Plus New December Programs

The series launches with “The Edge of Music,” a public event on Friday, December 17.

By: Oct. 21, 2021
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Hermitage and Booker VPA Launch New Partnership and Artist Series, Plus New December Programs

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and Booker High School are teaming up to connect leading Hermitage Fellows from around the world with students and families, as well as members of the Sarasota community.

This new "Hermitage @ Booker" series, a collaboration between the Hermitage Artist Retreat and Booker High School's Visual & Performing Arts (VPA) program, launches with "The Edge of Music," a public event on Friday, December 17, featuring Hermitage Fellow, jazz bassist, and composer Luke Stewart. The DC/NYC-based musician is known for his bold experimentation on the cutting edge of musicianship. He will share an improvisational selection of his work, lead a "jam session" with local artists and students, discuss his creative process, and talk about forging a career in the music industry.

"The Edge of Music" begins at 5:30pm ET in the outdoor courtyard at Booker High on Friday, December 17 (3201 North Orange Ave, Sarasota, FL 34234; free with a $5/person registration fee at HermitageArtistRetreat.org). Additional events in the "Hermitage @ Booker" series will be announced at a later date.

The Hermitage has shared the gift of education with Booker High School and Booker Middle School students for many years, as well as other schools throughout the region, bringing leading artists from across the country into the classrooms, building bridges with students and teachers alike. As the Hermitage continues to expand its partnership with Booker High School, the organization will continue to present classroom programs and teacher workshops, as well as introducing new mentorship opportunities connecting aspiring young artists with the Hermitage's extraordinary visiting musicians, playwrights, visual artists, dancers, and more. New support for this expanded community engagement is provided this season by the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, as well as additional support for teaching artist residencies provided by the Koski Family Foundation.

Also in December, the Hermitage is partnering with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and Resilient Retreat to present the beach program "Connections" on Friday, December 3, at 5pm ET, featuring Hermitage Fellows Lisa E. Harris and James Anthony Tyler, who will share work and experiences that illuminate how we connect with the world around us. The evening will feature an exploration of songs and short stories from Harris, as well as a reading of Tyler's quietly provocative play Hop thA A (Hermitage Beach, 6660 Manasota Key Rd., Englewood; free with a $5/person registration fee at HermitageArtistRetreat.org).

Lisa E. Harris is a trained classical voice and opera singer who uses voice, movement, text, and new media to explore healing in performance. The Huffington Post named her "One of Fourteen Artists that are Transforming Opera." Harris performed at the 52nd Venice Biennale and is a featured vocalist on the Grammy-nominated album All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller. James Anthony Tyler received a Horton Foote Playwriting Award and an inaugural playwright commission from Audible. He was the staff writer for Cherish the Day, a show created by Selma film director Ava DuVernay for the OWN Network.

"We are excited to launch this expanded collaboration with Booker High School," says Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. "We are delighted to partner with Dr. Rachel Shelley and her extraordinary faculty to bring this new initiative to life and to build meaningful connections between some of the nation's leading artists and the innovative young minds in our community. We look forward to introducing more students and area residents to the bold new works and creative journeys of acclaimed Hermitage Fellows from around the world. We are also delighted to be continuing our longstanding relationship with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and building a new partnership with our friends at Resilient Retreat."

"As we seek to embolden our students to soar to new heights, we are thrilled to have Hermitage Fellows work with our students and present their process to the community," says Booker High School Principal Dr. Rachel Shelley. "The Hermitage partnership is an extraordinary opportunity for the Booker High School VPA Magnet Program to connect student learning with the experiences of acclaimed professionals working in the visual and performing arts."