‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ Santa’s Workshop Among UM Christmas Events

Annual Gingerbread Village also open through Dec. 16 at Ford Center

The UM Museum and the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host several upcoming holiday events including the Gingerbread Village and Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The UM Museum and the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host several upcoming holiday events including the Gingerbread Village and Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts and the University of Mississippi Museum have a whole bagful of family-friendly activities slated for December to encourage the Oxford and Ole Miss communities to embrace the holiday spirit.

The Ford Center’s seventh annual Gingerbread Village opens Dec. 1 and is free to the public. More than 30 gingerbread houses designed and assembled by local groups, including Holli’s Sweet Tooth, Willie Price Lab School, Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and local Girl Scout troops, will be on display.

The village will be open 1 to 5 p.m. daily and during performances through Dec. 16. A full schedule is available here.

On Saturday (Dec. 3), the Ford Center hosts “Miracle on 34th Street” at 3 p.m. The holiday musical tale by Valentine Davies, based on the 1947 movie, tells the story of Kris Kringle filling in for Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The performance brings the Christmas spirit to life with songs such as “I Believe in Miracles,” “Macy’s Madrigals” and “Just Imagine.”

“The Ford Center is creating a festive mood and offering hot chocolate in concessions for this holiday show,” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director.

“Santa’s helpers will be on hand to brighten your afternoon as you enjoy a lovely story and its music. And don’t miss a chance to drop in on the Gingerbread Village before or after the show.”

Tickets are $34 for the balcony level, $40 for the mezzanine and tier 2 boxes, and $46 for the orchestra, parterre and tier 1 boxes. Tickets can be purchased online or at the UM Box Office inside the Ole Miss Student Union. Ole Miss faculty, staff and retirees are eligible for a 10 percent discount. UM student tickets are $20 for orchestra/parterre and $13 for mezzanine/balcony.

Also Saturday, the University Museum is partnering with the Ford Center for its Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day. Families can bring children to the free drop-in session from 9 a.m. to noon to create seasonal art, eat holiday snacks and visit the Gingerbread Village via sleigh, provided by The Flying Tuks.

“Santa’s Workshop is an event we look forward to each year as we find new ways to connect our collections with the holiday season,” said Emily McCauley, the museum’s curator of education. “Last year we had over 400 in attendance, so this year we are looking forward to engaging audiences in new ways to maximize all areas of the museum building.”

The free event is sponsored by Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi and the Ignite Ole Miss Campaign. No pre-registration is required. For more information, contact the museum at 662-915-7073.

While the village display and Family Activity Day are free, visitors are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items as a donation to benefit the Oxford Food Pantry and the Ole Miss Food Bank.

UM Chorus to Perform ‘Carmina Burana’ at Ford Center

Concert to feature students, faculty, staff and members of local performance groups

The UM Chorus will perform alongside an orchestra composed of Ole Miss students, faculty, and some members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra on November 14th. Photo by Nathan Latil Ole Miss Communications

The UM Chorus will perform alongside an orchestra composed of Ole Miss students and faculty, plus some members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra on Nov. 14. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host the University of Mississippi Chorus and an orchestra composed of students, faculty and members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra as they perform works from Carl Orff’s renowned “Carmina Burana” on Nov. 14.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance range from $19 to $25 and are available at both the UM Box Office in the Student Union and online at http://olemissboxoffice.com/.

The music of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” is well-known to many concertgoers, most notably the first movement, “O Fortuna,” which can be easily recognized as a staple in many of the commercials and movie soundtracks, including “The Omen.”

“In the recent past, the Ole Miss Choir performed standard works based on sacred texts such as the 2013 performance of Verdi’s ‘Requiem,’ so I thought it would be educational and great fun to perform Orff’s secular ‘Carmina Burana,'” said Don Trott, UM director of choral activities. “We try to give our students at Ole Miss an opportunity to perform a wide variety of repertoire, including large works that utilize full chorus, large orchestra and soloists.”

The UM Chorus includes some 160 singers, all members of the university’s Men’s Glee and Women’s Glee vocal groups.

Soloists for the concert include UM faculty members Nancy Maria Balach, on soprano, and Bradley Robinson, baritone tenor, as well as tenor Brady Bramlett, a graduate student and former Ole Miss Rebels pitcher.

Accompanying the choir is the Oxford Intermediate School Choir, directed by Carol Trott, and the Lafayette Middle School Concert Choir, directed by Hannah Gadd. Together they comprise the youth choir known as Ragazzi.

The performance will be divided into three sections, titled “Springtime,” “In the Tavern” and “The Court of Love.”

“The Ford Center is happy to be able to present such an important work and support the UM Choirs with this production,” says Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “I think that our patrons will enjoy this performance very much.”

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet to Perform Friday at Ford Center

Acclaimed group set to play diverse set ranging from classical to contemporary works

The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet will perform Friday (Oct. 7) at the UM Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo courtesy Jiro Schneider

The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet will perform Friday (Oct. 7) at the UM Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo courtesy Jiro Schneider

OXFORD, Miss. – The Grammy Award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, renowned by critics for its precision, rich tonal palette and joyous performances, comes to the University of Mississippi for a Friday (Oct. 7) concert at Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $22 for balcony seating, $26 for mezzanine and tier two box seats and $30 for the orchestra, parterre and tier one box levels. They are available through the Ole Miss Box Office, either online or in person in Ole Miss Student Union.

The group’s four accomplished musicians are John Dearman, Matthew Greif, William Kanengiser and Scott Tennant, each offering a unique stage presence by capturing sounds and style from around the world. The quartet’s works include French Renaissance dances, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, Brazilian favorites and American classics, such as pieces from John Philip Sousa and Miles Davis.

“We are looking forward to having such accomplished musicians at the Ford Center,” said Kate Meacham, the theater’s marketing director. “The performance will include classics by Bach and Debussy, as well as more contemporary pieces by Aaron Copeland and even two composed for L.A. Guitar Quartet.

“It promises to be a truly enjoyable performance. This is a wonderful opportunity for our community to see such a highly acclaimed guitar quartet.”

Dearman, a native of Minneapolis, is a versatile guitarist whose styles range from samba to bluegrass and from flamenco to classical. He is director of the guitar chamber music program at California State University at Northridge in Los Angeles.

Greif, the newest member of the quartet, has a background in guitar styles of classical, jazz, rock and bluegrass, among others. He teaches classical and jazz guitar at California State University at Dominguez Hills in Carson.

Kanengiser is an acclaimed guitar soloist, recording artist and professor at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. He has won the Concert Artists Guild New York Competition and is best known as the classical guitarist in the 1986 film “Crossroads.”

Tennant is a Detroit native and world-class performer, author and teacher. He has performed concerts since he was 12 years old and is the author of the best-selling book and video “Pumping Nylon,” a technical handbook for classical guitarists. Tennant previously taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and is on the faculty at the USC Thornton School of Music.

Concert to Benefit Oxford Boys and Girls Club

Gospel and country artists Michael English and Trae Edwards set for Tuesday show at Ford Center

Michael English

Michael English

OXFORD, Miss. – A benefit concert for the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Mississippi, featuring gospel and country performers Michael English and Trae Edwards, is set for Tuesday (Oct. 4) at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $25 through the Ole Miss Box Office. To purchase tickets, call 662-915-7411 or go to http://olemissboxoffice.universitytickets.com/user_pages/event.asp?id=487.

English, well known in the Christian music industry, has won two Gospel Music Association Dove Awards and has had a Top 10 Hit on the Adult Contemporary chart. He has toured and recorded with The Singing Americans, the Happy Goodman Family and the Gaither Vocal Band. He also has recorded several solo albums and scored a major Adult Contemporary single with “Your Love Amazes Me.”

Edwards, an emerging country and gospel performer, has a new song, “Love Got Us Through,” climbing the charts.

“The night will be filled with contemporary as well as traditional hymns, such as Trae Edward’s amazing rendition of ‘The Old Rugged Cross,'” said Margaret King, a representative for the LOU Barksdale Clubhouse and organizer of the fundraiser. “Everyone will walk away blessed and with incredible memories. It will be an awesome experience.”

Trae Edwards

Trae Edwards

The event is co-sponsored by The Inn at Ole Miss, the UM Department of Continuing Education and the Oxford Exchange Club.

“The money that is raised will allow us to help more students,” said Amy Goodin, director of LOU Barksdale Clubhouse. “We currently serve 160 students a day, ranging from ages 6 to 18. The money will go towards more tutors and the supplies we use daily.”

‘Fame – The Musical’ Coming to Ford Center this Week

Production set for one performance Thursday evening

FAME- the Musical National Tour stops in Oxford Thursday night at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

FAME- the Musical National Tour stops in Oxford Thursday night at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

OXFORD, Miss. – “Fame – The Musical” makes a stop at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts this week as part of the acclaimed production’s North American tour.

The musical is set for one performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 29). Tickets, which range from $57 to $69 each, are available at the UM Box Office in the Ole Miss Student Union and online at http://www.fordcenter.org/event/fame-national-tour/.

Based on the hit movie and Emmy Award-winning television series, the production tells the story of driven high school students admitted to an exclusive performing arts school in New York and their competitive nature as they strive to develop their talents in the industries of music, dance and theater.

The young artists navigate their time through their four years of high school in the 1980s, with all the triumphs and tribulations that accompany them, while captivating audiences with acclaimed choreography and Academy Award-winning music.

“We can’t think of a better way to open the Ford Series than with ‘Fame”; it’s a great story and very entertaining,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “It should be a very enjoyable evening.”

“Fame” was originally conceived and developed by David De Silva, who has been involved in the creative process for the movie, television series and musical. De Silva was fascinated by a magnet school in New York City, the School for the Performing Arts, and its exclusivity and fostering environment for youth art education.

“This school took these kids out of their neighborhoods to build on their passion for the arts – rich, poor, black, white,” De Silva said. “What makes ‘Fame’ special is its social consciousness in terms of themes.

“There are characters that are funny, but there’s a seriousness to what education is all about. There are lessons to be learned in this story.

Though it began as a movie, De Silva originally envisioned the story as a theatrical production because it is organically musical.

The musical was created in 1988 and has since reached 60 million people in more than 30 countries.

He hopes the Oxford and Ole Miss community attend the performance, not only to see a critically-acclaimed musical but also to enhance their own exposure to the arts.

“Art is a good part of anyone’s education, but when there are budget problems, it’s the first thing to go,” he said. “The beauty of art is that it prepares you for everything. It allows you to build confidence and learn to project your personality.”

Ford Center’s Fall Lineup Filled with Variety

The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts hosts a variety of shows this fall. Photo by Kevin Bain.

The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts hosts a variety of shows this fall. Photo by Kevin Bain.

The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts has a season schedule that does not disappoint, featuring something for everyone, including children’s shows, a critically acclaimed comedian and musical performances.

Here’s a look at what’s coming up this fall:

– “The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth Tour” by Lewis Black, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 – For the first time ever, the Ford Center will host a comedian. Lewis Black, known as the “King of Rant” for his comedic yelling, will discuss the madness of life, including current events, politics, social media and everything else that irritates him.

Tickets are $50 for the orchestra and orchestra pit level, $40 for the parterre, mezzanine and balcony levels and student tickets are $20, thanks to the Student Activities Association.

– “Fame – The Musical,” national touring production, 7:30 p.m. Sept.29 – This musical, developed from the Academy Award-winning movie and Emmy-winning television series that followed, explores the ups and downs of young artists trying to catch their big break in music, dance and theatre.

Tickets range from $57 to $69.

– Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 – This Grammy-winning group is known for is niche in capturing styles of music from around the world. Their variety of works includes everything from French Renaissance dances and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 to Brazilian favorites and American classics.

Tickets range from $22 to $30.

– “The Princess and the Pea,” Virginia Rep on Tour, 3 p.m. Oct. 8 – The beloved tale by Hans Christian Anderson is brought to life for children and adults alike as this musical tells the story of acceptance, love and true happiness.

Tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for children.

– Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” University of Mississippi Choirs with Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 – This musical collaboration based on medieval Latin poems is one of the best-known cantatas of the 20th century, as it has risen to be as popular among concertgoers as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. You’ve likely heard the theme “O Fortuna” in countless commercials and movie trailers, but this live combination of musical styles will be a treat for the ears.

Tickets range from $19 to $25.

– “Miracle on 34th Street,” 3 p.m. Dec. 3 – This classic holiday tale is a favorite for the whole family. Based on the 1947 movie, the musical tells the story that begins as Kris Kringle fills in for Santa Claus at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Tickets range from $34 to $46.

Meanwhile, the Ford Center will also host its annual Gingerbread Village from Dec. 1 to 16, so stop by and get lost in a candy wonderland before the show!

Tickets to all events can be purchased online here or at the UM Box Office, inside the Ole Miss Student Union.

For the full lineup of scheduled events, visit http://www.fordcenter.org.

Air Force Band, ‘Peter Rabbit Tales’ at Ford Center this Weekend

Events offer family-friendly entertainment for L-O-U community

The United States Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants will perform at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts Friday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m.

The United States Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants perform Friday night at the Ford Center.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host two family entertainments events this weekend: the United States Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants on Friday night and “Peter Rabbit Tales” on Saturday.

The USAF Concert Band, stationed in Washington, D.C., is known as the premier symphonic wind ensemble of the Air Force. The band features 53 active-duty airman musicians who perform around the United States on biannual concert tours. Attendees will hear a variety of music, ranging from classical works to popular and patriotic pieces.

The Singing Sergeants, the Air Force’s official chorus, will join the band. These 23 active-duty musicians perform more than 200 times a year, featuring traditional, Americana, modern Broadway and jazz musical styles.

The two groups together honor those who have served, inspire patriotism and work to advance positive diplomatic relations through song.

“It is always an honor to host one of military bands,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “The musicians are always of the highest caliber, and I know the Air Force Band and the Singing Sergeants will put on a wonderful performance.”

The performance is set for 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, but tickets are required. They are available at the UM Box Office in the Ole Miss Student Union.

The family friendly performance Peter Rabbit Tales will be at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts April 16 at 2 p.m.

The family-friendly performance ‘Peter Rabbit Tales’ comes to the Ford Center on Saturday.

“Peter Rabbit Tales,” performed by the Enchantment Theatre Company, bring Beatrix Potter’s tale to life. The performance follows Peter as he sets off on an adventure to rescue his sister’s babies. The one-hour family performance is recommended for ages 3 to 9 and is sure to captivate the young audiences.

“We are also excited welcome young audiences back to the Ford Center for ‘Peter Rabbit Tales,'” Meacham said. “‘Peter Rabbit’ and all the Beatrix Potter books are such a classic character and story.”

Peter Rabbit’s adventure begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children, and are available at the UM Box Office in the Ole Miss Student Union or online at http://www.fordcenter.org/.

Shakespeare’s First and Second Folio on Display at UM

University observes Bard's anniversary with exhibit, major acquisition

The First Folio will be on display at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts April 11 to May 1. In addition, the Second Folio is currently on display at the UM J.D. Williams Library and will be part of the permanent collection.

The First Folio will be on display at the Ford Center through May 1. In addition, the Second Folio is on display at the J.D. Williams Library and is part of the university’s permanent collection.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi celebrates William Shakespeare this month with exhibitions of two rare books containing some of the first printed copies of the Bard’s best-known works.

The observance kicks off Monday (April 11) with “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare,” a landmark exhibit at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The university’s J.D. Williams Library is supplementing this exhibit with the purchase and display of Shakespeare’s Second Folio.

The First Folio is the term scholars use to describe “Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies,” a collection of 36 plays published in 1623. It includes 18 previously unpublished works, including “Macbeth,” “Julius Caesar” and “Twelfth Night.” Only 233 copies of the book are known to exist.

In commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Folger Shakespeare Library is sending a copy of the book for display in each state. The Ford Center is the chosen location for Mississippi.

“We are honored to have been selected to host the First Folio,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “It’s a great opportunity for students and the community to see a piece of history. We hope as many people as possible see the exhibit and take advantage of all the different ways to learn more about Shakespeare.”

The exhibit begins with an opening reception at 6:30 p.m. Monday, featuring comments by Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Owen Williams of the Folger Library. The folio will remain on display through May 1. It is free and open to the public in the Ford Center’s Studio Theatre.

The celebration will include performances and workshops in addition to the exhibit. A full schedule of events can be found here.

“The Folger Shakespeare Library holds the world’s largest Shakespeare collection; it is the ultimate resource for exploring Shakespeare and his world,” Williams said. “We realize, of course, that not everyone can visit us on Capitol Hill and, in the spirit of the Folger itself, we wanted to share an important part of our collection with the country to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.”

Shakespeare’s First Folio was published in 1623. Only 233 copies are known to exist today, and one will be on display at the Getrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts April 11 to May 1.

Shakespeare’s First Folio was published in 1623. Only 233 copies are known to exist, and one of those will be on display at the Ford Center through May 1.

Visitors will see the original 1623 book, opened to the “to be or not to be” speech from “Hamlet.”

“With this as the centerpiece, our host sites across the nation have developed exciting original programming through which we hope that Americans of all ages can engage with Shakespeare, deepen their love of his language and discover how understanding his world helps us understand our own,” Williams said.

Thanks to a gift from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, the university also has acquired a rare volume of the Second Folio, making it a permanent part of the university’s collection. It is on display in the Department of Archives and Special Collections in the J.D. Williams Library.

Published in 1632, the Second Folio is an updated version of the First Folio. This rare copy belonged to Edwin Booth, one of history’s most illustrious Shakespearean actors, and the brother of John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

Edwin Booth was known for a more textually accurate use of Shakespeare’s works in his theatrical performances, a practice which was unusual for the 19th century. It is likely the actor consulted this volume in preparation for his lauded portrayals of characters such as the tragic Hamlet, historians say.

The Second Folio was purchased from the collections of the New York’s Players Club, a social group for actors founded by Booth, which had engaged the auction house Sotheby’s to negotiate on its behalf. The book, purchased with a $150,000 donation from the Ford Foundation, had an original estimate between $300,000 and $500,000.

The acquisition was completed thanks to the efforts of Rene Pulliam, interim chair of the Department of Theatre Arts; Rhona Justice-Malloy, theatre arts professor; Provost Morris Stocks; and Associate Provost Noel Wilkin, said Jennifer Ford, head of special collections and associate professor.

“This copy of the Second Folio, owned by one of history’s foremost Shakespearean actors, is a tremendous acquisition,” Ford said. “It will be an enduring resource for the entire university, as well as the general public.”

Justice-Malloy notified Pulliam that the copy was going to auction while visiting the Player’s Club in December.

“I am overjoyed that the University of Mississippi will now be a resource for theater researchers nationwide,” Pulliam said. “This fulfills a vision of Dr. Rhona Justice-Malloy and myself.”

Pulliam and Justice-Malloy put together literature and images to begin the fundraising process to purchase the book. In January, Associate Provost Noel Wilkin contacted Pulliam with news that the Ford Foundation would be a major donor and the acquisition would move forward.

“They were excited about the idea of it being at a public institution where someone would really be able to enjoy it,” Justice-Malloy said. “I am so proud to be a faculty member at Ole Miss and know that they value the importance of such a book.”

The folio will be valuable to help recruit students and scholars interested in the arts, history and literature research, Justice-Malloy said.

“It’s a big deal to be able to say we have not only the Second Folio, but Edwin Booth’s copy,” she said. “It will be a point of pride for us and scholars and students can actually use this. I would like to extend an enormous ‘thank you’ to the Ford Foundation for making this possible.”

The First Folio display will be open to the public 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays through May 1, with varying hours in the evening depending on performances. For a full schedule of events, performances, workshops and master classes, go to http://www.fordcenter.org/.

The J.D. Williams Library Second Folio exhibit is open 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. For more information, call 662-915-7091.

Oxford Conference for the Book Brings Variety of Authors to UM

Poets, journalists, scholars and readers coming to campus March 2-4 for free event

Ed Larson

Ed Larson

OXFORD, Miss. – Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, as well as first-time novelists, are part of the variety of legendary and debut writers hosted at the Oxford Conference for the Book, set for March 2-4. Poets, journalists, scholars and readers will visit the University of Mississippi for the 23rd conference.

The three-day event, which is free and open to the public, includes readings, panel discussions and lectures.

The conference is a great way for Oxford visitors and locals to explore the town and the university, said James G. Thomas Jr., conference director.

“We try to open doors with this conference, both literally and metaphorically,” said Thomas, associate director of publications at the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

“By that I mean the sessions open up doors for thought and inquiry, and the venues we’re hav­ing them in are places that some Oxford residents, stu­dents, and visitors may not have had the opportunity to explore, such as the Lafayette County courthouse, the Barksdale-Isom House, the UM library’s Faulkner Room and even the University Museum.”

This year’s writers include novelists Rick Bass, Bobbie Ann Mason, Margaret McMullan, Robert Gipe, Taylor Brown and UM Grisham Writer in Residence Kiese Laymon; Mississippi historians Minion K.C. Morrison and Dennis Mitchell; historian and gender studies scholar LaKisha Michelle Simmons; poets Richard Katrovas, Rebecca Morgan Frank, Caki Wilkinson, Jericho Brown, Katie Peterson, Chiyuma Elliott and UM professors Beth Ann Fennelly and Derrick Harriell; histori­an Mark Essig; literary scholar Vereen Bell; and Pulitzer Prizewinners journalist Sheri Fink and historian Edward J. Larson.

Larson, professor of law at Pepperdine University, is the author of nine books, the most recent of which, “The Return of George Washington,” was on The New York Times bestseller list in 2015. He has lectured on all seven continents.

“I love Oxford, I have been for tailgating in the Grove since back when I was on the University of Georgia’s athletic board and the SEC was a 10-team conference,” Larson said. “Oxford has the best catfish anywhere. What I want to do next in Mississippi is to bike the Natchez Trace.”

Margaret McMullan

Margaret McMullan

Wednesday’s and Thursday’s events will take place in the auditorium of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, and the conference will begin with a lecture and free luncheon, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, in the Faulkner Room in Archives and Special Collections in the J.D. Williams Library, also on the UM campus. Friday’s panels and readings will take place in the main courtroom of the historic Lafayette County courthouse on the Oxford Square.

Lyn Roberts, general manager at Square Books, calls the conference a celebration of books for everyone.

“The Oxford Conference for the Book has a history and tradition of bringing authors, both debut and established, to Oxford and the University of Mississippi, allowing everyone in the community and anyone who wants to travel the opportunity to hear them read from their works and discuss books,” Roberts said.

Conference panels will explore a wide range of topics, in­cluding Mississippi history; childhood in the South; mem­oir writing; youth, activism, and life in the Mountain South; poetic responses to Langston Hughes; Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman”; the Hurricane Katrina crisis; America’s continuing debate over science and religion; and a cultural and culi­nary history of the pig.

“I’m excited to introduce Mark Essig to the OCB audience,” said Sara Camp Milam, who will moderate Friday’s 10:30 a.m. panel, sponsored by the Southern Foodways Alliance. “His work is as engaging as it is educational. ‘Lesser Beasts’ was one of my favorite food studies books of 2015. For students thinking about how to make their academic work accessible to a general audience, I’d recommend attending this session.”

A new event this year is a poetry session paired with an art exhibition by photographer Youngsuk Suh. At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, following the “Poetic Responses to Langston Hughes” session, the University Museum will host a free recep­tion.

“Thacker Mountain Radio” will host a special Oxford Conference for the Book show at 6 p.m. Thursday at Off Square Books, 129 Courthouse Square, featuring conference authors and visiting musicians. The day’s authors will be there to meet conference attendees and sign books. Each afternoon following the sessions, Square Books will host book signings for that day’s authors.

Mark Essig

Mark Essig

The Children’s Book Festival will be held March 4 at the Ford Center for Performing Arts, with more than 1,200 first- and fifth-graders from area schools. Laurie Keller, author of “The Scrambled States of America,” will present at 9 a.m. for first graders, and Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of “Counting by 7s,” will present at 10:30 a.m. for fifth graders. The Lafayette County Literacy Council sponsors the first-grade program and the Junior Auxiliary of Oxford spon­sors the fifth-grade program.

Four special social events are set on the Ole Miss campus and in town. On March 2, the Friends of the J.D. Williams Library will host an opening lunch beginning at 11 a.m. in Archives and Special Collections. The lunch is free, but reservations are appreciated. That evening is the gala opening-night cocktail reception-dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the historic Barksdale-Isom House, 1003 Jefferson Ave. A portion of the $50 ticket proceeds is tax-deductible.

At noon March 4, the Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library will host a poetry talk and lunch with poet Richard Katrovas. Both the lunch and talk are free, but reservations are appreciated.

The Oxford Conference for the Book is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, Square Books, Southern Documentary Project, Southern Foodways Alliance, Living Blues magazine, University Museum, Lafayette County Literacy Council, UM Department of English, J.D. Williams Library, Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, John and Renée Grisham Visiting Writers Fund, Junior Auxiliary of Oxford, Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library, Southern Literary Trail and the Pulitzer Centennial Campfires Initiative.

The conference is partially funded by the university, a contribution from the R&B Feder Foundation for the Beaux Arts, grants from the Mississippi Humanities Council and promotional support from Visit Oxford.

To see a full schedule of events, visit http://oxfordconferenceforthebook.com/ or contact James G. Thomas Jr. at 662-915-3374 or jgthomas@olemiss.edu.

Ford Center, UM Theatre Offer Variety of Performances for Spring

Slate of offerings includes wide range of styles and material

Trio ConcertDance with Alessandra Ferri, Herman Cornejo and Bruce Levingston

Trio ConcertDance with Alessandra Ferri, Herman Cornejo and Bruce Levingston

The spring semester bring numerous theatrical performances to the University of Mississippi, at both the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts and the Ole Miss Department of Theatre Arts.

Tickets for all theatrical events can be purchased at the UM Box Office in the Ole Miss Student Union or online at http://fordcenter.org or http://olemissboxoffice.com.

Here’s a calendar of events for the spring:

“Romeo and Juliet,” 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15, Ford Center

The Aquila Theatre brings to life the story of one of theater’s most iconic couples. William Shakespeare’s tale of tragic young lovers adapted by Aquila brings an innovative style to the heart-breaking tragedy. The New Yorker has raved that Aquila Theatre productions are “Beautifully spoken, dramatically revealing and crystalline in effect.”

Anton Webern Chamber Choir, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16, Ford Center

This free event features the Webern Chamber Choir, composed of students at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, who came together to pursue choral singing across many styles, including pop, jazz, baroque oratorios and a cappella. In this series, the Webern Chamber Choir collaborates with choirs from universities all over the world, including the University of Mississippi Concert Singers.

“Anton in Show Business,” 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17-21 and 23-27 and 2 p.m. Feb. 20-21 and 27-28, Meek Hall Auditorium

This comedy, directed by Dex Edwards, follows three actresses into a strangely familiar Wonderland. As these women pursue their dream of performing Chekhov in Texas, they’re whisked through a maelstrom of “good ideas” that offer unique solutions to their desire to have their life’s purpose revealed. “Anton in Show Business” conveys the joys, pains and absurdities of “putting on a play” at the turn of the century.

Trio ConcertDance with Alessandra Ferri, Herman Cornejo and Bruce Levingston, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23, Ford Center

This performance features Alessandra Ferri, Italy’s prima ballerina assoluta, and Herman Cornejo, virtuoso Argentinan dancer and star principal of American Ballet Theatre, performing with Bruce Levingston, an acclaimed concert pianist and artist-in-residence at the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. These three artists come together for an evening of music and dance that previews the Trio ConcertDance, which will run the following week in New York City.

“Gravedigger’s Tale,” 7:30 p.m. March 9, Meek Auditorium

Folger Theatre at Folger Shakespeare Library and Ole Miss Theatre present a free performance of “Gravedigger’s Tale.” In Hamlet, the Gravedigger appears briefly in Act V to present Hamlet with the jester Yorick’s skull. Our Gravedigger arrives with his trunk and a book to retell “Hamlet” from his unique perspective with a little help from the audience. Conceived and directed by Robert Richmond and performed by Louis Butelli, this 40-minute interactive experience combines Shakespeare’s moving words with original and traditional music.

UM Cinema Festival, 7 p.m. March 30-31, Overby Center for Southern Politics and Journalism

The theatre department presents student-written and student-produced short films and the winning entries of the fifth annual UM Cinema Competition.

The Midtown Men, 7:30 p.m. April 8, Ford Center

This production reunites four stars from the original cast of Broadway’s “Jersey Boys.” Tony Award winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony Award nominee J. Robert Spencer star in this one-of-a-kind concert experience celebrating the music that defined the ’60s. As The Midtown Men, they have performed on stages and for television audiences across North America.

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, April 11-May 1, Ford Center

A traveling exhibition from the Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with the Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, will offer the First Folio for viewing, in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, of which only 233 copies are to exist. The Ford Center is the selected site for display in Mississippi. Admission is free.

“Tina Packer’s Women of Will,” 7:30 p.m. April 14, Ford Center

This performance is considered a bonus to Shakespeare’s plays. It explores themes of love, loss and freedom and traces the evolution of female characters in Shakespeare’s works. Master Shakespearean actor Tina Packer deconstructs the Bard’s most famous female characters in a production The New York Times calls “Marvelous!”

“Peter Rabbit Tales,” 2 p.m. April 16, Ford Center

The Enchantment Theatre Company brings to life the beloved tales of Beatrix Potter. Enjoy the performance of Peter Rabbit’s adventures in this production for the whole family.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” 7:30 p.m. April 15-16 and 21-23 and 2 p.m. April 16-17 and 24, Fulton Chapel

The Ole Miss theatre department performs what is perhaps the most popular of all of Shakespeare’s comedies. Follow the student cast through that wedding festivities of Theseus, Duke of Athens and his bride, Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons.