Mediaeval Baebes to Perform Dec. 9 at Ford Center

Show to feature familiar Christmas carols and traditional medieval songs

The Mediaeval Baebes will bring their unique performance to the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 9.

The Mediaeval Baebes will bring their unique performance to the Ford Center on Dec. 9.

OXFORD, Miss. – The beautiful and mysterious Mediaeval Baebes, a British ensemble of female musicians, will perform their arrangements of familiar Christmas carols Dec. 9 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts as part of their “Of Kings and Angels” concert series.

The show is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, priced at $17 and $23 apiece, depending on seating, are available at the UM Box Office, located inside the Ole Miss Student Union, or by calling 662-915-7411.

In addition to singing Christmas classics and traditional medieval songs, the Mediaeval Baebes take texts from the time period and put them to original compositions using traditional medieval instruments. Those stories include tales of unrequited love, the inevitability of death and various misadventures.

When these pieces are sung in a variety of languages from Latin, Middle English, Medieval French and German to Cornish and Medieval Welsh, the time period is truly brought to life.

“The Mediaeval Baebes are highly skilled musicians and have learned to perform on traditional medieval instruments, allowing this style of music to be accessible to modern audiences,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “We hope audiences in Oxford will take the opportunity to see such a unique performance.”

Jazz Ambassadors to Perform Friday at Ford Center

Concert features music to complement 'The Girls of Atomic City'

The Jazz Ambassadors will perform at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts Friday, Nov. 14.

The Jazz Ambassadors will perform at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts Friday, Nov. 14.

OXFORD, Miss. – The official touring band of the United States Army will perform a free concert Friday (Nov. 14) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts as part of Military Appreciation Month.

The Jazz Ambassadors offer a little something for everyone. The band’s repertoire includes swing, bebop, Latin, contemporary jazz, standards, popular tunes, Dixieland, vocals and, of course, patriotic music. The band’s members wrote many of the musical pieces that they perform.

“We are always happy to welcome the military bands to the Ford Center,” said Norm Easterbrook, Ford Center director. “For this concert, we were able to work with the band to focus the concert on music from the 1940s as a complement to the UM Common Reading Experience book ‘The Girls of Atomic City.'” 

The Jazz Ambassadors have performed in all 50 states and several countries with notable performances at the Toronto Jazz Festival and the Kennedy Center, and even had an appearance on the “Colbert Report.”

Free tickets are available at the UM Box Office, inside the Ole Miss Student Union.

Broadway Musical ‘Sister Act’ Coming to Ford Center

Monday night show features lively music, dancing and comedy

Tony-nominated Broadway musical Sister Act will be at the Ford Center Nov. 10.

The Tony-nominated Broadway musical ‘Sister Act’ will be at the Ford Center Nov. 10.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Tony-nominated Broadway musical “Sister Act” is coming from Manhattan to the University of Mississippi for a Monday night performance at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The performance is set for 7:30 p.m. Monday. Tickets range from $55 to $66.50, depending on seating, and are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ole Miss Student Union or online at

The musical follows the plot of the 1992 film of the same name. Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder and is put into protective custody, disguised as a nun in a convent, where she must deal with the rigid lifestyle. With her powerful voice, she inspires the choir and brings the church to life.

“‘Sister Act’ is just a lot of fun,” said Norm Easterbrook, Ford Center director. “It has great music and a good story but overall, it’s just a good time.”

The show, produced by Whoopi Goldberg, TROIKA Entertainment and Sister Act on Tour LLC, received five Tony Nominations in 2011, including nods for Best Musical and Best Original Score by Alan Menken. Menken has been nominated multiple times for Academy, Grammy and Golden Globe awards and is known for his works in Disney films and musicals such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid.”

“To hear people laugh and cheer the way they do at ‘Sister Act’ – a show people think they know but are pleasantly surprised to discover is not what they are expecting – is a magical experience for a producer,” Goldberg said. “Happily, audiences across the country are able to get in on the fun as Deloris and her fabulous sisters spread the love nationwide.”

UM Hosts Freedom Series Nov. 15-18

Week's events include concerts, museum tour and film screening

freedom series

The University of Mississippi Freedom Series

OXFORD, Miss. – Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer, the University of Mississippi has a slate of events coming up Nov. 15-18 in its Freedom Series.

Scheduled events include the UM Gospel Choir‘s 40th anniversary concert Nov. 15 and an Oxford Civic Chorus concert Nov. 17. Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Adult admission is $10 each night, with a special $5 admission for students the second night only.

The Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center, 710 East Jackson Ave., will be open to visitors from 2 to 5 p.m. Nov. 16. A screening of the documentary “Freedom Summer” begins at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Oxford Studio Cinema on Jackson Avenue. Both events are free to the public.

“For years, the events of Freedom Summer evaded the history books, and several generations of Mississippians are unaware of the details surrounding the events,” said Donald Cole, assistant provost, assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs and program co-coordinator.

“If you are one of the individuals who missed this part of your state’s history, or were told only portions of it or if you want to hear from individuals who actually experienced it, then you will want to attend the events planned for Freedom Summer. Even if you’re not a historian, you’ll enjoy the music, folklore and academic lectures associated with this event.”

The Oxford Civic Chorus concert features music inspired by the civil rights movement. Special guests include the Grammy-nominated UM Gospel Choir, Mississippians Jazz Ensemble, Lafayette High School Choir, Oxford High School Choir and Blue Ten Harmony. The concert will begin with composer-music teacher-pastor Lena McLin’s famous 1973 cantata, “Free At Last: A Portrait of Martin Luther King Jr.” Other songs will highlight protest from the era and inspiration.

“Dr. McLin, who grew up with Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, wrote this piece to honor the memory of her friend,” said Brooke Worthy, civic chorus director. “This is a great opportunity to hear an important piece that is rarely performed in the United States. In addition, the concert on Monday night brings together some wonderful ensembles in one venue.”

Presented by UM Libraries, the nationally-acclaimed documentary “Freedom Summer” focuses on the memorable 10 weeks in 1964 when more than 700 student volunteers from around the country joined organizers and local African-Americans in an effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in the South. “Freedom Summer” is part of the Created Equal film series that chronicles the legacy of the long civil rights movement.

Rioult Dance NY Performs Nov. 5 at Ford Center

Company also offers free classes and opportunities to meet the dancers

Renowned modern dance company Rioult Dance NY will take up residency at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 2 to Nov. 5, ending with a performance Wednesday night.

Renowned modern dance company Rioult Dance NY will take up residency at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, ending with a performance Nov. 5.

OXFORD, Miss. – Renowned American modern dance company Rioult Dance NY will perform Wednesday (Nov. 5) at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Campus Connection Series.

The performance is set for 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are available for $30 at the UM Box Office inside the Ole Miss Student Union.

Besides the performance, the 10-dancer company offers dance training to the public through classes and workshops along their tour.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring Rioult Dance NY to the Ford Center for an extended residency as part of the Dance Touring Initiative by SouthArts and the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Norman Easterbrook, Ford Center director. “Rioult is a beautiful dance company that has much to share with our community. We hope that as many as possible will join us for these activities. They are free and open to the public with no experience required.”

The public can meet members of the dance company at 2 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 2) at Lamar Park. At 3:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 3), Rioult will conduct a high school dance workshop at Lafayette High School’s practice gym. A free company class is scheduled for 12:30-2:30 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 4) at the Ford Center, followed by a free, public rehearsal at 3 p.m.

Based in New York City, the dance company was founded in 1994 by artistic director and choreographer Pascal Rioult. It quickly earned a reputation for presenting Rioult’s musical works in a sensual and exquisite manner. The company celebrates its 20th anniversary this season.

For more information about the show, visit the Ford Center’s website.

Lead Gift Announced for Ole Miss Science Building

Gertrude C. Ford Foundation commits $20 million for construction

A generous gift from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation will help ensure that the University of Mississippi continues to provide cutting-edge educational opportunities in the sciences for years to come.

A generous gift from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation will help ensure that the University of Mississippi continues to provide cutting-edge educational opportunities in the sciences for years to come.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s reputation for strong teaching and research in the sciences will be bolstered by the addition of a new science building, thanks to a $20 million lead gift from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation of Jackson.

The facility will be a significant addition to “Science Row” along the section between University Avenue and All American Drive. It comes on the heels of the construction of the Thad Cochran Research Center Phase II – an addition of more than 96,000 square feet that is described as the most technically sophisticated research building in the Southeast – and an expansion of Coulter Hall, adding almost 36,000 square feet.

The classroom space and technological advances offered by another science building will be critical to serve the continuing enrollment growth, UM leaders say. The fall semester opened with 23,096 students on all campuses, the largest enrollment in the state, leading The Chronicle of Higher Education to name UM among the nation’s fastest-growing colleges in its Almanac of Higher Education 2014.

Founded by the late Gertrude Castellow Ford, who came from a family of dedicated philanthropists, the Ford Foundation has already contributed $25 million for the 88,000-square-foot Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, opened in 2002 on the Oxford campus, and for several other university initiatives. Foundation board members are Anthony T. Papa, Cheryle M. Sims and John C. Lewis, all of Jackson.

“The Ford Foundation board members have been very pleased with the utilization of the private support we have provided the University of Mississippi,” said Papa, president of the foundation board. “I learned of the need for another science building on the Oxford campus and pursued a discussion with Chancellor Dan Jones. He said a gift from the Ford Foundation would inspire others to support the science building, and I do believe that will occur. The chancellor has been very effective in leading Ole Miss, as evidenced by the more than $350 million in private gifts during the last three years.

“Today the Ford Foundation announces this $20 million contribution with great confidence in the University of Mississippi’s future path. This new science building represents another exciting opportunity to serve generations of Ole Miss students.”

The projected cost for the building is around $100 million, and the size is expected to be around 200,000 square feet. UM will seek other private funding, as well as state and federal funding, and will use internally generated cash and borrow funds to cover the remaining costs. University leaders hope to see the building completed by fall 2018.

“Historically, the Ford Foundation has focused its large commitments on enriching the lives of all Mississippians through investments in the arts, medicine and the human condition in the state of Mississippi, said Lewis of the Ford Foundation. “This pledge represents our first major commitment to science and education. Building on our partnership with the University of Mississippi, we hope to be able to provide the students and faculty of the university a state-of-the-art facility that will further the education in the sciences for generations to come.”

Ford Foundation board member Sims said, “We are all very happy to be teaming up with Dr. Jones in his efforts to construct this new science building at the University of Mississippi.”

Chancellor Dan Jones expressed appreciation for the Ford Foundation’s leadership and vision.

“Our nation can continue as a global leader by encouraging more students to pursue the sciences, as well as technology, engineering and mathematics,” he said. “This state-of-the-art facility will undergird our efforts to provide outstanding facilities for teaching and research in the sciences. Ford Foundation board members possess a deep understanding of needs in higher education and believe in investing in extraordinary educational opportunities. We are profoundly grateful for their generosity.

“By partnering with us in these ambitious pursuits, the Ford Foundation is helping transform the lives of countless students and investing in our nation’s future.”

This new science facility will join others on Science Row, including Coulter Hall (chemistry), Thad Cochran Research Center (National Center for Natural Products Research, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and School of Pharmacy), Faser Hall (pharmacy) and Shoemaker Hall (biology). Completion is nearing on the Thad Cochran Research Center Phase II, which is almost doubling the School of Pharmacy’s research space. Among the cutting-edge facility’s features are an area for clinical trials, an expanded botanical-specimen repository, laboratories for scaling-up synthesis of naturally derived compounds and laboratories for expanding efforts to discover natural products.

Papa described the outcome of the Ford Foundation’s support of UM as a “very positive experience” that has benefited the university and its students, Mississippi and the region.

“Certainly these experiences led to our decision to award another major gift,” he said. “The board members have been very proud of the way the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts is run and all the events it has drawn to campus. The first presidential debate of the last election was hosted at the center, and look at the positive attention the university and state received from that. It was a needed addition to the campus, and we have been pleased with its impact.”

The Ford Foundation also provided gifts for the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom in The Inn at Ole Miss and the Suzan Thames Chair of Pediatrics at the UM Medical Center. A partnership with the city of Oxford resulted in the Gertrude C. Ford Boulevard, providing a new north-south thoroughfare for the ever-growing Oxford-University community.

“I believe if Mrs. Ford was alive and could experience all the things on the UM campuses that have been the result of her resources that she would be very pleased,” Papa said.

About Gertrude C. Ford

Gertrude C. Ford was raised in a generations-old tradition of philanthropy, which began more than 150 years ago with a $25 donation from her family to the Andrew Female College Building Fund in Randolph County, Georgia. Mrs. Ford established the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation in Jackson with a very generous gift in 1991. Mrs. Ford died in September 1996. She and her husband, Aaron Lane Ford, who was an Ackerman attorney and U.S. congressman representing what was then Mississippi’s Fourth District, are buried in Cuthbert, a small town in southwest Georgia.

The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi became a reality in 1998 with a gift of $20 million from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation. The state of Mississippi contributed $500,000 for initial planning, followed by an appropriation of $10 million for construction, which was completed in December 2002. Since that time, the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation has contributed funds to UM for the purchase land for Gertrude Ford Boulevard and for Ford Center support staff positions and programming.

The Ford Center houses an average of 150 events annually. It is the centerpiece of UM’s cultural and scholarly mission to present the finest in the performing arts and visiting lecturers.

Kenny Loggins to Perform Oct. 30 at Ford Center

Singer-songwriter expected to perform his soundtrack hits at UM show

Kenny Loggins will perform at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 30.  Photo Credit: Stephen Morales

Kenny Loggins will perform at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 30.
Photo Credit: Stephen Morales

OXFORD, Miss. – Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Kenny Loggins will perform his Hollywood hits Thursday (Oct. 30) at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Loggins’ four-decade career has earned him two Grammy awards and a dozen platinum albums. He’s best known for his soundtrack hits “Danger Zone” from the movie “Top Gun,” “I’m Alright” from “Caddyshack” and “Footloose” as the title song of the 1984 Kevin Bacon movie.

“Kenny Loggins is an extremely talented singer and songwriter,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “His hits from the ’80s and ’90s provided the soundtrack for many during those years. This will be a great opportunity for patrons to revisit the old hits and a chance to hear his recent music.”

The season extra event begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 for orchestra pit seating, $68 for orchestra and parterre sections, $62 for the mezzanine and $58 for the balcony. The UM Box Office, in the Ole Miss Student Union, is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays.

For more information, visit the Ford Center’s website.

Hal Holbrook to Perform ‘Mark Twain Tonight!’ Oct. 7

Actor returning to UM for second time since first performing the long-running play on campus in 1962

Photo courtesy Hal Holbrook

Photo courtesy Hal Holbrook

OXFORD, Miss. – Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Hal Holbrook will perform his solo show “Mark Twain Tonight!” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 7) in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi.

Holbrook, who created the play, has been performing it every year since 1954, making 2014 the 60th year he’s portrayed the man George Bernard Shaw called “America’s Voltaire.” His first performance of Twain on campus in October 1962 came in the days just after the deadly riots that followed the enrollment of James Meredith as the university’s first black student.

Holbrook, 89, said he’s looking forward to coming back to Ole Miss. He last performed the play here in May 2006.

“It’s important to me,” Holbrook said. “Going there in 1962 with the Army rolling through town and violence in the air and one brave black student named James Meredith facing up to it, was an important moment in my life. I had to bet on what I sensed was waiting, silently, in the Southern mind: the moment to step forward. That night Mark Twain told the truth and they stepped forward and I have never forgotten it. I admired them. Coming back will mean thinking about where we are now.”

The actor will portray the author of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in what is probably the longest running theater performance in American history.

Holbrook’s portrayal of the author has been characterized by the New Yorker as “Uncanny. A dazzling display of virtuosity.” He received a Tony Award for “Mark Twain Tonight!” in 1966, and drew 30 million viewers on CBS television in 1967. He has won five Emmy awards for other roles and was nominated for an Oscar for “Into the Wild.” He has had roles in “Designing Women” and “Evening Shade” and made appearances on many other movies and television shows.

Tickets in the Ford Center’s orchestra pit, orchestra and parterre are $55, mezzanine seats are $50 and balcony tickets are $39. For more information, call 662-915-2787 or email

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson at Ford Center Sept. 23

Renowned musician's repertoire includes classical and contemporary music

American pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays during rehearsal at Warsaw Philharmonic

American pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays during rehearsal at Warsaw Philharmonic

OXFORD, Miss. – American pianist Garrick Ohlsson is coming to the University of Mississippi Sept. 23 for a concert of classical and contemporary music.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $35.50 for seating in the orchestra and parterre sections and $28 for the mezzanine and balcony. UM Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

“Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “Although long regarded as one of the world’s leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, Mr. Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature.”

A student of the late Claudio Arrau, Ohlsson has come to be noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. To date, he has at his command more than 80 concertos, ranging from Haydn and Mozart to works of the 21st century, many commissioned for him.

For more information, visit

Music of the South Concert Series Continues Sept. 17

Cajun French band Feufollet to perform at Ford Center Studio Theater



OXFORD, Miss. – Cajun roots-rock band Feufollet gives listeners a taste of Louisiana Sept. 17 at the Music of the South Concert Series at the University of Mississippi.

The concert is set for 7 p.m. in the Studio Theater of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The venue has a capacity of 150 people. Tickets are available for $10 through the UM Box Office, 662-915-7411, and at the door.

Feufollet is a Cajun French band deeply rooted in the Francophone soil of their hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. They first came together and recorded in 1995, when they were all in their early teens or younger. Though famous for their renditions of heartbreaking songs and rollicking tunes, the group features original songs that draw on deep roots tempered by a cutting edge of contemporary life.

“Three members of Feufollet came to the Music of the South Symposium in 2013,” said Ted Ownby, director of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “The topic that year was experimentation and innovation, and the band members told some intriguing stories about how, as children, they played music considered traditionally Cajun, and how they have experimented with those traditions while listening to and feeling the influence of all sorts of music. We’re excited to have them performing at the Ford Center.”

The name Feufollet translates to “swamp fire.” Band members Philippe Billeaudeaux, Kelli Jones-Savoy, Chris Stafford, Mike Stafford and Andrew Toups sing and even compose in French, and their music is a blend of modern sounds and ancient styles, mixing zydeco, rock, rhythm and blues, and country.

Billeaudeaux, who plays bass, said he is looking forward the show.

“At the Music of the South Conference last year, we had a great time talking about our musical influences and our creative process, and had the ability to present examples to an interested audience,” he said. “We’re very happy to be asked back, this time with the band.”

The band has been hard at work on its forthcoming album “Two Universes,” which will be its first with new singer-guitarist-fiddler Jones-Savoy and now-full-time keyboardist Toups.

“With the addition to our new members, our sound has helped us move forward,” Billeaudeaux said. “Kelli is rooted in old-time and country music as well as Cajun and Creole, while Toups’ keyboards add new colors to our repertoire.”

Recently, the group won the 2014 Gambit Weekly’s Big Easy Music Award for “Best Cajun Artist.”

The Music of the South Concert Series, which highlights intimate evenings with Southern performers, is a partnership between the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Ford Center that began in 2012. Previous performers include Caroline Herring, Randall Bramblett, Valerie June, Blind Boy Paxton and John “JoJo” Hermann.