Koresh Dance to Perform Saturday at Ford Center

Koresh Dance Company will perform at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts Saturday, May 2.

Koresh Dance Company will perform at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts Saturday, May 2.

A troupe that blends Middle Eastern music with classical favorites for a cross-cultural experience brings its unique take on dance to the University of Mississippi for a Saturday (May 2) performance at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Koresh Dance, created in Philadelphia in 1991, uses music from Israeli and Turkish composers along with works of Chopin, Ravel and Beethoven. The performers also incorporate Israeli folk dance with classical movements to convey a range of emotions and ideas.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $30 for general admission and are available online or at the UM Box Office, inside the Ole Miss Student Union.

“Koresh Dance is a known for being technically superb,” said Kate Meacham, the Ford Center’s marketing director. “We are happy to have the chance to bring them to the Ford Center. Seeing them perform is a real treat.”

Koresh Dance is part of the Ford Center’s Campus Connections series and also will appear at events throughout the community leading up to the performance. Koresh is partnering with the RebelWell program to provide a workshop in Grove for faculty, staff and student at noon Friday (May 1). No dance experience is required.

The company is scheduled for a workshop at the Scott Center for special needs students, as well as a session for middle school and high school students at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Lafayette High School.

Russian National Ballet Brings ‘Cinderella’ to Ford Center

The Russian National Ballet will perform Cinderella at the Ford Center Tuesday.

The Russian National Ballet will perform Cinderella at the Ford Center Tuesday.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Russian National Ballet Theatre returns to the University of Mississippi on Tuesday (April 21) with its production of Prokofiev’s “Cinderella.”

The performance is at 7:30 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The production brings to life the iconic tale of a girl who is servant to her stepfamily, but with the help of her fairy godmother, is transformed into a princess.

“‘Cinderella’ is a beloved fairy tale that appeals to all ages,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “We are thrilled to bring the Russian National Ballet to the Ford Center to perform this ballet. It should be a great experience.

This performance, with its beautiful scenery and costumes, is a delight for the whole family.

Tickets are $28 for mezzanine and balcony seating and $35.50 for orchestra and parterre seating. They are available for purchase online and at the UM Box Office in the Ole Miss Student Union.

Opera Theatre Presents World Premiere of ‘Hamlet, Prince of Denmark’

Adaptation is latest work by acclaimed UM alumnus Nancy Van de Vate

Dr. Nancy Van de Vate listens to the cast and orchestra during the Sitz Probe in the Ford Center.

Nancy Van de Vate listens to the cast and orchestra during the sitzprobe, or seated rehearsal, in the Ford Center.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Opera Theatre Ensemble will present the world premiere of “Hamlet: Prince of Denmark” this weekend at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The performance is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 18). Tickets are $30 for general admission, $24 for faculty and staff, and $10 for students. They are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ole Miss Student Union and from the Ford Center website.

The opera, composed by UM alumna Nancy Van de Vate, adapts the classic Shakespeare play. The production will feature faculty, staff and students on stage and in the orchestra, and the entire cast will travel to Prague to perform May 30 with the Moravian Philharmonic.

Van de Vate said Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is beautifully written and the structure is very much like an opera, allowing a smooth transition from stage play to opera theatre.

But the process of composing isn’t complete until the opera comes to life, she said.

“I can put black spots on paper, but the piece doesn’t exist until it’s performed,” Van de Vate said.

Van de Vate completed her undergraduate education at Wellesley College and came to Ole Miss to earn her master’s degree in music composition. She went on to earn a Doctor of Music degree from Florida State University.

She has composed more than 115 works in many different forms and is considered one of the world’s most accomplished female composers. She resides in Vienna, having received dual citizenship for her musical achievements and contributions to the Republic of Austria.

“I’m delighted to be back in Oxford, and I’m thrilled to work with such a fine music department,” she said.

Julia Aubrey, UM associate professor of music, serves as the production’s artistic and stage director.

“This is very much a University of Mississippi and community project,” Aubrey said. “We have faculty, students, guest artists and community members working on stage, in the orchestra pit and behind the scenes. To stage ‘Hamlet’ as a play can be daunting. To direct it as an opera is an exciting challenge. This production gives the university and Oxford an opportunity to experience something extraordinary.”

The performance will also feature guest singers for the lead roles. Tenor Ryan MacPherson will perform the role of Hamlet, UM music faculty members Jennifer and Bradley Robinson will perform as Gertrude and Claudius, and guest faculty artist G. William Bugg, of Samford University, will perform as the ghost/gravedigger.

“It’s an honor to be performing something as powerful and challenging as ‘Hamlet,'” MacPherson said. “I hope the audience finds not only a love for contemporary music and new opera, but also an appreciation of Mrs. Van de Vate as a writer.”

“We are very pleased to be producing this project in collaboration with the Department of Music’s opera program,” said Norm Easterbrook, Ford Center director. “This is a very satisfying opportunity for us to utilize our resources to yield what we hope will be highly rewarding experiences for our students, faculty and staff.

“We are profoundly grateful to the Ford Foundation, the Office of the Provost and College of Liberal Arts and donors to our Ford Center Friends program for their continuing support, without which this project simply would not have come to fruition.”

Pilobolus to Teach, Perform in Oxford

Pilobolus will perform at the Ford Center March 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Pilobolus will perform March 31 at the Ford Center.

The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi welcomes renowned dance company Pilobolus for a Monday (March 30) performance as part of its Artist Series.

Seating for the 7:30 p.m. show starts at $28 for the mezzanine and balcony levels and $35.50 for orchestra and parterre. Tickets are available on the Ford Center website or at the UM Box Office inside the Ole Miss Student Union.

Pilobolus, founded in 1971 by Dartmouth College students, challenges perceptions of modern dance by forming diverse collaborations that break barriers. The company has toured to more than 64 countries over the last 42 years and has been seen by more than 500,000 people. It physically and intellectually engages audiences through performance and education.

“Pilobolus is a very exciting dance company,” said Norman Easterbrook, Ford Center director. “They are very different from a typical modern dance company. The way they view movement and music and their use of space is very unique. It truly challenges the audience see things differently.”

Besides performances, the dance company also educates through workshops, classes, residencies and children’s programming. The Pilobolus@Play program allows children and adults with various levels of dancing experience to learn about improve, movements and choreography and are also invited to watch a show.

A community workshop is set for 2 p.m. Saturday (March 28) at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center. Children attending the workshops and students are invited to a Kids Show at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday (March 31) at the Ford Center.

“We are thrilled to partner with Pilobolus for their Pilobolus@Play program,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “It is great way to teach different audiences how dance and movement can be used examine themes and ideas found in daily life.”

Pilobolus is known around the world and has made appearances at the Academy Awards broadcast (2007), on “Oprah,” “Sesame Street,” “60 Minutes” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” It was received prestigious honors including a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Programming and the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement in Choreography.

‘American Cultural Icon’ John Waters to Perform One-Man Show on Campus



Acclaimed writer, director and photographer John Waters is bringing his one-man show “This Filthy World” to the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts for a March 28 performance.

Hosted by the university’s Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, the student-inspired event is made possible by the support from the University Lecture Series, numerous campus entities and private donations. The 7 p.m. event is free, but tickets are required and are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ole Miss Student Union.

Waters has directed more than a dozen movies and is a noted photographer whose work has appeared in galleries worldwide. His is also the writer of many nonfiction books, and his most recent, “Carsick” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), was a 2014 New York Times bestseller.

“John Waters has been a key figure in gender studies for decades,” said Jaime Harker, the Isom Center’s interim director. “His films paved the way for performers like RuPaul and with his casting of ‘big girl’ Ricki Lake in ‘Hairspray,’ he forged a path that, most recently, Lena Denham in (the HBO series) ‘Girls’ has trod. Look at recent popular culture manifestations of feminism, body size, gender and sexuality, and it is almost certain that John Waters did it first and did it better.”

In anticipation of the event, the Isom Center, Student Union and Division of Student Affairs are hosting a “Welcome to the World of John Waters Movie Night” beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday (March 24) in the Turner Center Auditorium. “Hairspray” and “Serial Mom” will make up the double-feature. The evening also will feature a raffle of John Waters tickets with VIP seating, an autographed movie poster and copies of “Carsick.” This event is free.

“Bringing John Waters to our campus marks an important moment for the university community and our students,” said Theresa Starkey, assistant director and instructor of gender studies. “His body of creative work covers so much and his vision and influence seems limitless, embracing film, photography, sculpture and nonfiction. As an artist, Waters is always probing the boundaries of good taste. He embraces the complexities of American culture and social life and celebrates diversity and the outsider in the process.”

Bruce Levingston, New UM Friends Share ‘Words and Music’ at Ford Center

Chancellor's Honors College artist-in-residence leading all-star local line-up for March 27 show

Ross Bjork and Bruce Levingston

Ross Bjork and Bruce Levingston

OXFORD, Miss. – When acclaimed concert pianist and recording artist Bruce Levingston returns to the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts next Friday (March 27), he’ll be joined by an all-star line-up of campus celebrities.

“Music Noir: An Evening of Words and Music” begins at 7:30 p.m. Combining the melodies of classical composers with readings from both legendary and modern authors and poets, the program features UM faculty such as violinist Robert Riggs and singers Nancy Maria Balach, Jos Milton and Jaci Skoog. Readers include poet Beth Ann Fennelly, novelist Tom Franklin, journalist and author Curtis Wilkie and patron Patricia Lewis.

“This concert is really a concert about friendships, collaboration and inspiration,” Levingston said. “There is also a cool twist in that each piece is a little noir, about the night, so there will be pieces ranging from the haunting Dracula Suite of Philip Glass to nocturnes of Chopin.”

Ballerina Genevieve Fortner, founder and director of Oxford Ballet School, will perform, as well as star Ole Miss student-athletes Robert Nkemdiche, football; Jon Luke Watts, track and field; Taina Laporte, volleyball and track and field; and Forrest Gamble, golf. Special guests from the athletics world will be football Coach Hugh Freeze, Athletics Director Ross Bjork and Billy Chadwick, the former Rebels tennis coach.

“One of the pieces we will be performing will be the hilarious ‘Sports and Divertissements’ by Erik Satie,” Levingston said. “We think we have the perfect cast!”

Tickets range from $20 to $33 and can be purchased at the Central Ticket Office in the UM Student Union from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

While the event combines the music of Chopin, Satie, Debussy and Liszt with the words of great writers such as Verlaine, Hugo, Mann, Byron, Fennelly and Franklin, Levingston said the program is mostly about collaboration.

“As I’ve come to know each performer, I’ve learned so much from them,” he said. “Robert Nkemdiche is a tremendous reader and thinker and an incredibly sensitive and thoughtful human being. Ross Bjork is also just one of the greatest leaders here on campus and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.”

He voiced similar words of praise for the other cast members.

“Coach Freeze cares not only about his players, but about the impact he has on the lives of so many people outside his field,” Levingtson said. “Beth, Tom and Curtis are world-class writers and we are so blessed to have them at the university. The incredible musicians Robert, Nancy, Jos and Jaci are some of the finest I’ve ever performed with anywhere. Patty and Genevieve simply epitomize elegance.”

Balach, an associate professor of music, said she is looking forward to the evening’s performance.

“It is an absolute joy to work with someone who cares so passionately about music and creating a concert experience that is interesting and genuine,” she said. “We will be performing two gorgeous art songs with beautifully sincere texts: ‘Si mes vers avaient des ailes (If my verses had wings)’ by Venezuelan-born and naturalized French composer Reynaldo Hahn and ‘Goodbye, Goodbye World’ by American composer Lee Hoiby.”

Skoog, a graduate student in voice performance who studies with Balach, will join her and Levingtston for a third selection by Gioacchino Rossini.

Meeting and working with the students has been equally, if not more, transformative for Levingston.

“Fast-rising stars like Jon Luke Watts, who was just accepted for a year of study at Oxford University in England, Ty Laporte and Forest Gamble, both amazing leaders in their sports and brilliant, caring and powerful individuals, have changed my life,” he said. “Their spirits and passion for what they do inspire me in my own work and life.”

Laporte, a junior journalism major from Columbia, South Carolina, said Levingston has influenced her life as well.

“Meeting and watching Bruce play brought back why I love my sport,” Laporte said. “It’s an amazing thing to watch someone do something they love and see their love and passion for it. The way he plays is how I want people to see me when I play, to see my passion.”

The pianist thinks the evening will be one of most unique and entertaining evenings of classical music ever presented at the Ford Center.

“People can really inspire one another regardless of coming from different worlds and disciplines and places,” Levingston said. “I believe when the audience sees our performance, they will all share in this inspiration of friendship.”

For more information, visit http://www.fordcenter.org/event/bruce-levingston-and-friends-music-noir-an-evening-of-words-and-music/?instance_id=17285.

Fantasia Performance Postponed

Concert to be rescheduled at a later date

Fantasia ford center ole miss university of mississippi the color purple grammy award r&b pop black alumni reunion american idol ticket box office

Fantasia performance to be rescheduled due to icy road conditions.

OXFORD, Miss. – Due to the severity of the road conditions and in the interest of the safety of all those traveling, tonight’s FANTASiA concert sponsored by the University of Mississippi Black Alumni Association at the Gertrude C. Ford Center has been postponed.

A new date for the concert will be scheduled as soon as possible. Tickets to the tonight’s postponed performance will be honored at the rescheduled event or can be refunded through the UM Box Office at 662-915-7411.

Fantastic Fantasia Coming to Ford Center

'American Idol' and Grammy winner expected to wow her UM fans with March 5 show

Fantasia ford center ole miss university of mississippi the color purple grammy award r&b pop black alumni reunion american idol ticket box office

Fantasia will perform at the Ford Center on March 5 at 7:30 p.m. Photo courtesy of Fantasia.

OXFORD, Miss. – As University of Mississippi electrical engineering student Michael Simeon continues to rise on the popular “American Idol” competition show, former winner Fantasia Barrino is preparing to perform on the Ole Miss campus.

The Grammy-winning singer and third season winner of “American Idol” performs March 5 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from $75 to $100 for the general public, but a 25 percent discount is available. UM student tickets are $30.

Fantasia is renowned for her charismatic, energetic style onstage that is rooted in the traditions of gospel music. The North Carolina native takes her audiences to church even when she’s singing her own R&B/pop hits or those made famous by others. Add in some colorful costumes, lighting and stage moves and concert-goers get a memorable evening of entertainment.

“The American Idol who went on to become a best-selling recording artist and acclaimed Broadway star in the musical ‘The Color Purple’ will kick off the Black Alumni Reunion weekend in style with her 7:30 p.m. performance,” said Julian Gilner, assistant director of alumni affairs. “Knowing how Fantasia performs, it should be a fantastic show!”

To purchase tickets, go to http://olemissboxoffice.universitytickets.com/user_pages/event.asp?id=287 or call the UM Box Office at 662-915-7412. To buy online, users must create an account or log in to see the seating chart. At checkout, use the coupon code BAR2015 to receive a 25 percent discount.

Music of the South Concert Series Continues with Rory Block

Monday performance at the Ford Center blends traditional and new blues with folk stylings

Rory Block will perform at the Ford Center on February 23 at 7:30 p.m. Photo courtesy Rory Block.

Rory Block will perform at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Ford Center. Photo courtesy Rory Block.

OXFORD, Miss. – Blues artist Rory Block performs Monday (Feb. 23) at the Studio Theatre of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts as the Music of the South Concert Series continues at the University of Mississippi.

The 7:30 p.m. show is also sponsored by the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture. General admission tickets are $25 each at the UM Box Office inside the Ole Miss Student Union or online at http://www.fordcenter.org.

“Rory Block brings a unique style to blues and folk music,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “Her dedication to blues will delight our Mississippi audience.”

Block was born in New Jersey and spent her childhood in New York City, but has dedicated her life and career to not only preserving the Delta blues tradition, but delivering it to audiences in a new way. She combines traditional blues with an innovative new style, redefining the world of acoustic blues and folk music.

Block has been called “a living landmark” by Berkeley Express and “one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists” by Blues Revue. The New York Times said, “Her playing is perfect, her singing otherworldly as she wrestles with ghosts, shadows and legends.”

Bela Fleck and the Knights Perform Thursday at Ford Center

Show blends elements of classical, country, bluegrass, jazz and world music

knightsOXFORD, Miss. – Stretch your understanding of the banjo and what it can do Thursday evening (Feb. 5), when Bela Fleck and the Knights come to the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts for an evening of music that defies easy categorization.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28 for the mezzanine and balcony and $35.50 for the orchestra level. Student tickets are $10. All are available at the UM Box Office in the Ole Miss Student Union.

Fleck, recipient of 14 Grammys and 30 nominations, is pushing the limits of classical music by adding influences from country, bluegrass, jazz and world music. He has been nominated for more different categories than anyone in Grammy history.

His orchestra, known as The Knights, engages listeners by using their roots in traditional classical music and adding a passion for new musical discovery.

“This is a performance that is sure to engage listeners of all types of music,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “Bela Fleck’s award-winning talent will entertain everyone from music majors to community members.”