Ford Season Features National Tours and Performances for All Ages

Tickets available for public Aug. 1, Friends members can purchase this week

The Broadway national tour of the Tony and Grammy Award-winning true-life musical phenomenon ‘Jersey Boys’ comes to the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 9. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Two Broadway national tours of classic musicals, “The Wizard of Oz” and “Jersey Boys,” will make stops at the University of Mississippi as part of the 2018-19 season at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Other shows coming to the Ford Center this season include “In the Mood,” a big band USO show with live musicians, singers and dancers; an acrobatic comedy set in the American West of the 1800s; a production of the “Nutcracker” by the Moscow Ballet; a musical based on the Junie B. Jones children’s book series; the comic Gilbert and Sullivan opera “H.M.S. Pinafore” and much more.

“We present another wonderful season in 2018-19 to celebrate the arts,” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director. “A diverse and interesting group of shows is scheduled, and you won’t want to miss a single one.”

While tickets to the general public go on sale Aug. 1, those who are members of the Friends of the Ford Center or who become members before the end of July can purchase tickets early. Through July 31, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, Ford Center representatives will be available to advise and assist those who want to purchase tickets before they are available to the public.

The season begins next month when Emmy Award-winning actor Gordon Clapp stars in the one-man show, “Robert Frost: This Verse Business.” Clapp, who played Detective Medavoy in the hit TV series “NYPD Blue,” will bring his acclaimed performance of one of America’s most celebrated poets to the Oxford community at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30.

“We will offer our first friends reception in the Studio Theatre before this show,” Aubrey said.

The Robert Frost play is part of the 2018-19 Artist Series that will also include:

  • An Oct. 16 concert by the St. Lawrence String Quartet, described as “modern … dramatic … superb … wickedly attentive … with a hint of rock ‘n’ roll”
  • A Jan. 31 concert by ensemble 4.1, described as the only “piano windtet” in the world
  • A Feb. 12 concert of “We Shall Overcome – A Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.,” which features traditional and modern gospel, classical, jazz, Broadway and spirituals.

The Ford Center’s 2018-19 season begins Aug. 30 with ‘Robert Frost: This Verse Business,’ a one-man show featuring Emmy-winning actor Gordon Clapp, who brings the acclaimed poet to life. Submitted photo

This year’s Ford Series begins with the Oct. 21 performance of “The Wizard of Oz,” which promises to be a spectacular celebration of the classic 1939 MGM movie that the entire family can enjoy. “Jersey Boys,” the Tony- and Grammy-winning musical that tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, comes to Ole Miss on Nov. 9.

Just in time for the holidays, Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” dances onto the Ford Center stage on Nov. 30. However, two months before the performance, the Moscow Ballet will host open auditions for student dancers ages 6 to 18 so some of the younger members of the community will be able to perform with the full Russian company. For information on the Sept. 11 auditions, join the email list at http://fordcenter.org/nutcracker-auditions/.

The final two shows in the Ford Series will be “In the Mood” and a production by Cirque Éloize. “In the Mood,” the 25th Silver Celebration Tour that celebrates the big band era with the 13-piece String of Pearls Big Band Orchestra and the “In the Mood” singers and dancers, will be here Feb. 16.

Cirque Éloize, one of the leaders in contemporary circus arts, will present “Saloon: A Musical Acrobatic Adventure.” This traveling company will close out the Ford Series on Feb. 26 with a show featuring a combination of infectious energy and acrobatic comedy that has been described as a music-packed theatrical thrill ride.

This year’s Jazz Series, sponsored by John and Marty Dunbar, kicks off Sept. 13 with The Hot Sardines, a New York-based ensemble that has been featured at the Newport and Montreal jazz festivals, as well as several sold-out New York City venues. The Warren Wolf Quartet, which has taken the jazz world by storm, follows on Nov. 13. This series concludes with a March 7 performance by Billy Hart & the Academy, featuring master jazz drummer Billy Hart.

Inspired by the words and actions of Martin Luther King Jr., producer and musical director Damien Sneed’s ‘We Shall Overcome’ showcases repertoire from across the African-American music traditions with interwoven spoken words from King’s recorded speeches. The production comes to town Feb. 12. Submitted photo

Other highlights of the 2018-19 season include a special return engagement on Sept. 20 of acclaimed ballet stars Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo as they once again join Bruce Levingston, piano virtuoso and UM Chancellor’s Honors College Artist-in-Residence, for an unforgettable evening of dance and music.

“Junie B. Jones,” a delightful family-friendly production, comes to the Ford Center on March 30. This musical, centered on the popular children’s book character, contains funny songs that kids of all ages will enjoy.

The 2018-19 Ford Season goes out in lighthearted style on April 26-27 when UM Opera Theatre and Orchestra stage the much-loved comedic operetta “H.M.S. Pinafore.” This production is part of the Ford Center’s Campus Connection Series, sponsored by the Madison Charitable Fund through Joc and Leigh Anne Carpenter, and offers faculty and community members an opportunity to join UM students on stage and in the orchestra.

For more information about the performances, visit http://fordcenter.org/.

Ford Center Hosts North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra

Sunday performance features German pianist Andreas Klein

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, with special guest and acclaimed German pianist Andreas Klein, for a Sunday (March 25) concert.

The performance, titled “Revolutionaries,” will contrast the styles of Beethoven with 20th-century Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera. The orchestra will perform Beethoven’s “Corioloan Overture” and “Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major,” as well as Ginastera’s “Variaciones Concertantes.”

The two renowned composers were born centuries apart, but both were part of political turmoil during their times and are known for their revolutionary work. To explore the work Beethoven and Ginastera more in-depth, the concert also will feature commentary from Klein and the orchestra’s conductor, Steven Byess.

“This performance offers our audiences a unique opportunity to explore two exceptional composers and learn how Beethoven and Ginestera were involved in the events of their times and how they influenced them,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director.

Tickets for the 3 p.m. performance are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center, or online at https://olemissboxoffice.com/. They are $30 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $26 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels and $22 for the balcony level. A 20 percent discount is available for UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office. All UM student tickets are $8.

The North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1971 as the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra by attorney Wade Lagrone. The orchestra has drawn musicians from around the South and has become well-known in the region, which led to its renaming in 2013.

The goal of the orchestra is to provide classical music for north Mississippians and to reach out to the community through diverse programming and music education for people of all ages.

For more information about NMSO, visit http://nmsymphony.com. To learn more about upcoming Ford Center events, visit http://fordcenter.org/.

Ford Center Hosts ‘Celebrating Gershwin’

Clarinetist Julian Bliss also to conduct master class at Nutt Auditorium

Clarinetist Julian Bliss is set to perform ‘Celebrating Gershwin’ with the Julian Bliss Septet Thursday (March 1) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Ben Wright

OXFORD, Miss. – The acclaimed Julian Bliss Septet will take audiences on a stroll down Tin Pan Alley when the group visits the University of Mississippi for a Thursday (March 1) concert at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“Celebrating Gershwin: A Stroll Down Tin Pan Alley” is set for 7:30 p.m.

Clarinetist Julian Bliss formed the group in 2010 with a hand-picked selection of some of the best jazz players available. Since then, the group has explored the music of Benny Goodman and Latin and American music styles, including the music of American composer and pianist George Gershwin.

“We are looking forward to welcoming the Julian Bliss Septet back to the Ford Center,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “Their performance at their last visit to the Ford Center was outstanding. We expect this show, with its focus on George Gershwin and the Tin Pan Alley composers, to be great time as well.”

The septet is slated to perform renditions of beloved melodies from “Porgy and Bess,” an excerpt from “Rhapsody in Blue” and other songs, including “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You” and “Lady Be Good.”

Bliss also will conduct a master class at 4 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 28) in Nutt Auditorium. The session is free and open to the public.

Tickets for the Thursday performance are available at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center. They are $25 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $20 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels and $18 for the balcony level. A 20 percent discount is available for UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office. All UM student tickets are $8.

Ford Center Presents ‘Considering Matthew Shepard’

Choral performance Tuesday evening to be followed by panel discussion of themes

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts is bringing the choral work “Considering Matthew Shepard” to the University of Mississippi Tuesday (Feb. 27) for an evening of music, reflection and discussion.

The 7:30 p.m. performance features Conspirare, an acclaimed choral ensemble from Austin, Texas. The concert will be followed by a panel discussion and question-and-answer session.

Tickets are $50 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $45 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels, $40 for the balcony level and $10 for Ole Miss students. A 20 percent discount is available for all UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office. Tickets are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center and online at https://olemissboxoffice.com/.  

Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, was kidnapped, beaten and abandoned in a field in 1998. He died five days later, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of his death.

This concert-length work created by Craig Hella Johnson, Conspirare founder and artistic director, is a three-part performance that incorporates a variety of musical styles. Passages from Shepard’s personal journal, interviews and writings from his parents, newspaper reports and works by several poets are also incorporated throughout the work.

Johnson said he was deeply affected by Shepard’s death in 1998 and wanted to find a way to respond musically that would enable Shepard’s voice to be heard.

“In some ways, I feel that Matthew as a subject for this composition chose me rather than the other way around, as it seems is so often the case when we feel a strong inner calling,” Johnson said. “This story holds so many layers or meaning and raises many questions.

“My own journey with Matt and his story has proven to be an inspiring, challenging and deeply meaningful exploration that continues. Surprisingly and remarkably, although remembering the suffering of Matthew Shepard can be intense and very dark, I continue to also experience a call to the inner light which this story profoundly transmits.” 

Following the performance, Jaime Cantrell, program coordinator for the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, will moderate a panel discussion with Johnson; Gail Tapscott, a retired Unitarian Universalist minister; and Sarah Heying, an Ole Miss graduate student in English and president of OUTGrad.

This discussion is opportunity for both panelists and audience members to share information, ideas and emotions that result from the performance, said Jos Milton, UM associate professor of music and a tenor singer in Conspirare.

“The work is quite moving, at times perhaps overwhelming,” Milton said. “Positioning these talks immediately following the performance allows audience members to convey their thoughts, feelings and questions on the cusp of taking in the impact of this dramatic piece.”

Conspirare won the 2014 Grammy award for best choral performance, in addition to awards from other choral organizations. Johnson is known for his “collage” style of composition in which he combines all types of musical styles from classical to popular.

“We are looking forward to presenting ‘Considering Matthew Shepard,'” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “Craig Hella Johnson with Conspirare has created a moving tribute to Matthew Shepard that engages the audience on an emotional and intellectual level.

“We hope that through presenting this performance and the post-concert discussion, we can help foster exploration and discussion of this important and timely topic.”

For more information about the performance, visit http://fordcenter.org/.

Ford Center Hosts ‘Sense and Sensibility’ Tuesday Night

Performance by acclaimed Aquila Theatre begins at 7:30 p.m.

Aquila Theatre performs Jane Austen’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’ at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 13) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Richard Termine

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host the acclaimed Aquila Theatre company Tuesday (Feb. 13) evening as the troupe bring to life Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.”

In what is one of Austen’s most popular novels, the characters live in a time when few options exist, particularly for women.

“Sense and Sensibility” tells the story of sisters Elinor, who is level-headed, and Marianne, a hopeless romantic. The two women lose their father and their half-brother inherits the family estate as the first-born male of the family. They are forced to find a profitable marriage for any hope to return to a comfortable life. The classic romantic comedy promises love, heartbreak and surprises for the audience.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance are available at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center. They are $30 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $26 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels and $22 for the balcony level. A 10 percent discount is available for UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office. All UM student tickets are $8.

“‘Sense and Sensibility’ is a great story and it presents a culture and a time that is so very different from today, but tells a story of worries about the future and finding love that we can relate to,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “Aquila Theatre always presents a wonderful, professional performance.”

For more information, visit http://fordcenter.org/.

UM Museum, Ford Center Host Weekend of Holiday Festivities

Music, activities and a winter wonderland on tap to help families get into the spirit

The Holiday Village, featuring an enchanting array of edible structures, is open Dec. 1-15 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. 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 weekend of fun-filled holiday activities scheduled for the whole family.

The Ford Center invites families to an evening celebrating the holiday season Friday, (Dec. 1) with “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and “Handel’s Messiah.”

Gian Carlo Menotti’s renowned one-act opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” shows how faith, charity, unselfish love and good deeds can produce miracles. The performance is a collaborative project involving alumni, students and community members.

Ole Miss alumnus Paul Gamble will sing “Balthazar” during the performance and university opera theatre and dance students will perform in several roles. Six community guests also will join opera students in the Shepherds’ Chorus, including Oxford dentist Walker Swaney, emeritus music faculty Cynthia Linton, College of Liberal Arts project coordinator Patti O’Sullivan, theatre arts staff member Ed Neilson, alumna Sissy Neilson and Oxford attorney Jim DeLoach.

The second half of the night features “Handel’s Messiah.” The hourlong production includes performances by the UM Choir, a select orchestra and alumni guest artists as soloists, including Allison Stanford, Viola Dacus and Kyle Davis.  The orchestra of professional musicians and students is conducted by Selim Gray, professor of music and orchestra, and UM Choirs, conducted by Don Trott, professor of music and director of choral activities, also will perform.

These performances are made possible through funding by Nancye Starnes and the Kite Foundation.

Tickets for the show are available at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center. They are $30 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $26 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels, and $18 for the balcony level. A 20 percent discount is available for Ole Miss faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office. Tickets also can be purchased online at http://fordcenter.org/.

The UM Museum will host a Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day on Saturday (Dec. 2). The drop-in workshop, set for 9 a.m.-noon, will allow participants of all ages to create seasonal art, eat holiday snacks and learn about winter wonders, including holidays from around the world.

The museum also will have a sensory play area for the youngest artists, and all ages are welcome to participate.

Children create their own holiday-inspired art at last year’s installment of the UM Museum’s Santa’s Workshop. Submitted photo

“Santa’s Workshop is one of our favorite events as we celebrate the magic of winter, snow and holidays,” said Emily McCauley, the museum’s curator of education. “We also hope to expand our horizons this year and look at what is happening around the world during the winter holidays.”

Santa does not attend the event, but participants can take a Flying Tuk sleigh ride between the museum and the Ford Center’s Holiday Village, a collection of locally-themed gingerbread houses.

“We are so thrilled to have the Flying Tuks partnering for rides to the Holiday Village again, as that was a highlight from last year’s event,” she said.

The museum’s Family Activity Days are sponsored by Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi and the Ignite Ole Miss campaign. For more information about Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day, contact McCauley at esdean@olemiss.edu. To keep up with museum exhibits and upcoming events, visit http://museum.olemiss.edu/.

The Holiday Village will feature 19 gingerbread houses, made entirely from edible confections. The Ford Center also is adding a miniature Christmas Village to celebrate holiday traditions from around the world.

The village is also open for group reservations, which can be scheduled by contacting marketing director Kate Meacham at 662-915-6502 or kmeacham@olemiss.edu.

Here is the full schedule of Holiday Village Hours:

Friday (Dec. 1) – 1-7:30 p.m.

Saturday (Dec. 2) and Sunday (Dec. 3) – 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Monday (Dec. 4) – 1-7:30 p.m. Guests can visit the village after the Oxford Christmas parade for hot chocolate.

Tuesday (Dec. 5) through Friday (Dec. 8) – 1-5 p.m.

Saturday (Dec. 9) – 1-5 p.m. The Oxford Civic Chorus will perform at 1 p.m., and Santa will be in the village from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday (Dec. 10) – Noon-3 p.m.

Monday (Dec. 11) through Friday (Dec. 15) – 1-5 p.m.

For more information, visit http://fordcenter.org/.

BodyTraffic to Perform at Ford Center, Host Workshops this Week

West Coast troupe renowned for blending traditional choreography with contemporary dance styles

Dance troupe BodyTraffic, renowned for combining traditional choreography with contemporary dance styles, is hosting student workshops and performing this week on the UM campus. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts hosts the internationally recognized dance company BodyTraffic for one performance Thursday evening (Nov. 9).

Ticket for the 7:30 p.m. show are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center. They are $30 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $26 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels and $22 for the balcony level. A 20 percent discount is available for UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office.

Founded in 2007 by Lillian Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett, the West Coast dance troupe of six dancers has performed for sold-out audiences in theaters and festivals around the world. BodyTraffic, renowned for innovating traditional choreography into contemporary dance styles, was named “the company of the future” by the Joyce Theater Foundation, one of Dance magazine’s “25 to Watch in 2013” and “Best of Culture” by the Los Angeles Times.

“BodyTraffic is wonderful company that is a leader in the Los Angeles dance community,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “They are able to adapt their programs to work with different groups.

“It’s very important to us to be able to bring companies like BodyTraffic to the Ford Center for more than just a performance. It’s an invaluable experience for Ole Miss students and a way for members of the community to experience the arts in a more in-depth and meaningful way.”

The dance company will also be on campus for two days before the performance, hosting master classes for Ole Miss students in musical theater, jazz, tap and contemporary dance. Additionally, BodyTraffic will host workshops for 21 United, a Down syndrome advocacy and awareness group based in Oxford, as well as an elementary school class from Holly Springs.

The troupe appeals to new audiences as well as dance enthusiasts with their works from choreographers including Kyle Abraham, Hofesh Shechter, Barak Marshall, Richard Siegal and Victor Quijada.

For more information about tickets and upcoming performances, visit http://fordcenter.org/.

Ford Center Hosts ‘Rent’ Anniversary Tour

Award-winning musical set for Thursday UM performance

The acclaimed musical ‘Rent’ comes to the Ford Center for one performance Oct. 26 as part of the production’s 20th anniversary tour. Photo by Carol Rose.

OXFORD, Miss. – The 20th anniversary national tour of the smash musical “Rent” visits the University of Mississippi for one performance Thursday (Oct. 26) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“Rent” follows the lives of seven impoverished artists in New York City over the course of a year as they fight to pursue their dreams without giving up or selling out. Underneath the story are inspiring messages of joy and hope, facing fears, friendship and love.

“This courageous love story has resonated with opera audiences since 1896 with Puccini’s ‘La Bohème and again with its modern reimagining 100 years later in ‘Rent,'” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director. “It is hard to believe that this 1996 musical is now 20 years oldWhether it is your first time or 10th, this musical still rocks.”

The Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning musical continues to capture audiences two decades later. It is one of only five musicals to win both awards.

“It has enormously valid things to say about the ways in which we all seek out community and form families, and how we take care of one another in very difficult times,” said Michael Greif, who directed the original off-Broadway and Broadway productions. “The message of the musical is to truly appreciate the time that we have and to truly appreciate each other, because you don’t know when someone will be gone from your life.”

The performance, based on the original direction by Greif, is restaged by Evan Ensign and choreographed by Marlies Yearby.

The “Rent” 20th anniversary tour is produced by Work Light Productions, whose other productions include “Cinderella,” “Mamma Mia!” “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” the Vocalosity national tour and “Crazy for You.”

A limited number of tickets are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center. Tickets are $75 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $69 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels and $63 for the balcony level. A 10 percent discount is available for UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office.

For more information, visit http://fordcenter.org/.

Cyrus Chestnut Quartet to Perform at Ford Center

Thursday show is first in the 2017-18 Jazz Series

The Cyrus Chestnut Quartet performs Thursday at the Ford Center. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host a night of jazz Thursday (Sept. 14) with the Cyrus Chestnut Quartet.

Chestnut, a Baltimore native and soulful jazz pianist, blends contemporary, traditional and gospel jazz styles with soulful sounds and a mix of Latin and samba. His style allows him to explore a wide range of emotions with his music, all while keeping it under the jazz umbrella.

The performance is part of the 2017-18 Jazz Series, made possible by a gift to the Ford Center from Marty and John Dunbar.

“We are looking forward to opening our first Jazz Series with the Cyrus Chestnut Quartet,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “We are truly grateful to the Dunbars for their generosity. It’s a great addition to our season and a wonderful opportunity for our students.”

Chestnut also will conduct a master class at noon Wednesday (Sept. 13) in Nutt Auditorium. The class is free and open to the public.

The New York Times praised Chestnut’s performance at a previous concert: “His brand of crisp articulation and blues inflected harmony evokes another era … multifaceted and dynamic. … Mr. Chestnut was the evening’s star and he brought charisma to the role.”

Tickets are $25 for the orchestra, parterre and tier 1 box levels, $20 for the mezzanine and tier 2 box level and $18 for balcony seating. All tickets are available at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center. Tickets can also be purchased online at http://fordcenter.org/.

Upcoming Ford Center Season Includes Broadway Smash ‘Rent’

Schedule includes new jazz series, productions for all ages and tastes

OXFORD, Miss. – The 20th anniversary tour of “Rent” books a room in Oxford this fall as the Broadway musical comes to the University of Mississippi for one show at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The Ford Center’s 2017-18 season also features a national tour of “The Sound of Music” and “Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility,” plus jazz concerts, children’s shows and much more.

“We are excited to launch some new initiatives and have expanded the offerings this season with a new jazz series and children’s series,” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director. “We have our audience favorites as well, with musicals, a classical play and dance concerts.

“Our Holiday Village will feature gingerbread houses, miniature Christmas villages, the North Pole and an international corner. This will open on Dec. 1 to coincide with our big event that features a holiday theme for the entire family.”

The season kicks off Sept. 7 with “Nashville Songwriters Night featuring Dickey Lee and Pat Alger with Roxie Dean.”

The Ford Series begins Oct. 26 with the Broadway tour of “Rent,” which follows seven artists struggling to follow their dreams. The von Trapp Family will thrill Ford Center audiences in “The Sound of Music” Jan. 24, with performances of classic songs including “My Favorite Things” and “Do-Re-Mi.”

On Feb. 27, Conspirare, a Company of Voices will perform “Considering Matthew Shepard,” the story of a gay student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie who was kidnapped and left to die nearly 20 years ago. This concert-length work uses musical styles, poetic texts, passages from Shepard’s journal and interviews with family members to tell his story.

The Ford Series concludes with the Tony Award-winning performance of “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” which offers a contemporary take on the classic tale.

The Artist Series begins Sept. 21 by making the audience part of the show in “Artrageous.” The musicians, singers, dancers and artists pay tribute to musical icons and genres in multiple art forms, including a gallery of finished paintings.

BodyTraffic, a dance company from Los Angeles, is slated to perform Nov. 9 at the Ford Center. Submitted photo

On Nov. 9, Oxford audiences will have an opportunity to see a performance named Best of Culture by the Los Angeles Times. West Coast dance troupe BodyTraffic, which recently toured Israel and Jordan, will perform its contemporary dance styles at the Ford Center.

Aquila Theatre continues to expand its adaptations of classical works with “Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility,” coming to the Ford Center on Feb. 13. The story revolves around two sisters in a time when choices were limited for women. The comedic romantic tale of the English upper middle class includes seduction, courtship, love, heartbreak and surprise.

The Artist Series concludes March 25 with “Revolutionaries: Ginastera and Beethoven,” featuring acclaimed German pianist Andreas Klein and North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra conductor Steven Byess. The artists will contrast the styles of Beethoven with works of 20th century Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera.

The Jazz Series, made possible by a $25,000 gift from Oxford residents Marty and John Dunbar, will begin Sept. 14 with a performance from the Cyrus Chestnut Quartet. Pianist Cyrus Chestnut blends contemporary and traditional jazz with gospel, Latin and samba and has become one of jazz’s most beloved and acclaimed musicians.

The series continues with “The Birdland All-Stars: The Art of Jazz” featuring Tommy Ignoe. The New York musicians have dazzled audiences for 10 years and return to the road with arrangements featuring music of David Bowie, The Police and Steely Dan, among others.

The series concludes March 1 with “Celebrating Gershwin: A Stroll Down Tin Pan Alley” by the Julian Bliss Septet. Bliss is one of the finest clarinetists of our time and he is joined by some of the best musicians in jazz to form this septet.

The Ford Center also will host a Campus Connections series, beginning Dec. 1 with “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” one of the most popular American operas during the Christmas season, and “Handel’s Messiah.” This collaborative project, made possible by a grant from Nancye Starnes and the Kite Foundation, includes performers from the community, university and professional guest artists.

On Jan. 27, the Malpaso Dance Company brings Havana to Oxford with movement and music from Cuba’s rich dance tradition. From April 20 to 22, the Ford Center will host Ole Miss Theatre’s performances of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”

Thanks to a gift from Billy and Rebecca Long, the Russian Folk Orchestra will perform Oct. 3 at the venue. This pops concert features popular selections combined with traditional folk music and is sure to appeal to a variety of audiences.

Throughout the year, the Ford Center also will feature a variety of performances for children as part of its Daytime School Series. “Dinosaur Zoo,” set for Nov. 16, offers two opportunities for schoolchildren to explore life-like dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures in an entertaining theatrical performance that will stimulate the imaginations of children.

On Dec. 13, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” based on the book by Richard and Florence Atwater, follows a painter and decorator who dreams of Antarctic adventures when one day, a penguin arrives on his doorstep. The hourlong musical features original songs and penguin puppets, serving as the perfect family treat for the holiday season.

The School Series concludes April 10 with two performances for all ages of “Huck and Tom and the Mighty Mississippi.” This musical, based on the novels of Mark Twain, follows one of the greatest adventurers in American literature and his friends as they explore the river that defined their lives.

For more information about performances, visit http://fordcenter.org/. Tickets are available for all shows at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center or online at http://olemissboxoffice.com/.