Sunday, SUNDAY, SUNDAY is the day your 2007-08 arts preview section will be in the Herald-Leader. You can get the information online, but in print it is 10 pages packed with concerts, plays, exhibits and other cultural opportunities for Central Kentucky.
If you’re like me, after reading it, you’ll be excited. Anyone who says there’s no culture in the Bluegrass has to argue with the 10 pages of our special section. Good luck with that.
Like any season, there are a few dates in the 2007-08 calendar that are particularly intriguing. So, here are some of the events that pop off the page for this observer:
The Lexington Philharmonic’s conductor search
The Phil has built in marketing hooks for the next two seasons. First, there are the final four concerts from music director George Zack (Sept. 14, Dec. 14, April 25 and then the grand finale next September). And included in those concerts are a Brahms piano concerto, Messiah and two Beethoven symphonies, including the Ninth. Then, there’s the real “get your score card” event of the two-season search for his successor. We have five guest conductors slated to come across the Singletary Center stage between now and March, playing an interesting mix of music and hosting a diverse group of soloists including a classical guitarist and an organist. The concerts will be compelling opportunities to sit back and wonder what it would be like to see the conductor du jour on the podium all the time and pick a favorite as the announcement of Zack’s successor approaches, in the spring of 2009. Kayoko Dan, photo left, will be the first contestant, conducting the Oct. 26 concert.
UK Opera Theatre’s world premiere
In the past decade and a half, the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre has done a lot of noteworthy stuff, including grooming a Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition winner and several singers who have gone deep into that competition, going overseas to record a great American opera and hiring one of the most noteworthy figures in opera education. Collaborating with the San Francisco Opera for the co-world premiere of Thomas Pasatieri’s Hotel Casablanca Oct. 12, 13, 19 and 20 is yet another milestone. The first production was in August as part of San Francisco’s opera training program, and this review snippet from the Contra Costa Times’ Georgia Rowe should whet your appetite for the new opera: “The Hotel Casablanca is one of those rarer-than-hens-teeth works: contemporary, well-crafted, richly musical and riotously funny, with a brisk two-hour running time and plenty of roles for energetic young voices.”
Actors Guild presents the masters
In recent years under the leadership of Deb Shoss and now Richard St. Peter, Actors Guild has been supplementing its contemporary fare with more and more classics. This year we get a high-water mark with two certifiable masterpieces and four shows by iconic playwrights. It feels funny to say August Wilson and William Shakespeare are making their debuts with any company, but they are with Actors Guild, which presents Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom from Sept. 12 to Oct. 7 and the Bard’s Hamlet from Oct. 17 to Nov. 11. (Adam Luckey, photo left, will play Hamlet.) Then, we get David Mamet with Boston Marriage from Jan. 30 to Feb. 24 and Tom Stoppard with Arcadia from March 12 to April 6.
George C. Wolfe comes home
For more than two decades, Frankfort native George C. Wolfe has been making Kentucky proud with his Tony Award-winning directing career, as a celebrated playwright and his leadership of New York’s Public Theatre. Actors Theatre of Louisville is bringing Wolfe home in several ways this season. The fall calendar includes Spunk, three Zora Neale Hurston stories adapted for the stage by Wolfe, from Nov. 13 to Dec. 16. Then Topdog/Underdog, Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama which Wolfe directed off and on Broadway, plays Jan. 17 to Feb. 3. Finally, the man himself comes to create and direct a new work at the Humana Festival of New American Plays, Feb. 24 to March 30.
Kronos Quartet inaugurates Transylvania University’s new concert series
The Dorothy J. and Fred K. Smith concert series gets an amazing launch Oct. 10 with the Kronos Quartet playing Haggin Auditorium on the Transy campus. My enthusiasm for this performance went into orbit when I saw the program, which you can check out at the Kronos website. It includes Steve Reich’s Triple Quartet and Scott Johnson’s It Raged.
See you there.