Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Do you have your Moody Blues and Ian Anderson tickets yet?

Tickets for The Moody Blues and Ian Anderson, events on our 2014-2015 Performing Arts Season are already on sale, and the tickets have been moving quickly, to say the least!  Get in on these classic rock events soon by visiting our website or calling the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160.  Please note that the only remaining tickets for The Moody Blues can only be accessed by calling the Ticket Office, so be sure to do so Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The Moody Blues - photo by Mark Owens
Thursday, August 28, 2014, 7:30 PM

“The Moody Blues are still the Sistine Chapel of popular music,” proclaims Rolling Stone Magazine. In an endless sea of rock and pop formats, The Moody Blues have distinguished themselves through four decades as that shimmering jewel vindicating rock music as a substantial artistic contribution to Western culture.  Since the 60s, as a part of the historic original British invasion of Supergroups, The Moody Blues have lit up the hearts and minds of millions of rock fans with inspiring anthems like “Nights in White Satin,” “Tuesday Afternoon” and “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band),” which express universal themes of love, compassion and peace.  The band just recently celebrated the 45th Anniversary of their monumental 1967 album, “Days of Future Passed,” which features “Nights in White Satin,” one of the first four minute songs played on the radio, becoming one of the biggest selling singles in history, and hitting #1 three separate times on Billboard.

Ian Anderson and band 
Friday, October 17, 2014, 8:00 PM

Legendary progressive rocker Ian Anderson is widely considered an icon of the genre and is recognized as the protagonist of the flute in rock music. As a solo artist and with the band Jethro Tull, Anderson has performed in more than 54 countries over 45 years, selling more than 60 million albums.

Anderson’s new album, Homo Erraticus, will be performed in its entirety followed by a selection of Jethro Tull classics updated with video and theatrics. Anderson will perform with guitarist Florian Opahle, bassist David Goodier, keyboardist John O'Hara, drummer Scott Hammond and backing vocalist/actor Ryan O'Donnell.

Anderson recently won The Prog God Award from Prog Magazine, celebrating the innovators of rock who have inspired generations and carved a way for others to be at their creative best. There is no one who has pushed the boundaries more than Ian Anderson, who to this day remains immersed in his love for the music.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Do you like Broadway shows?

If you like Broadway shows and you live in central Illinois, consider a subscription to the UIS Broadway Series!  You can secure your seat and your calendar *now* for 4-6 Broadway shows in the 2014-2015 season.

Subscribers are guaranteed their same seat(s) location year after year and receive special subscriber pricing on the tickets they purchase.  Subscriptions start at only $196 this year!  Look at the great lineup of shows:

Sister Act
There are seven subscription packages to suit your interests this year.  Packages are as follows:

  • Package 1: All six shows
  • Package 2: Anything Goes, Sister Act, Mamma Mia!, Peter and the Starcatcher, Million Dollar Quartet
  • Package 3: Anything Goes, Sister Act, STOMP, Peter and the Starcatcher, Million Dollar Quartet
  • Package 4: Anything Goes, Sister Act, STOMP, Mamma Mia!, Peter and the Starcatcher
  • Package 5: Anything Goes, Sister Act, Peter and the Starcatcher, Million Dollar Quartet
  • Package 6: Anything Goes, Sister Act, Mamma Mia!, Peter and the Starcatcher
  • Package 7: Anything Goes, Sister Act, STOMP, Peter and the Starcatcher

Consider joining us!  A subscription is a great gift to give yourself or to someone you love.  Consider subscribing with a spouse or friend, or purchase two subscriptions and share the shows with a variety of different "someones" in your life.

For more information about subscribing to the UIS Broadway Series, visit our website.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Unique performances in 2014-2015

We are so delighted to announce our upcoming season of Performing Arts events at Sangamon Auditorium. You can read about the upcoming season on our website.  Standouts in the line-up of events include The Moody Blues, Ian Anderson (front man/flutist for Jethro Tull), the Springfield premiere of the musical Sister Act, and a return performance of a Sangamon Auditorium favorite, Mamma Mia!

But what about those artists whose names you don't recognize in the line-up?  Well, as I always tell close friends of mine, when you see an artist in our line-up that you've never heard of before, pay close attention.  Anytime we program an artist or an event that is not a household name, there's probably a very good, artistic reason why they've been chosen.  Let me give you a few examples from our upcoming season:

The Elephant Wrestler
The Elephant Wrestler is a beautiful piece of theatre that, like any good piece of theatre, reflects the condition of being human.  I know because I've had the opportunity to see it live in its entirety.  Performed by Indian Ink Theatre Company, a New Zealand company renowned for their interesting, small-format theatre work, the almost one-man show (there is a second person who plays music but doesn't speak) tells an interesting story in the life of a modern-day chai vendor.  It is fascinating the watch these characters come to life through the storytelling of actor/playwright Jacob Rajan.

Mark Morris Dance Group

I'll make no excuses about it: I love modern dance.  And we are fortunate in Springfield that Sangamon Auditorium Director Bob Vaughn chooses the dance performances for our Visiting Artist series from among the finest touring the country and the world.  This year, we are pleased to present the long-established Mark Morris Dance Group, which will be touring the U.S. as *well* as the world this fall; the company will be split in two for their Fall 2014 "Excursions" tour, with one half stateside and one half abroad at all times.  How that plays out in terms of international exchange remains to be seen, but we hope to have some details soon and be able to have our community participate in some of those details.

Imagine if Cirque de Soleil met Duck Dynasty.  That's what we've got with Timber!  I am very much looking forward to this unique cirque performance; I'm going to try to bring my dad with me.  The founding members of this Canadian company of cirque performers hails from a small town with a heritage of farming and forestry.  The advertising copy says, "you can almost smell the fresh-cut pine logs and the sweat of lumberjacks."  Can you??

These are just a few of the performances I am looking forward to this year.  I hope you find some that interest you as well!  Check out our website for all the details.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

That's Right (You're Not From Texas)...but HE is!

Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group will make a visit to Springfield on Saturday.  The Texas singer-songwriter will bring his convention-defying mix of country, swing, jazz, folk, gospel and blues to the Sangamon Auditorium at 8 p.m. Since his self-titled debut in 1986, Lyle Lovett has evolved into one of music’s most vibrant and iconic performers. His oeuvre, rich and eclectic, is one of the most beloved of any living artist working today.  Tickets are still available online and at 217.206.6160.

Read about Lovett's upcoming concert in The State Journal-Register.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A national treasure on its way to Springfield

We are so excited to present Alvin Aliley American Dance Theatre coming up this Sunday, April 27 at 7 p.m.  It has been twenty years since this company appeared on the Sangamon Auditorium stage: much too long!
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
Dance lovers along with the un-inclined will both inspired by the works of the Alvin Ailey company, which are accessible and, yes, ENJOYABLE to all kinds of audience members.  We particularly love this video from our friends at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, made up of DUDES touting the value of seeing this company live on stage:

The DUDES even talk a little about their responses to "Revelations," which will close our concert on Sunday. For tickets, visit our website, or call us at 217.206.6160.

“Every American owes it to him or herself to see the Ailey [company] perform Revelations. It is an American phenomenon. I’ve probably seen it countless times and every time it’s magical and spiritual and hopeful - everything that we want ourselves to be and hope that our country will be.”  - Oprah Winfrey on Entertainment Tonight, 12/4/08

Monday, March 31, 2014

Class Acts brings the Holocaust to life for middle school students

My Heart in a Suitcase
Nothing beats a well-written, well-acted play about the Holocaust to remind me of how much we can learn and understand about the human condition through theatre.  This week, Sangamon Auditorium's Class Acts series presented ArtsPower Touring Theatre’s My Heart in a Suitcase, a touching drama for middle school students about the Kindertransport.  The Kindertransport was a rescue mission that took nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland and placed them in British foster homes, hostels, schools, and farms right after the devastation of Kristallnacht and before the outbreak of the second World War.  Parents of the children chose to have their children travel on the Kindertransport to save them from the turbulent social and political climate, and many of them never saw their children again.

Over the years, I have been involved with three presentations of My Heart in a Suitcase and each of the last two times, I was fortunate to have connected with Dr. Heini Halberstam, retired faculty member from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who traveled on the Kindertransport at the age of 12.  I reached out to Dr. Halberstam without expectation at the time of the first presentation; I was looking to make a deeper connection to the project and identified him online as a local “Kind” who had benefited from the 1930s mission effort overseas.

Dr. Halberstam traveled from Urbana to Bloomington in 2007 (where I was working at the time) for the first local presentation of My Heart in a Suitcase.  He was very touched by the play and told me afterwards that it reminded him of some of the details and emotions of his experience that he hadn't thought about in a long time.  For both a public and school performance, he participated in a post-show discussion.  He did the same at Sangamon Auditorium in 2009, and this time also sat down with me to video an interview in which he answered some questions that had been submitted by attending students in advance of the show.

This week, I learned that Dr. Halberstam had passed away earlier this year.  As I read his distinguished obituary, I was humbled by the thought of having had the opportunity to introduce him to students and teachers through ArtsPower’s play.  But both times I worked with Dr. Halberstam were before I was a mother, and now that I am, reading the story of the early part of his life resonates even more deeply for me. It was his mother, already a widow, who made the tough decision to send her only child to England on the Kindertransport.  She died of typhus in a Nazi work camp three years later.

Dr. Halberstam made significant contributions to the field of mathematics and prime numbers.  For those contributions, the world can thank both his birth mother, who had the wisdom to secure his safety, and his English foster mother, who recognized his intellectual abilities and made his education possible, despite having no obligation or expectation to do so at a time when orphaned children populated much of Europe.  I love the thought of the contributions of both of these mothers.  Rest in peace, Dr. Halberstam, and eternal blessings to you and your mothers.

Monday, March 24, 2014

SFJAZZ Collective concert to honor Springfield-born drummer Barrett Deems

The SFJAZZ Collective is an all-star award-winning jazz ensemble comprising eight of the finest performers/composers at work in jazz today. Launched in 2004 by SFJAZZ, the Collective has become one of the most exciting and acclaimed groups on the jazz scene.

The Collective is celebrating its 10th Anniversary by highlighting their greatest arrangements and original compositions. This "best of" performance includes material from many of the Collective's past and present members along with the tribute composers including Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Stevie Wonder, and Chick Corea.

SFJAZZ Collective
Sangamon Auditorium’s presentation of SFJAZZ will be dedicated to the memory of Barrett Deems. A cake reception will be held in the lobby following the concert in celebration of Deems’ 100th birthday and his 70-year career.

Barrett Deems was born in Springfield, Illinois on March 1, 1914. Best known for his role as drummer for jazz icon Louis Armstrong, Deems also worked with other household names in jazz like Duke Ellington, Jimmy Dorsey, Beardstown native Red Norvo, Muggsy Spanier, Woody Herman, Joe Venuti, Charlie Barnet, Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden. He also collaborated with the Dukes of Dixieland and Joe Kelly’s Gaslight Band. Deems recorded music with jazz pianist Art Hodes and toured with several Louis Armstrong tribute bands. His drumming inspirations included Gene Krupa, Dave Tough and Baby Dodds.

Up until his death at the age of 84, Deems was performing regularly with his 18-piece Big Band, which included trumpeters Brad Goode and Mike McLaughlin, trombonist Audrey Morrison, and reedmen Barry Winograd and Richie Corpolongo.

Dubbed “the world’s fastest drummer,” Deems was known to be hyperactive. In fact, Armstrong once said, “Barrett, you’re the only guy in the world that makes coffee nervous”.

Other anecdotes of Deems are telling of his bold and unpredictable character. Stephen Voce stated that when meeting newly elected Chicago mayor Jane Byrne at the inaugural city jazz festival in 1979, Deems reportedly said to her, "You know, I don't care what they say about you. You’re not a bad looking broad. And you've got great legs, too." The mayor smiled in response and said, "Thank you very much."

When trombonist Jack Teagarden died from an alcohol addiction, Deems said he “never cared for the stuff.” Deems spent the majority of his life sober.

And when he first started playing drums, he did not learn to read music – and never got to it during his career. Deems said, “Who cares? Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa couldn't read too well either, but they could play. Guess what? That's what counts."

In a recent article published  in the Illinois Times, James Krohe, Jr. wrote it was widely believed that white musicians were ahead on the beat by a few milliseconds – referring to it as the “honky offset.” Maybe that’s why some of the most revered African American jazz bands brought in white drummers like Deems in all-black bands, said Krohe. Deems joins Quad-Cities native Louie Bellson here, who worked for Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

Deem’s music can be heard on Louis Armstrong’s Satch Plays Fats: The Music of Fats Waller, Ambassador Satch, Louis Armstrong at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography, and Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy. Deems also performed “Now You Has Jazz” with Armstrong and Bing Crosby in the 1956 movie, High Society.