Duke Performances unveils stellar 2015–2016 season | Music
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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Duke Performances unveils stellar 2015–2016 season

Posted by on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 at 10:17 AM

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Durham should expect a deluge of music during the coming year. Between September 10 and April 15, Duke Performances will bring more than 60 engagements to theaters, auditoriums and clubs both on campus and across town. And with a handful of notable exceptions, the shows hinge on sound, whether it’s as local as Durham’s Hiss Golden Messenger and Greensboro’s Rhiannon Giddens or as international as Turkish pianist Fazil Say and Indian violinist Lakshminarayana Subramaniam. As ambitious stylistically as it is geographically, the season roams from traditional gospel to soul, from choral music to Cuban rhythms, from Chinese classical to transcontinental Christmas tunes. Perhaps most surprising of all for the university series? A rich repertoire of hip-hop.

“We’re constantly curious about how we engage Duke students in things that are forward-thinking without it being the biggest artist in the world, like Kendrick Lamar,” says Aaron Greenwald. This will mark Greenwald’s ninth season programming Duke Performances. “And we think hip-hop might be a tool by which to do that. And these artists all have interesting stories, whether it’s how they dip into politics or questions about Africa.”

Duke brings French-born, Santiago-based emcee Ana Tijoux to Motorco in October, followed by the charismatic conscious rapper Blitz the Ambassador in February. And legendary hip-hop dancer and choreographer Rennie Harris brings his company to a two-night stand at the renovated, reopened Page Auditorium.

The series also samples smartly from Africa and the Caribbean this year: Great Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed begins the season in September, and Malian musical royalty Kassé Mady Diabaté visits Baldwin Auditorium toward the season’s April end. Buena Vista Social Club brings its farewell tour to Duke, while pianist Chucho Valdés commemorates the 40th anniversary of his Cuban ensemble Irakere. There’s flamenco and fado, too, plus the Invocation quintet (featuring Vijay Iyer) of Pakistani guitarist Rez Abbasi. And from the Balkans, Boban Markovíc Orkestar and Fanfare Ciocărlia rendezvous with horns and drums for one shared, raucous night. For Greenwald, presenting an assortment of sounds from around the world and pulling new communities into his spaces with them has become an essential component of his job.

“Seven years ago, I would have said it’s not exciting for me at all to have an audience that’s mostly Persian or South Asian,” he says. “But the more time I have spent with those audiences, and the more I am able to insert the traditional Duke Performances audience in with them, the more I find it to be an incredibly rewarding experience.”

Another element of Duke Performances that’s changed during Greenwald’s tenure is the dependence, or lack thereof, on themes and series. In the past, he’s often booked sets of shows across multiple months, tying them together with an idea. But this year, any themes are less explicit, making the calendar feel more like a puzzle to be parsed for clues and cohesion.

“What we found was that it was challenging for an audience, that didactic impulse,” he says. “Instead, we’ve tried to stake our claim to small-scale classical music, jazz, international music, certain kinds of American vernacular that are interesting to me and a carefully curated selection of new music.”

In practical terms, that approach means that, during this season, you can see the Vienna Boys Choir and one of its offshoots just before pianist Abdullah Ibrahim arrives. And the day after watching Benoît Charest conduct the Le Terrible Orchestre de Belleville, you can catch songwriters Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins and Anaïs Mitchell on the same stage.

There are several world premieres on the docket, too: For the centenary of late Duke professor and historian John Hope Franklin, Imani Winds will unveil Frederic Rzweski’s Breath. And Durham’s Hiss Golden Messenger will partner with Duke’s Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library to plunder the archives of photographer William Gedney for the “From the Archives” series, which Hiss Golden Messenger collaborator William Tyler helped launch during the last season. And in a program with mesmerizing pipa player Wu Man, the Shanghai Quartet will deliver a new composition by Yi-Wen Jiang.

Though music takes the bulk of the season’s programming, the theater and dance options remain strong. Actor Julian Sands will present a one-man show about his interactions with late writer, actor and activist Harold Pinter, a production that’s directed by John Malkovich. And in April, Lisa Dwan presents a two-night stand of three works by Samuel Beckett. London’s Filter Theatre will perform Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and tap dancer Savion Glover, a Duke Performances alumnus, partners with legendary jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette for an evening of intertwining rhythms.

Greenwald says that the high ratio of music relative to the other forms this and every other year revolves mostly around funding and the subsidies required to stage other shows. Actors and companies generally stay in Durham for weeklong residencies, meaning that each performance demands more resources.

“The quantity of subsidy that theater and dance require, as opposed to music, is 100 percent more,” he explains. “I’d like to do more, but we lack the outside support to do it. But we are doing more programming this year.”

Check the full season below, or download the brochure here.

Duke Performances
2015-2016 Season

Thursday, Sep. 10, 2015: Mahmoud Ahmed, Baldwin Auditorium
Thursday, Sep. 17, 2015: Lula Pena, Nelson Music Room
Friday, Sep. 18, 2015: L. Subramaniam, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, Sep. 19, 2015: Bettye LaVette, Baldwin Auditorium
Thursday, Sep. 24, 2015: Gregory Porter, Page Auditorium
Friday, Sep. 25, 2015: Rhiannon Giddens, Page Auditorium
Saturday, Sep. 26, 2015: Brentano String Quartet, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, Sep. 26, 2015: Patricia Ibañez & Abel Harana, Memoria Antigua, Reynolds Industries Theater
Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015: The Fairfield Four & The McCrary Sisters, Rock My Soul, Carolina Theatre of Durham
Friday, Oct. 2, 2015: Julian Sands, A Celebration of Harold Pinter, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015: Ciompi Concert No. 1 feat. Nnenna Freelon, Jazz Vocalist, Baldwin Auditorium
Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015: Ana Tijoux, Motorco Music Hall
Friday, Oct. 9, 2015: Jonathan Biss, Piano, Baldwin Auditorium
Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015: Vienna Boys’ Choir, Baldwin Auditorium
Friday, Oct. 16, 2015: Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya, Baldwin Auditorium
Friday, Oct. 23 & Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015: Rennie Harris Puremovement, Reynolds Industries Theater
Monday, Oct. 26, 2015: Buena Vista Social Club, Adiós Tour, Durham Performing Arts Center
Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015: Imani Winds featuring The Fisk Jubilee Singers, John Hope Franklin @ 100, Page Auditorium
Friday, Nov. 6, 2015: Amarcord, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015: Montrose Trio, Baldwin Auditorium
Friday, Nov. 13 & Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015: Hiss Golden Messenger & William Gedney, Reynolds Industries Theater
Monday, Nov.16, 2015: Chucho Valdés & Irakere 40, Page Auditorium
Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015: The King’s Singers, Baldwin Auditorium
Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015: Ciompi Concert No. 2 feat. Tony Arnold, Soprano, Baldwin Auditorium
Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015: Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets, Reynolds Industries Theater
Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015: Ruske-Frautschi-Chien Horn Trio, Baldwin Auditorium
Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015: Rosanne Cash, The River & the Thread, Page Auditorium
Friday, Dec. 11, 2015: Valentina Lisitsa, Piano, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015: Cécile McLorin Salvant, Baldwin Auditorium
Friday, Jan. 22, 2016: Rez Abbasi Invocation, Baldwin Auditorium
Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016: Thymos Quartet featuring Christoph Eschenbach, Piano, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016: Jennifer Koh & Shai Wosner, Baldwin Auditorium
Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016: Cantus, Baldwin Auditorium
Friday, Feb. 5 & Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016: Filter Theatre & Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Reynolds Industries Theater
Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016: Blitz the Ambassador, Motorco Music Hall
Saturday, February 13, 2016: Danish String Quartet, Baldwin Auditorium
Friday, Feb. 19 & Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016: Abraham.In.Motion, When the Wolves Came In, Reynolds Industries Theater
Friday, Feb.19, 2016: Igor Levit, Piano, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016: Ciompi Concert No. 3 feat. Kyo-Shin-An Arts, Baldwin Auditorium
Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016: The Triplets of Belleville with Le Terrible Orchestre de Belleville and composer Benoît Charest, Reynolds Industries Theater
Friday, Feb. 26, 2016: Patty Griffin, Sarah Watkins, & Anaïs Mitchell, Page Auditorium
Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016: Fazıl Say, Piano, Baldwin Auditorium
Thursday, March 3, 2016: Savion Glover & Jack DeJohnette, Page Auditorium
Friday, March 4, 2016: Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, March 5, 2016: Hurray for the Riff Raff, Baldwin Auditorium
Friday, March 11, 2016: Deviant Septet, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, March 12, 2016: Parker Quartet featuring Kim Kashkashian, Viola, Baldwin Auditorium
Friday, March 25, 2016: Conrad Tao, Piano, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, March 26, 2016: The Gloaming, Baldwin Auditorium
Friday, April 1 & Saturday, April 2, 2016: Beckett Trilogy: Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby featuring Lisa Dwan, Reynolds Industries Theater
Friday, April 1, 2016: Kassé Mady Diabaté, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, April 2, 2016: Emerson String Quartet, Baldwin Auditorium
Friday, April 8, 2016: Shanghai String Quartet featuring Wu Man, Pipa, Baldwin Auditorium
Saturday, April 9, 2016: Orlando Consort, Voices Appeared: La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, Baldwin Auditorium
Monday, April 11, 2016: Boban & Marko Markovic Orkestar + Fanfare Ciocarlia, Page Auditorium
Saturday, April 16, 2016: Ciompi Concert No. 4 feat. Edgar Meyer, Bass, Baldwin Auditorium
Friday, April 22 & Saturday, April 23, 2016: Michael Gordon, Timber & Rushes, Durham Fruit & Produce Company
Saturday, April 30, 2016: Roomful of Teeth, Baldwin Auditorium

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