Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Center for the Performing Arts announces 2022–23 season events

The Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State will focus on fostering relationships and connections via new and familiar artists in its 2022–23 events.

“In designing this season, we selected an array of performances with feedback from our partners and communities,” Director Sita Frederick said. “The performance and engagement events offer the opportunity to share space and connect with an array of international artists, from near and far, who are cultivating our collective imagination, agency and hope in these challenging times.”

Featured performances include the world premiere of the opera “A Marvelous Order”; performances by Malpaso Dance Company, Miguel Zenón Quartet, Flip Fabrique and Kings Return; a presentation of “Our Planet Live in Concert” featuring the Penn State Philharmonic Orchestra; and the Broadway classic “Fiddler on the Roof.” Starting off the season will be a bilingual performance of “Prince Hamlet,” featuring American Sign Language translation by Deaf actor Dawn Jani Birley.

Visit Center for the Performing Arts online for information about the events.

Tickets will go on sale starting at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 29. On-sale dates and eligible buyers are:
Monday, Aug. 29: members
Tuesday, Aug. 30: groups
Thursday, Sept. 1: everyone

Order tickets online, by phone at 814-863-0255 or in person (10 a.m.–4 p.m. weekdays) at the Arts Ticket Center in Eisenhower Auditorium.

“At the core of its existence, the center brings people together to form a community around a shared arts experience,” said Amy Dupain Vashaw, audience and program development director. “We are so ready to welcome everyone to our new season to experience the range of emotions that performance can provoke, and amplify when felt in community.”

In partnership with Penn State’s School of Theatre and in cooperation with Penn State’s School of Music, the center will present selected events on their stages at the Playhouse Theatre and Recital Hall.

“Of course, we have ongoing relationships with artists, too. Those returning to our stages and our community include Soweto Gospel Choir, Flip Fabrique and Takács String Quartet,” Vashaw said. “We thrive on collaborations, and this season features plenty of those, too. Kings Return, a new a cappella group, will engage the many students involved in a cappella groups on campus, culminating in a concert featuring both students and the visiting ensemble. And ‘Our Planet Live in Concert’ features a collaboration with the Penn State Philharmonic.”

“We think the arts are better together, and we try to live that value in everything we do,” Vashaw said. “We are so eager to share all this season has to offer with patrons both seasoned and brand new.”

2022–23 season events

Why Not Theatre’s “Prince Hamlet” will introduce the center’s fall 2022 events in September with a unique take on the classic tragedy. The Penn State School of Theatre will host the production of “Prince Hamlet” on its Playhouse Theatre stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. The diverse and bilingual production features American Sign Language and visual translation by Dawn Jani Birley in the role of narrator Horatio. It is adapted and directed by Ravi Jain, a former Cirque du Soleil clown with an artistic eye for a bold theatrical experience. This performance contains clothed simulated sexual activity and violence.

Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company will make its Penn State debut with a 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, performance at Eisenhower Auditorium. The associate company of Joyce Theater Productions will feature choreographed works by Daile Carrazanna, Mats Ek, Aszure Barton and Robyn Mineko Williams. The ensemble boasts a varied repertoire, and it has collaborated with Hubbard Street Dance and is proud to champion Cuban choreographers. “All of the acclaim is justified,” said a writer for NOW Magazine.

Aizuri Quartet — violinists Emma Frucht and Miho Saegusa, violist Ayana Kozasa and cellist Karen Ouzounian — will perform “Sunrise” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, in the School of Music Recital Hall. The ensemble has won multiple international awards and was nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award for its debut album “Blueprinting.” The program will include contemporary flourishes on works by Clara Schumann, Béla Bartók, Tanya Tagaq and Franz Joseph Haydn. An intimate Classical Coffeehouse music-and-conversation event featuring the ensemble will take place at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, in Hintz Alumni Center’s Robb Hall.

Miguel Zenón Quartet will make its Penn State debut at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, at School of Music Recital Hall with a performance of songs from the band’s new release “Música de las Américas.” Zenon, an alto saxophonist and a native of Puerto Rico, will lead his ensemble in a “la plena” percussive and jazzy exploration of a timeline of continental American music. The program is presented in collaboration with the Penn State Hispanic Heritage Month Committee.

The center will host the long-awaited world premiere of “A Marvelous Order,” an opera dramatizing the battle between determined New York developer Robert Moses and plucky urban activist Jane Jacobs. The presentation, part of the center’s “Reflection Project,” funded by the Mellon Foundation, will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in Eisenhower Auditorium. The multimedia production features music by Judd Greenstein, a libretto by Tracy K. Smith, and animation and direction by Joshua Frankel.

“The team at the center has been working for several years to bring to life the contemporary opera ‘A Marvelous Order,’” Vashaw said. “It asks big questions, like who has the power to decide what is built and what is destroyed, and what can one person do to effect change in the world? We are honored to host the world premiere of this powerful and meaningful work.”

A member of New Orleans jazz royalty makes his in-person Penn State debut with an energetic performance by Delfeayo Marsalis and Uptown Jazz Orchestra. The concert, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, in Eisenhower, is an in-person followup concert to the big-band ensemble’s “Up Close and Virtual” event in February.

This Texas vocal quartet’s claim to fame is stairwell acoustics. The Dallas-based Kings Return, which gained prominence in 2020 after a video of the group singing a Gregorian chant in a vacant stairwell went viral, will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, in School of Music Recital Hall. A portion of the program will feature vocalists from Penn State a cappella ensembles.

Three-time Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir makes its third appearance at Eisenhower Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29. “Hope: It’s Been a Long Time Coming” will commemorate America’s civil rights movement and South Africa’s freedom movement with soulful renditions of songs by James Brown, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin and others.

The center will welcome Honolulu Theatre for Youth in a presentation of “In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, in Eisenhower Auditorium. The family program, based on the children’s novel by Bette Bao Lord, concerns a young girl who learns to navigate a new culture after she emigrates with her family from China to the United States. The story is told with humor, in English and in Chinese, and explores the sacrifices made by those who venture to a new world.

Munich Symphony Orchestra, featuring principal conductor Nodoka Okisawa and violin soloist Robert McDuffie, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, in Eisenhower Auditorium. The classical ensemble, formed in 1945, has recorded more than 500 cinematic scores, including for the film “The Silence of the Lambs” and for television’s “The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.” The program will include Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor and a Johannes Brahms violin concerto. The complete program will be announced.

Music by Copland House and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham will perform “A Standing Witness at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, in Eisenhower Auditorium. “A Standing Witness,” co-commissioned by the center through its membership in the national Music Accord consortium, is a collaboration between Grammy Award-winning composer Richard Danielpour and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove.

Soul Science Lab, guest artists on an online episode of “Meeting the Moment with Michael Mwenso” in April, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, in Eisenhower. The program, “Make a Joyful Noize,” features a 12-piece band in a multimedia exploration of Black joy and was commissioned by Carnegie Hall. “So much of our work has focused on the struggle of my people because of our experience,” said artist and Penn State alumnus Chen Lo. “Intentionally creating around joy was critical to my own personal healing, well-being and mental health.”

Flip Fabrique, a Québec City-based contemporary circus troupe, will perform “Muse” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, in Eisenhower. Referencing traditional gender roles as a baseline, the bold production asks what inspires a sense of self. The performers’ breathtaking acrobatic artistry is set to an original score by beatmaker Millimetric and vocals by Flavia Nascimento.

Classically trained trumpeter, santur player, vocalist and composer Amir ElSaffar will lead Two Rivers Ensemble in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, in Eisenhower. The program will feature Middle Eastern-inspired contemporary jazz and Iraqi Maqam instrumentation. “Cyclical melodic cells and rhythmic complications took on another cast,” wrote a reviewer for DownBeat. “This was certainly the first Middle Eastern-imbued jazz combo at Newport [Jazz Festival] to win a standing ovation for its first song.”

At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, Eisenhower Auditorium will host “Our Planet Live in Concert,” featuring the Penn State Philharmonic Orchestra. The presentation, based on the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series, features high-definition nature cinematography narrated by legendary broadcaster David Attenborough and accompanied live by Oscar Award-winning composer Steven Price conducting the Penn State musicians. A donation will be made to the World Wildlife Fund for each concert on the tour.

The center will host a new touring Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof” with all the hit songs audiences know and love at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, in Eisenhower. Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher and the creative team behind “South Pacific” and “The King and I” will reprise the musical production with a fresh take. It includes the beloved songs “Sunrise, Sunset” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “If I Were a Rich Man.”

Grammy Award-winning Takács Quartet, joined by acclaimed soloist and composer Julien Labro, will celebrate fresh musical perspectives in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in Recital Hall. The quartet — violinists Edward Dusinberre and Harumi Rhodes, violist Richard O’Neill, and cellist Adrás Fejér — will join Labro, foremost bandoneón and accordion player of his generation, in performances of his own works. The program includes “Circles” by Bryce Dessner; “Meditation #1” and “Atoración” by Labro; “Minguito” by Dino Saluzzi; “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Sleepers Awake)” by Johann Sebastian Bach; String Quartet in F Major by Maurice Ravel; and “Clash” by Clarice Assad. The Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State co-commissioned the Dessner and Assad works through its membership in the national consortium Music Accord.

Community engagement programs

A number of free in-person engagements, pre- and post-performance discussions, and virtual programs are being planned. More information will be listed on the center’s website as details are finalized.

For information on free community events, visit Classical Coffeehouse and Free Events.

School-Time programs

“I’m thrilled to re-start our in-person School-Time Matinee performances for young audiences, which have been virtual for two years,” Frederick said.

Educators and homeschool instructors from central Pennsylvania are welcome to consider the student-friendly programs planned for 2022–23. Each program includes teaching materials that follow recognized learning standards. Visit School-Time programs for more information.

The in-person School-Time Matinee events, each at 10 a.m. in Eisenhower Auditorium are:
• Soweto Gospel Choir, Tuesday, Nov. 29
• “In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson,” Monday, Feb. 6
• Soul Science in “Make a Joyful Noize,” Thursday, March 23
• Flip Fabrique in “Muse,” Wednesday, March 29

The online School-Time Virtual event is:
• “Jabari Dreams of Freedom,” streaming from Monday, Nov. 7, to Friday, Nov. 18


A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student ticket prices possible. It also helps make virtual programs free of charge. 

Thank you to Penn State School of Theatre and Penn State School of Music for hosting selected performances on their stages.

Support during the 2022–23 season is provided by Gerald B. M. and Sylvia Stein Endowment; George Trudeau Endowment for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Penn State International Dance Ensemble Endowment; Debra Lee Latta and Dr. Stanley E. Latta Endowment; Norma and Ralph Condee Chamber Music Endowment; John L. Brown Jr. and Marlynn Steele Sidehamer Endowment; Eisenhower Auditorium Endowment; Sidney and Helen S. Friedman Endowment; Robert and Sonia Hufnagel Endowment; McQuaide Blasko Endowment; Dotty and Paul Rigby Classical Music Endowment; Pieter and Lida Ouwehand Endowment; Janelle Bessette and Keith Karako Access Program Endowment; William E. McTurk Endowment; and Nina C. Brown Endowment.

As of Wednesday, Aug. 24, Pieter W. and Lida Ouwehand, Lam and Lina Hood, Susan and Lewis Steinberg, and Chad and Laura Mitchell sponsor events during the 2022–23 season.