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

Tickets on sale Aug. 4 for Center for the Performing Arts 2015–16 events

The Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State’s 2015–16 lineup of 32 music, theater and dance presentations from around the world features eight performances of touring Broadway’s “Jersey Boys,” husband-and-wife banjo duo Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Vienna Boys Choir, Moscow Festival Ballet’s production of “The Sleeping Beauty” and the fifth season of the Classical Music Project.

Tickets for all but two of the Center for the Performing Arts presentations—plus tickets for the Penn State School of Music’s “Mosaic” and Philharmonic Orchestra feature concerts—go on sale at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4. Tickets already are on sale for “Jersey Boys.”

Go to new season for complete details about the events.

Beginning Aug. 4, tickets will be available online; by phone at 814-863-0255 or 800-ARTS-TIX; and in person at Eisenhower Auditorium (weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and the Bryce Jordan Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Patrons who prefer a paper order form may request one by phoning 814-863-0255.

The season also includes a free Sunday, Sept. 20, concert featuring The Soul Rebels, an eight-piece brass band from New Orleans that pushes the boundaries of jazz with a high-energy concert incorporating soul, jazz, funk, hip-hop, rock and pop. Free tickets for the concert are available in person, beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8, at the ticket offices in Eisenhower, HUB-Robeson and the downtown theatre and on the day of the concert at Eisenhower.

“I am so excited about the coming season—the amazing artists, deeply engaging residencies on campus and in the community, and performances of works we’ve commissioned,” said Center for the Performing Arts Director George Trudeau. “And, of course, ‘Jersey Boys.’ I can’t wait
to welcome audiences and share with them engaging experiences with the performing arts.”

Musical theater

“Jersey Boys,” the behind-the-scenes story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, is on stage Tuesday to Sunday, Nov. 3 to 8. The Tony Award-winning best musical features the top-10 hits “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night).” The show, which contains authentic “profane Jersey language,” is recommended for audience members 12 and older.

The Bible’s Book of Genesis gets its day on stage Saturday, Feb. 13, in the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber classic musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

Director Rob Roth reboots his stage version of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” The Tuesday, Feb. 23, performance features the animated film’s Academy Award-winning score by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. “Hopefully I’ve grown and developed as an artist, along with my collaborators, and we can bring 15 years of experience to this new production,” Roth said.

The perennial favorite “Chicago” returns to Penn State for two performances Monday and Tuesday, April 11 and 12. The Prohibition-era musical, based on journalist Maurine Dallas Watkins’ reportage about “celebrity criminals” of the 1920s, is a satire on corruption of the criminal justice system—and all that jazz.

Classical music

The season opens Thursday, Sept. 17, with Catalyst Quartet, a string ensemble featuring the top performers and alumni of the renowned Sphinx Competition that encourages and develops talent among young black and Latino classical musicians. The quartet’s concert program, based on its 2015 debut recording “The Bach/Gould Project,” features new arrangements of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” paired with pianist Glenn Gould’s composition “String Quartet.”

The Knights—a New York City-based chamber music orchestra whose members enjoy a range of influences such as Baroque, classical, jazz, klezmer and indie rock—makes its Center for the Performing Arts debut Thursday, Oct. 1, in “Music from the Great War Era.”

The Emerson String Quartet, which boasts more than 30 recordings, nine Grammys and collaborations with a who’s who of artists, returns in a Thursday, Oct. 15, concert featuring works by Haydn and Schubert, plus a piece by Lowell Lieberman co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts.

Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, performs “The Power of Love.” The Tuesday, Nov. 17, performance, featuring conductor-harpsichordist Jeannette Sorrell and soprano Amanda Forsythe, focuses on passionate works by Handel and Vivaldi.

Sybarite5, known for its eclectic repertoire and dynamic performance style, makes its State College debut Friday, Jan. 22, with the string quintet’s compelling take on chamber music.

Voces8, an award-winning British a cappella octet, brings its versions of early English and Renaissance choral works to Pasquerilla Spiritual Center Thursday, Feb. 11. In addition to collaborations with acclaimed orchestras and musicians, the octet, created in 2003 by former Westminster Abbey choristers, has commissioned music by a variety of contemporary composers.

The woodwind musicians of Windscape delight the eyes and ears with “A Floating World: Japan and the Impressionists” Thursday, Feb. 18. The performance features music by European and Japanese composers such as Debussy, Michio Miyagi and Ravel juxtaposed with projected images of French and Japanese impressionistic art.

The Russian National Orchestra’s Thursday, March 3, concert features American violin phenomenon Stefan Jackiw performing Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E minor. The orchestra, conducted by Ukrainian Kirill Karabits, is also scheduled to perform Glazunov’s Prelude to the Suite “From the Middle Ages” and Prokofiev’s Suite from “Romeo and Juliet.”


Ragamala Dance Company, led by mother and daughter co-artistic directors and dancers Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy, performs “Song of the Jasmine,” an exploration of South Indian culture inspired by poet Andal, Tuesday, Sept. 22, at Eisenhower. Jazz saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, who composed the music for the dance, and four other musicians perform the score live on stage.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, called a “near-perfect storm of movement, music and choreography” by the Los Angeles Times, performs contemporary works Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Moscow Festival Ballet, founded in 1989 by legendary Bolshoi Ballet lead dancer Sergei Radchenko, performs “The Sleeping Beauty” Thursday, March 31.


When he performed at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival, Cuban-born pianist Alfredo Rodríguez gained an important fan. Producer Quincy Jones, who was in the audience at Montreux, has mentored the pianist since then. On The Invasion Parade, the follow-up to his debut album Sounds of Space, Rodríguez delves into his memories of the people and the culture he left in Cuba when he moved to the United States in 2009. The track “Guantanamera” garnered Rodríguez, who fronts a trio in his Thursday, Sept. 24, Penn State premiere, a 2015 Grammy nomination for best instrumental arrangement.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, led by longtime music director and trumpeter Marsalis and featuring the some of the genre’s finest soloist and ensemble musicians, returns to University Park Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Grammy-winning jazz pianist Billy Childs makes his Center for the Performing Arts debut Friday, Feb. 5, with “Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro,” a celebration of music by the late Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee featuring vocalists Becca Stevens and Alicia Olatuja.

The Maria Schneider Orchestra performs a Thursday, April 14, concert featuring the world premiere of a work co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts. Schneider, who ignores genre boundaries, and her band have been nominated for 10 Grammys and have won three.

Contemporary theater

The Mayhem Poets—three men who met at Rutgers University—seek to reshape perspectives on poetry with a blend of hip-hop, comedy, improvisation and theater in a Thursday, Jan. 28, show. The performance contains adult language.

Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky), a “trip-hop” turntablist and National Geographic 2014 Emerging Explorer, introduces audiences to “Arctic Rhythms,” his multimedia interpretation of the ever-changing northern landscape. The Wednesday, March 23, performance juxtaposes images with live and recorded hip-hop, electronic and minimalist music.

“I’m especially excited about DJ Spooky,” said Amy Dupain Vashaw, audience and program development director at the Center for the Performing Arts. “Not only will he be performing a concert, featuring a graduate string quartet from the School of Music, but he will be the keynote speaker at Penn State Polar Day and host a variety of other programs related to his varied and incredible interests. These include African-American remix culture, using the music on your device and remixing it, DJ-style, for which he has created an app—and, of course, the real and urgent issue of climate change.”

Family and children

High art intersects with low-brow musical culture in a Tuesday, Oct. 13, concert by the fun-loving Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. “The Ukes” perform an eclectic mix of songs for happy, stomping and laughing audiences around the world. “Pure entertainment,” “magisterial,” “the best musical entertainment in the country” and “a much-loved national institution” are some of the things audience members and reviewers have said in attempting to encapsulate the light-heartedness and joy that permeate the orchestra’s live concerts.

“Clifford the Big Red Dog Live!,” inspired by the popular picture-book series, teaches children the crimson canine’s “Be Big” ideas about sharing, showing respect and being a good friend in a Sunday, Oct. 18, musical production.

Vienna Boys Choir, founded by Emperor Maximilian I in 1498, returns Tuesday, Dec. 1, to perform selections from a repertoire of Austrian folk songs and waltzes, classical masterpieces, beloved pop songs, holiday favorites and medieval chant.  

Dallas Children’s Theater performs an ambitious adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “The BFG (Big Friendly Giant)” in a Friday, April 8, performance featuring actors and puppets.

Contemporary circus

More than a dozen acrobats and a chamber ensemble celebrate the music of Shostakovich in Opus, a work of power, virtuosity and poetry performed Wednesday, Nov. 11, by Australia’s Circa and France’s Debussy String Quartet. Three of the composer’s quartets form the musical and dramatic spine for a fusion of extreme acrobatics, lyrical movement and group choreography. More than just a source of musical accompaniment, the Debussy ensemble performs from memory and is woven into the action.

“La Verità,” the latest creation by Daniele Finzi Pasca (Cirque Éloize’s “Rain” and Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo”), is a theatrical homage to the life and work of surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. The Thursday, April 21, performance includes a certified replica of a backdrop Dalí painted in 1944 for the ballet “Tristan and Isolde” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. “La Verità” features a versatile cast of 13 performers who play instruments, sing, juggle, contort, clown and dance the can-can.

American music

Banjo wizards Fleck and Washburn, who recently released their first album as a duo, bring their one-of-a-kind Americana pairing to a Thursday, Oct. 22 concert.

Grammy winner Mavis Staples teams with multi-platinum recording artist Joan Osborne in Solid Soul on Tuesday, Oct. 27. From her early days with the iconic Staple Singers, when she was on top of the charts with songs such as the hit “I’ll Take You There,” to her recent albums with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Staples has been a leader in American music for six decades. The raspy-voiced Osborne, a celebrated singer-songwriter who dominated top-40 radio with her hit song “One of Us,” has garnered seven Grammy nominations. Staples and Osborne are scheduled to perform separate sets, followed by a finale together.

Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins and Anaïs Mitchell come together Wednesday, March 16, in a celebration of American songwriting and performance. The concert features the singer-songwriters sharing tunes and accompanying each other for the entire evening.

World music

On Thursday, Feb. 25, globalFEST on the Road performs “Creole Carnival,” a celebration of roots music from Africa and the Americas that’s associated with pre-Lenten observances. Staying true to the globalFEST mission of cultivating an appreciation and understanding of diverse artistic cultures, “Creole Carnival” features performances by Haitian songstress Emeline Michel, Jamaican guitarist and singer Brushy One-String and Brazilian samba band Casuarina.

Classical Music Project

Performances by Catalyst Quartet, The Knights, Emerson String Quartet, Circa/Debussy String Quartet, Apollo’s Fire, Sybarite5, Voces8, Windscape and the Russian National Orchestra are part of the fifth season of the Center for the Performing Arts Classical Music Project. The initiative, funded through 2017 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aims to raise awareness of classical music programming via university and community concerts and engagement events.