Ticket info

To order tickets, beginning Monday, or to get more information about the CU Presents season, including dates for the six-concert Takács Quartet series on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights, call 303-492-8008 or visit cupresents.org.

CU Presents, the performing arts event series affiliated with the University of Colorado's College of Music, has announced its offerings for the 2014-15 season. Tickets go on sale Monday. As usual, the core is the eight-event Artist Series, which brings world-class guest performers to Macky Auditorium. The three-production CU Opera season was also announced.

CU Presents executive director Joan McLean Braun told the Camera that the goal of the Artist Series season is to provide entertainment that patrons won't see anywhere else. It opens Sept. 19 with Step Afrika! The professional dance group is devoted to the percussive stepping art form that has its roots in Africa. According to Braun, it actually arose in African-American fraternities and sororities of the early 20th century.

"It's a community art that is tied to both African and the African-American experience," Braun said. "It's really a fusion of styles throughout the diaspora. We really think that it will attract a diverse audience, as our dance events often do."

For classical music lovers, the marquee event is the Oct. 8 appearance of the world-renowned Kronos String Quartet. The chamber group, which is dedicated to contemporary music, has given many world premieres of works commissioned by the most distinguished living composers.

Braun said Kronos' Boulder appearance will feature a new work by Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebinov. Titled "Beyond Zero: 1914-1918," the piece was written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.

Natalie Merchant will close out the Artists Series season April 2, when she performs with the CU Symphony.
Natalie Merchant will close out the Artists Series season April 2, when she performs with the CU Symphony. (Courtesy photo)

"Commemoration of war in art is a challenge," Braun said. "The choice of a Serbian composer has some significance, as the war actually broke out on Serbian territory."

Braun noted that the performance would be done in conjunction with a projection of rare archival footage from the war itself from the Library of Congress. The quartet will perform other works on the second half of the concert.

On Nov. 7, the Swiss theater troupe Mummenschanz makes its first Boulder appearance.

"They are so clever and interesting," Braun said. The group performs without words, and masks are a vital part of the dramatic presentation. "It's more theater than dance, and it's not mime; it's really dramatic physical theater that does not require dialogue."

The past couple of years, the Artist Series has included a holiday concert about a week after the annual Holiday Festival. This year, the holiday concert will be The King's Singers, a Grammy Award-winning British vocal sextet, on Dec. 11.

"We have found that despite the many holiday offerings in Boulder, people are still asking for more," Braun said. "We think we can add to what is already available by bringing in guest artists of high quality to perform holiday concerts."

The King's Singers, an all-male a cappella group, will present a true Christmas program.

"We can use the word 'Christmas' this year," Braun said. "It's not a multicultural program like the Turtle Island String Quartet and Tierney Sutton gave us last year."

On Jan. 22, the Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Co. will present a contemporary program choreographed to live classical music. Braun said that most of the live music will be provided by the College of Music's graduate string quartet.

"This will be real classical music by the masters," Braun said. "I applaud these choreographers who envision another expression inspired by this music."

The most eclectic collaboration of the series comes Feb. 6 , when jazz funk group Medeski, Martin and Wood joins forces with the cutting-edge chamber orchestra Alarm Will Sound.

Braun said the two ensembles will approach their collaboration from different musical worlds.

"It will be a true fusion of styles," she said. "Alarm Will Sound specializes in experimental commissioned works, while Medeski, Martin and Wood are experimental in their jazz/jam approach. Each group is a fan of the other, and the result will be a real complex, cross-genre delight."

February is the month for cross-genre collaborations. On Feb. 19, the Assad Brothers, among Brazil's greatest classical guitarists, come together with jazz guitarist Romero Lubambo in a program devoted to Brazilian Samba and Choros titled "Samba Exótico."

Braun noted that the performance coincides with the guitar competition at the College of Music.

"We're thrilled that they can participate in that," she said. "It's a way for the Artist Series to materially contribute resources to the College of Music."

Closing the Artist Series on April 2 will be pop vocalist Natalie Merchant, who will perform songs from her solo career and her time with 10,000 Maniacs in arrangements for orchestra. The CU Symphony joins her onstage.

The past two years, the orchestra has collaborated with classical guest artists, but conductor Gary Lewis wanted to give his student musicians experience with a pops show.

"It's a different model from a classical artist," Braun said. "They won't have as much time to prepare, and they won't be playing on their own. It will be a valuable expansion of their experience, since orchestras almost always include a pops concert in their seasons."

The CU Opera will offer two productions s at Macky, opening its season there with Cole Porter's "Kiss Me Kate" on Oct. 24-26 and then performing Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte" March 13-15. The spring chamber opera at the Imig Music Theatre reaches back to the art form's origins with Monteverdi's "The Coronation of Poppea" April 23-26.

"(Director) Leigh Holman always gives our students a breadth of experience," Braun said. "We have a Broadway classic, a Mozart standard, and one of the earliest baroque operas. You can't get more eclectic than that."