MIDDLEBURY – Middlebury College’s Mahaney Arts Center has announced its 2019–20 season lineup, with diverse performances in music, theater and dance, as well as exhibitions, films, spoken word events and more. Always a highlight of the year, the Middlebury Performing Arts Series celebrates an important milestone this year with its 100th anniversary, making it the longest-running performance series in the state.
The Performing Arts Series is known for presenting the finest in chamber music, a tradition that will continue throughout the centennial season. The series kicks off Sept. 20 with audience favorite, cellist Sophie Shao. Applauded by the New York Times for her “eloquent, powerful” interpretations, Shao will perform works by Brahms and Schoenberg alongside a quintet of world-class musical friends.
The Gramophone Award-winning Heath Quartet — the series’ first-ever quartet in residence — will return to help celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth with a full Beethoven string quartet cycle over six concerts, bookending weeklong residencies with the campus and community (Oct. 5 and 11, Jan. 11 and 17, and May 2 and 8).
Chamber music audiences will have plenty more to enjoy with three-time Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble Stile Antico, bringing women of the Renaissance to life through song (Nov. 9); British pianists Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne in a tour-de-force four-hand concert (Feb. 19); and the Takács Quartet playing a full Bartók cycle (April 18–19).
This year’s series is also distinguished by important commissions and premieres of new work, starting with the Turtle Island String Quartet with jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut (Nov. 22). The concert will feature the world premiere of a new work by Middlebury Assistant Professor of Music Matthew Evan Taylor.
Grammy-winning contemporary vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth will join the acclaimed Dublin Guitar Quartet in the East Coast premiere of Vermont native Nico Mulhy’s new arrangement of “How Little You Are” (Jan. 30). Cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, “chamber music’s busy power couple” (New York Times), will present the world premiere of a new work by Vermont-raised, prize-winning composer Pierre Jalbert (Feb. 28). The Imani Winds and Catalyst Quartet will join forces for the Vermont premiere of a new work by Jessie Montgomery, inspired by the Great Migration (April 3).
A highlight of the year is the young folk trio Dreamers’ Circus, a new driving force in Nordic world music. Led by violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen of the Danish String Quartet, they will perform a lively and popular concert at the Mahaney Arts Center March 6.
The Performing Arts Series also reaches beyond music, with L.A. Theatre Works’ riveting live radio play “Seven,” based on the true stories of seven remarkable women who face life-threatening obstacles yet later bring heroic changes to their home countries of Pakistan, Nigeria, Ireland, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Russia and Cambodia (March 3-4). Choreographer and dance faculty member Lida Winfield will mix dance, theater, storytelling and original music in “Imaginary,” a quirky and innovative yet socially poignant work that explores perception in relationship to the imagination (March 13-14).
Tickets go on sale Sept. 11; call 802-443-MIDD (6433), or go online to www.middlebury.edu/arts/tickets.