The Hope College Great Performance Series (GPS) returns for the 2008-09 season with performances ranging from a legendary dance company to a three-time Grammy nominated string quartet. For over 30 years GPS has brought internationally recognized performers to West Michigan, featuring the best in dance, theatre, jazz, and classical music.
The series open Thursday & Friday, Sept. 4-5, with Taylor 2 Dance in the Knicerbocker Theatre. Few artists have impacted their art form as much as Paul Taylor has in dance over six decades. His company grew out of his own performance background and its reputation grew on his outstanding choreography. In 1993 Taylor created "Taylor 2" as a six-person company, modeled after his original company he founded over 50 years ago. In addition to extensive performances in New York, the company has toured throughout the U.S. and on a government sponsored tour of six African nations. Young, explosive, and always interesting, Taylor 2 dancers push the limits in their art. "The New York Times" reviewed a performance saying "The performing would have been impressive enough...but the dancers' aplomb and artistry were even more remarkable."
On Friday, Oct. 17, the always exciting Synergy Brass Quintet performs at Dimnent Chapel. This young quintet plays Bach by memory and shoot fireworks out of their instruments on You Tube. Classical fans will love their talent and energy, while those looking for a new way to experience classical music will not want to miss this ensemble. They perform nearly 300 concerts per year and are dedicated to school outreach programs as well (including two while in Holland). Someone apparently forgot to tell this group that classical music is not "hip." "Performances are impeccable and deeply moving. This group delivers gorgeous, balanced sound and has completely mastered any technical skill you can name" says the "American Record Guide."
On Thursday, Nov. 6, you can be one of the first to see the chamber orchestra, CityMusic Cleveland, perform outside of their region when they come to Dimnent Chapel on their first ever tour. Created just five years ago this orchestra continues to seek new audiences for classical music. Since 2005 James Gaffigan has been the Music Director of CityMusic Cleveland; he also serves as Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, under Michael Tilson Thomas. The performance will feature the highly acclaimed young cellist, Joshua Roman performing Schumann's "Cello Concerto." "CityMusic Cleveland has a welcome habit of spoiling concertgoers new and otherwise. Under music director James Gaffigan...it also galvanizes the works they face" says "The Cleveland Plain Dealer."
On Friday, Jan. 16, the Chuchito Valdés Quartet will heat up Dimnent Chapel with their Cuban based jazz sound. Following in the footsteps of his famed father Chucho Valdés and grandfather Bebo Valdés, Chuchito continues the legacy of great piano players from Cuba. His influences of Afro Cuban rhythms and jazz creates an exciting and energetic blend of spicy music that energize audiences. He has also extensively studied classical music including harmony and composition. "Valdés and his band reinvigorated age old Cuban musical forms, the venerable cha-cha-cha and mambo standards revitalized by the muscular virtuosity of a mostly younger generation of players" says "The Chicago Tribune."
One great theatre company presents two different performances when Aquila Theatre performs on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 13 and 14, at the Knickerbocker Theatre. Aquila has won international praise for their innovative presentations of classics including "The Iliad," which is Homer's epic story of Achilles and the Trojan Wars and will be presented by the company on Friday, Feb. 13. One of the greatest works in literature, it was first performed as a play over 2,500 years ago. "A performance of staggering power" says "The New York Times" about Aquila's "Iliad." The wide range of the company will be seen the next night, Saturday, Feb. 14, when they turn to "Comedy of Errors," one of Shakespeare's most vibrant and sparkling comedies. "Unmistakable fun" says "The Los Angeles Times" about Aquila's "Comedy of Errors."
The series ends on Tuesday, March 31, when the Grammy nominated Quartet San Francisco performs at Dimnent Chapel. With Grammy nominations for best classical crossover recordings for their last two releases (2006 and 2007) and International Tango competition winners (New York, 2004), Quartet San Francisco expresses itself in its agility and standout virtuosic playing. As crossover specialists they excel in multiple styles - from jazz to tango, pop to funk, blues to bluegrass, gypsy swing to big band and beyond. "The musicians played with breezy wit, fine technical finish and a genuine feeling for musical idiom," says "The Washington Post."
All Great Performance Series performances begin at 7:30 p.m.
The CityMusic Cleveland performance is supported by the Performing Arts Fund, a program of Arts Midwest funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, with additional contributions from Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, General Mills Foundation, and Land O'Lakes Foundation.
Season tickets are now available. Subscriptions are $58 for adults, $47 for senior citizens, and $125 for a family (no matter how many children). The subscriptions are such a savings that they are equivalent to seeing two shows for free.
Tickets for individual shows go on sale on Monday, Aug. 25, at 10 a.m. Both individual tickets and season subscriptions are available at the ticket office in the DeVos Fieldhouse or by calling (616) 395-7890.
Following the Aug. 25 ticket opening, the ticket office will be open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ticket office is in the main lobby of the DeVos Fieldhouse, which is located at 222 Fairbanks Ave., between Ninth and 11th streets.
More information about the season may be obtained online by visiting www.hope.edu/gps.