After a one-year hiatus, the Hope College Great Performance Series is returning with a lineup of dance, theatre, and multi-Grammy winning jazz and classical music performances. The series, which has been running for more than 50 years, brings nationally and internationally acclaimed artists to the West Michigan community.
The season will open with PHILADANCO! (Philadelphia Dance Company) performing on Friday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in the Knickerbocker Theatre. The company has been lauded by everyone from presidents to dance critics for its innovation and creativity. Working to preserve the African-American traditions of dance with forward-moving choreography, the company has gained international praise. “The company is in peak form — dancer for dancer, probably the best-trained, certainly the most versatile, dance company in Philadelphia,” says The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The company, founded in 1970, has developed dancers and choreographers who have worked throughout the world. President Obama praised its founder, saying Joan Myers Brown has made “an artistic haven for African-American dancers and choreographers to innovate, create and share their unique visions with the national and global dance communities.”
Next, a true jazz legend will come to Hope College when Paquito D’Rivera will perform with his quintet on Friday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. The term “legend” can get tossed around, but it clearly belongs to D’Rivera. The winner of 14 Grammy Awards, he is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. The Cuban-born musician made his debut at the age of 10, and by 17 was a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony. He was a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Modena and the ground-breaking Irakere which combined jazz, rock, classical, and traditional Cuban music. His numerous recordings include more than 30 solo albums in which the multi-instrumentalist, best known for his saxophone and clarinet work, explores a range of jazz genres and classical music.
On Friday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m., WindSync will bring their powerful wind quintet to the Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. They have established themselves as a vibrant chamber ensemble performing wind quintet masterworks, adapting beloved music to their instrumentation, and championing new works by today’s composers. The quintet eliminates the “fourth wall” between musicians and audience by often performing from memory, creating an intimate connection.
The second half of the season will open with two different groups celebrating the French jazz tradition. First, “Piaf! The Show” will take place on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. in the Knickerbocker Theatre. With a million tickets sold in more than 50 countries and acclaimed reviews worldwide, this theatrical performance is a musical celebration of the life and music of the legendary French chanteuse Edith Piaf. The show narrates the rags-to-riches story of the Parisian singer’s career through her unforgettable songs, complemented by a visual tapestry of previously unreleased photographs and images of famous Parisian locations of the Edith Piaf era.
The French jazz tradition continues when the Hot Club of San Francisco returns to Hope College on Friday, March 11, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. in the Knickerbocker Theatre. This ensemble of accomplished and versatile musicians celebrates the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s pioneering Quintette du Hot Club de France. The ensemble borrows the instrumentation of violin, bass and guitars from the original Hot Club while breathing new life into the music with innovative arrangements of classic tunes and original compositions from the group’s superb lead guitarist, Paul Mehling. “Intricate, scorching and often brilliant” is how Acoustic Guitar describes Mehling’s work. The group also features the violin of two-time Grammy Award-winning Evan Price, the vocals of Isabelle Fontaine, and a strong rhythm section. The ensemble was a big hit in its 2008 appearance on the series.
The season will end with a special performance by the Brentano Quartet and multi-Grammy winning soprano Dawn Upshaw on Friday, April 1, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. The performance will feature classic English songs from Renaissance and Baroque eras in the first half, with a newly commissioned monodrama from Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Melinda Wagner. The quartet performed at Hope College in 2014, and the return with Upshaw will only strengthen the group’s reputation. “It was Upshaw who captivated the audience with her clear tone and unfussy style. The performance was a master class in what singing should be — selfless storytelling and inspired vocal expressivity,” says The City.
Both season subscriptions and individual performance tickets are now on sale. Individual tickets are $24 for adults, $19 for senior citizens, and $7 for children. Season subscriptions help save more than 25 percent off of ticket prices, and are just $105 for adults and $80 for senior citizens for all six performances.
Tickets are available at the Events and Conferences Office located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center (100 E. Eighth St.). The office is open for ticket sales weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at 616-395-7890. Individual tickets may be purchased online at hope.edu/tickets