The Hope College Great Performance Series will feature a unique combination of events in the cultural arts across its forthcoming 2014-15 season.
The series will open on Thursday-Friday, Sept. 25-26, at the Knickerbocker Theatre with Lucky Plush Dance, a Chicago-based dance theatre company led by choreographer Julia Rhoads, who was one of “Dance Magazine’s” “25 to Watch” in 2010 and the 2013 dance recipient of the Alpert Award in the Arts.
“The Boston Globe” has described the company as containing “delicious humor and a dark, poignant undercurrent...both charming and memorably provocative.”
The group will perform a new work, “The Queue,” which is set in a fictional airport and explores the concept of waiting, with influences from early 20th century forms of slapstick, vaudeville acts, theatre and choreography. The company is known for offering bold commentary on contemporary culture with a wry grin.
On Friday, Oct. 17, multi-Grammy nominated Sweet Honey in the Rock will return to Dimnent Memorial Chapel to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
“This ensemble is the gold standard…their voices are all fabulous, and they unite to create a sound so pure, smooth and homogenous that it does not seem humanly possible,” the “Fort Worth Star Telegram” has said.
Challenge and change are the themes underlying the revered female African-American a cappella ensemble, which finds ongoing success through its adventurous and diverse mixture of blues, African, jazz, gospel, and R&B music. Mixing exquisite voices with a mission to “educate, entertain and empower,” the ensemble has performed in locations ranging from the White House to around the world, and has been featured in two PBS documentaries. Sweet Honey in the Rock performed as part of the Great Performance Series in 1988.
The acclaimed Brentano String Quartet will perform on Friday, Nov. 7, in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Since its inception in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. In 2014, the group succeeded the Tokyo Quartet as Artists in Residence at Yale University. In 2012, the ensemble provided the central music (Beethoven Opus 131) for the critically-acclaimed feature film “A Late Quartet,” and in 2013 the group released the second of three recordings featuring the late Beethoven Quartets. Previous recordings include a disc of Mozart, and the Opus 71 quartets of Haydn. In the area of newer music, the quartet has released a disc of the music of Steven Mackey, and has also recorded the music of Bruce Adolphe, Chou Wen-chung and Charles Wuorinen.
“The London Independent” has described the quartet as “Passionate, uninhibited and spellbinding,” while “The New York Times” has praised its “Luxuriously warm sound [and] yearning lyricism.”
The Rastrelli Cello Quartet, a Russian ensemble known for stretching musical genres, will perform on Friday, Jan. 23, in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. A singularly unique ensemble, the quartet has been thrilling audiences with its renderings of non-traditional programming for more than 10 years. “The Barrie Examiner” has said, “These four musicians could sound like a classical symphony one moment and play ragtime, jazz, klezmer or even a polka next.”
The ensemble has five recordings, and its 2009 release, “Classic in Cello,” was nominated for a Russian Grammy Award. The group aims to perform “between the genres,” and its programs can mix works by Bach, Saint-Saens, and Tchaikovsky with that of George Gershwin and Dave Brubeck.
On Thursday-Friday, Feb. 12-13, the Knickerbocker Theatre will play host to Broadway’s Next Hit Musical. That is the name of the musical comedy improv ensemble, which promises a different show every time it performs. The master improvisers gather made-up, hit song suggestions from the audience and create a spontaneous evening of music, humor, and laughter. The audience votes for its favorite song and watches as the cast turns it into a full-blown improvised musical for the second half.
The company has been seen recently at The Triad, Tribeca Film Festival and New York Musical Theater Festival, among many others. “The New York Times” has called the group “Hilarious!”
The season will close with a jazz trio, The Bad Plus, on Wednesday, March 25, at the Knickerbocker Theatre. “The New Yorker Magazine” has described The Bad Plus as “the Coen brothers of jazz: Midwesterners, both ironic and dead earnest, technically brilliant, beyond versatile, a little chilly sometimes, but funny, surprising, and pretty hard to pin down.”
The Bad Plus has spent almost 15 years redefining what a piano-bass-drums jazz trio can and should be. The trio has reached audiences of all demographic stripes with an uncompromising body of original music. The group avoids easy categorization, winning critical hosannas and a legion of fans worldwide with its creativity, unique sound and flair for live performance. The members of the trio believe that serious music can be as engaging and accessible as it is forward-thinking and provocative.
All performances will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Season tickets are now available. Season subscriptions are $70 for adults, $55 for senior citizens, and $140 for a family (no matter how many children). The subscriptions are such a savings that they are equivalent to seeing two shows for free. Individual tickets go on sale on Monday, Aug. 25, and are $18 for regular admission, $13 for senior citizens, and $6 for children 18 and under.
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 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at (616) 395-7890.
More information about the season may be obtained online by visiting hope.edu/gps/.