WINCHESTER — Get out your calendars and prepare to jot down a few dates — the 2019-2020 calendar for Shenandoah Conservatory performances has been released. From classical music to New Age performances, there is something for everyone — and you don’t have to drive to Washington, D.C., to enjoy them (nor pay big-city prices).
“It’s become normal for us now, but we regularly hear from folks who have moved to the Winchester area from major metropolitan areas that they can’t believe the depth, range and quality of the performance season at Shenandoah Conservatory,” said Michael Stepniak, professor of music and Dean of Shenandoah Conservatory.
“There’s no doubt about it, the coming season ... is in every way the most challenging, intriguing, and exceptional in the history of this wonderful university and community. And the level of our Conservatory student talent across all areas has never been higher. I couldn’t be more proud and excited about the range of extraordinary experiences that await,” said Stepniak.
Here are a few selections from the 2019-2020 season. The full season can be found online at www.conservatoryperforms.org. Show descriptions are provided by Shenandoah Conservatory.
“Something Rotten!” Oct. 3 — Oct. 6 Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre
Shenandoah Conservatory has the honor of being the first U.S. college or university to premiere this musical — otherwise, you’d have to see it on Broadway.
“Music Theatre International, who owns the licensing rights to the show, actually contacted us last winter with an opportunity to license the show before it was released to the general public. While we had originally picked out another option for this slot, we jumped at the chance to be one of the first U.S. universities to premiere the show,” said Elizabeth Albert, production manager of SU’s theater division.
“I think our audiences, especially those who love musical comedy, will enjoy the large song and dance numbers, the over-the-top characters, and the humor of the piece. I know the students are going to have a great time working on it, and we can’t wait to share it with the public.”
Description: Set in the 1590s, brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a hit play, but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star known as “The Bard.”
When a local soothsayer foretells the future of theater involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s first musical. Amidst the scandalous excitement of opening night, the brothers realize that reaching the top means being true to thine own self. With its heart on its ruffled sleeve and sequins in its soul, “Something Rotten!” is an uproarious dose of pure Broadway fun and an irresistible ode to musicals.
Tickets: $21 (seniors 62+) to $23.
Jason Robert Brown Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre
Courtney Reilly, managing director of Shenandoah Conservatory and artistic director of Performing Arts Live, is particularly excited about Jason Robert Brown’s performance.
“Audiences will be treated to a rare and intimate cabaret-style performance featuring Brown performing his own works, while sharing insights into his creative process and famous collaborations,” said Reilly.
“It’s an exciting peek behind the scenes, exploring both the creative life and realities of an in-demand composer, but also the unique world of Broadway collaborations.”
Description: Jason Robert Brown is the ultimate multi-hyphenate-an equally skilled composer, lyricist, conductor, arranger, orchestrator, director and performer-best known for his dazzling scores to several of the most renowned musicals of his generation, including the generation-defining The Last Five Years, his debut song cycle Songs for a New World, and the seminal Parade, for which he won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Score.
Originally trained as a concert composer, Brown’s music is infused with so much keen sophistication that The New York Times referred to him as “a leading member of a new generation of composers who embody high hopes for the American musical.”
Manual Cinema’s Frankenstein Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre
“Another performance I am really excited about is ‘Frankenstein’ by the Chicago-based company Manual Cinema,” said Reilly.
“It’s unlike anything we have ever presented and unlike any theater experience you’re likely to have encountered. The production creates an all-encompassing world of its own, combining theater, shadow puppetry and live music to tell the story of Frankenstein. But along the way it also tells the story of Mary Shelley — it’s fascinating to see how these two stories overlap and unfold.”
Also, after the performance audience members can tour the stage to see how the magic is created.
Description: Love, loss and creation merge in unexpected ways in this thrilling Gothic classic conceived by internationally renowned multimedia art collective Manual Cinema. Combining live theater and music with handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques and original musical compositions, Manual Cinema creates immersive visual stories for stage and screen. Its most recent work stitches together the classic tale of Frankenstein with Mary Shelley’s own life to create an unexpected story about the beauty-and horror-of creation.
The Body, The Voice, The Instrument March 27-29, 2020 Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre
“In the spring, our orchestra, dance ensemble and choirs present an unprecedented and monumental collaboration on the stage of Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre entitled The Body, The Voice, The Instrument, which will feature hundreds of students from across the conservatory,” said Reilly.
Description: The Shenandoah Conservatory Dance Ensemble performs original works choreographed by Maurice Fraga, Shylo Martinez and Matt Pardo in a powerful artistic alliance with the Shenandoah Conservatory choirs and Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Matt Oltman, Karen Keating and guest conductor Nadège Foofat. Highlights include performances of “Choral Dances” from Benjamin Britten’s coronation opera, Gloriana; a new adaptation of Edward Elgar’s Sea Pictures, op. 37 for chorus and orchestra; and the glorious Serenade to Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Festival of Arts, Ideas & Exploration Nov. 2 from 3-10 p.m. Various locations on Shenandoah University’s Main Campus
Description: Shenandoah Conservatory turns over the programming and facilities to its students for a week of exploration, collaboration and creativity. Students work across disciplines on self-directed, time-limited projects fueled by their own passion, drive and curiosity. The week culminates with a day-long Festival of Arts, Ideas & Exploration featuring a wide variety of exciting, innovative and provocative performances, presentations, roundtable discussions and other special events.
Ballet Hispánico April 3, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre
Description: Ballet Hispánico, America’s leading Latino dance organization, has brought individuals and communities together to celebrate and explore Latino cultures through dance for nearly 50 years. The company is hailed for its technical precision and artistic virtuosity on the stage. Representing a multitude of nationalities, Ballet Hispánico reflects the ever-changing face of our nation. The company brings innovative ways of experiencing and sharing a cultural dialogue to the stage with a unique program of contemporary works that explore the diversity of Latino cultures.
New American Voices April 24-26, 2020 Shingleton Dance Space
“I also always love the performances that take place in unique or intimate venues. Our new music series at the Bright Box is always fun and our Opera Up Close series in Shingleton Dance Space has become an audience favorite,” said Reilly.
“These are great performances for audiences who have an adventurous and curious appetite for the arts — they have a more casual, social feel, but the work is top notch and highly innovative.”
Description: Set in an intimate Black Box studio and directed each year by a different distinguished guest artist, Opera Up Close features small ensembles, but big ideas. This year’s performance explores new American voices in opera, including three new works about the conflict between our internal and external lives. The program features excerpts from Carnival of Souls, an opera in progress by Shenandoah Conservatory’s Jonathan Newman based on the 1962 cult horror film; Christopher Weiss’ comic short opera Service Provider, commissioned by Washington National Opera; and Laura Kaminsky’s As One, a two-person chamber opera about the journey of a transgender person transitioning from male to female. Tickets: $13 — $15
World of the Piano
Description: A series of five performances featuring internationally acclaimed pianists from around the globe performing the world’s greatest classical piano repertoire. This year’s series features Russian pianist Sofya Gulyak performing works by C. Schumann, Brahms, Franck, Wagner-Liszt and Ravel (Sept. 15 at 2:30 p.m.); Moscow-born, Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg performing works by Liszt and Rachmaninoff (Oct. 27 at 2:30 p.m.); Korean pianist Sea Yoon Chon performing works by Beethoven, Dutilleux, Liszt and Brahms (Feb. 16 at 2:30 p.m.); American pianist Anne-Marie McDermott performing Bach’s Goldberg Variations (March 29 at 2:30 p.m.); and Irish pianist and Shenandoah faculty John O’Conor performing Beethoven’s last three sonatas in celebration of the composer’s 250th birthday anniversary (April 19 at 2:30 p.m.). Tickets: $25