New at Alys Stephens Center: classical, rock, blues, bluegrass, jazz, dance, drama, art

New this season: Robert Cray, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Taj Mahal, Ailey II, John Prine, Light Dreams II and Steve Martin with Edie Brickell.

New performances presented by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center have just been announced, and all tickets will go on sale Nov. 24.

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers with Edie BrickellSteve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers with Edie BrickellFor the second half of the 2013-2014 season, the ASC has selected intriguing young classical performers Narek Arutyunian and Ji, Birmingham’s own Yakov and Aleksandra Kasman in a four-hand piano program, thrilling dance from Ailey II, and diverse music from acts including the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Taj Mahal, The Robert Cray Band and John Prine with guest Holly Williams, which span bluegrass, blues, country and folk. The Viva Health Starlight Gala will feature Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers with Edie Brickell.

This year the ASC continues its important mission of curating and producing original new works and performances for the community. The ASC will award pioneering Birmingham songwriters and composers with a competition, ASC Commissions Birmingham, which honors the Magic City. The ArtPlay Make It Happen Performing Ensemble will commemorate Black History Month with “Celebrate,” a new, original program of music, spoken word and dance. Birmingham’s own UAB Artist-in-Residence and Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame member Eric Essix will begin a three-year series, Jazz Essentials, starting with the famed Marcus Roberts Trio live in concert. Light Dreams, the tremendously popular, free art, music, light and dance festival created and curated by the ASC, will return for an expanded three-night showing, featuring new digital light creations and more by Birmingham’s most innovative and creative artists.

ASC Commission Bham sFor tickets, a copy of The Center Magazine or more information, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. UAB employees get a 10 percent ticket discount to all shows.

Choose three or more shows and create the “It’s Your Choice” package to save 15 percent on the total price. Selected performances will feature $20 student tickets. To enhance the patron’s experience, the ASC’s new ticketing system conveniently allows online purchases of tickets, which can be printed at home or delivered to a mobile device. Patrons can maintain their individual accounts online, connect with the ASC on Facebook and more. In addition, the ASC has a new, mobile-friendly website to enhance patrons’ online experience.

UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center full 2014 winter/spring schedule:

Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014
ASC Commissions Birmingham
, New Orleans, Chicago, New York: Every great city has music written in its honor. This year, the ASC wants to hear your songs or compositions about living in Birmingham. Twelve works will be selected to be performed at a festival June 21. Each finalist will be awarded a $250 stipend to perform a short set live. Three performers, selected by the audience and a panel of judges, will win $1,000 and studio time at UAB to record their songs. Share your talent and help the ASC celebrate The Magic City. All genres and instruments are eligible. The song must be original. To participate, a video of any production quality must be submitted via YouTube link to the ASC at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Only one per person/group allowed. The project will begin Jan. 21, the submission deadline is April 21, and finalists will be announced May 21. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.

Narek Arutyunian, photo by Christian SteinerNarek Arutyunian, photo by Christian SteinerThursday, Jan. 23, 2014
Narek Arutyunian, clarinet
, accompanied by Mariko Furukawa, piano, 7 p.m., in ArtPlay, the Alys Stephens Center’s home for arts education, 1006 19th St. South. This performance is part of the Patty McDonald ArtPlay Parlor Series featuring Young Concert Artists. The evening’s program is set to feature Jacob Weinberg’s “Hebrew Melodies in the form of a Suite”; Aaron Copland’s “Sonata for clarinet and piano”; Robert Schumann’s “3 Romances,” Op. 94; Marius Constant’s “For Clarinet”; and Paul Schoenfield’s “Sonatina for Klezmer, clarinet and piano.” Tickets are $37.50; beverages and hors d’oeuvres are included. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. Arutyunian is an artist whom The Washington Post declared “reaches passionate depths with seemingly effortless technical prowess and beguiling sensitivity.” Arutyunian’s career is growing by leaps and bounds, and as always, the ASC is thrilled to support an artist who is a true rising star of classical music. As a winner of the 2010 Young Concert Artists International auditions, he was presented in YCA’s Rhoda Walker Teagle New York debut concert at Merkin Hall and at the Kennedy Center to rave reviews. ArtPlay will present Ji in a Meet the Artist On the Road school show at Bush Hills School. This residency is made possible in part by the Annaliese Soros Educational Residency Fund of Young Concert Artists.

Friday, Feb. 7, 2014
Yakov and Aleksandra Kasman
, two-piano recital, 8 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $43.50. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. The ASC proudly presents this exciting “four-hands” evening featuring an all-Rachmaninoff program of music. Experiencing a two-piano performance with Yakov Kasman and his daughter Aleksandra is the perfect way to appreciate the texture and grace of the Russian composer’s sound. Professor of Piano and Artist-in-Residence at UAB, Yakov Kasman made his debut in America in 1997 as Silver Medalist in the 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. It was the culmination of several competition triumphs, including prizes at the 1991 Valentino Bucchi Competition in Rome, the 1991 London World Piano Competition, the 1992 Artur Rubinstein International Competition in Tel Aviv and the 1995 International Prokofiev Competition at St. Petersburg. Since his American debut, Kasman has appeared as soloist with more than 60 orchestras around the world, and made 15 recordings on the Calliope label. His two-CD set of the complete sonatas of Prokofiev was awarded the Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Academie du Disque in France in 1996. International Piano Quarterly recommended his recording of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” as one of 14 best in a survey of recordings over the past 75 years. Aleksandra Kasman, known as Sasha, is the national winner of NFMC’s Stillman-Kelley Award, Silver Medalist of the VII International Competition for Young Pianists in Memory of Vladimir Horowitz in Kiev, Ukraine, and a second-place and Young Jury Award winner at the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition in Columbia, S.C. Her recent engagements include solo recitals in New York and Washington, D.C., duo-piano performances with her father at the International Summer Keyboard Institute in Fort Collins, Colo., at the Concert Series at Tulane University in New Orleans, La., in Orel, Russia, and in Busan, Korea. ArtPlay will present Yakov and Sasha Kasman in a Meet the Artist show.

Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014

ArtPlay presents Make It Happen Performing Ensemble’s “Celebrate!” with shows at 10 and 11:30 a.m., in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for children. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. This performance by the MIH Ensemble celebrating Black History Month is researched, written and performed by local middle and high school students under the direction of Alicia Johnson-Williams. Packed with memorable songs, spoken word and dance, MIH Ensemble brings to life voices from the past and the present and tells a story that not only celebrates but educates. Now in its sixth year, MIH started as a pilot program with Ramsey High School and has grown immensely, with performances for more than 5,000 people. Auditions for the group are held in September. Throughout the year, MIH Ensemble performs all over the Greater Birmingham area, making its members true ArtPlay ambassadors. ArtPlay also will present a Meet the Artist show with the MIH Ensemble for hundreds of area schoolchildren.

Friday, Feb. 14, 2014
The Robert Cray Band
, 8 p.m., in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $57.50, $48.50 and $39.50. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. Spend Valentine’s Day with the ASC and legendary rock/blues icon Robert Cray for an unforgettable night of music. Known for blazing live performances, Cray is one of the greatest guitarists of his generation. With five Grammy awards, 15 nominations, millions of record sales worldwide and thousands of sold-out performances under his belt, this incredible artist shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, Cray’s career and artistry seem to be reaching new heights. Recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame at the age of 57, he is one of the youngest living legends to receive the prestigious honor. Rolling Stone magazine, in its April 2011 issue, credits Cray with reinventing the blues with his “distinct razor sharp guitar playing” that “introduced a new generation of mainstream rock fans to the language and form of the blues.” Coming off the hot ticket of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival and the accompanying film, which combined the greatest guitarists of our generation, Cray’s new tour blurs the lines of blues music and showcases his barrier-busting repertoire.

Friday, Feb. 28, 2014
Carolina Chocolate Drops
, 8 p.m., in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $39.50. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. Making their debut engagement at the ASC, Carolina Chocolate Drops are artists renowned for delivering a modern take on a traditional sound. Their new recording, “Leaving Eden,” was produced by Nashville stalwart Buddy Miller, the go-to guy for artists ranging from Robert Plant to Emmylou Harris. On the recording and supporting tour, their new repertoire incorporates more blues, jazz and folk balladry alongside brilliantly rendered string-band tunes. Seeing them live, The New York Times declares, is “an end-to-end display of excellence … They dip into styles of Southern black music from the 1920s and ’30s string-band music, jug-band music, fife and drum, early jazz – and beam their curiosity outward. They make short work of their instructive mission and spend their energy on things that require it: flatfoot dancing, jug playing, shouting.” Their 2010 album, “Genuine Negro Jig,” won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album and was No. 9 in Root Magazine’s top 10 albums of 2010. ArtPlay will present a free master class with the group earlier in the day at 3 p.m. in the ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall.

Saturday, March 22, 2014
Taj Mahal
, 8 p.m., in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $62.50, $53.50 and $43.50. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. Blues and world music man Taj Mahal makes his second visit to the ASC. This composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist is one of the most prominent and influential figures in late 20th century blues and roots music. Though his career began more than four decades ago with American blues, he has broadened his artistic scope over the years to include music representing virtually every corner of the world — west Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the Hawaiian Islands and so much more. Over the years, his passion and curiosity have led him around the world, and the resulting global perspective is reflected in his music. Young Taj learned to play the piano, clarinet, trombone and harmonica, and loved to sing. As a teen a guitarist moved in next door and taught him the various styles of Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, and other titans of Delta and Chicago blues. From those early years, through musical explorations that have resulted in an eclectic recording catalog and multiple Grammy awards, Taj said, “Even at the end of 40 years, in many ways my music is just getting started.”

Friday, March 28, 2014
Ailey II
, 8 p.m., in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $55.50, $46.50 and $36.50. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. Ailey II is universally recognized for merging the spirit and energy of the most talented young dancers with the passion and creative vision of today’s outstanding emerging choreographers. The company embodies Alvin Ailey’s pioneering mission to establish an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training and community programs for all people. Under the artistic direction of Troy Powell, the Ailey spirit shines as this critically acclaimed company presents an exhilarating and diverse repertory of timeless classics and thrilling new works. The ASC has been honored this season to present two weeklong residency programs with the Ailey organization that culminate with this celebratory public performance. During the residency, dancers from Ailey II and teaching artists from Ailey’s Arts In Education program will have worked with more than 150 students in our area, resulting in a student recital in early 2014. ArtPlay will present a free Meet the Artist school show with Ailey II earlier in the day at 10 a.m. in the ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall.

Thursday, April 10, 2014
Jazz Essentials and Marcus Roberts Trio: Ragtime and Early New Orleans Jazz, part of a Journey through the History of Jazz hosted by UAB Artist-in-Residence Eric Essix
, 7 p.m., in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $38.50. Student tickets available. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. Jazz Essentials is a new, innovative series devoted to honoring the rich history of jazz music and bringing the best artists in contemporary jazz to Birmingham. Over the next three years, the ASC will take audiences on a journey from the birth of jazz through today’s most innovative artists with performances and educational activities. This season, Jazz Essentials will begin its journey by showcasing ragtime and early New Orleans jazz, hosted by Essix and featuring music performed by the Marcus Roberts Trio, alongside local jazz artists. Set One will take audiences through the history, music and artists of the inaugural era of jazz. Set Two will feature the highly acclaimed original music and repertoire of the Marcus Roberts Trio. Roberts has received praise from the legendary Wynton Marsalis, who, when discussing Roberts, has said, “We call him ‘the genius of modern piano,’ because he is.” ArtPlay will present a Meet the Artist school show, musician clinic and mentoring program. Jazz Essentials coincides with the 2014 UAB Jazz Summit, April 10-12, presented by the UAB Department of Music.

Friday, April 11, 2014
John Prine with special guest Holly Williams
, 8 p.m., in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $50.50, $61.50 and $69.50. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. Prine has been at the top of the ASC’s artist “wish list” for some time. Now he will make his debut performance in the acoustically pristine Jemison Concert Hall — the perfect setting for an artist like Prine. More than four decades after his remarkable debut, Prine has stayed at the top of his game, both as a performer and as a songwriter. Recently honored at the Library of Congress by United States Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, he’s been elevated from the annals of songwriters into the realm of bona fide American treasures. Long considered a “songwriter’s songwriter,” Prine is a rare talent who writes the songs other songwriters would sell their souls for. Evidence of this is the long list of songwriters who have recorded gems from his extensive catalog, including Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, the Everly Brothers, John Denver, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, Ben Harper, Joan Baez and many others. Special guest Williams has proved she can forge her own path as a singer, songwriter and artist, with three widely acclaimed studio releases — “The Ones We Never Knew” in 2004, “Here with Me” in 2009 and “The Highway” in 2013 — and inspiring live performances. ArtPlay will present a songwriting clinic with Williams earlier in the day at 4 p.m.

Thursday, May 1, 2014
Ji, piano
, 7 p.m., in ArtPlay, the Alys Stephens Center’s home for arts education, 1006 19th St. South. This performance is part of the Patty McDonald ArtPlay Parlor Series featuring Young Concert Artists. Ji’s program for the evening is slated to feature Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Major, Op. 47, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 26 in E-flat major, Op. 81a (“Les adieux”), and Ravel’s La Valse. Tickets are $37.50; beverages and hors d’oeuvres are included. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “a gifted young pianist who is clearly going places,” 22-year-old Ji has a compelling musical presence and a career that began at the age of 10, when he was the youngest pianist to win the New York Philharmonic’s Young Artists Competition, and subsequently played at Avery Fisher Hall under Maestro Kurt Masur. In December, Ji will make his debut at New York’s Merkin Hall and the Kennedy Center before arriving in Birmingham for his ArtPlay debut. Well-known in his native Korea, Ji performed Korea’s first outdoor classical concert as soloist with the BBC Symphony; and performed in Seoul with world-renowned ballerina Sue Jin Kang and dancers from the Stuttgart Ballet. Ji’s creative vision to make classical music accessible to young people led to his “Stop & Listen” outdoor “guerrilla” performances in 2010, during which he worked with renowned Korean pop-artist Tae Jung Kim, bringing classical music to the public on the busy streets of Seoul. Ji was featured on a special program dedicated to the music of John Corigliano on NPR’s “From the Top,” on which he played Corigliano’s “Etude Fantasy.” ArtPlay will present Ji in a Meet the Artist On the Road school show at an area school earlier in the day. This residency is made possible in part by the Annaliese Soros Educational Residency Fund of Young Concert Artists

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 8, 9 and 10, 2014
Light Dreams II
, 7:30 p.m. nightly, outdoors on the Engel Plaza at UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. FREE. Join the ASC and some of Birmingham’s most innovative artists for the second annual Light Dreams festival, a free celebration of art, music, dance and light. This year, an even bigger team of artists will use the ASC as a canvas for their digitally projected artworks and large-scale light installations. The entire southern façade of the ASC building will once again be wrapped in fabric and transformed into a projection screen. The festival will feature the premier of architecturally mapped “light dreams” projection shows in 3-D; a “Let Your Light Shine” parade featuring musicians and wearable art installations; a 3-D virtual reality “light dream” from UAB’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Enabling Technology Laboratory and Computer and Information Sciences Department; live music from Downright, John Scalici’s Homebrew and more; “Points of Light” installations by local artists; a live dance performance using electroluminescent wire; Birmingham’s favorite food trucks; and cash bars with light-themed drinks. ArtPlay will present community workshops on April 12 and April 26.

Sunday, June 8, 2014
2014 Viva Health Starlight Gala: Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell
, 8 p.m., in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. The Viva Health Starlight Gala is Birmingham’s crown jewel of performing arts events. This annual engagement benefits the programs and education initiatives of UAB’s Alys Stephens Center and ensures the center can continue to provide the community with the very best in arts entertainment. This year the ASC presents an innovative musical duo: Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell. The ensemble will perform songs from its new album, “Love Has Come for You.” The performance will showcase original material performed by Martin and Brickell, along with the unique hybrid of bluegrass and comedy that Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers have been delighting audiences with at their sold-out, critically acclaimed shows. “Love Has Come for You” offers 13 eloquently “rootsy” Martin/Brickell compositions that combine the former’s inventive, expressive, five-string banjo work with the latter’s heart-tugging vocals and vivid, detail-rich lyrics. The Contributor ticket package includes premium seating for the performance and an elegant reception prior to the performance for $125 per person. The Supporter ticket package includes regular seating for the performance and an elegant reception prior to the performance for $85 per person. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. A VIP dinner package is available. For more information, please call 205-934-6196.

Experiencing the Arts

 
 
Back to Top