The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center (ASC) will present Birmingham’s own Eric Essix as he premieres his 20th landmark album, “Evolution,” as part of the ASC’s September 2013 commemoration of the historic Civil Rights events of 1963 in Alabama.
“Evolution” musically charts the growth and healing of his hometown after events including the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, which energized the U.S. Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago and forever changed the nation. The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame member will perform with Atlanta-based 5 Men on a Stool and vocalist Tracy Hamlin. The show is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, in the ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $38.50; visit the ASC online at www.alysstephens.org or call 205-975-2787.
On “Evolution,” Essix’s guitar fronts contemporary jazz arrangements supported by traditional jazz instrumentation. Featured are six new, original compositions by Essix, plus hand-picked covers, including “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “This Little Light of Mine.”
“With this project, I definitely wanted to, of course, acknowledge the past, but also highlight the amazing progress we’ve made over the past 50 years,” Essix said. “Birmingham is my home. I have seen the segregation of the past and the tremendous growth of this city first-hand, and I’m proud of where we are today and of the strength and resolve of the people here.”
ArtPlay will present a Meet the Artist School Show with Essix and hundreds of area schoolchildren at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, in the ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall. When Essix is not on stage, he serves as artist coordinator at the ASC, as well as an instructor of jazz studies and music technology in UAB's Department of Music. Essix is co-founder of the annual Preserve Jazz Festival in Hoover
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist church bombing, the ASC is developing and producing community events and performances for the week of September 15, 2013, to engage the community through the healing power of the arts.
On Sept. 15, the ASC and its education and outreach division, ArtPlay, will present a staged reading of Christina M. Ham’s “FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963,” part of Project1Voice’s nationwide, simultaneous event of staged readings commemorating this seminal event in American history. Directed by ArtPlay Teaching Artist Alicia Johnson-Williams and featuring members of ArtPlay’s teen Make It Happen Ensemble, ArtPlay students and a multi-generational cast of community actors and performers, the staged reading is set for 3 p.m. in the ASC’s Sirote Theatre. Tickets are $15.
At 8 p.m. Sept. 21, the ASC will present the long-awaited world premiere of internationally renowned composer Yotam Haber’s “A More Convenient Season,” commissioned by the ASC and philanthropist Tom Blount. “A More Convenient Season” will include the Alabama Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Michael Morgan, featuring an all-female choir that includes four young soloists from the area, electronic music by the acclaimed Philip White, a documentary video by Oscar-nominated filmmaker David Petersen and audio recordings from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Oral History Project. This multi-media, orchestral work will be performed in the ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall. Tickets are $62.50, $51.50 and $39.50.
In addition, ArtPlay will present a composition Master Class with Haber and young composers at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, in the ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall. Those interested in observing the class should call 205-975-4769 for more information.
For tickets to events presented by the ASC, visit www.alysstephens.org or call 205-975-2787.