UAB’s Alys Stephens Center to launch 25th anniversary season this fall

The Alys Stephens Center’s 25th anniversary season begins with the return of a pioneer in aerial performance: Bandaloop will be in residence at UAB from Sept. 19-24, with two free performances.

25 anniversary.1Bandaloop on the walls of UAB's Alys Stephens CenterThe University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center will celebrate its 25th anniversary season this fall, and tickets are on sale now.

“This last year we learned how resilient we can be, how much we need each other, and how vital the arts are to our daily lives,” said Lili D. Anderson, MBA, executive director of UAB Visual and Performing Arts. “This informed our intentional planning for the coming year, hosting a balance of both paid and free events to welcome the entire community back to the Alys Stephens Center.”

“We are excited to present a full roster for our 25th anniversary season at the Alys Stephens Center,” said Eric Essix, director of Programming.  

“To celebrate some of the biggest moments on our stages over the past 25 years, we have invited several artists who have been to the center before, like Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and his brother Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra,” Essix said. “Robert Cray, Project Bandaloop and Pat Metheny are Alys Stephens Center favorites who are joining us once again this season. There are also some new faces we will present this year like bluegrass artist Sierra Hull, jazz/R&B singer Gregory Porter and trumpeter Chris Botti. Across the board, I have found that artists are very anxious to get back to performing in front of live audiences again and we are happy to facilitate these opportunities at the ASC.”

For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

Safety is UAB’s priority. The pandemic is a fluid situation that UAB is monitoring, in consultation with infectious disease and public health experts; performances will be subject to change based on the latest COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Alys Stephens Center 2021-2022 season performances:

25 anniversary.6BandaloopSept. 19-24

Bandaloop

The Alys Stephens Center’s 25th anniversary season begins with the return of a pioneer in aerial performance, Bandaloop. This mesmerizing dance company will suspend from the roof of the center while dancing on the side of the building. Audiences will have the opportunity to see two free performances by Bandaloop on the UAB campus.

Bandaloop seamlessly weaves dynamic physicality, intricate choreography and climbing technology to turn the dance floor on its side. The company’s work reimagines dance, activates public spaces and inspires wonder in audiences around the globe. Bandaloop will be in residence at UAB from Sept. 19-24, with two opportunities to watch:

  • Free preview at noon Sept. 24, UAB Campus Green, with dancers suspended from the top of the UAB Rec Center.
  • Free performance at 8 p.m. Sept. 24, Alys Stephens Center. This outdoor performance will take place on the exterior wall of the ASC in the lower circle. Appropriate for all ages. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

Sunday, Oct. 10

AIM presents Kevin Spencer, Illusionist

Kevin Spencer is a leader in the educational and therapeutic benefits of magic tricks in education and rehabilitation. This educator, teaching artist, researcher, consultant, speaker, curriculum designer and award-winning film producer believes in creating inclusive communities where everyone experiences an authentic sense of belonging and no one is relegated to the margins. This free show is also a sensory-friendly performance. Performance at 2 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org. 

Thursday, Oct. 14

Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra

NEA Jazz Master and Grammy award-winning producer Delfeayo Marsalis hails from one of the most talented families of jazz musicians and seamlessly combines a high level of musicianship and entertainment. The Uptown Jazz Orchestra’s repertoire ranges from New Orleans street-band songs, swing, bebop and the blues to modern and contemporary jazz. Together they deliver the true essence of jazz ... with edge, sophistication and good old-fashioned fun. Performance at 7 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. General admission tickets are $39. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org

25 anniversary.2.0Sierra HullSaturday, Oct. 16

Sierra Hull

In her first 25 years alone, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sierra Hull hit more milestones than many musicians accomplish in a lifetime. After making her Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 10, the Tennessee-bred virtuoso mandolinist played Carnegie Hall at age 12, then landed a deal with Rounder Records just a year later. Now 28, Hull is set to deliver her fourth full-length for Rounder: an elegantly inventive and endlessly captivating album called “25 Trips.” Hull’s first Jemison Concert Hall performance, presented by South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, will be at 8 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. General admission tickets are $39. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

*A free master class for area high school and college students will be Oct. 16.

Tuesday, Nov. 9

Robert Cray Band

Robert Cray has created a sound that rises from American roots and is yet fresh and familiar today. In just more than 40 years, Cray and his band have recorded 20 studio releases, 15 of which have been on the Billboard charts, and played in bars, concert halls, festivals and arenas around the world. Enjoy a night of great music — new songs and classics — when fan favorite Cray returns to the ASC. Performance at 7 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.  Free Inside the Arts pre-show talk on the history of the blues at 6 p.m. General admission tickets are $49. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

25 anniversary.7Chris ThileTuesday, Nov. 16

Chris Thile

Chris Thile has just released “Laysongs,” his first truly solo album: It’s just Thile, his voice and his mandolin. The set of nine new tracks combines original songs — with three wisely chosen covers — that contextualize and banter with his ideas. Grammy Award winner and MacArthur Fellow Thile, a member of Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek, and former host of “Live from Here,” is a mandolin virtuoso, composer and vocalist. With his broad outlook that encompasses classical, rock, jazz and bluegrass, Thile transcends the borders of conventional genres, creating a distinctly American canon and a new musical aesthetic for performers and audiences alike. Performance at 7 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. General admission tickets are $49. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

Thursday, Nov. 18

Young Concert Artists: Anthony Trionfo, flutist, and Albert Cano Smit, pianist

Flutist Anthony Trionfo was recently praised as a “breezily virtuosic flutist” by the New York Times in May 2019 after his New York concerto debut: a performance of the Ibert Flute Concerto with the Orchestra of Saint Luke’s under the baton of Teddy Abrahms. Spanish/Dutch pianist Albert Cano Smit won First Prize at the 2019 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and will make his New York debut at Merkin Concert Hall and his Washington, D.C., debut at the Kennedy Center. Performing together, these talented Young Concert Artists represent the bright future of classical music. Free performance at 7 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

*A free Meet the Artist performance for area schoolchildren will be at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 19.

25 anniversary.9Eric EssixThursday, Dec. 2

Wynton Marsalis & Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Get ready for your holiday fun now with tickets for Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis. JLCO features the finest soloists, ensemble players and arrangers in jazz music today. Representing the totality of jazz music, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s mission is carried out through four elements — educational, curatorial, archival and ceremonial — capturing, in unparalleled scope, the full spectrum of the jazz experience. Performance at 7 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $62, $72 and $82. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

Sunday, Dec. 12

Eric Essix and Five Men in Holiday Soul

Atlanta super group Five Men returns to the Alys Stephens Center stage by popular demand for an encore Holiday Soul performance. The original members featuring founder and poet Hank Stewart, saxophonist Antonio Allen, vocalist Leonard Julien, trumpeter Melvin Miller and guitarist Eric Essix are joined by a full rhythm section performing soulful arrangements of holiday favorites, jazz and R&B, and spoken word. Performance at 7 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. General admission tickets are $39. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

*A free Meet the Artist performance for area schoolchildren will be Dec. 13.

Sunday, Feb. 13

Pat Metheny SIDE-EYE with James Francies and Joe Dyson

Guitar master Pat Metheny’s versatility is nearly without peer on any instrument. He has performed with artists as diverse as Steve Reich, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock and Jim Hall to Milton Nascimento and David Bowie. Metheny’s body of work includes compositions for solo guitar, small ensembles, large orchestras and ballet pieces, and even the robotic instruments of his Orchestrion project, while always sidestepping the limits of any one genre. Free Inside the Arts pre-show talk at 6 p.m. Performance at 7 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $48, $58 and $68. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

25 anniverary.8Syncopated LadiesSunday, Feb. 27

Syncopated Ladies

Syncopated Ladies is a female tap dance band from Los Angeles, California, created by Emmy Award-nominated tap dancer and choreographer Chloe Arnold, protege of Debbie Allen. With fierce footwork, they have worked with mega star Beyoncé, won “So You Think You Can Dance” as the first dance crew battle, and performed on “Good Morning America,” at the U.S. Open and to sold-out audiences in their full-length concert, “Syncopated Ladies: Live.” Performance at 5 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $22, $32 and $42. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

*A free Meet the Artist performance for area schoolchildren will be at 10 a.m. Feb. 28.

Sunday, March 6

Chris Botti

Grammy Award-winning master trumpeter and composer Chris Botti has amassed a spectacular variety of honors over two decades, including enough Gold and Platinum albums to become the nation’s largest-selling instrumental artist. His mesmerizing performances — with a stunning array of legends such as Sting, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Yo-Yo Ma, Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Andrea Bocelli — have cemented his place as one of the most brilliant and inspiring forces of the contemporary music scene. Whether he is performing with illustrious symphonies or at renowned venues around the globe, his unparalleled crystalline and poetic sound transcends musical boundaries. Performance at 7 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $48, $58 and $68. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.

Saturday, March 19

Cuban jazz duo Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez

Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez share a natural chemistry that makes for a galvanizing musical experience. They have melded the music of their homeland with a wide variety of influences. Rodriguez was a child prodigy born into a musical family. Martinez honed his craft on the streets of Havana, learning the percussion and vocal style of Afro-Cuban folk and religious music. You will not want to miss this duo as they explore a range of moods and influences, from Cuban classics to unexpected favorites. Free Inside the Arts pre-show talk at 7 p.m. Free performance at 8 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org to reserve.

Thursday, Marc25 anniversary.3Gregory Porterh 31

Young Concert Artist: Megan Moore, mezzo-soprano

Megan Moore is making waves as a young artist of versatility and depth. An award-winning opera and concert singer, she was awarded First Prize in the 2020 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and was a top prize winner at Gerda Lissner Lieder & Song Competition in 2019. For her appearance as Dorabella in “Così fan tutte” at The Juilliard School, OperaWire praised her “strength as an actress” and “undeniable sex appeal.” ​2021 promises major debuts for Moore: the first, at the Juilliard School, and her debut with Santa Fe Opera as a member of the prestigious Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for Singers. Free performance at 7 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org to reserve.

Friday, June 17

Gregory Porter

Gregory Porter rose to acclaim in the 2010s with his earthy, cross-pollinated brand of jazz, soul and gospel. He announced his arrival by picking up a Grammy nomination for his 2010 debut, “Water.” Porter has earned favorable comparisons to his idols Nat “King” Cole, Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder. After signing to Blue Note, he gained even wider notice for his third album, 2013’s “Liquid Spirit,” which hit the No. 2 spot on the jazz charts and won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Performance at 8 p.m., UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $45, $55 and $65. Call 205-975-2787 or visit AlysStephens.org.