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Stars come out for fall 2013 season at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center

  • June 24, 2013
The new season includes special events commemorating 1963, Rickey Smiley, Anoushka Shankar, David Sedaris, Yo-Yo Ma, Take 6 and more.

UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center (ASC) is reaching for the stars in 2013, with a new season filled with hometown heroes, performances by diverse music legends and a commemoration of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

Eric EssixEric Essix

Just announced to grace the ASC stage this fall are comedian Rickey Smiley Oct. 25, sitar player Anoushka Shankar Nov. 7, humorist David Sedaris Nov. 8, acclaimed virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma Dec. 6 and a cappella sensation Take 6 Dec. 15. Previously announced are Natalie Merchant and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, set to perform Oct. 18.

Season subscribers may purchase tickets now; single tickets for the new season will go on sale July 8. For tickets, a copy of The Center Magazine or for more information, call 205-975-2787 or visit

At the heart of the season, throughout September, the ASC and the City of Birmingham will present special events commemorating seminal moments of 1963.

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame member Eric Essix will debut his landmark 20th CD, “Evolution,” on Sept. 19, with 5 Men on a Stool and vocalist Tracy Hamlin. It musically charts the growth and healing of his hometown Birmingham after the events that energized the Civil Rights Movement in 1963. Featured are six new, original compositions by Essix, plus hand-picked covers by popular artists.

Yotam HaberYotam Haber

On Sept. 21, the ASC will present the long-awaited world premiere “A More Convenient Season,” created by composer Yotam Haber and commissioned by philanthropist Tom Blount. This new work was created just for Birmingham; Haber listened to oral histories at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, learned from foot soldiers, spoke with historians and browsed through files and artifacts in the Birmingham Public Library Archives. The title is inspired by a line from Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” The performance will feature the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, four of Birmingham’s most talented youth soloists, a chorus, a film and archival recordings. In early 2014, the ASC will premiere this work on the West Coast in a performance featuring the CalArts Orchestra at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre), near Los Angeles.

In addition to the world-renowned artists and performances, the ASC will present Global Fest Nov. 6-8, with free events each day at noon. On Nov. 6, “The Jig Is Up! The Masterful Artistry of Irish Dance” will feature an afternoon of movement and discussion with Birmingham’s Drake School of Dance. On Nov. 7 in “The Art of Indian Dances,” learn about the beauty and intricacy of Indian dance with a lecture and demonstration. On Nov. 8 take a trip to France with “Un Voyage Aux Frances,” a mini French language lesson and discussion on French food, wine and culture with a sampling of French cheeses and pastries from local shops and restaurants. The events are tailored to accent the performance by Shankar and Sedaris’ appearance.

Anoushka ShankarAnoushka Shankar

On Dec. 20-21, families will enjoy “Yuletide in Dogtown,” presented by ArtPlay. The original play, written by the ASC’s own Jerry Sims, is an interactive musical adventure with pups Spike, Fifi, Scotty and Beauregard. Join the journey as the dogs learn the true meaning of the season, then meet the costumed canine characters after the shows.

Ticket packages are on sale now. 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 is transitioning to a new ticketing system that will allow them to conveniently purchase tickets online which can be printed at home or delivered to a mobile device. Patrons will be able to maintain their individual accounts online, connect with the ASC on Facebook and more. In addition, the ASC will launch a new, mobile-friendly website on July 1 to enhance patrons’ online experience.

The new fall season joins the ASC’s stellar summer line-up, with Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band with the Milk Carton Kids June 29; the ASC Nite Market and Susan Werner’s “Hayseed Project” July 20; Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group July 24; Black Jacket Symphony performing The Beatles’ “White Album” Aug. 23; and Young Concert Artist Cicely Parnas Aug. 29 in the ArtPlay Parlor.