Set to take the ASC’s stage this season are Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Rickie Lee Jones, Indigo Girls, Chick Corea and Béla Fleck, Chris Thile, George Benson, and Eric Essix with 5 Men on a Stool in “Holiday Soul.”
Superstar soprano Kathleen Battle will join pianist Cyrus Chestnut and The Oakwood University Aeolians of Huntsville on “A Spiritual Journey: Music from the Underground Railroad.” Japan’s mesmerizing, compelling dance troupe Enra has chosen the ASC as one of only 10 U.S. venues for its contemporary movement and light show. On Dec. 30, fans of “Downton Abbey” can see a free preview of the opening of the sixth and final season before it airs in January.
The ASC will present two original arts events created especially to appeal to the Birmingham community. The second annual LOCAL festival celebrates all things Alabama, with a songwriting competition performance and vendors from farmers to artists. The Essentials, the ASC’s innovative series devoted to the history of jazz and hosted by Essix — a UAB Artist-in-Residence — will feature Poncho Sanchez and Latin jazz for its fourth installment.
ArtPlay, the ASC’s home for arts education, has reached a milestone this season: serving more than 17,000 individuals in the Birmingham area through the arts. The ArtPlay Parlor Series offers fans of classical music two intimate shows in the historic ArtPlay house: Russian pianist Gleb Ivanov and the Paris-based Hermès Quartet.
For three days in October, the ASC and ArtPlay will present their annual GlobalFest celebration of international arts and cultures with a series of free lunchtime events in the ASC lobbies. Attendees will learn about Japanese music and the delicate art of origami, journey to the Hindu temples of India and uncover the mysteries of their ancient architecture, and discover the rich traditions of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead.”
This season, ArtPlay will present two entertaining and educational performances: dance that honors women’s contributions to mathematics and a holiday show for families. Both shows will offer special sensory-friendly performances, in a supportive environment for families and friends of individuals who have an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues. The California dance ensemble MoveSpeakSpin will perform in mathematical patterns in “The Daughters of Hypatia: Circles of Mathematical Women,” and “Yuletide in Dogtown” will offer a furry and heartwarming message on the true meaning of the season. ArtPlay also presents school shows with many of the ASC season’s artists, offering children the priceless opportunity to experience performances by some of the best artists in the world.
Audiences now can hear the newest cutting-edge sound system, the LYON array, uniquely configured for the Alys Stephens Center by the world’s leading audio innovators, engineers and designers: Meyer Sound Laboratories. The comprehensive system includes crystal-clear coverage of all 1,300 seats in the ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall. The audio difference between the front row and the back row requires a computer to measure. It hit the market in 2014, making the ASC one of the first permanent venue installations. Eastman Kodak Hall, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall are proud of their Meyer sound support, and the ASC has now joined that club of excellence and discrimination, with an even newer and better system.
Become an ASC season subscriber and choose three or more shows to create the “It’s Your Choice” package and save 15 percent on the total price. Selected performances will feature discounted student tickets. UAB employees get a 10 percent ticket discount to all shows. Online purchases of tickets can be printed at home or delivered to a mobile device. The ASC has a mobile-friendly website and a free app to greatly enhance patrons’ online experiences. Simply download the Alys Stephens Center app on your smartphone.
UAB’s Alys Stephens Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting, developing and advancing the best in the performing arts and arts education in Alabama. Support the future of the Alys Stephens Center and volunteer or become a member. An array of membership-level choices is available, from Circle Club membership to Junior Patrons. Enjoy priority ticket purchases and class/camp reservations, seat upgrade opportunities and discounts, and even travel opportunities. For more information on becoming a member, call 205-996-6113.
UAB’s Alys Stephens Center presents the 2015 summer/fall season:
Saturday, June 20
LOCAL, 5 p.m., in the Engel Plaza outdoors at UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. This year, the ASC’s curated LOCAL festival will celebrate all things Alabama. Enjoy shopping with interesting Alabamians, including vendors from farmers to artists, and savor selections from hip food trucks. Bring chairs or a blanket for the main attraction on the ASC plaza stage: live, original music about Alabama. Six lucky finalists from the ASC’s #MakeMusicAlabama songwriting competition will entertain with their songs written about this great state. After the performances, the winners will be announced. A perfect event for families and anyone who loves calling this great state home, LOCAL is free to the public. VIP tickets, including food from Yellow Bicycle Catering Co. and beverages, are $35; $45 on the day of the festival. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Saturday, Aug. 15
Robert Randolph & The Family Band, 8 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Finally, Robert Randolph & The Family Band will bring its good-time funk and brilliant pedal steel guitar playing to the ASC. Randolph’s prowess on guitar earned him a spot on Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” list. It also attracted the attention of such giants as Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana, who have collaborated with him on stage and in the studio. The band has turned out impressive albums; but the group is best known for its famed live performances, having notched unforgettable sets at Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Rolling Stone called the group “one of the most intense live acts in all of jamdom,” making their appearance at the ASC one that should not be missed. Tickets are $38. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Friday, Aug. 21
Rickie Lee Jones, 8 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Rickie Lee Jones is coming back to Birmingham, and the ASC is thrilled to present the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter for an evening of musical reminiscing and exploration. Jones exploded onto the pop scene in 1979 and made a career of fearlessly experimenting with her sound and persona on 15 critically acclaimed albums. A cultural phenomenon, she graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine twice in two years, and performed an unprecedented three songs during her second appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” Her latest album and first new music in more than a decade, “The Other Side of Desire” is rooted in New Orleans, where it was written and recorded. Jones moved to NOLA “to write and to live a different way than what I have known on the West Coast,” she said. Tickets are $29, $39 and $49. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Thursday, Sept. 3
The Essentials, Vol. 4: Latin Jazz featuring Poncho Sanchez, 7 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Presented in partnership with UAB Student Life. Hosted by UAB Artist-in-Residence Eric Essix, The Essentials is the ASC’s innovative original series devoted to honoring the rich history of jazz. The fourth installment will explore the multinational musical fusion known as Latin jazz. The evening will begin with a survey of the history of Latin jazz, the music and the artists, led by Essix and legendary percussionist Poncho Sanchez. The second set will feature Grammy-winner Sanchez as he fuses Latin jazz, swing, bebop, salsa and other infectious grooves with dazzling results. Sanchez grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, raised on an unusual cross-section of straight-ahead jazz, Latin jazz and American soul. By his teen years, his musical consciousness had been solidified by the likes of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Wilson Pickett and James Brown. Tickets are $39.50. An ArtPlay Meet the Artist school show is set for 10 a.m. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Wednesday, Sept. 23
Indigo Girls, 7 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. The Indigo Girls began playing small shows in the 1980s, and after years of success, these folk fan favorites are still writing and recording, championing social and environmental causes, and filling concert halls with devoted, multigenerational audiences. With numerous Grammy nominations and awards, gold and platinum certifications and decades of touring, the Indigo Girls remain relevant and just as perfectly matched vocally as when they first took to the stage years ago. Revisit college days gone by as the duo treats the audience to old heartfelt classics like “Closer to Fine” and “Galileo,” and revel in new harmonies as they introduce new music from their anticipated June 2015 release, “One Lost Day.” Tickets are $45.50, $55.50 and $63.50. Student tickets are $21. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Friday, Sept. 25
ArtPlay Parlor Series: Gleb Ivanov, pianist, 7 p.m. in the ArtPlay House, 1006 19th St. South. The Patty McDonald ArtPlay Parlor Series features Young Concert Artists. The New York Times said Gleb Ivanov “is a cut above the usual, a young super-virtuoso, with musical sensitivity and an appreciation of style to go with the thunder and lightning.” Ivanov was a protégé of Mstislav Rostropovich in Russia, appearing as soloist under the famous maestro with the Nizhny Novgorod Philharmonic. Ivanov performs a wide range of concerto repertoire, from Mozart to Rachmaninoff. He won First Prize in the 2005 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, was recognized by the Jack Romann Special Artists Fund of YCA, and made his New York debut in 2006 at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and his Washington, D.C., debut at the Kennedy Center. Ivanov was awarded the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists, which brought his Lincoln Center recital debut at Alice Tully Hall. Tickets are $37.50 and include hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Friday, Oct. 2
Chick Corea and Béla Fleck, 8 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Together, Chick Corea and Béla Fleck have been awarded 36 golden gramophone awards and nominated 93 times. This is the duo’s second, back-by-popular-demand appearance at the ASC; performing together, these two master musicians weave duets of staggering virtuosity, creating mind-blowing magic. The fourth-most-nominated artist in Grammy history, Corea has attained living-legend status as a DownBeat Hall of Famer, NEA Jazz Master, keyboard virtuoso, bandleader and composer. He’s charted new territory in an array of genres, including fusion, flamenco and even classical: His Piano Concerto No. 2 headlined Vienna’s Mozart celebrations this year. Fleck is considered by many to be the premier banjo player in the world. He has virtually reinvented the image and the sound of the banjo through a music career filled with solo projects and collaborations. Fleck has been nominated in more Grammy categories than any other artist, including jazz, bluegrass, pop, country, gospel, composition and world music. Tickets are $35, $45 and $59. Student tickets are $21. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Friday, Oct. 16
“A Spiritual Journey: Music from the Underground Railroad” featuring soprano Kathleen Battle, pianist Cyrus Chestnut and The Oakwood University Aeolians, 8 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Step back in time and explore the deeply moving musical traditions of enslaved Africans in America, led by superstar soprano Kathleen Battle and legendary jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut. For this remarkable evening, Battle will take a break from the European vocal tradition she commands so brilliantly to lend her pure voice to the interpretation of soul-stirring Negro spirituals. With the Oakwood University Aeolians Choir from Huntsville, Battle will awe and inspire the audience with favorite spirituals including “Go Down, Moses,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Fix Me, Jesus” and “Balm in Gilead,” and display the purity of her vocals on an a cappella rendering of “Were You There?” A fixture on the stages of the world’s leading opera houses, this will be the first time the five-time Grammy-winning soprano performs in Birmingham. Do not miss an amazing opportunity to embark on a rare musical journey led by a voice The Washington Post called “... without qualification, one of the very few most beautiful in the world.” Tickets are $37, $57 and $77.Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Sunday, Oct. 18
Enra, a fusion of dance, images and live performance, 7 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. This majestic and mesmerizing troupe will perform at only 10 venues in the United States during its 2015 world tour — and Birmingham’s ASC is one. Formed in 2012 by Japanese artistic director Nobuyuki Hanabusa, Enra is a Tokyo-based performance and production company that matches motion graphics with live performance. Bridging contemporary art and engaging entertainment, Enra’s innovation seamlessly unites ballet, kung fu, acrobatics, juggling and rhythmic gymnastics. In October 2013, Enra performed at Japan’s successful 2020 Olympic bid, propelling the troupe into the international spotlight. The company has achieved viral recognition through its YouTube videos; the video for “Pleiades” has been viewed more than 6 million times. Don’t miss this unique opportunity; the ASC anticipates a sold-out show. Tickets are $29. An ArtPlay Meet the Artist school show is set for 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 19. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Monday, Oct. 19
GlobalFest: The Japanese Arts of Origami and Music, noon, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Create and learn about the delicate art of origami and listen and learn about Japanese music in this free lunchtime event, featuring Deborah Strevy, Ph.D., associate professor of elementary and early childhood education at UAB, and Laurie Arizumi, instructor of Japanese at the University of Alabama. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Tuesday, Oct. 20
GlobalFest: Hindu Temples, Discover the Secrets in Stone, noon, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Journey to the temples of India and uncover the mysteries hidden in the ancient architecture in this free lunchtime event, featuring Cathleen Cummings, Ph.D., associate professor of art history at UAB. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Wednesday, Oct. 21
GlobalFest: Celebrate Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, noon, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Free. Learn about the rich traditions and culture of this fascinating Mexican holiday in this free lunchtime event, featuring Wendy Jarvis of Birmingham’s Día de los Muertos Festival. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Saturday, Oct. 24
ArtPlay presents MoveSpeakSpin in “The Daughters of Hypatia: Circles of Mathematical Women,” 2 p.m., with a sensory-friendly show earlier in the day at 11 a.m., in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. The Santa Cruz, California-based dance company MoveSpeakSpin honors the often-overlooked contributions of women to mathematics in this ensemble piece. The dancers recount intriguing stories from the lives of the foremothers of mathematics, as well as leading contemporaries in the field, and perform in patterns suggestive of the mathematicians’ work. Choreographer Karl Schaffer, a mathematician himself, uses live projections of video mosaics of dancers. The production features geometric art designs by Marjorie Rice, guest choreography by Sarah-Marie Belcastro and musical compositions by the women’s vocal ensemble Zambra, as well as songs by Vi Hart and Victor Spiegel. MoveSpeakSpin has created groundbreaking dance performances linking mathematics and dance with humor, playfulness and physicality, and members have performed at the opening of the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City and a conference on math and the arts in Seoul, Korea. Tickets are $9 for children, $11 for adults. ArtPlay Meet the Artist school shows are set for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Monday, Nov. 2
Chris Thile, 7 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. The ASC is thrilled to welcome back American virtuoso mandolinist Chris Thile for a solo evening of flawless musicianship and mind-blowing exploration, from bluegrass to Bach and back again. A child prodigy, Thile rose to fame with the Grammy Award-winning trio Nickel Creek. He has released five solo albums, and performed and recorded extensively with bassist Edgar Meyer and fellow mandolinist Mike Marshall. In 2011, Thile earned a Grammy nomination for “Sleep with One Eye Open,” an album of tradition-upending interpretations of bluegrass classics with guitarist Michael Daves. He won the 2012 Grammy for Best Folk Album for “The Goat Rodeo Sessions,” which he recorded with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Stuart Duncan and Meyer. In 2012, the MacArthur Foundation named Thile one of its 23 MacArthur Fellows and recipient of its prestigious “Genius Grant.” Thile’s most recent solo recording, “Bach: Partitas and Sonatas, Vol. 1,” was released in late 2013.Tickets are $33.50, $46.50 and $54.50. Student tickets are $21. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Friday, Nov. 13
George Benson, 8 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. It’s been four decades since George Benson graced a Birmingham stage, just one of the many reasons this legendary performer’s inaugural ASC performance is a must-see. “On Broadway,” “Give Me the Night” and “This Masquerade” are three very good reasons to get tickets now. Since his career began, Benson has played on more than 200 recordings and won 10 Grammy Awards. His debut album, “The New Boss Guitar,” introduced him to the world in 1964, and in the late ’60s he sat in on heady Miles Davis sessions and put a personal spin on the Beatles’ “Abbey Road.” In 1976, “Breezin’” became the first jazz record to attain platinum sales, and Benson’s soulful update of Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade” was a pop smash. Other pop hits followed, as did a string of platinum and gold albums in the ’80s and ’90s. “Irreplaceable” in 2003 marked a shift back to his silky, sexy soul music, with a contemporary urban edge. During his stellar career, Benson has earned himself an impeccable reputation as one of music’s most enterprising and engaging stars. Tickets are $64.50, $77.50 and $89.50. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Saturday, Dec. 5-Sunday, Dec. 6
ArtPlay presents “Yuletide in Dogtown,” with shows at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, followed by a sensory-friendly show at 5 p.m., in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. The dogs are back in town for this ArtPlay/ASC favorite holiday production. Join Spike, Fifi, Scotty and Beauregard on this interactive musical adventure created by local playwright – and the ASC’s very own – Jerry Sims, as his Dogtown pups learn the true meaning of the holidays. “Yuletide in Dogtown” is a great performance for everyone, especially children. After enjoying this “pawfect” holiday treat, “stay” after the show to meet the stars in costume. Tickets are $9 for children, $11 for adults. ArtPlay Meet the Artist school shows are set for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, and Tuesday Dec. 8. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Sunday, Dec. 13
“Holiday Soul” with Eric Essix and 5 Men on a Stool, 7 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Want to get in the groove of the holidays? Don’t miss “Holiday Soul” at the ASC. Back by popular demand, this harmonious holiday celebration features UAB Artist-in-Residence Eric Essix with Atlanta super-group 5 Men on a Stool. Following the success of their last show, Essix will once again perform his handpicked collection of soulful “songs of the season” with Hank Stewart, Antonio Allen, Melvin Miller and Leonard Julien III. These merry gentlemen will also treat patrons to a handful of favorites from the group’s time-tested, listener-approved set list. No strangers to the ASC and Birmingham, 5 Men on a Stool shared the stage with Essix in 2013 for his “Evolution” concert. Together they have played venues throughout the country, performing their own unique blend of jazz, gospel, R&B, and spoken word. “Holiday Soul” is a unique musical experience guaranteed to fill everyone with joyful, soulful spirit. An ArtPlay Meet the Artist school show is set for 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 14. Tickets are $36. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Wednesday, Dec. 30
“Downton Abbey” season 6 premiere, 7 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. No self-respecting devotee of “Downton Abbey,” the most-watched drama in PBS history, would miss the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the first hour of the sixth and final season before it hits the airwaves in January. Presented in conjunction with Alabama Public Television, join faithful friends and followers to celebrate the remarkable journey of the Crawley family. Season 6 promises to be the biggest and most exciting yet, for what has been the biggest and most exciting drama in the history of Masterpiece films. This is a free public event. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with general admission seating. ASC members may reserve premium seating; otherwise seating is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Made possible by the support of APT. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.
Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016
ArtPlay Parlor Series: Hermès Quartet, 7 p.m. in the ArtPlay House, 1006 19th St. South. The Patty McDonald ArtPlay Parlor Series features Young Concert Artists. The Washington Post said the Paris-based Hermès Quartet “… will likely take their place among the top quartets of our time.” The members of the Quartet — violinists Omer Bouchez and Elise Liu, violist Yung-Hsin Lou Chang, and cellist Anthony Kondo — met at the Lyon Conservatory and formed the ensemble in 2008. Since then the internationally acclaimed foursome has performed in many of the most prestigious European venues. The Quartet was the winner of the 2012 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and made its U.S. debuts to rave reviews at the opening concerts of the Young Concert Artists Series at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater. In the U.S., the group has given recitals at the Lied Center of Kansas, the University of Georgia and the Friends of Chamber Music in Texas. The Quartet currently holds the Helen F. Whitaker Chamber Music Chair of YCA and the Florence Gould Foundation Fellowship, and is the artist-in-residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Brussels. Tickets are $37.50 and include hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.