World’s most-recognized classical pianist and other top performers are scheduled

CLEMSON — Lang Lang, the world’s most-recognized classical pianist, returns to Clemson University’s Brooks Center for the Performing Arts as part of its 2009-2010 season of concerts, plays, shows and special events. 

Recently named one of the “Most 100 Influential People of 2009” by TIME magazine, Lang Lang thrills audiences around the world. He’s noted for his performance during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

“This is our best season ever,” says Lillian Harder, director of the Brooks Center, “and Lang Lang’s performance is certainly one of the many high points of the year.”

There will be nearly 40 evening events and 20 special morning performances for area schools. 

“The season has many entertaining and inspiring shows,” she said. “From bluegrass legends and Australian tenors to risqué puppets and Knights of the Roundtable, we have something for all artistic tastes.”

Tickets for the 2009-2010 Brooks Center season go on sale Friday, Aug. 14. Tickets and information will be available online at www.clemson.edu/Brooks or by calling the box office 864-656-7787 from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Boni Belle Brooks Series
The Brooks Center’s premier series, the Boni Belle Brooks Series, offers Broadway favorites, exceptional vocal talents, American bluegrass and jazz, international ballet and more. Among this season’s shows are concerts by the Canadian Brass, the American Bluegrass Masters, the Ten Tenors and jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli. Broadway shows include touring productions of “Camelot” and “Avenue Q.” Opera buffs can attend presentations of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore” and Strauss’s “Die Fledermaus.”

The Boni Belle Brooks Series also features Lang Lang's performance. He joins Christoph Eschenbach and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra. 

“This concert is sure to be like no other held at the Brooks Center,” Harder said. “This limited American tour showcases three musical giants. The majesty of the Schleswig-Holstein Orchestra and the exceptional talent of Lang Lang combined with the genius of maestro Eschenbach is an experience that shouldn’t be missed.”

Utsey chamber music series
Since its inception nearly a quarter of a century ago, the Lillian and Robert Utsey Chamber Music Series has been committed to presenting free performances by classical musicians and ensembles. The series has presented more than 100 concerts.

The Utsey Series opens with the American Chamber Players, led by National Public Radio music commentator Miles Hoffman. The East Coast Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble with the next generation’s brightest classical musicians, follows. Rounding out the series is a performance by award-winning harpist Bridget Kibbey and a concert featuring pianist Stephen Prutsman, horn soloist Eric Ruske and violinist Jennifer Frautschi.

“As the series approaches its 25th anniversary, I can say without hesitation that the quality of our concerts has steadily improved over the years,” Harder said. “The university and the Brooks Center have garnered national attention for its programming and service to the community. Our achievements could not have happened without the long-term support of the Clemson community. We are truly grateful.”

Family series
For families, once again the Brooks Center offers wholesome entertainment from both regional and international artists. The Family Series presents “Dreamscapes: A Juggling Play” and vocalist-percussionist Billy Jonas. 

“Dreamscapes” features Clemson’s award-winning juggler Jamie Whoolery. Jonas, from Asheville, is a sing-along bang-along troubadour. International artists on the series are the world-renowned Jigu! Thunder Drums of China and the uplifting voices of the African Children’s Choir from Uganda.

Department of performing arts Musical Showcase and the Clemson Players

Fourteen concerts comprise the performing arts department Musical Showcase. With more 1,500 students taking part in the department’s band, choral, keyboard, percussion and orchestral ensembles, Clemson’s most-talented students and faculty plan a full year of performances. The Clemson Players will present a schedule of dramatic works, among them “The House of Bernarda Alba” and “Betrayal.” The troupe also will perform a new work developed at Clemson as well as an interpretation of the popular Broadway hit “Rent.”

Eskridge Tri-ART Series

The 2009-2010 Bill and Donna Eskridge Tri-ART Series has many choices for area educators and parents who home-school. Named in honor of two Clemson benefactors, the Tri-ART Series features special morning performances by many of the center’s guest artists and several Clemson University ensembles. This year, the series includes “mini-concerts” by the American Chamber Players, the American Bluegrass Masters, harpist Bridget Kibbey and the African Children’s Choir. 

“Henry and Mudge,” “The Rainbow Fish,” “Junie B. Jones” and “Harry the Dirty Dog” are among the theater productions set for Tri-ART. The university’s jazz ensemble, symphony orchestra, percussion ensemble and steel band also will perform for the children.

“Last season, nearly 14, 000 students participated in the Tri-ART Series,” Harder said. “The program is a resource that many Upstate teachers and home-school parents utilize to expose their students to the wonders of the performing arts.”

School administrators, teachers and parents can get Tri-ART information and applications at www.clemson/Brooks/tri-art. Tri-ART registration begins Friday, Aug. 7.

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