The City Sentinel, Staff Report
The Armstrong International Cultural Foundation is set to raise the curtain at Armstrong Auditorium on October 14 for its 23rd annual Performing Arts Series featuring live performances from global artists such as the Russian National Ballet, NEA Jazz Master Bradford Marsalis, the Brazilian All Stars, Metropolitan Opera star Isabel Leonard, harpist Bridget Kibbey and the Polish Wieniawski Philharmonic.
“It’s wonderful to have an international lineup back on stage and patrons back in the theater,” concert manager Ryan Malone said.
“Our theme for this season is ‘Rediscover Joy!’ After a difficult year of lockdowns and isolation, we want to remind audiences of the incredible joy we all experience when attending live events.” Malone added that masks are no longer required and the auditorium is open to full capacity.
Armstrong Auditorium’s 2021-22 Performing Arts Series was scheduled to begin this fall with three-time National Fiddle Champion and Oklahoma musical treasure Byron Berline, but following Berline’s passing on July 10, the new season will commence with a performance from the Brazilian All Stars.
Hailed as “one of the most inventive fiddlers ever,” Berline is remembered by his peers, the press and audiences worldwide for his virtuosic skill, versatility and artistic mastery of traditional bluegrass and Western swing music.
Direct from Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian All Stars will ignite the 2021-22 Performing Arts Series with the exciting rhythms and beautiful melodies of Brazil’s most famous songs, sambas, bossa novas, ballads, choro, fado, virtuoso instrumental tracks and more. On Oct. 27, the distinct musical sounds of Brazil will fill the auditorium with a fusion of styles, from Portuguese and American jazz to Cuban and African rhythms.
Take the musical journey as the world-renown Brazilian All Stars perform their catalog of memorable and spectacular songs.
November 11 brings the Romeros Guitar Quartet, an ensemble that continues to be a veritable institution in the world of classical music, dazzling countless audiences and winning the raves of reviewers worldwide.
The quartet travels across North America performing works by Federico Garcia Lorca, Lorenzo Palomo, and Manuel de Falla, and will also be premiering “La Cita” by Douglas Cuomo.
Bridget Kibbey, often described as the “Yo-Yo Ma of the harp,” will appear on December 2 in her program Celebrating Bach, featuring adaptations of J. S. Bach’s keyboard concerti alongside the phenomenal Dover Quartet — fellow winners of the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant and recently named the first-ever quartet-in-residence for the Kennedy Center.
According to ‘Strings’, their Bach interpretations contribute to their “practically meteoric” rise and, according to the New Yorker, confirm their status as “the young American string quartet of the moment”. The Chicago Tribune has said, “The Dover Quartet players have it in them to become the next Guarneri String Quartet … they’re that good.”
The dancers of the Russian National Ballet weave the story together with the trademark precision and exquisite grace of the great Russian ballet tradition. Embraced worldwide for its complex choreography, The Sleeping Beauty’s soaring leaps, high extensions, and daring lifts combine with lavish stage scenery to bring this beloved fairy tale to life on January 26.
January 2022 brings the Russian National Ballet’s North American tour of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty. The ballet, set to Tchaikovsky’s soaring score with choreography by Marius Petipa, is based on the tale of a young princess who falls asleep after pricking her finger, and only the kiss of a prince will break the spell.
Renowned jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis returns to Armstrong for an encore performance on Feb. 10. The NEA Jazz Master, Grammy Award winner and Tony Award nominee has led the Branford Marsalis Quartet for more than three decades with minimal personnel changes.
The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul — the quartet’s most emotionally wide-ranging and melody-driven collection to date — finds the celebrated ensemble at a new peak, addressing a kaleidoscope of moods with inspiration and group commitment.
Known for pitch-perfect a capella singing and charming British wit, The King’s Singers will present their program Finding Harmony on February 20. With music as the group’s common language, Finding Harmony is a deeply moving collection of the countless moments in history when songs united nations, cultures and causes.
The program is a unique collection of pieces that span the globe, from the Reformation age to South African freedom songs, and from the Scottish Highlands to the American civil rights movement. Each song is the key to a powerful true story about who we are as people and how we got here.
Another international group appears March 2 as the Polish Wieniawski Philharmonic launches its North American tour. Founded in 1942 in the throes of World War II, the Polish Wieniawski Philharmonic gave the first symphony concert in post-war Poland and has since become the largest music institution in eastern Poland.
The orchestra is joined by violinist Agata Szymczewska, the first-prize winner of the 13th Henryk Wieniawski International Violin Competition.
Under the direction of principal conductor Wojciech Rodek, the Philharmonic is poised to dazzle audiences with the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.
Appearing on March 31, German artist Tabea Debus explores the horizons of music for the recorder. Debus is described by The Times [London] as “a charismatic virtuoso,” and has performed widely across Europe, Asia, Colombia and the United States. Her critically acclaimed program, Ohrwurm (ear worms), is a delightful compilation of toe-tapping tunes — sure to embed themselves into the audience’s subconscious — from the 17th and 18th centuries and makes for an engagingly virtuosic performance supported and partnered by Alon Sariel on lute.
The 2021-22 season finishes on April 26 with sea shanties from the immensely popular all-male chorus, Chanticleer. Chanticleer’s music features rhythms and melodies from either side of the Atlantic and the Portuguese and Spanish colonization in Asia. The program includes both folk and contemporary works from China, Japan, Korea, and Samoan culture, as well as works by Chen Yi and Grammy-nominated composer Zhou Tian.
Chanticleer brings the voyage to a close with a set of beautiful Hawaiian songs evocative of the limitless Pacific horizon.
“We’re thrilled that subscriber numbers continue to grow despite the challenges of the pandemic last year,” said Shane Granger, Armstrong Auditorium Marketing Director. “Our ability to extend world-class performances to our audiences, whether in-person or virtually, gives our patrons confidence that they will experience the joy of performing arts regardless of external situations.”
Ticket packages for the 2021-22 Performing Arts Series are available for new season ticket holders beginning June 15, and individual event tickets go on sale July 5. A full-season subscription ensures excellent seats for each performance, and a host of additional benefits including 20 percent off ticket prices to all season performances, preferred seating in advance of the general public, free and easy ticket exchanges, access to exclusive subscriber pre-paid parking and more.
Subscribing to three- or five-performance Flex packages allows patrons to create their own personalized subscriptions while saving 10 and 15 percent off regular ticket prices, respectively.
To subscribe to the 23rd annual Armstrong Auditorium Performing Arts Series, call
405-340-7474 or visit ArmstrongAuditorium.org. Groups of 20 or more may be eligible to receive a discount off the original ticket price. Please contact the box office for more information.
In the fall of 1998, the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation, a non-profit humanitarian organization, began a small series in various smaller venues throughout Edmond until it opened the award-winning Armstrong Auditorium in 2010. The series is now well established as it celebrates its 23rd season. Audiences will want to visit Edmond’s highest-rated TripAdvisor and TripSavvy Hall of Fame destination.