UC Santa Cruz Arts & Lectures announces 2008-09 season

Garrison Keillor
Zakir Hussain
Valentina Lisitsa

Garrison Keillor, David Sedaris, The Shanghai Quartet, Zakir Hussain, Tiempo Libre, Darol Anger, and Mike Marshall are just some of the performing artists that will take the stage in the coming year as part of the UC Santa Cruz Arts & Lectures 2008-09 season.

This marks the first season designed by Jeanette Pilak, who was named new director of the campus Arts & Lectures program last October.

Pilak is a veteran of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where she coordinated regional, national and international festivals. Her background also includes directing programming at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene, Oregon--where she managed an annual performance series and summer outdoor amphitheater.

"My goal is to bring the widest range of high-quality artistic performances to the community," said Pilak. "Looking at the new season, I was struck by the fact that the title of one of the shows-Maestros in Concert-could really be the name of the whole season, because each one of these performers is artistically superb in every way."

The season opens on October 4 with a concert at the UCSC Recital Hall by the acclaimed Shanghai Quartet, blending the delicacy of Eastern music with the emotional breadth of Western repertoire. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Quartet will be presenting commissions from artists on three continents-composers Chen Yi (China), Krzysztof Penderecki (Poland), and jazz pianist Dick Hyman (USA).

Renowned NPR humorist and best-selling author David Sedaris brings his sardonic wit and incisive social critiques to the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on October 26. Sedaris is the author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and his essays can frequently be found in the New Yorker and Esquire.

His latest book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, includes pieces on trying to make coffee when the water is shut off, having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger on a plane, and traveling to Japan in order to quit smoking.

Grammy-nominated Tiempo Libre comes to the Rio Theatre on March 5 with a seven-piece Latin band that mixes traditional Afro-Cuban beats with hip-hop, house, and jazz in a dance-inducing, musical style called timba. The first authentic all-Cuban timba band to perform in the United States, the Miami-based Tiempo Libre has reinvented traditional Cuban music with a youthful, modern, high-voltage sound.

Maestros in Concert on April 10 features Pandit Shivkumar Sharma-one of India's most popular and revered classical musicians-in collaboration with virtuoso Zakir Hussain on tabla. Hussain has performed and recorded with a bevy of celebrated musicians including Mickey Hart, Ravi Shankar, Van Morrison, Tito Puente, and Pharoah Sanders.

One of the most unusual collaborations in the season will feature new acoustic masters Darol Anger and Mike Marshall joining forces with Sweden's most influential folk ensemble, Väsen, on April 2. Bridging the gap between the fiddle and dance tunes of Appalachia and the nyckelharpa and polskas of Sweden, these musicians combine their talents to take "folk" music in an entirely new direction.

"We're working with artists who help us to advance a deeper understanding of global issues and cultures," Pilak noted. "By presenting these artists-along with outreach activities, residencies, and local school performances--we hope to engage the community to reflect about diversity in our society and around the world."

The season will also include an appearance by Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa, who wowed UCSC Arts & Lectures audiences last year as the accompanist to violinist Hillary Hahn. Lisitsa returns on her own this year to perform selections from a vast repertoire that includes works ranging from Bach and Mozart, to Shostakovich and Bernstein.

On January 18, Interpreti Veneziani Baroque Orchestra recreates the atmosphere of an authentic Venetian concert experience at the UCSC Recital Hall. "At home in Venice, they perform in the same church in which Vivaldi himself loved to play," Pilak noted.

And Santa Cruz's own New Music Works celebrates its 30th anniversary with an imaginative program on January 23 that includes a New Zealander's adaptations of the Blues, a German-American's Middle Eastern rendezvous with an oud, and a Canadian's marriage of a Chinese zither and a harpsichord.

The 2008-09 season will close on May 13 with a solo appearance by Garrison Keillor at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. Best known as the host of NPR's A Prairie Home Companion, Keillor is the author of 12 books, including Lake Wobegon Days and Love Me, and also hosts the daily radio and online program, The Writers Almanac.

"There's such a huge demand for Garrison that we're thrilled he's coming to Santa Cruz," said Pilak. "It's his only stop on the Central Coast in 2009." She paused for a moment and reflected on the upcoming season.

"It's always amazing to me after long days in the office-when I hear that first note of music, that first sound of a voice, those first words on stage-I'm physically changed and I remember this is why I love this job."

For more information about the new season or to obtain a full-color brochure, contact the UCSC Ticket Office at (831) 459-2159, or go to Arts & Lectures web site.

*High-resolution images are available by clicking on the following links:

. Zakir Hussain

. Garrison Keillor

. Valentina Lisitsa