Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
The new $100 million institution with its state-of-the-art 1,260-seat performance hall will complement, not duplicate, the programming that already exists in the Roanoke and New River valleys .
Courtesy Virginia Tech Center for the Arts
The Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech is set to open its first full season in its new home.
Friday, May 10, 2013
The Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech will open its first full season in its new home with a performance by a legendary American composer, end with a multimedia theater performance for children by an Italian troupe, and in between will host professional dance companies, experimental plays, a popular NPR host, a bluegrass festival and even a Pops performance by the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra.
Executive director Ruth Waalkes has said one of the goals of the new $100 million institution with its state-of-the-art 1,260-seat performance hall has been to complement, not duplicate, the programming that already exists in the Roanoke and New River valleys . Sure enough, the lineup of 21 acts sports little overlap with the Jefferson Center’s jazz offerings or the Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre’s comedians and Broadway in Roanoke shows.
The acts are also chosen based on their potential to involve community members and create opportunities for educational programming, Waalkes said.
Philip Glass to Ira Glass
For example, the Nov. 1 performance that will inaugurate the new theater, “Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation,” by the Philip Glass Ensemble, contains a part for a children’s chorus.
Glass, a founder of modern minimalist composition who’s written soundtracks for films such as “The Thin Blue Line” and “The Truman Show,” will conduct his musicians as they perform a live score to the 1987 film “Powaqqatsi,” which will screen as they play. The Blacksburg Children’s Chorale will join them on stage to sing the choral parts, Waalkes said.
The classical music celebrities don’t stop with Glass. The husband and wife duo of cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han perform Nov. 17, and master violinist Joshua Bell performs next year on Valentine’s Day. Grammy Award-winning Indian percussion player Zakir Hussain, who contributed to the soundtracks to “Apocalypse Now” and “Little Buddha,” performs in March 2014.
The week after the Philip Glass performance, New York-based Ballet Hispanico will take the stage to demonstrate their combination of ballet and traditional Latin dance. The week after that, Los Angeles-based Diavolo Dance Theater will perform “Transit Space,” which incorporates physical stunts based on skateboarding. Ballet Hispanico will give a matinee performance for grade-school groups, while Diavolo will give workshops.
Professional dance groups rarely tour through the region, and Waalkes has set out to fill that gap.
In March 2014, the Martha Graham Dance Co. will perform classic works from the immensely influential dancer and choreographer’s repertoire. The PBS series “American Masters” has said the late Martha Graham’s influence on dance was as revolutionary as Pablo Picasso’s effect on painting and Frank Lloyd Wright’s affect on architecture.
Another Glass will perform during the season — Ira Glass, host of NPR’s “This American Life,” will give a presentation titled “Reinventing Radio.” Waalkes said that recruiting Glass has no connection to Virginia Tech’s ownership of public radio station WVTF (89.1 FM), but now that he is in the lineup, they’ve begun talks with the station about how best to cross-promote. Glass’ show airs on WVTF’s Radio IQ frequency (89.7 FM).
Lest anyone get the idea that the center is all about art with a capital “A,” there’s also a bluegrass festival planned in March 2014 in collaboration with The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. The first night features a performance by Wayne Henderson and the Virginia Luthiers.
“We want to reflect our local culture too,” Waalkes said.
Roanoke Symphony Orchestra will perform one of its two Holiday Pops concerts at the center in December. The other will be at the Salem Civic Center, just like usual.
Season tickets on sale
Construction of the Center for the Arts began in June 2010. The completed building will house not only the Street and Davis Performance Hall, but also two visual art galleries, a black box theater referred to as “The Cube” and a new research center, the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology (ICAT.)
On Wednesday, Waalkes said that construction remains on schedule. The staff expects to start moving into the building in July. The center will open officially in October, just before the Philip Glass performance. The center’s $5 million annual operating budget will be the largest for an art institute in the region.
Even with the might of Virginia Tech’s backing behind it, the new center is still finding its way in terms of what programming will serve it best. “We want to be many things to many people,” Waalkes said. “We want to have diversity of all kinds.”
Though tickets to individual events will range from $15 to $60, they won’t be on sale until August. However, season tickets are on sale starting today. Subscriptions to all 21 performances range from $329 to $483, and the center allows for “Build Your Own” subscriptions that let buyers pick and choose multiple shows at a discount.
In the interest of keeping performances affordable for the student body, student tickets for individual performances will always be $10, said communications manager Susan Bland.
Weather JournalComplexities of ice accretion