Featuring 15 acts from various places and cultures around the globe, the New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series (PAS) is preparing to kick off a diverse set of shows in September.
Performances will take place in the recently-renovated Macey Center on the New Mexico Tech Campus. New lighting, among other renovations, has allowed for bigger, more technically challenging productions to come to the theater, according to Ronna Kalish, PAS director.
“I’m really looking forward to it, we’re getting a lot of big shows,” Kalish said.
The first of the performances will be cowboy folk music group Riders In The Sky. The quartet has amazing musical abilities and offers a comical, as well as enjoyable act. In its biography, the group is described as having a “well-balanced mix of both classic and original western songs, smooth harmony, hot licks and slapstick comedy.”
In 2001, the group won a Grammy award for the “Best Musical Album for Children,” and was nominated for “Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group.”
Kalish said the group performs “fun cowboy music with great harmonies.”
Local rancher and active community member Vanetta Perry, who has seen the group before, said, “Socorro will love them!”
Riders in the Sky will be in town Sept. 20.
Next in line to perform, on Sept. 28, is the five-member Australian pop, acoustic folk, electric rock and melodic vocal group Fruit. The all-female band is popular world-wide for its songwriting, hard-hitting harmonies and intricate musical compositions.
Kalish said Fruit will “appeal to young people. They’re very contemporary and have great harmonies and great songwriting.”
Kalish compared their sound to Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls.
A special presentation by the nationally known group, The Working Classroom, will be on October 3. An award-winning acting and playwriting ensemble travels around the country to work with kids in producing plays about family issues for the community. The play “A Falta De Pan, Galleta,” will be performed with and for the community.
“Kids write and act in the play,” Kalish said.
The Celtic Spanish styling of Carlos Nuñez, virtuoso of the bagpipes and recorder, will be the next concert presented, on October 11. Nuñez has been considered “the Jimi Hendrix of the bagpipe,” according to Billboard.
The young, charismatic performer, according to Kalish, plays traditional Spanish Celtic music with flamenco overtones.
The Scotsman described his show as having, “Big Pete Townsend-ish bouzouki licks, mellifluous Spanish guitar, saucy dancing fiddle, all dappled with the liquid sunshine of Nuñez’s whistle or the fiery pulse-quickening squeal of his pipes.”
Le Ballet National du Senegal will dance into town on Oct. 23. The premier dance company of West Africa gives a “big show, with lots of beautiful costumes, dancing and drumming,” said Kalish.
The ballet performs in local villages as well as on stages around the world. They are described as expressing the “true face of Senegal,” performing music and dances of Senegal’s 15 different ethnic groups.
Their new show, titled “Kuuyamba,” features three parts, including sacred songs and rhythm, color and beauty. The music will be played on traditional African instruments, including the Kora and the Dan.
The ballet is often described as “exuberant and energetic.”
In celebration of Halloween and Dia de Muertos, New Mexico-based Zozobra Produc-tions will present a rendition of the classic folk tale “Cuento de La Llorona” on Nov. 2.
The performance will include live music and dancing as the frightening story, which takes place in 18th century Santa Fe, tells of a young local woman who dies a tragic death and then re-appears as a wandering ghost, searching for her children.
The intent behind the production is to preserve the folk traditions, heritage and culture of Hispanic New Mexico.
The “Postmodern mythic American music” of Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer will serenade audiences Nov. 9. The folk duo plays eight instruments, including guitar, banjo, harmonica, violin and mandolin.
Kalish said, “their songwriting has a lot of depth, and they are both so musically talented.”
The duo’s music reflects their American roots influences, coming from Texas and Oklahoma. Dave Carter is described as “a major lyrical talent and a wandering cowboy sage,” by the Los Angeles Times.
The Oregonian described Tracy Grammer as having, “beautifully intonated lines and a darkly beautiful voice.”
Their music is a revival of the timeless American folk music tradition.
Performing to the soundtrack for this year’s opening night of the Festival of Cranes on Nov. 20 will be the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra’s new conductor, Guillermo Figueroa, will make his first-time appearance in Socorro. The NMSO is renowned around the state and the nation.
A classic holiday story will take a new twist as the State Street Ballet performs “The Hollywood Nutcracker” on Dec. 7.
The age-old story stays the same, and the beloved music of Tchaikovsky will still be performed; but this production is instead set in 1930s Hollywood. Dazzling new costumes and sets, with choreography drawn from old Hollywood, give the classic an Art Deco twist.
The performance will feature 15 local kids, adding a local flair to the magnificent production.
To kick off the new year, Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers will give a swingin’ show January 24. Smith, a vocalist and bandleader, “evokes a sensuous era of jazz queens while adding her own modern feminist twist,” according to her biography. Her singing style is reminiscent of Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington and Bessie Smith. The Red Hot Skillet Lickers are a 1940s style big band, performing swing, jazz and blues.
Kalish said Smith is “hot! She has a great voice and a wonderful band.”
A dance floor will be set up on which the audience can jump and jive, and swing dance lessons will be offered prior to the show.
Brigham Young University’s widely-renowned dance troop, Living Legends, will perform an extravagant show of ancient and modern ethnic dances Feb. 6. The group performs dances from Native American, Polynesian, Spanish and Hawaiian cultures.
Kalish said it’s a huge show, with beautiful costumes and dances that stay true to their cultures.
The dancers bring to life the beauty of traditional cultures often forgotten in today’s modern world. Living Legends performs 90 minutes of dances, from Hawaiian hula to Mexican fiesta dances to Native American pow wow traditions.
During the annual Science Olympiad, a family performance by Lazer Vaudeville will dazzle audiences on Feb. 21.
Clean, classy fun for the entire family, Lazer Vaudeville combines laser magic with the traditional arts of vaudeville. The show features a cast of fantastical characters and is described as “leading audiences on a journey through the imagination.”
The group juggles and recaptures the endangered art of hoop rolling. They are described as “juggling like poets,” and performing “a compelling mix of pragmatism and magic.”
“It’s an all-around family show,” Kalish said.
During the first women’s studies conference to come to New Mexico Tech on Feb. 28, the all-woman woodwind quintet Calico Winds will perform their virtuostic blend of tunes. Kalish said the group is “extremely innovative.”
Excerpts from traditional Chinese opera, seldom witnessed by Western audiences, will bring ancient Asian traditions to town on March 21.
With a live orchestra and fantastic vocalists, spectacular acrobatics and explosive martial arts, the Peking Opera will perform excerpts from operas such as “The Monkey King,” as well as other classic Chinese operas that will blow audiences away.
Socorro is the only place in the state the opera will be performed.
The grand finale of the PAS will be the spectacular musical “Copacabana,” on April 3. The glitzy, glamorous story of love and romance is set in the heart of a swinging nightclub in the 1940s, when “music and passion was always the fashion.”
The song features the title hit song by Barry Manilow, with fantastic sets, music and costumes.
Kalish said this was a tough show to get, and “people should really take advantage of being able to see this.”
Kalish said she is extremely excited about this season’s lineup, which features a lot of new up-and-coming bands.
She said Macey Center is one of the nicest theaters in the state. Tickets, as well as money-saving season passes, will be available next month.
For more information, visit www.NMT.edu/mainpage/pas, or call 835-5688.