Some of the brightest stars in the world of music and dance will shine at CSUN's Valley Performing Arts Center during the center's first full season of operation.
The list of show-stoppers includes solo performances by Jamie Lee Curtis (Sept. 30), Bernadette Peters (Oct. 15), Wynona (Nov. 6), Hal Holbrook (Feb. 4) and Geena Davis (April 19). Also on tap are joint performances by Linda Eder and Tom Wopat on Oct. 30 and Ramsey Lewis and Nnenna Freston on Feb. 11.
Robert Bucker, executive director of the center and dean of CSUN's college of arts, media and communication, said the new season was assembled about the same time as performers were being booked for the first half season , which officially began in January and will be concluded in May.
As time passed, he said, it has become easier to sign artists. Partly this is because the economy has been improving. "Artists that last year when we were booking the spring just were not coming to the West coast are now once again willing to get on a plane and do a couple of nights." Meanwhile, word of the center's excellence as a venue for performance has been spreading among artists nationally and internationally.
"I can't wait to tell people," Bucker said in an interview with Chatsworth Patch just before the official announcement of next season's schedule. "We have 30 events in five series and we have a couple of stand-alone events. And then, within the next month, I'm hopefully going to announce a couple more surprises that I can't announce yet. I'm very anxious to hear the responses."
There is a strategy to the selection of performers, he said. "We try to think about the demorgraphic of the audience that we know we already serve and then we also try to think about the demographic of the audience that we might not currently be serving but that we aspire to serve.
At the same time, Bucker looks for performers who will give the Valley Performing Arts Center a reputation for recognizing world-class talent. In time, audiences may come to trust that any artist at the center will uphold the high standards of previous performers.
Asked to reflect on the biggest surprises for the new season, Bucher said the presentation of Jose Porcel and his company represented "a true coup in the dance area." Some consider Porcel "the most exciting dancer working today in any of the dance areas," he added.
Other highlights of the season include Los Tigres del Norte, "the premiere Latin ensemble in this part of the Western hemisphere," on March 8 and the "Stars of the Russian Ballet" performance on May 4, 2012. "Who would ever have imagined that the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields would be performing in the Valley and that Joshua Bell would be soloing with them?"
The honor of opening the new season goes to Arturo Sandoval's Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie on Sept. 10. Also among the highlights of the 2011-12 season:
--National Acrobats of the People's Republic of China (Sept. 30)
--The Miles Davis Experience: 1949-59 (Oct. 23)
--Barbara Cook (Dec. 10)
--Moscow Classical Ballet's "The Nutcracker" (Dec. 14 and 15)
--The Acting Company's "Julius Caesar" (May 1, 2012) and "Comedy of Errors" (May 3, 2012)
Tickets for the new season, available through Ticketmaster or the center's box office, go on sale July 8.