Spring’s Spectacular Stage Schedule
Appalachian State University’s 2012 Performing Arts Series will liven up the spring semester with three completely different shows at Farthing Auditorium in Boone.
The series will present the Soweto Gospel Choir on Saturday, Jan. 28, The Punch Brothers, featuring Chris Thile, on Friday, Feb. 17, and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet performing “Moulin Rouge: The Ballet” on Thursday, March 22.
All performances begin at 8 p.m., and tickets are on sale now.
Soweto Gospel Choir
Formed in November 2002, Soweto Gospel Choir has packed a century’s worth of achievement into less than a decade.
The band has won four Grammy Awards, collaborated with stars, such as Bono and Peter Gabriel, and has performed for the presidents of the United States and South Africa.
The band’s first album, “Voices of Heaven,” recorded a month after the band formed, reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s World Music Charts three weeks after its release.
In October 2006, the choir performed as invited guests for Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 75th birthday celebration, in front of an illustrious audience, which included former South African President Nelson Mandela, Mrs. Zanele Mbeki, Tokyo Sexwale, Samuel L Jackson, Alfre Woodard and Carlos Santana.
The band has performed on NBC’s “Today Show,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and on with tours with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Celine Dion and others. They have also recorded with Robert Plant on a song that was included on a Fats Domino tribute album, with proceeds going to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
In 2009, the choir became the first group from South Africa to perform live at the Grammy Awards.
During the telecast, they won a Grammy in the Best Movie Song category for “Down to Earth” from the blockbuster Pixar film, “Wall-E,” their collaboration with Peter Gabriel.
The Punch Brothers, with Chris Thile, features five of the best young musicians on the Americana scene today. Thile, formerly the mandolin player, singer and chief songwriter for the popular acoustic trio, Nickel Creek, is joined in the Punch Brothers by banjo player Noam Pikelny, violinist Gabe Witcher, bassist Paul Kowert and guitarist Chris Eldridge.
This year, the Punch Brothers released their second album, “Antifogmatic,” following their 2009 debut, “Punch.”
“Our new record is a very pure collaboration,” Thile said. “I would often come to the boys with a start, a little nugget, and we would collectively fashion it into something. None of these songs would have been like themselves if I had been left to my own devices. Several of them were starts that other guys had, and we would build from there. It’s fun how liquid the writing process was on this.”
Eldridge said, “We got to find out what the band sounded like when we tried to collectively make music from scratch. A song might start with something as simple as a phrase that everybody thought was cool and worthy of development, maybe a set of chord changes, maybe more than that.
“Everyone was bringing things to the table and putting them in front of the band’s collective consciousness to try to build them into something together. It was a pretty neat experience to see how things took shape that way. It really happened completely before our eyes.”
Combining blues, folk, bluegrass and even rock and roll, the music of the Punch Brothers is refreshingly original, and no two shows are the same, thanks to a healthy reliance on improvisation.
Moulin Rouge: The Ballet
A visit to Paris by way of Winnipeg doesn’t happen every day. Fortunately, for ballet fans in the High Country, we don’t have to go anywhere to experience these two foreign cities when Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet performs “Moulin Rouge: The Ballet” on March 22.
The ballet features high-kicking choreography and a passionate story of love, ambition and heartbreak. This ballet has been seen by close to 60,000 people across North America and has elicited cheers and ovations wherever it tours.
According to the ballet description, “Moulin Rouge” takes place in “turn of the century Paris, a city of exquisite contradiction. The heady elixir of personal freedom bred lifestyles both reckless and addictive. Drawn to Paris by the city’s passion, a flame fuelled by the hearts of lovers and the souls of poets, Matthew and Nathalie tempt fate as they seek love and destiny at the infamous cabaret: The Moulin Rouge.”
In 2010, Atlanta inTown called the show “a triumph ... stunningly beautiful... It’s moments like this that make ballet fans out of people who think they don’t like ballet.”
Tickets for each performance are $20 for adults, $11 for students ages 6 through 18, $10 for ASU students, and $5 for children 5 and younger.
For more information, call the Farthing Auditorium box office at (828) 262-4046 or visit pas.appstate.edu.