Hill College Performing Arts Series Kicks off 22nd Year
Coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts Phillip Lowe always treats area audiences to a wide variety of foreign and domestic talent through the Hill College Performing Arts Series. This year, the series takes a decidedly local turn, featuring groups from Baylor University and the broader Central Texas area, while still bringing in unusual acts from across the nation.
The 22nd season of the series begins with an encore performance by the Baylor Symphony under the direction of Stephen Heyde, the Mary Franks Thompson Professor of Orchestral Activities and Conductor-in-Residence at Baylor University. Heyde is only the second conductor the group has had since its inception in 1944 under the baton of Daniel Sternberg, the Dean of the School of Music at that time. Heyde took over in 1984 and has led this outstanding ensemble to national notoriety, performing eight times at the Texas Music Educators Clinic/Convention as well as performances at the national conventions of the American String Teachers Association and the College Orchestra Directors Association. The symphony was featured with other School of Music ensembles in a PBS Special, “Christmas at Baylor," which aired nationally in over 350 markets and was seen by more than six million viewers. As with each of the performing ensembles at Baylor, the symphony is made up of students with diverse backgrounds, both national and international in scope. The symphony will open the series on Sept. 24.
One of the more unusual presentations in recent years will be the Oct. 20 “Cinema Vivant,” an evening of vintage silent films accompanied by live gypsy swing. Though the members of the Hot Club of San Francisco come from many parts of the nation and world, they share one love: the gypsy swing sounds of Django Reinhardt and The Hot Club of France. In the 1930s, a common occurrence in the French countryside was for a band of roving gypsies to set up camp outside of town and show silent films on the side of a barn with their own musicians playing to the film live. This is the inspiration for this ensemble’s program, “Cinema Vivant.”
Forty to sixty singers from throughout Central Texas representing many walks of life will join together singing Daniel Pinkham's "Christmas Cantata," the Randol Bass "Gloria" and other holiday fare on Dec. 1 in a program titled “Holy Days with the CTCS.” The Central Texas Choral Society, under the direction of Dr. David Guess, consists of stay-at-home moms, business leaders and community activists, faculty from all levels of education, even high school singers and a common sight in CTCS performances is an entire family participating together. Dr. Guess, a former member of the chorus, took over the baton in 2012, following long-time director Dr. Donald Balmos.
Though every effort is expended to secure performance details before going to print, sometimes items must be announced closer to the actual event date. Last year’s Cirque Zuma Zuma performance was up in the air regarding venue because of the headroom needed for some of the high-flying acts. This year, because a group is made up entirely of university students, individual member schedules were not yet available to secure a date. Nonetheless, Hill College will be pleased to welcome the Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir from Baylor University. This group of students, sponsored by Academic Support Advisor Ronald English, travel throughout Texas singing and performing community service, effectively touching the lives of others while seeking to grow spiritually themselves. Their exact performance date in March 2016 will be publicized as soon as the date is confirmed.
This year’s series closes with a pirate story…though not one you have probably heard! Claiming influences as varied as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series, “Whose Life Is It Anyway?,” “Monty Python,” and “Mad Libs,” the ensemble cast of “The Greatest Pirate Story Never Told” promises to leave you laughing when it performs at Hill College on April 11. While the show was nominated “The Best Family Show 2014” by the Off Broadway Alliance, the New York Times commented that the show includes “enough sophistication to keep adults amused, too.” You’ll want to bring the whole family out for this pirate story like no other.
As always, these world-class performances are provided to the community free of charge thanks to the generosity of college and community donors and will take place in the Vara Martin Daniel Performing Arts Center, just behind the Texas Heritage Museum on the Hillsboro Campus, at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted. No tickets are required and seating is first come-first served. A reception will follow each performance, hosted by local community organizations.
If you would like to support the Hill College Performing Arts Series, you are invited to become a Benefactor ($100), a Sustainer ($50), a Patron ($25), or a Supporter ($10) of the Hill College Performing Arts Series. Also, for a donation of $1,000 or more you can become a LIFETIME BENEFACTOR. Names of lifetime benefactors, sustainers, patrons and supporters appear in each program. You may send your donation to: Hill College Music Department, Attention: Phillip Lowe, 112 Lamar Drive, Hillsboro, Texas, 76645.
Whether or not you support the series with a monetary gift, we hope you will support the series with your presence, and invite others to these wonderful evenings of entertainment at Hill College. For more information on the performers and performances and to view promotional videos of each group, visit the Hill College homepage (hillcollege.edu) and click on “Performing Arts Series” found in the drop-down menu under “Quick Links” in the center of the page.