The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Announces 2013-2014 Season Marked with Stories of Collaboration, Transformation and Fearlessness

Friday, April 26, 2013

CONTACT: Missy McTamney

CONTACT: Sarah Snyder

April 18, 2013 - College Park, MD – Creative approaches, innovative partnerships and bold initiatives are an unwavering focus of the University of Maryland’s (UMD) Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, along with its resident partners the School of Music (SOM) and School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS). To this end, the Center’s 2013-2014 season re-envisions classic performances, commissions new works, pairs visiting artists with students and invites patrons to experiences that change the way they see the world. Marked with stories of transformation, collaboration and fearlessness, the Center explores new artistic ideas and honors cultural traditions. 

The National Civil War Project: Civil War to Civil Rights

In partnership with Baltimore’s CENTERSTAGE, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is participating in The National Civil War Project, a multi-city, multi-year collaboration among four universities and five performing arts organizations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. The groundbreaking project includes the commissioning of original works and the creation of new arts-integrated academic programs that examine the Civil War. The Clarice Smith Center will explore issues of the Civil War through the lens of the nation’s civil rights struggles and broad issues of human rights.

The Center opens its 2013-2014 season on September 6, 2013 with The Movement Revisited. A four-part suite composed by jazz bassist Christian McBride and inspired by Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this new incarnation of the twenty-five-year-old piece will feature McBride’s big band and the Heritage Signature Chorale with spoken word selections by special guests, including civil rights activist and artist Harry Belafonte. 

Also part of the season opening, the Center will host a national symposium on September 5 and 6, 2013, entitled Civil War to Civil Rights: The Well-Being of a Nation. This symposium, in partnership with the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and School of Public Health, honors the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The symposium will be both commemorative and forward-looking and features keynote speakers including activists Julian Bond and Marian Wright Edelman (who both participated in the March) as well as writer, commenter, and cultural critic, Touré. Activists, artists, students, faith leaders and scholars will also share stories about the work being done locally and nationally through today's civil rights movements. Utilizing movement and creative framing, choreographers Liz Lerman and Vincent Thomas will help participants synthesize and digest the issues addressed during the symposium.

A spiritual and political voice of the civil rights movement alongside Dr. King, Jr., Mavis Staples brings her trailblazing style and smoldering sound to the Center this season. Staples launched her career as a member of The Staples Singers and now, decades later, is an iconic solo artist, collaborating with artists such as Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and Wilco. She makes her Clarice Smith Center debut on November 8, 2013.

In celebration of African American holiday tradition and spirituality, Nolan Williams, Jr.’s Christmas Gift! returns to the Center on December 13 and 14, 2013 after its joyous debut last season. Based on Charlemae Hill Rollins’ 1963 anthology, Christmas Gift! features time-honored Christmas music and poetry by civil rights revolutionaries such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Choreographer, writer, and director, David Roussève creates a powerful portrait of a gay African American teenager’s coming-of-age in the revolutionary Stardust. The Clarice Smith Center co-commissioned the piece, which receives its world premiere at the Center on January 31 and February 1, 2014. Told through the protagonist’s text messages and tweets, Stardust is fluid and frenetic, in both its movement and its musical score.

Stories of revolution and human rights transcend borders and time. On May 2 and 3, 2014, acclaimed actor Denis O’Hare brings us An Iliad, a modernized retelling of Homer’s epic poem about the Trojan War. The piece is performed in contemporary vernacular, transforming a lofty work into an intimate narrative that illuminates both the heroism and horror of warfare.

Delving deep into issues of human rights and cultural expression, PostClassical Ensemble (PCE) returns to the Center on May 10, 2014 with Mexican Revolution. Under the direction of Angel Gil-Ordóñez, the orchestra will provide live accompaniment to the emblematic 1936 film Redes, which tells the story of Mexican fishermen victimized by the monopolization of their livelihood. Mexican cultural icon Eugenia León will also perform many beloved Mexican songs with PCE during the first part of the program.

Collaboration and Innovation

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center differs from other performing arts centers in both its commitment to commissioning new works and its engagements between UMD performing arts students and visiting artists. These collaborations often take the shape of master classes, open rehearsals, one-on-one coaching and side-by-side performances.

A new work on October 24, 2013 by legendary composer Phillip Glass will be the centerpiece of a performance by Kronos Quartet, in recognition of the quartet’s 40th anniversary. The piece was co-commissioned by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Kronos is also engaged for the fourth consecutive year in one-on-one coaching of SOM composition students and will hold a premiere reading of these student works for the public on February 20, 2014.

On February 15, 2014, The Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet will perform an evening of music that includes SOM’s Graduate Fellowship Woodwind Quintet during a joint performance of Gounod’s Symphonie Petite. The Quintet members will also be in residence at the Center to coach SOM chamber music students. The Miami String Quartet brings their eclectic repertoire and adventuresome concertizing to an October 4, 2013 program that spans the range of possibilities in the chamber music repertoire. The Quartet will also engage with SOM students in a two-day residency.

The UMD Symphony Orchestra directed by James Ross will continue its exploration of unique performance experiences with Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring on May 4, 2014. Orchestra musicians will abandon their chairs and perform from memory while moving about the stage. The movement will be designed by noted choreographer and UMD alumna Liz Lerman. On April 11 and 12, 2014, the UMD Symphony Orchestra will highlight the works of 21st century composers including Four Haiku by SOM director Robert Gibson. Featuring projection designs by Tim McLoraine, the performance will explore the boundaries of the concert experience by merging music and image in a seamless continuum.

The rock musical Spring Awakening uses alternative and folk-infused rock music to capture the coming-of-age experience. TDPS performs this Broadway sensation between February 28 and March 8, 2014. The production will be co-directed by Tony Award winning lighting designer, Brian MacDevitt, along with Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig of PearsonWidrig DanceTheater – all TDPS faculty members. This collaborative approach to the production is a testament to the cross-disciplinary dynamic of the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies.

Pig Iron Theatre Company’s Zero Cost House is a meditation on the ways Henry David Thoreau’s Walden changed the playwright’s life. The Japanese tsunami of 2011 took place while Toshiki Okada was writing the play, leading it to include ties to contemporary living and its challenges. During their time at the Clarice Smith Center on April 4-5, 2014, the cast will also work with students from TDPS.

Musical Classics

Called fearless for his ambitious programming and interpretations, Dutch cellist Pieter Wispelwey brings his original interpretation of cello masterpieces, both contemporary and classic, to his November 13, 2013 program. The evening will include cello sonatas by Debussy, Prokofiev and Poulenc.

In the November 10, 2013 performance of Concerto for Harp, Alberto Ginastera’s inspirational masterpiece, the UMD Symphony Orchestra will feature Karen Thomas, winner of the orchestra’s 2012 Concerto Competition. On December 15, 2013, the UMD Chamber Singers will perform Images of the Christmas Feast, a selection of works that explores the commonalities of “light” in Jewish and Christian holiday celebrations, with the music of Bloch, Copland and Corelli. The beloved Johann Strauss operetta of mistaken identities and flirtations at a masked ball, Die Fledermaus will be presented by The Maryland Opera Studio (MOS) in April 2014. Sets, lighting and costume design will showcase the creativity of graduate MFA Design students from TDPS, working in partnership with the School of Music’s MOS.

Violinist James Ehnes and pianist Orion Weiss bring their fascinating musical collaboration to the Center on March 6, 2014. The duo makes music as if immersed in a series of fascinating conversations.

Jazz and World Beat

Our season story continues as world-renowned artists Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea take the stage together to recreate their legendary chemistry on February 8, 2014, followed by the elder statesman of jazz piano, Kenny Barron and the Platinum Band on April 25, 2014. Barron was named a 2010 Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts – the highest honor in jazz that the nation bestows.

From across the globe, AnDa Union performs songs inspired by the past while creating a new sound as they dig deep into Mongolian tradition to unearth the forgotten music that forms the basis of their contemporary work in their September 20, 2013 performance. 

Cuban-born percussionist Pedrito Martinez and his New York-based Pedrito Martinez Group, will bring their Afro-Cuban Rumba sounds to the Center on October 18, 2013. The dynamic Somi, an American singer and songwriter of Rwandan and Ugandan descent, has created an original and hybrid sound known as “New African Jazz”. She will perform on March 28, 2014. Both artists are making their Center debuts, and the performances will be cabaret-style.

Maria Schneider melds jazz with ideas from big band and classical music, making her arguably one of the most prominent woman bandleaders in the jazz field today. The Maria Schneider Orchestra will explore the range of expression possible with contemporary big band on September 22, 2013. The Orchestra’s time at the Center will also include a day-long residency with students from SOM.  


A comedic, existential crisis seemingly based on a reading of the story of Moses plays out through puppetry in the innovative November 20-22, 2013 production of Blind Summit’s The Table. Presented entirely on top of a simple table, Blind Summit’s cardboard, wood and fabric creations reflect the challenges of human struggle. 

The UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) engages a current student and two alumni to assume directing responsibilities for three productions this season, emphasizing the School's focus on the highest levels of pedagogical and professional standards. Pursuing his doctorate in Theatre and Performance Studies, Matthew Wilson will direct Molière Impromptu in November 2013, a wickedly funny look at the magic of the theatre, set in Versailles in 1665. Wilson is also the founding Artistic Director of DC’s Helen Hayes Award-winning Commedia dell’Arte Theatre Company. TDPS PhD alumna Kris Messer directs the February 2014 production of The Waiting Room, exploring the timeless quest for beauty – and its cost – as three women from different centuries come together in a modern doctor’s waiting room. Focusing on the heated national conversation on class and race, TDPS will produce a richly provocative play (title to be announced) in Spring 2014, directed by recent MFA in Performance graduate, Broadway and film actress Caroline Clay.  

TDPS also presents Thornton Wilder’s timeless comedy The Matchmaker in October 2013, guest directed by Alan Paul of Washington DC’s Shakespeare Theatre Company. The production follows the exploits of matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi, a widow who brokers marriages and other transactions in Yonkers, New York at the turn of the 20th century.

Dance and Movement

The Margaret Jenkins Dance Company celebrates its 40th anniversary with the world premiere of Times Bones at the Clarice Smith Center on September 13 and 14, 2013. This haunting and beautiful piece explores the company’s journey over the last four decades, linking their historical repertoire to stories left untold.

Capturing the vulnerability, mortality and the virtuosity required to live daily life, David Dorfman Dance takes its audience on a passionate journey in Come, and Back Again on November 1 and 2, 2013. Presented with a live rock band, the piece, as described by Dorfman, “is a dance about mess, joy, loss and survival of love at all costs.” Dorfman plays the role of both dancer and saxophonist in this striking work.

The renowned Artists-Teachers of the University of Maryland’s TDPS present intimate, mesmerizing and passionate choreography in the UMD Faculty Dance Concert running November 15-17, 2013. Incorporating technique and skills passed on from their TDPS professors, two MFA Thesis Concerts in dance will challenge the traditional definition of a stage: Jessica Laurita-Spanglet’s Way In on December 6 and 7, 2013 and Erin Crawley-Woods’ Visible Seams in Fall 2013 both employ site-specific choreography, leading audiences on journeys to discover the hallways, windows and courtyards of the Center.

On March 14 and 15, 2014, MFA dance candidates Anna Farfán and Stephanie Miracle explore magical, make-believe worlds in their Shared Dance Thesis Concert. Farfán’s The Night of the Mooring Ropes offers a captivating re-envisioning of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, while Miracle’s Pleated illustrates the wonder of growing up with sisters.

TDPS features the emerging talent of the next generation of dance artists in UMoves, an undergraduate dance concert, April 17-19, 2014.

Considered a rite of passage for area dancers, the Annual Choreographers’ Showcase features diverse and budding talent. Presented on January 25, 2014 in collaboration with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the showcase is now in its 31st year.


Located on the University of Maryland campus and a part of the College of Arts and Humanities, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is a premier presenting arts venue and collaborative laboratory shared by the School of Music (SOM), the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) and the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library.  The Center made its debut in 2001 and has grown into a national model for campus performing arts centers, presenting performances and programs by visiting artists as well as by students and faculty of SOM and TDPS in an environment of creative learning, exploration and growth. The Center remains active in the larger university community through its innovative partnerships and extraordinary experiences.

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.