The 2014-15 season of the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) at California State University, Northridge will feature 46 acts from 15 countries that present an eclectic range of Latin, country, jazz, theatre, dance, classical and pop culture entertainment for the whole family.
Featured performers include Vanessa Williams, Sinbad, Yo-Yo Ma, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Angelique Kidjo with special guest Red Baraat, Jane Monheit, The Second City’s 55th anniversary Tour, Lee Ann Womack, the London Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Vladmir Jurowski and the PBS children’s show Dinosaur Train Live!
“We are proud to showcase a variety of the best entertainment from around the world,” said Thor Steingraber, executive director of the Valley Performing Arts Center. “At the VPAC, we are committed to bringing audiences a season that includes premium talents from many genres and reflects our audiences’ breadth of taste in artistic styles. The acoustics at the VPAC are unmatched, and our venues on the Cal State Northridge campus are ideal settings in which to enjoy a collage of the best of the performing arts.”
When the VPAC surveyed its audiences, patrons indicated they wanted to see both familiar and new pop culture artists who transcend categories. As a result, next season’s offerings include groups such as Swiss mask theater artists Mummenschanz; the National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China; The Fab Faux; The Canadian Brass Holiday Concert; Disney’s Fantasia – Live in Concert; the SITI Company, an ensemble that creates physical theatre that is “a gymnasium for the soul,” and Les 7 doigts de la main – Sequence 8, an energetic troupe from Montreal that mixes circus acts with jazz and hip-hop.
“The Valley has long needed a venue that provides experiences for the whole family,” said Elena Epstein, content director of LA Parent magazine and a CSUN alumna. “The Valley Performing Arts Center is a much welcome addition to our regional entertainment scene.”
One of the highlights of the VPAC’s new season’s offerings will be its Latin music series beginning in October and featuring Mexican ranchera (Mexican folk ballads) singer Paquita La Del Barrio and Brasil Guitar Duo, about whom Classical Guitar Magazine, wrote “the maturity of musicianship and technical virtuosity…is simply outstanding.” The Latin showcase will continue when fifth-generation superstars Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán performs in December, followed by Direct from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tango Buenos Aires in January and the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico in March.
The VPAC will also present two of the best in country music. Singer-songwriter and crossover artist Lee Ann Womack frequently listed in both Billboard’s country chart and its Top 100 will perform in October; and The Charlie Daniels Band, a member of the Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, will play its unique mix of country and southern rock in December.
VPAC audiences love Broadway – so celebrated Broadway music director Todd Ellison, whose credits include Annie, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Radio City Music Hall spectaculars, La Cage aux Folles and 42nd Street, among others, will present two unique musical revues featuring top Broadway singers with musical accompaniment. The show’s themes are Broadway’s Greatest Hits in October and Broadway Romances in May. The glitz and glitter continue in January when Vanessa Williams, Broadway superstar, singer, actress and author, treats audiences to her powerful vocals.
In February, the Russian National Ballet Theatre will return to the VPAC for two performances. Dance lovers will enjoy the classic Don Quixote and, on the following night, are invited to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a collection of ballet’s most thrilling repertory – solos, duets and more – performed by Russia’s finest dancers. In April, the VPAC will present one of the most revered American dance companies – The Martha Graham Dance Company, which introduced modern dance to the world in 1926. Their VPAC performance showcases the revolutionary work of its founder, as well as the ingenuity of contemporary choreographers, uniting decades of transformational works.
Additional artists from around the world will travel to Northridge from Switzerland, Israel, Mali, Russia, Canada, Sierra Leone and Benin. In September, The National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China will dazzle the audience with their performance of Cirque Peking. In October, singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo deemed “Africa’s greatest living diva” by NPR teams up with pioneering Brooklyn-based band, Red Baraat.
November brings the cross-cultural collaboration of the Touré-Raichel Collective featuring Israeli singer-songwriter Idan Rachel, Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré, percussionist Souleymane Kane and musician and vocalist Amit Carmeli. In May, the VPAC will present Canadian husband and wife master fiddlers Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy and the Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, who use music to raise awareness of humanitarian causes in their home country.
In addition to the incomparable Yo-Yo Ma in May and The London Philharmonic with conductor Jiří Bělohlávek in October, VPAC’s always-popular classical music program will feature two of Europe’s foremost orchestras – the Czech Philharmonic in November and the Rotterdam Philharmonic, one of Europe’s foremost orchestras conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in February. January brings the pairing of pianist Christopher O’Riley and cellist Matt Haimovitz. The Mutter-Bronfman-Harrell Trio, featuring violinist Anna-Sophie Mutter, pianist Yefim Bronfman and cellist Lynn Harrell will appear in April, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, with conductor and harpsichordist Jeffrey Kahane, is scheduled for December.
The VPAC will again present stellar jazz artists, including Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO), the double bill of the Brad Mehldau Trio and Bad Plus, and vocalist Jane Monheit, who Cabaret calls a “scintillating songstress.” Three guitar master acts will bring their individual styles to the Great Hall in spring. Tommy Emmanuel plays on Feb. 5, Bill Frisell’s Big Sur Quintet is on March 5, and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet strums away on March 7.
“While the VPAC’s Great Hall seats 1,700, some performances are better suited to a more intimate setting,” says Steingraber. “That is why our distinguished theatre lineup takes place in the nearby Plaza del Sol, where audiences can see A Celebration of Harold Pinter, actor Julian Sands’ one-man show that presents an intimate portrait of the poet, the playwright and the man.”
Other performances in this salon-style space are the Aquila Theatre’s presentation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, The Second City’s 55th anniversary Tour and the SITI Company’s Café Variations, a series of vivid and visceral explorations of life, love and identity. The Brasil Guitar Duo performs in April and WindSync, a wind quintet of young virtuosi will perform in March.
“Additionally, the VPAC is able to create a more personal and friendly atmosphere right in the Great Hall by seating an intimate audience of 200 on stage.” Steingraber said. “Next season, this will be the setting for several young performers who have already distinguished themselves as stars of the future.”
Children and families can join together to watch Dinosaur Train Live!, based on the popular PBS children’s show, and Disney’s Fantasia – Live in Concert, which will feature the Disney classic movie accompanied by the CSUN Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of John Roscigno.
Another season highlight is an evening with Andrew Sullivan, the brilliant and witty writer, political commentator, gay rights advocate, provocateur and television personality who frequently appears as a panelist on shows such as The Colbert Report and Real Time with Bill Maher. Sullivan is a former editor of The New Republic and the founding editor of The Daily Dish, one of the country’s first political blogs, which now has more than 8 million page views per month. Sullivan’s talk, which is co-sponsored by CSUN’s Department of Political Science, demonstrates the collaboration between the VPAC and the university.
“We are proud of the breadth of what we have to offer. And to better accommodate our audience, all subscriptions this year will allow patrons to design their own series,” Steingraber said. “Patrons who select eight or more different performances will receive a 15 percent discount and are also eligible to purchase discounted tickets for any shows that are added to the 2014-15 season.”
Super subscriptions are on sale now. Individual tickets go on sale to the public June 10. For more information about subscriptions and ticket options, visit the center’s website at http://www.valleyperformingartscenter.org/ or call (818) 677-3000.