The Valley Performing Arts Center is beginning a series of pre-concert lectures hosted by California State University, Northridge faculty who hope to give audience members a greater appreciation of the performances they are about to see. The first lecture is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 18.
Three lectures, titled “Classrooms in the Courtyard,” are scheduled prior to performances during VPAC’s fall season. Friday’s lecture will feature a talk on jazz. November will introduce audiences to modern dance. December will focus on Broadway. The Valley Performing Arts Center is located the southern end of the CSUN campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge. The lectures are free and open to the public.
“As an integral part of a great university, the VPAC’s mission is education, as well as entertainment,” said Steve Thachuk, interim director of the center. “It just makes sense to have some of our professors transmit their in-depth knowledge of the arts to our concert goers at our ‘Classrooms in the Courtyard.’ It’s an opportunity for our audience members to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of the performance they will soon experience.”
CSUN music professor Gary Fukushima will present “New Orleans Jazz from the Roots to New Cross-Genre Sounds” at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, in the Courtyard Theatre of the Valley Performing Arts Center, prior to the jazz concert by Jon Batiste and Stay Human at 8 p.m. Fukushima will take concert attendees on a trip to New Orleans, stopping in all the spots where this uniquely American art form developed.
Fukushima is a pianist, composer and educator as well as an active Los Angeles jazz musician. He has performed throughout the United States for more than a decade as member of the jazz-folk group The Sabella Consort. He also has been a sideman for many other groups and vocalists, including the swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, alto saxophonist Mark Taylor and vocalists Rene Olstead, Leona Coakley, Ben Black, Phyllis Chang and Brettina Robinson.
CSUN kinesiology professor Paula Thomson and several professional dancers will explore the elements, themes and movement vocabulary of modern dance at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23, prior to the Lar Lubotvitch Dance Company performance at 8 p.m.
Thomson has been a choreographer, teacher and movement coach in theaters and schools throughout Canada and the United States for more than 25 years. She studied dance and choreography in New York City, Toronto and Los Angeles. The companies she has worked with range from the Stratford Shakespearean Festival to the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble.
CSUN theatre professor Janet Miller will enthrall audience members with tales of memorable musical theater moments at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, prior to Brian Stokes Mitchell’s “Simply Broadway” performance at 8 p.m.
Miller is a producer, director and choreographer. Her choreography was showcased off Broadway in “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” for which she received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for outstanding choreographer. Miller has worked on both coasts and in Europe, directing such shows as “A Man of No Important,” “Side by Side by Sondheim” and “The Odd Couple.” She currently is the producing artistic director for Good People Theater Company.
The 1,700-seat Valley Performing Arts Center has established California State University, Northridge as a hub for culture and performing arts. For more information, contact the Valley Performing Arts Center at http://www.valleyperformingartscenter.org/.