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Carolina Performing Arts Announces 2016-2017 Season Line-Up

May 19, 2016
Carolina Performing Arts

Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will present 46 performances by internationally renowned artists for its twelfth season.

Highlights for the 2016-2017 season include two festivals: “Sacred/Secular: A Sufi Journey” and “Glass at 80,” along with CPA’s most extensive visiting orchestras series to date, featuring the Chapel Hill debut of the legendary Vienna Philharmonic, led by conductor Franz Welser-Möst. CPA will also celebrate leading voices in American dance by presenting three groundbreaking women choreographers who are shaping the future of dance in America. 

Sacred/Secular: A Sufi Journey

“Sacred/Secular: A Sufi Journey” includes a schedule of performances throughout the year alongside campus and community dialogues exploring Sufism as a spiritual and cultural lens into Islam. The objective of the series is to raise awareness about the plurality of the Muslim identity and the inextricable link between local culture and religion.

“We believe that art serves as a singularly unique way of seeing and understanding the world,” said Emil Kang, CPA’s executive and artistic director. “We are pleased to present performances by artists who come from different corners of the world.”

Featured are performers from four Muslim-majority nations outside the Arab world—Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan and Senegal—alongside artists responding to the values of Sufism through new works and expressing the equally pluralistic and diverse views of culture and faith in the United States. 

Glass at 80

“Glass at 80” is a ten-day festival taking place Feb. 1 to Feb. 10, 2017, which celebrates the 80th birthday of composer/performer Philip on Jan. 31, 2017. Glass will be in residence on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus for the duration of the festival performing, lecturing and discussing the impact of his work. He has written for orchestra, chamber ensembles, dance, opera, theater and film, and was one of the most important voices in the advent of minimalist music. His associations with leading artists, including Twyla Tharp, Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen and David Bowie, date back to the 1960s. Four of Glass’s main collaborators will be joining CPA – Laurie Anderson, Lucinda Childs, Dennis Russell Davies and the Kronos Quartet.

“Philip Glass is one of the most influential composers of the 20th century,” said Kang. “We’re honored to be presenting the definitive celebration of his 80th birthday.”

Glass is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, concert hall, dance world, cinema and popular music simultaneously. Festival highlights also include “Heroes Tribute: A Celebration of the Music of Philip Glass, David Bowie and Brian Eno,” featuring musicians from Grammy Award-winning Indie Rock label Merge Records on Feb. 3 and “The Complete Piano Etudes” on Feb. 6, featuring 10 pianists each performing two études.

Visiting Orchestras

In addition to the Vienna Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony makes its North Carolina debut with music director Michael Tilson Thomas performing Mahler’s first symphony. Bach Collegium Stuttgart and Gächinger Kantorei will perform J.S. Bach’s masterpiece, “St. John Passion” on Good Friday. The China Philharmonic led by music director Long Yu will premiere a new concerto by composer Chen Yi commissioned by CPA for UNC-Chapel Hill piano professor Clara Yang. Bruckner Orchester Linz returns with an all-Philip Glass program led by its music director and longtime Glass collaborator Dennis Russell Davies. 

Women in American Dance

CPA is also celebrating women in American dance with performances by three leading female dancer/choreographers. Seattle based company zoe | juniper will perform a new multi-disciplinary work, co-commissioned by CPA, titled “Clear & Sweet.” Nora Chipaumire, former dancer of Urban Bush Women, will present “portrait of myself as my father,” which draws upon the physical vocabulary of sports as well as traditional movement from Zimbabwe. Chapel Hill native and 2015 MacArthur Fellow, Michelle Dorrance will present a new work titled “ETM: Double Down.” Dancers use wooden platforms that amplify their feet; they also trigger the recording and playback of the rhythms they’re creating as they dance.

Opening of James and Susan Moeser Auditorium at Hill Hall

Hill Hall, the historic heart of the music department in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill, is slated to reopen in early October after an 18-month, $15 million renovation. Work is centered on improvements to Hill Hall’s rotunda and 450-seat auditorium in the century-old building, which served as the University’s first library. The performance space will be renamed the James and Susan Moeser Auditorium in honor of the former chancellor and his wife, who are organists and teachers at Carolina. As part of the opening celebration, CPA will feature returning favorites, string quartet Brooklyn Rider, joined by mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter.

Third Annual Curatorial Fellow

CPA’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Arts@TheCore initiative is now in its fourth year and is designed to integrate the performing arts into the academic work of the entire University. The Curatorial Fellowship is a component program that allows members of Carolina’s distinguished faculty to curate a series of performances that align with his/her own research. CPA will feature two works selected by its third Arts@TheCore Curatorial Fellow, GerShun Avilez. British performer Joe Sellman-Leava’s one-man show “Labels” explores mixed heritage, immigration and the bridges and barriers formed in a multicultural Britain. Shaina Lynn’s “Bayou Blues” questions the current impact of colonialism and race on communities of color in the United States.

Commissioned Works

CPA continues to commission new works and highlights two for the 2016-2017 season. The first is a work for Martha Graham Dance Company by Belgian/Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. The piece is inspired by Sufi poetry and accompanied by Turkish traditional music, in connection with “Sacred/Secular: A Sufi Journey.” The second commissioned work features dance/visual art team zoe | juniper’s “Clear & Sweet”—an inquiry into Sacred Harp singing.

Returning favorites in 2016-2017 include mandolinist Chris Thile, tap ensemble Dorrance Dance, string quartet Brooklyn Rider, Senegalese vocalist Youssou N’Dour, bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers, Carolina Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, jazz pianist/composer Vijay Iyer, Martha Graham Dance Company and Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov.

“One of the things the arts do best is reveal nuance and complexity,” said Kang. “Our 16/17 season sets us on the path to explore several important issues facing our society today.”

The season kicks off on Sept. 9 with “Mystical Music,” featuring Iranian master instrumentalist and composer Hossein Alizadeh.

Single tickets and subscriptions go on sale to the general public on June 8, 2016. For more details on the 2016-17 season, including ticket information and an interactive, digital brochure, please visit


2016-17 SEASON

Fall 2016

  • Sept. 9: “Mystical Music” – Hossein Alizadeh
  • Sept. 12: Chris Thile
  • Sept. 14 & 15: “ETM: Double Down” – Dorrance Dance
  • Sept. 18: “Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity” – Ping Chong + Company
  • Oct. 5 & 6: “Clear & Sweet” – zoe | juniper
  • Oct. 7: Brooklyn Rider with Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano
  • Oct. 14: Richard Thompson
  • Oct. 25: “Sufi Songs” – Youssou N’Dour
  • Oct. 28: “The House is Black” – Sussan Deyhim
  • Nov. 7: Isabelle Faust, violin and Alexander Melnikov, piano
  • Nov. 10: “portrait of myself as my father” – nora chipaumire
  • Nov. 11: Steep Canyon Rangers
  • Nov. 16 & 17: “Labels” – Joe Sellman-Leava
  • Dec. 3 & 4: “The Nutcracker” – Carolina Ballet
  • Dec. 8: China Philharmonic Orchestra, Long Yu, music director and conductor, Clara Yang, piano
  • Dec. 10: “Big Band Holidays”Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Catherine Russell, vocalist


Spring 2017

  • Jan. 13: Shemekia Copeland
  • Jan. 20: “Wayang Bocor” – Eko Nugroho
  • Jan. 27: Nani Topeng Losari
  • Feb. 1: Bruckner Orchester Linz Performs Philip Glass, Dennis Russell Davies, chief conductor, Robert McDuffie, violin
  • Feb. 3:  “Heroes Tribute”: A Celebration of the Music of Philip Glass, David Bowie and Brian Eno, featuring A Merge Records Group and UNC Symphony Orchestra with Tonu Kalam, conductor
  • Feb. 6: “The Complete Piano Etudes” by Philip Glass
  • Feb. 7: “Dance” – Lucinda Childs Dance Company
  • Feb. 9: “Dracula” – Philip Glass and Kronos Quartet, Michael Riesman, conductor
  • Feb. 10: “Words and Music in Two Parts” – Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson, featuring The Philip Glass Ensemble, Michael Riesman, music director and conductor
  • Feb. 17: Marcus Roberts and the Modern Jazz Generation
  • Feb. 23 & 24: “Bayou Blues” – Shaina Lynn
  • Feb. 27: Vienna Philharmonic, Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
  • Mar. 2: “Dara” – Ajoka Theatre
  • Mar. 3: Steve Earle
  • Mar. 7: Vijay Iyer Sextet
  • Mar. 8: Mark Padmore, tenor and Jonathan Biss, piano
  • Mar. 23 & 24: Martha Graham Dance Company
  • Mar. 31: Sounds of Kolachi
  • Apr. 5 & 6: San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, music director and conductor, Gautier Capuçon, cello
  • Apr. 12: Sanam Marvi
  • Apr. 14: J.S. Bach’s “St. John Passion”, Bach Collegium Stuggart and Gächinger Kantorei Hans-Christoph Rademann, music director and conductor
  • Apr. 18: Behzod Abduraimov, piano

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