Arts Devo

Looking ahead to a new season of performances at Chico State

Terry Riley

Terry Riley

The university provides The wait is over. Starting today, local performing-arts enthusiasts—namely those members, donors and sponsors of Chico Performances who are invited to today’s private preview party—can start building their calendars for a new season of arts events coming to Chico State. Tickets go on sale Aug. 6 (members/donors), Aug. 11 (series tix) and Aug. 20 (single tix).

Arts DEVO won’t give too much away before the “official” public announcement (July 26). But I do have to share a few of the shows coming to the Laxson Auditorium stage that got the ol’ Energy Dome vibrating.

First, the most kick-ass surprise of all is the inclusion of some of Chico’s own on the roster of world-class talent. In addition to the usual Uncle Dad’s Art Collective large-scale, multidiscipline tribute production (this year featuring the music of Madonna for three nights, Jan. 24-26), there are two “Chico Voices” shows dedicated to local musicians. The fall semester installment features beloved folk/gospel duo MaMuse (with Sac singer/songwriter Hannah Mayree opening) on Sept. 8, and for the spring semester, two troubadours, Pat Hull and Hannah Jane Kile, get a turn on the big stage on Feb. 23. Chico represent!

Of the “big-name” performers on the schedule, the most interesting for me is probably the evening with a couple of Texas’ favorite songwriters, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen (Nov. 30). And, as previously reported here, folk icon Joan Baez will be hitting town (Nov. 2) as part of her huge Fare Thee Well tour.

Other noteworthy music acts include super-badass, old-time Appalachian music throwback Ken Waldman, aka Alaska’s fiddler poet (March 12); and a couple of the best bands going—L.A.-based American roots orchestra Dustbowl Revival and Texas western-swing trio Hot Club of Cowtown—celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Band by performing tunes from the grioup’s first two, and most celebrated, albums, Music From Big Pink and The Band (March 29).

And as usual, there are many very compelling speakers giving presentations, including photographer Anand Varma’s National Geographic Live talk, “Beauty and the Bizarre” (Nov. 7), and author Tim Hernandez’s lecture on his book All They Will Call You, this year’s Book in Common, which was inspired by the story behind Woody Guthrie’s lyrics to “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” (March 13).

Of course, Chico Performances isn’t the only game on campus. The School of the Arts is putting the finishing touches on its schedule of music, theater and art, and I got a sneak peak of what the faculty and students have in store, including some promising theatrical/musical productions—A Charlie Brown Christmas (Nov. 29-Dec. 2); a large-stage opera production of Our Town (Jan. 25-26); magical realism of the Amazon in The River Bride (April 4-7)—and the rad looking Sinfonia Spirituosa, a Baroque orchestra using period instruments for the opening night performance (March 9) at the annual Chico Bach Fest.

But probably the most exciting thing coming to Chico State for the 2018-19 school year is experimental/classical/jazz music legend Terry Riley, the minimalist pioneer whose name is checked in the title of The Who’s song “Baba O’Riley” (and whose style is copped in the song’s overlapping repetitive organ lines). As the visiting guest for the School of the Arts’ annual New Music Symposium, Riley will be performing his signature work, “In C,” with students and faculty of the music department (Feb. 28) as well as joining Grammy-winning pianist Gloria Cheng for both an afternoon talk and an evening performance of Riley’s works (March 1). This is a pretty big deal!