(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Diversity is the theme of the 2012-13 season of MCLA Presents!, with performances including Cuban percussion, Haitian rhythms, folk, rock, blues, gospel, Broadway, spoken word, and a performance of an American classic by an Irish actor, bringing an international lineup of musical and theatrical talent to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and other nearby venues. Performers include Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez, Ragganga singer-songwriter BélO, Canadian vocal group Dala, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Maya Azucena, New Orleans funk ensemble Khris Royal and Dark Matter, lap-steel guitarists the Campbell Brothers, and Irish actor Connor Lovett in a one-man performance of the great American novel, Moby-Dick.
“MCLA Presents! once again is thrilled to share with North Adams performers from around the campus, around the block and around the world,” said Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at MCLA. “With artists coming from New York and New Orleans, Cuba and Haiti, Ireland and Canada – and of course our own talented local musicians and students – MCLA students and their neighbors throughout the Berkshires will see, hear and feel a wonderfully diverse and talented group of performers.”
The season will kick off on Saturday, September 15, 2012, at 3 p.m. in the MCLA Quad with Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez and his Afro-Cuban/Afro-Beat band. A native of Havana, Cuba, Martinez is a conga player, singer and bandleader who tours with artists such as the Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson and Ray Charles. Deeply rooted in Afro-Cuban Rumba tradition, the Pedrito Martinez Group will bring a new mix of music to MCLA’s campus with bata rhythms and vocal chants of the music of Yoruba and Santeria.
Then, on Thursday, October 4, 2012, at 8 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center, and on Friday, Oct. 5, at 8 p.m. at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, the Gare St. Lazare Players of Ireland return to MCLA Presents! With internationally renowned actor, Connor Lovett, in a one-man performance of the great American novel, Moby-Dick.
BélO, a young, socially conscious singer-songwriter, and his band will deliver a high-energy mix of jazz, world beat, rock, reggae, and Afro-Haitian traditional rhythm known as “Ragganga” to the MCLA Church Street Center on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, at 8 p.m.
A taste of Broadway comes to the Berkshires on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, at 8 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center when NYC’s original, award-winning, improvised comedy, “Broadway’s Next H!t Musical” comes to the MCLA campus. The only unscripted theatrical awards show of its kind, “Broadway’s Next H!t Musical” takes song suggestions from the audience, as improvisers create a spontaneous evening of music, humor and laughter. Then, the audience votes for their favorite song and watches as the cast turns it into a full-blown musical – complete with memorable characters, witty dialogue and multiple plot twists.
Dala presents its “Very Special Holiday Show” on Thursday, December 13, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. in MCLA Gallery 51 in downtown North Adams. Brought back to MCLA Presents! by popular request, best friends Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine of Dala will perform harmonies and acoustic pop music. This duo have released five albums and toured much of North America, spreading their love of American folk and rock music. Juno nominees and winners of the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, Dala will bring familiar songs that make the holidays special. Melody Rolph ’12 will open for Dala.
The Eighth Annual MCLA Blues and Funk Festival will present two nights of music. Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Maya Azucena will return to campus on Friday, February 1, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in the MCLA Venable Gymnasium. With Azucena’s music, the worlds of blues, funk, hip hop, soul, reggae, and pop join forces with her profound lyrics, melodies, and irresistible rhythms. Whether performing before an audience of thousands or writing in solitude, Maya transcends genres and trends and sings on the universal themes of love, survival, and hope to inspire and empower her audience.
Khris Royal and Dark Matter will perform on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, the second night of the festival, also in the MCLA Venable Gymnasium, at 7:30 p.m. Electronic saxophonist Khris Royal, one of the talented acts from the revitalized New Orleans music scene, is ready to bring his searing, New Orleans alternative funk to MCLA for an energetic and fun night of dancing. Royal and Dark Matter, who debuted at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, have shared the stage with hip-hop giants and jazz and funk legends such as Lettuce, Trombone Shorty, George Porter Jr., and more.
Also returning to MCLA Presents! will be the Margaret A. Hart ’35 Scholarship Concert, this season featuring the Campbell Brothers, with guest openers Harold “Zion” Edwards and MCLA’s own Allegrettos. The performance will take place on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center. The Campbell Brother band, which has been playing together for nearly two decades, is known for their unique playing of steel lap guitars. The family, rounded out by gospel vocalist Katie Jackson, combines traditional African-American gospel music with the electric steel guitars and vocal. The show’s opener, Edwards, is a minister and gospel rap artist. Named the
Holy Hip Hop Artist in 2004, he travels nationally, teaching and ministering, and is the founder of Christ Centered Music Ministries. All proceeds from this event will benefit the Margaret A. Hart ’35 Scholarship.
On Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at 7 p.m., MCLA Presents! will devote an evening of poetry and the spoken word in remembrance of poet Sekou Sundiata. A Harlem-born, African-American poet, activist and performer, Sundiata’s voice became iconic as his words were always full of honesty, warm-heartedness, comedy, righteous anger and longing, Secor said. “Sekou Sundiata Evening of Spoken Word and Poetry” will feature students from MCLA and Williams College, who will perform their own contemporary poetry and spoken word.
MCLA will also present the Fourth Annual PAM! Show, on Saturday, May 5, 2013. With further details to be announced in the spring, the annual PAM! Show has become the highlight of arts management students’ scholastic career at MCLA. The PAM! Show is entirely programmed and produced by the spring 2013 performing arts management class, under the guidance of Secor, adjunct arts management professor.
Admission to the Seventh Annual MCLA Blues and Funk Festival are specially priced at $15 for both nights. All other ticket prices to MCLA Presents! performances are $10 for general admission. Tickets for MCLA alumni are $8, $5 for staff and faculty, and members and students are free. Tickets may be reserved by calling MCLA Presents! at 413.662.5204.
MCLA Presents! is a program of MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), a collaborative project with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and the City of North Adams. The BCRC provides professional development training, resources and support to the artists, art managers and creative workers of Berkshire County. Through its multiple programs and presentations, BCRC brings the best of performance and art to the Berkshires and showcases the best of the Berkshires to the world.