Performance Series at DAM Explores Culture and Diversity

‘Thoughtful introspection’ is one of the goals

Throughout its 100-plus-year history, the Delaware Art Museum has presented a myriad of dance, music and theater experiences, expanding upon its own programs and showcasing the broad artistic range in Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley.

Now, the museum’s new (yet-to-be-named at press time) performance series will double down on that commitment, while attracting artists and performances that are relevant to the diverse population in the area. The entire series will aim to address critical issues affecting our surrounding communities while pushing the boundaries of experimentation in performance arts.

“This series allows us to create connections and conversations among people who may not otherwise come into contact with one another,” says Jonathan Whitney, the museum’s manager of Performance Programs and Community Engagement. “We’re responding in real time to what’s happening in our city, our region and our nation through opportunities for thoughtful introspection.”

The menu of interdisciplinary programs ranges from the popular chamber music of Concerts on Kentmere to the fusion of modern dance, music, multimedia and sculpture works. Some of the series events feature outside-the-box performances by the likes of trumpet virtuoso Nicholas Payton (Feb. 8) and large-scale collaborations like the contemporary dance project Step Afrika!

The Step Afrika performance, called The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, will be co-presented with The Grand Opera House and Delaware State University (April 13).

The Step Afrika! project is inspired by Lawrence’s iconic paintings and combines body percussion and dance in a moving depiction of the migration north of African-Americans in the early 1900s. For this piece, the museum is also partnering with the Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education (DIAE) to bring three-day workshops to local elementary and middle schools.

“We encourage students to have a more in-depth art experience,” says Ashley SK Davis, DIAE artistic director and executive and artistic director for Pieces of a Dream, Inc. “Instead of students simply seeing a performance, we send our teaching artists to partner with schoolteachers. We work with the students to participate in art making, and through that experience help them develop a deeper understanding of the work they’ll experience.” Following the teaching artists, a performance artist will meet with the students and teach them to create a step dance similar to what they’ll see in the Step Afrika! performance.

According to museum staff, this first year of programming will see many presenters pushing the boundaries of their respective disciplines. In March, the museum presents Hand Eye, a performance from the multi-Grammy-winning sextet Eighth Blackbird (flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin and cello) at The Queen in Wilmington. The site-based dance performance, REPLICA, by choreographer and media artist Jonah Bokaer will be presented in the Copeland Sculpture Garden. In the summer, spoken-word and contemporary movement artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph will present /peh-LO-tah/, a groundbreaking hip-hop performance inspired by his memories of playing soccer as a child and his travels to World Cups in South Africa and Brazil. And in November, Bessie Award-winner Okwui Okpokwasili’s Poor People’s TV Room will consider the Nigerian histories of the Women’s War of 1929 and the 2014 kidnapping of nearly 300 girls by Boko Haram. Okpokwasili’s performance will be accompanied by outreach at the Cab Calloway School of the Arts.

“The museum is becoming more civically engaged,” says Sam Sweet, DAM’s executive director and CEO. But why bring in artists to present somewhere else? How does that come back to the museum? Sweet says he likes the idea of these partnerships and taking artists into neighborhoods where there is opportunity to create new audiences. “It will be up to us to get audiences to see these artists in venues where they live, but also to create incentives for them to come to the museum and discover what’s happening here,” he says.

To formally introduce the series, an exclusive preview party is planned for Thursday, Jan. 25, at 5 p.m. at the museum. The event will feature a sampling of the multidisciplinary works to be presented in the series.

Cultural Crossroads Honors 50 Years of Dr. King Legacy

Christina Cultural Arts Center’s student dance ensemble performs during a past Music School MLK & Black History Tribute program. Photo courtesy of The Music School of Delaware

The Music School of Delaware honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his death as part of its Cultural Crossroads series. On Friday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m., the school’s Wilmington Branch hosts its Martin Luther King Jr. & Black History Tribute—a celebration fusing music, art and spoken-word performances.

Cultural Crossroads Series Coordinator Chris Braddock calls this program one of his favorite Music School projects. “Needless to say, it’s an exciting one to presentdrawn from an endless reservoir of inspiring music and words,” he says.

This year’s event focuses on the social upheaval of the late 1960s brought to life through the stirring words of award-winning Delaware storyteller TAHIRA and the soulful music of local R&B artists Fuzion Sol. Audiences will also hear live readings from King’s illustrious “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, given the day before his 1968 assassination. Performances from the DuPont Diversity Choir, pianists Clarence and Jacqueline Beach Faulcon, and the Music School’s student rock ensemble (in a tribute to bluesman Robert Johnson) round out the event. Works from noted regional visual artist Dane Tilghman will be displayed on site as well.

All tickets for the event are $5 and can be purchased at musicschoolofdelaware.org.

Gamers’ & Musicians’ Worlds Collide

On Saturday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m., The Grand Opera House taps into your arcade memories of yesteryear with the one-night-only event Video Games Live. It’s an immersive concert reviving music from some of the most popular video games in our collective memory. The performance features several members of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra playing along with exclusive video footage, synchronized lighting, live action and interactive segments to create an explosive event worthy of any Missile Command battle. Music includes themes from then to now and from such iconic games as Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Frogger, Mario, Zelda,” “Tomb Raider, Assassins’ Creed and more.

The concept was created and produced by gaming industry veteran and video game composer Tommy Tallarico to support the culture and art that video games embody in the zeitgeist of the 1980s to now. The performance also bridges a generational gap in entertainment by exposing new audiences to the symphony orchestra experience while offering a unique musical event for families and non-gamers alike to enjoy.

Tickets range from $54-$62, with an additional “Ultimate Gamer VIP Experience” available that includes a pre-production tour, meet & greet with Tallarico and more. All are available now at thegrandwilmington.org.

A Toast to Holiday Events

We’ve compiled a list of every manner of merriment to help get you into the bell-ringing, carol-singing, candle-lighting, reindeer-sighting, eggnog-guzzling, mistletoe-nuzzling mood. Happy Holidays to all!

Longtime Holiday Traditions

Yuletide at Winterthur
Now–Jan. 8, 2017 | Winterthur Museum & Gardens
Yuletide is one of the most beautiful times at Winterthur, with tree displays adorning the rooms and the Conservatory; sparkling trees and American Christmas vignettes—scenes inspired by Currier & Ives, holiday decorations from Mississippi in the Civil War era and the White House in the early 1900s. New this year in The Galleries stair hall: a 6×3-foot, slate-roofed, fully electrified dollhouse inspired by Queen Mary’s dollhouse, created by Nancy McDaniel and donated to Winterthur.

A Longwood Christmas
Now–Jan. 8, 2017 | Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pa.
The sounds of the season resonate through the gardens in this year’s musically inspired display. Highlights include an 18-foot Fraser fir adorned with a garland of musical instruments in the Music Room; holiday horticulture showcasing more than 6,000 seasonal plants; organ sing-alongs, strolling carolers and performances throughout the estate; and three fire pits—at the Hour Glass Lake Pavilion, Peirce-du Pont House Plaza and Dogwood Plaza—available (weather permitting) for guests’ enjoyment from 4:30–10 pm.

Family Holiday Fun

Breakfast with Santa
Saturday, Dec. 3, 11 am | Delaware Museum of Natural History
Enjoy a special pancake breakfast and a visit with Santa. Get your picture taken with him and let him know if you’ve been naughty or nice. Afterward, take an afternoon tour at the Museum. Tickets are $5 for members and $9 for non-members. Pre-registration is required at delmnh.org.

Holiday Sing!
Sunday, Dec. 4, 3 pm | The Music School of Delaware, Wilmington Branch
This musical sing-a-long for the whole family is hosted by the Early Childhood Department of the Music School and marks their 26th annual seasonal celebration. Music School faculty and friends provide instruments, singing and fun. Free, and good for ages 1½ and up.

Chesapeake Brass Band
Holiday Concert
Saturday, Dec. 10, 7 pm
Grace Episcopal Church, Wilmington
This 35-piece award-winning brass band presents a high-spirited performance of classical, traditional and popular holiday favorites. This event is free.

Holiday Family Festivities at the Delaware Art Museum
Saturday, Dec. 10, 10:30 am
Delaware Art Museum
Enjoy a host of family-friendly activities at the Museum this holiday season. In Kids’ Corner, explore a geometric winter wonderland, add to the interactive igloo and build 3-D snowflakes. Families can also take a wintry walk through the Copeland Sculpture Garden to search for geometric shapes. Free with museum admission.

Legos & Latkes for Kids: A Pre-Chanukah Program
Sunday, Dec. 18, 12:15-2 pm
Chabad Center for Jewish Life, Wilmington
This popular, community-wide event helps parents and kids enter Chanukah with spirit—by making their own Lego Menorah and delicious latkes. Cost is $12-16 per Lego Menorah set, and online registration is required to guarantee a Menorah. Register at ChabadDE.com/register.

Chanukah Family Fun Festival
Tuesday, Dec. 27, 5-7 pm
Chabad Center for Jewish Life, Wilmington
Bring the whole family to this party, which will feature a public menorah lighting, a professional entertainer, a delicious Chinese buffet dinner, a moonbounce, games, Chanukah crafts, festive Jewish Music, face painting, prizes and more. Early-bird tickets (purchase before Dec. 23) are $20 for adults and $12 for kids. Register at ChabadDE.com/ChanukahEvents.

Holiday Theatrics

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!)
Friday, Dec. 2–Saturday, Dec. 10 | Chapel Street Players, Newark
Instead of performing Charles Dickens’ holiday classic for the umpteenth time, three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told—plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop culture, and carols too. A madcap romp through the holiday season! Tickets to $18.

Christmas by Candlelight
Now–Friday, Dec. 23 | The Candlelight Theater, Arden
Back by popular demand, this heartwarming yuletide celebration features some of your favorite holiday tunes performed by some of your favorite “Candlelighters.”

A Christmas Carol
Wednesday, Dec. 7–Friday, Dec. 30
Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington
Ebenezer Scrooge returns to the DTC stage as he transforms from a stingy miser to a man who generously celebrates the spirit of the season all year long. Don’t be left out in the cold for this stunning adaptation of a timeless holiday classic. Tickets are $40-50 and available at delawaretheatre.org.

Sparkling Holiday Dance

Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance —
50th Annual Nutcracker
Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4 | The Playhouse on Rodney Square
Kick off the season with one of Wilmington’s most enduring holiday traditions—the story of young Clara on Christmas night as she is tangled in a battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King in the Land of Sweets. Wilmington Ballet’s performance features New York City Ballet principal dancers Abi Stafford and Adrian Danchig-Waring as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Live music will be provided by the Wilmington Ballet Orchestra and Chorus, and the beloved Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble will perform. This year, Gov. Jack Markell and First Lady Carla Markell will make a cameo appearance in the Dec. 3 2 pm show to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

Christina Cultural Arts Center — Eleone Dance Theater’s 25th Anniversary of “Carols in Color”
Sunday, Dec. 11, 4 pm | The Grand Opera House
For a unique holiday treat, check out this one-day-only performance in Wilmington. “Carols” is a stirring holiday musical that retells the story of Christ’s birth according to the gospel of St. Matthew using contemporary music, exuberant dance and powerful narration. Tickets are $25-35, available at tickets.thegrandwilmington.org or 800.37GRAND.

First State Ballet Theatre — The Nutcracker
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2 and 7 pm and Sunday, Dec.18, 2 pm
The Grand Opera House, Wilmington
Delaware’s only professional ballet company presents Wilmington’s favorite holiday tradition, The Nutcracker. Experience the magical journey through the land of sweets in FSBT’s lavish production. Tickets are $14.99-45 and are available at tickets.thegrandwilmington.org or 800.37GRAND.

Do You Hear What I Hear? Holiday Music!
Thursday Noontime Concert — Cartoon Christmas Trio
Thursday, Dec. 1, 12:30 pm | First & Central Presbyterian Church, Rodney Square
Market Street Music welcomes back the Cartoon Christmas Trio for one of downtown’s favorite holiday traditions. Jazz music from the beloved cartoon “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will fill the sanctuary of First & Central. The concert is free to attend, but donations are gratefully accepted.

First State Symphonic Band Christmas Concert
Friday, Dec. 2, 7:30 pm | Emmanuel Presbyterian Church
First State Symphonic Band gets you into the season with some of the most popular holiday music—Tchaikovsky’s Suite from The Nutcracker, Symphonic Prelude on Adeste Fidelis and medleys of popular and traditional Christmas carols. The concert will conclude with the Leroy Anderson classics, “A Christmas Festival” and “Sleigh Ride.”

Festival Concert — Mastersingers of Wilmington Nativity Carols
Saturday, Dec. 3, 7:30 pm | First & Central Presbyterian Church, Rodney Square
Market Street Music’s holiday concert features its own Mastersingers with conductor David Schelat and organist Marvin Mills. Their program includes music by Marvin Mills, Neil Harmon, Paul Manz, Jonathan Dove and more. Tickets are $20 ($25 at the door) and are available at marketstreetmusicde.org.

A Jazz Christmas — featuring The Wilson Somers Trio
Sunday, Dec. 4, 7:30 pm | Laird Performing Arts Center at The Tatnall School
Emmy Award-winning composer and pianist Wilson Somers leads his jazz trio—Somers on piano; Pete Paulson, contrabass, and Glenn Ferricone, percussion—along with guest artists Ed Kirkpatrick, tenor saxophone; Wes Morton, vibes; The Tatnall Singers and singer Annie Fitch in traditional and contemporary treatments of holiday favorites, all to benefit Family Promise of Northern New Castle County. Tickets are $15-20 and are available through the event Facebook page, facebook.com/jazzchristmas.

An All-Star Christmas
Sunday, Dec. 4, 8 pm | World Cafe Live at The Queen, Wilmington
A star-studded seasonal celebration featuring regional music scene faves Jimmy McFadden, Kevin Walsh, Billy Penn Burger, Steve Prentice, Samantha Desper Poole, Chris Duncan, Ritchie Rubini and Tony Cappella. Tickets are $12 and are available at ticketfly.com.

The Wilmington Children’s Chorus Annual Candlelight Holiday Concert
Saturday, Dec. 10, 7 pm & Sunday, Dec. 11, 5 pm | First & Central Presbyterian, Rodney Square
Join the Wilmington Children’s Chorus as they celebrate the season, showcasing holiday music from around the world. The performance features all 150 members of the Youth Choirs, Select Choir, Young Men’s Ensemble and Chamber Choir at First and Central Presbyterian Church. Tickets are $10-$20; call 763-3637 to order.

Holiday Choral Concert
Sunday, Dec. 11, 4 pm | St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Wilmington
The Music School of Delaware’s Delaware Women’s Chorus and Adult Jazz Choir join the Choir from St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, singers from New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church and Brandywine Brass in performance. Music for chorus, chorus with brass quintet and brass quintet alone will round out the program. A community carol sing will follow the concert. Admission is a non-perishable food item.

Thursday Noontime Concert — Center City Chorale’s Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day
Thursday, Dec. 15, 12:30 pm | First & Central Presbyterian Church, Rodney Square
Market Street Music continues its musical holiday celebration with delightful carol arrangements sung by Wilmington’s Downtown Choir, including brilliant arrangements of well-known carols by Howard Helvey. Guest pianists Neil Harmon and Hiroko Yamazaki join the chorale. The concert is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

Halls that Are Decked

Rockwood Holiday Open House
Friday, Dec. 2, 6 pm | Rockwood Museum
There’s something for the entire family at the 16th Annual Holiday Open House: live entertainment, children’s activities, refreshments, free photos with Santa, museum tours and a festive light display in the gardens of the Mansion and Carriage House; and New Castle County Youth Entrepreneur’s Secret Santa Shoppe, selling gifts for the whole family. Entertainment includes Delaware Arts Conservatory performing excerpts from The Snow Queen; Delaware Children’s Theatre performing a preview of Willy Wonka; the Imagination Players; Kathryn Ciminello Dance Troupe; Cab Calloway Middle School choirs; the UD Children’s Choir and more. The event is free to attend, but families are asked to bring a nonperishable food item or new mittens, hats or scarves for the Giving Tree.

Holiday House Tour
Saturday, Dec. 10, 9 am | Delaware Art Museum
The Museum’s holiday house tour enters its 30th year. Start at the museum with artisan shopping followed by a tour of historic Greenville houses decked out for the holidays. Homes open at 10 am. Proceeds benefit the Museum’s educational programs. Tickets range from $25-60 and are available at DelArtHolidayHouseTour.org.

Old Fashioned Christmas at Bellevue Mansion
Now – Dec. 18, 10 am-4 pm | Bellevue State Park
Step back in time into the beautifully decorated Bellevue Mansion at Bellevue State Park. Visit with Father Christmas, sit and listen to the storyteller, view the train display, custom-designed for the holiday by the First State Model Railroad Club. The Mansion provides not only an old-fashioned experience but also many holiday picture-taking and “selfie” opportunities. Tickets are $15 (children under 2 admitted free) and are available at eventbrite.com.

Hagley Twilight Tours
Tuesdays & Wednesdays, Dec.13-14 through Dec. 27-28, 4:30-7 pm
Hagley Museum
Enjoy a rare opportunity to see Eleutherian Mills—the first du Pont family home in America—dressed for the holidays with softly glowing lights, lace, fresh greenery, poinsettias, and dried flower arrangements. Admission is free for members and $10 for non-members. Space is limited and reservations are required. Call 658-2400, ext. 261.

Holiday Greens Workshop
Saturday, Dec. 3, 9 am | Delaware Center for Horticulture, Wilmington
Add sparkle and beauty to your holiday decorations at the annual Holiday Greens Workshop. Create a beautiful wreath or table arrangement from an unusual collection of fresh greens, dried flowers, seeds, fruit and ribbon. Experts will be on hand to provide guidance. Bring hand pruners and gloves to work with prickly materials. Tickets are $45 for members and $55 for non-members. Space is limited, so reserve by calling 658-6262.