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Last modified: Monday, February 6, 2006

Arts set to take over "Our Town"

World premiere of new opera by Ned Rorem highlights annual campus-community arts festival

Feb. 3, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The world premiere of an opera written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and based on a timeless American classic. Concerts by such touring headliners as the Urban Bush Women and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Literary readings featuring several of the nation's top poets and novelists.

Indiana University's thriving -- and ever-growing -- arts scene will be in full bloom during ArtsWeek, the annual campus-community arts festival in Bloomington, Ind., now celebrating its 22nd year.

ArtsWeek 2006, which will be held from Feb. 23 to March 5, will offer audiences a cornucopia of opportunities to experience the best and most exciting creative work on and around campus and in the community.

The world premiere of Ned Rorem's opera "Our Town," based on the quintessential American drama by Thornton Wilder, is the centerpiece of ArtsWeek 2006.

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This year's celebration includes the world premiere of Ned Rorem's opera Our Town, based on Thornton Wilder's quintessential American drama, as well as a new community art project, a nightly salon, concerts by the renowned dance troupe Urban Bush Women and Grammy-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo, theater and dance events, film showings, gallery exhibitions, literary readings, lectures, workshops and master classes.

"Every year we are expanding ArtsWeek to take full advantage of the remarkable talent, the strong organizing and presenting groups, and the fine facilities Bloomington has to offer," said festival coordinator Michael Wilkerson. "ArtsWeek is not only a 10-day festival in which everyone can find multiple performances and exhibits to enjoy, but also a model for campus-community collaboration."

This year, Wilkerson said, "the world premiere of Our Town gives us an opportunity to celebrate something unique, and at the same time to showcase much of what makes Bloomington increasingly a cultural destination."

The renowned Urban Bush Women will perform at the IU Auditorium on Feb. 28.

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The world premiere of Our Town, by Pulitzer Prize-winning and Hoosier-born composer Ned Rorem, is the centerpiece of ArtsWeek and one of the most important performances to take place at IU's Jacobs School of Music in the school's illustrious history. IU Opera Theater, the foremost collegiate opera program in the nation, will present the premiere of Our Town, with libretto by celebrated American poet and writer J.D. McClatchy, on Feb. 24. Additional performances are scheduled for Feb. 25 and March 3-4 in the Musical Arts Center on the IU Bloomington campus.

McClatchy, who will give a poetry reading at IU Bloomington on Feb. 25, is one of several esteemed writers who will visit Bloomington during the ArtsWeek festivities. Others include Marianne Boruch, Adam Langer, Campbell McGrath, John Villani and Mary Kay Zuravleff.

A gala opening reception for ArtsWeek 2006 will be held in the Musical Arts Center lobby on Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, will precede the world premiere of Our Town.

Highlights of ArtsWeek2006 include:

  • A performance by the Larry Coryell Trio featuring bassist Mark Egan, drummer Paul Wertico and influential jazz guitarist Larry Coryell at the John Waldron Arts Center Auditorium on Feb. 23.
  • A performance of Oliver Goldsmith's English comedy She Stoops to Conquer at the IU Theatre and Drama Department's Ruth N. Halls Theatre on Feb. 24-25 and Feb. 27 to March 4.
  • A performance by the critically acclaimed dance ensemble Urban Bush Women, which seeks to bring the untold and undertold histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance, at the IU Auditorium on Feb. 28.
  • B'town Plays, three new original works by Bloomington playwrights, on Feb. 28 through March 2 at several Bloomington eateries and March 3-4 at the Bloomington Playwrights Project.
  • A music and dance celebration of "Bloomington in the Jazz Age" and the music of Hoagy Carmichael with jazz pianist Monika Herzig, her trio and dancer Allana Radecki at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on March 1.
  • A performance by the ViVaCe String Trio with forte pianist Edmund Battersby at the IU Jacobs School of Music's Auer Hall on March 2.
  • A poetry reading with celebrated writers Marianne Boruch and Campbell McGrath at the John Waldron Arts Center on March 2.
  • A concert by Grammy Award-winning South African a cappella troupe Ladysmith Black Mambazo, renowned for their famous collaboration with Paul Simon on his landmark Graceland album, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on March 3.
  • A nightly "Salon" featuring experimental and new arts presentations, workshops and performances at "The Lodge" on Sixth and Walnut streets from Feb. 23 to March 5, including the closing gala featuring acclaimed writers Mary Kay Zuravleff and Adam Langer on March 5 at 2 p.m.
  • "Directionals," a community collaborative art project under the direction of local sculptor Joe LaMantia from Feb. 23 to March 5 at various city locations.

IU jazz pianist Monika Herzig will lead a celebration of "Bloomington in the Jazz Age" and the music of Hoagy Carmichael.

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Most ArtsWeek events are free and require no tickets. Tickets for other events may be purchased from individual venues. For a full schedule of all ArtsWeek events and information on participants, venues and parking, visit the ArtsWeek 2006 Web site at

For more information about the world premiere of Ned Rorem's new opera Our Town, go to

For information about specific arts groups or programs, contact Michael Wilkerson at 812-856-1745 or