A preview of Orcas Center’s upcoming season of music, theatre, and more
- Submitted by: manso
- Editorial Articles
- 01 / 05 / 2011
By MEREDITH GRIFFITH. Islands Sounder Reporter. Today, 2:13 PM. Orcas Center is ready to take audiences for a whirl around the world in 2011, filling the center stage with culture and music from Mexico, Canada, Africa, Cuba, Scotland and Hawaii. There will be some good dashes of Orcas Island talent, too.
The season opens Jan. 28 with the return of Mariachi Huenachi, an award-winning mariachi band from Wenatchee. The music is spunky, brassy and playful, an authentic taste of Mexico. Many of the 300 families touched by the program work in agriculture and live in poverty. Director Ramon Rivera says the music keeps kids in school and out of gangs, while tours allow the kids to preview universities. For many, the songs also resonate with their Hispanic culture, providing a connection with their parents and grandparents.
Next up is dynamic Canadian fiddler, singer and stepdancer April Verch and her band on Feb. 12, playing original tunes in the musical tradition of the Ottawa Valley, Ontario. The show promises fresh songs from Verch, whose pixie face, lively feet and nimble fingers have entranced Orcasites in past years.
In March, Afro-Cuban songstress and ethnomusicologist Bobi Céspedes will perform rhythmic, mellow folk reminiscent of her heritage. Cespedes sings in Spanish, English or the West African Yoruban language Lucumi, backed by conguero, timbales, bongo, bass and flute.
Hawaiian hit group HAPA will perform on July 8. New Jersey-born Barry Flanigan and O’ahu-born Charles Ka’upu draw on traditional Polynesian chant, adding playful modern touches to create unique melodies.
October brings the delightfully thick brogue of Scotland as the United Kingdom’s Battlefield Band returns with Scottish West Highland traditional music. The band brings toe-tapping fiddle, lively guitar, bagpipes and keyboard, with vocals in English and Gaelic.
Orcas Island talent this year includes Caleb Klauder and His Country Band in April. In October the Orcas Horns will share the stage with Lorraine Feather, a recent Grammy nominee who will swing out ragtime-inspired tunes along with rising stride piano sensation Stephanie Trick. Carolyn Cruso will also perform an intimate show in the OffCenter Stage.
Other highlights include Doktor Kaboom! who will perform a live, interactive science show as part of the March Science Fair Weekend, the Academy Chamber Orchestra returning in April, and the Diamonds, who will play at Orcas Center’s annual summer gala. The Midnight Mystery Radio Players will perform in August.
Other events include the annual Crossroads lecture series, the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival and performances by the Orcas Island Community Band and Orcas Choral Society. Two local artist showcases are scheduled in the OffCenter Stage; all artists who want to participate are encouraged to contact curator Carolyn Cruso ([email protected]).
For more information, as well as video previews of Orcas Center’s 2011 season performers, visit www.orcascenter.org. Beginning Jan. 1, tickets may be purchased online or from the box office Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.
Orcas Center says goodbye to long-time director Barbara Courtney
Orcas Center’s outgoing Executive/Artistic Director Barbara Courtney will assume her new position as director of philanthropy at the San Juan Preservation Trust on Jan. 11. Orcas Center has yet to appoint her successor.
Courtney said she is ready to move on to a different set of challenges, and feels change is healthy.
She said what she’s most proud of are “the efforts we made to truly reach the entire community, by offering ‘something for everyone’, I feel that we’ve expanded the breadth of the audience; the arts education project; and I didn’t get chased out of the job!”
Courtney was hired at Orcas Center in 2005, and that year worked with the center’s board and community to develop priorities for the center. The resulting strategic plan continues to steer the organization’s programming and operations. One result of the plan was the Orcas Arts Education Project, which provides dance and theatre instruction to K-8 grade students. Courtney has obtained and managed two major capacity-building grants from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and reports that Orcas Center is currently financially healthy.
“For the past three years, attendance at events has been at a record 70 to 75 percent of capacity,” she said.
Board president Eska Wilson and vice president Dimitri Stankevich are on a five-member committee now completing the search for Courtney’s replacement. There will be “community conversations” for each of the three final candidates on Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday, January 11, 12 and 13, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on the CenterStage.
The Orcas Center Board invites community members to a reception honoring Courtney on Friday, Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. in the Madrona Room. The reception will precede the 2011 season opening performance of Wenatchee high school mariachi ensemble Mariachi Huenachi.