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Harris Theater a cornucopia of music, dance for 2016-2017 season

Israel's Batsheva Dance Company will be part of the 2016-2017 season at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. (Photo: Gadi Dagon)

For all those in search of a cornucopia of international, national and local programming the Harris Theater for Music and Dance will be the place to go during the 2016-2017 season. Not only will there be two Chicago debuts by international companies, but the Harris will present seven Chicago premieres of new works, two Harris Theater commissions for Chicago-based dance companies, one world premiere, and five performances presented by the ever-popular Chamber Music of Lincoln Center.

In a prepared statement, Michael Tiknis, Harris Theater’s president and managing director (who will be leaving the job at the end of this year, after 13 years at the helm) noted: “Now that the Theater’s renovations and expansion are complete, our Imagine campaign has shifted its focus to furthering our artistic and programmatic excellence. This began with the installment of our first ever Choreographer in Residence, Brian Brooks, who will be creating a work for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Our upcoming season is full of both emerging artists who are the future of their craft, and household names who embody everything we love most about the arts.”

Here is a detailed look at what will be on tap during the 2016-2017 season:

A Peking opera style take on "Hamlet" will be part of the 2016-17 season at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. (Photo: Courtesy of Harris Theater)

A Peking opera style take on “Hamlet” will be part of the 2016-17 season at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. (Photo: Courtesy of Harris Theater)

+ Shanghai Jingju Theater Company in “The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan” (Sept. 28 and 29): Making its Chicago debut, this renowned company transforms Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” into one of China’s most impressive forms of traditional art, setting the story in the fictitious ancient Chinese state of the Red City. Here, as in Shakespeare’s classic, the prince becomes disillusioned after discovering his uncle has killed his father and seduced his mother. One of 10 key Peking opera troupes entitled by the China Ministry of Culture, the company is true to the stylized Chinese form of opera dating from the late 18th century in which speech, singing, mime, and choreographed movement are performed to an instrumental accompaniment. Yet it also makes efforts to modernize the form.

A dancer in Tim Rushton's "Black Diamond," to be performed by Danish Dance Theatre during the 2016-17 season of the Harris Theater for Musican and Dance. (Photo:

Tim Rushton’s “Black Diamond” will be performed by Danish Dance Theatre during the 2016-17 season of the Harris Theater for Musican and Dance. (Photo: Henrik Stenberg)

+ Danish Dance Theatre in “Black Diamond ” (Oct. 21 and 22): Also making its Chicago debut, this new piece by choreographer Tim Rushton conjures a conceptual and futuristic universe, with a focus on elaborate scenography and costumes. Created for Danish Dance Theatre’s 13 international dancers, it features the sounds of violinist Alexander Balanescu, the beat king Trentemøller, and the classic composer Philip Glass as small pockets of sound are created, and range from fragmented and noisy, to tempo-filled electronic beats, to lyrical and romantic tracks in this explorations of “the inherent duality of everything.”

+ Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s new Brian Brooks commission (Nov. 18): Hubbard Street will be the first of three companies to perform a newly commissioned work by Brian Brooks, the recently named Choreographer in Residence of the Harris Theater. Its debut will be part of Hubbard Street’s Fall engagement at the Harris (Nov. 17–20), with a program that will feature the 15th world premiere for the company by its resident choreographer, Alejandro Cerrudo, and two ensemble works by master dance-maker Jiří Kylián (“Sarabande” and “Falling Angels.”)

+ R.E.M.’s Mike Mills and Robert McDuffie in “Concerto for Violin, Rock Band, and String Orchestra” (Nov. 7): This Chicago premiere by Mills and McDuffie, is designed to blur the lines between contemporary classical and pop music. McDuffie has commissioned a new composition from R.E.M.’s Mills – a concerto with arrangements and additional music by David Mallamud – and it will feature McDuffie performing the solo violin part, a four-member rock band led by composer Mills (on bass and keyboard), along with two electric guitarists, and a drummer, who will perform with a string orchestra.

+ Joyce DiDonato in “In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music” (Dec. 9): In this Chicago premiere, vocalist DiDonato, who has starred at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as with the Berlin Philharmonic, explores the dichotomy of discord and harmony in times of war through her powerful interpretation of Baroque arias by such vocal masters as Monteverdi, Purcell, Handel, Leo, Jommelli, and others. DiDonato will be accompanied by Il Pomo d’Oro.

+ Batsheva Dance Company in “Last Work” (Jan. 27 and 28, 2017): This internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company from Israel, led by choreographer Ohad Naharin, will perform this piece by Naharin that “evoke states of pleasure, pain, madness and a kind of animality — a sheer state of being in the body — through movement.”

+ Bruckner Orchester Linz /Angelique Kidjo /Dennis Russell Davies (Feb. 3, 2017): A Chicago premiere with two-time Grammy Award winning vocalist Angélique Kidjo, known for her “striking voice, stage presence and fluency in multiple cultures and languages,” performing Philip Glass’ “Ifé, Three Yorùbá Songs.” She will be accompanied by Bruckner Orchester Linz, one of Central Europe’s leading orchestras comprised of 110 musicians in a program that also will include Gershwin’s “Porgy & Bess” (Suite-arr. Morton Gould), and Zemlinsky’s “Symphonische Gesänge op. 20” for Baritone (Martin Achrainer) and Orchestra “Africa Sings” (songs after poems by Langston Hughes).

Angelique Kidjo will appear on a program during the 2016-17 season at the Harris Theater of Music and Dance. (Photo: Courtesy of the Harris Theater)

Angelique Kidjo will appear on a program during the 2016-17 season at the Harris Theater of Music and Dance. (Photo: Courtesy of the Harris Theater)

+ Wendy Whelan, Brian Brooks, and Brooklyn Rider (Feb. 24): Under the umbrella title of “Some of a Thousand Words,” Wendy Whelan, past principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, and Brian Brooks, the Harris Theater’s newly instated Choreographer in Residence, will create a second project together with new solos and duets. The performance will feature the live musical stylings of string quartet Brooklyn Rider. The project will use existing music from composers John Luther Adams, Tyondai Braxton, Philip Glass, Evan Ziporyn and a new composition from Brooklyn Rider’s own Colin Jacobsen.

+ Visceral Dance Chicago (April 8, 2017): The Harris Theater will commission a new work choreographed by Nick Pupillo for his company, Visceral Dance, which, since its founding in 2013, has made an impressive mark at the Harris Theater. Visceral, whose rep includes works by Mónica Cervantes, Marguerite Donlon, Brian Enos, Robyn Mineko Williams, Harrison McEldowney, Fernando Melo, Ohad Naharin, Pupillo and others, will perform in five engagements at the Harris Theater during the 2016-17 season, including “SPRINGFOUR,” which will feature a work by Canadian-based choreographer Mark Godden.

+ Jessica Lang Dance in “The Wanderer” (May 3, 2017): This Chicago premiere, coming on the heels of last season’s world premiere of “Tesseracts of Time” (a work commissioned by the Harris Theater and the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial), conjures a wondrous, romantic world in the form of a contemporary story ballet that features sweeping choreography, imaginative set design, and music from Franz Schubert’s operatic song cycle, “Die schöne Müllerin,” to be performed live.

+ The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will present five concerts during the season, including one featuring the Emerson String Quartet, as follows:

+ “The Emerson at Forty” (Oct. 19, 2016): A tribute to the incomparable Emerson String Quartet, on the occasion of the ensemble’s 40th anniversary season, with a selection of repertoire (Beethoven, Bartok and Mendelssohn) that has earned the quartet its unrivaled nine Grammy Awards.

+ The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in the six “Brandenburg Concertos” (Dec. 19, 2016).

+ The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in “Mendelssohn on Fire” (Feb. 13, 2017), with works by Mendelssohn, Schubert and Mozart.

+ The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (with soprano Julia Bullock) in “Love Sonnets” (March 8, 2017), a program that will include works by César Franck, Maurice Ravel and Mendelssohn, along with a world premiere work (and Harris Theater commission) by Jonathan Berger based on a collection of the love sonnets of Petrarch.

+ The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in “Parisian Tableau” (March 29, 2017): This program, a French “music tasting menu” of works that will bridge France’s golden Baroque era with its flamboyant modern age, will include pieces by Leclair, Francaix, Ravel and Chausson.

For ticket information call (312) 224-7777 or visit http://www.HarrisTheaterChicago.org.