December 08, 2014, BY Kathryn Kopchik

Nearly 600 people enjoyed listening and dancing to Slavic Soul Party at the Weis Center's season opener.

The fall 2014 season at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University included 19 performances, five of which were free, and drew in nearly 10,000 patrons from September through early December.

Since September, the Weis Center has offered between four and seven professional performances each month, including world music, blues, bluegrass, modern dance, jazz, classical, multimedia presentations, Americana/folk, and family-friendly events.

Throughout the fall season, the Weis Center activated four spaces: the Weis Center's 1,200 seat auditorium, the Weis Center lobby, the Weis Center outdoor plaza, and the Campus Theatre in downtown Lewisburg.

While visiting Central Pennsylvania, Weis Center artists often interact with the Bucknell and greater Lewisburg communities. This fall, eight performing arts ensembles including musicians, dancers, and actors engaged in nearly 20 residency and outreach activities: pre-performance lectures, classes for Bucknell students, dinners, and post-show receptions with patrons.

In addition to a professional staff of six, the Weis Center employs 22 student ushers across 15 majors who worked an estimated 520 hours in the fall. Backstage, the Weis Center employs 32 student technicians across 19 majors who worked more than 1,300 hours in the fall.

Kathryn Maguet, executive director of the Weis Center, said, "The fall Weis Center season has delivered a number of transformative and memorable moments to Central Pennsylvania audiences including our season opener on the plaza, Slavic Soul Party, the joyful and emotionally charged Preservation Hall Jazz Band with legendary pianist Allen Toussaint, Lancaster's up and coming The Stray Birds at the Campus Theatre, the King of Bluegrass Sam Bush and the brilliant Russian State Symphony Orchestra with Vladimir Feltsman.

"We're thrilled with the regional response to our programs and look forward to continuing our work of bringing artists from all over the world to the Weis Center. It's a privilege and an honor to continue the Weis Center's history of artistic excellence," she said.

Some highlights from the Weis Center's fall season included:

  • A sold-out performance by Lancaster-based Americana/folk trio The Stray Birds at the Campus Theatre.
  • A free outdoor concert on the Weis Center Plaza by Slavic Soul Party, a Balkan brass band from New York City, which drew an estimated 600 people and included folk dance instruction and the Flying Bison food truck.
  • A nearly sold-out performance by the 90-member Russian State Symphony Orchestra that included not one, but two encores.
  • A nearly sold-out performance by New Orleans legends Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted singer, pianist, songwriter, and producer Allen Toussaint. While at the Weis Center, they performed many of Toussaint's classics, including "Southern Nights" and "Working in a Coal Mine."
  • A rousing bluegrass concert by the King of Newgrass Sam Bush Band during Homecoming weekend. The encore featured the band members in Halloween costumes and got the crowd on their feet.
  • Blues enthusiasts drove from as far south as suburban Washington, D.C., to hear a free blues performance by Guy Davis in the Weis Center's lobby.
  • Southern blues/rock and roll band North Mississippi Allstars enjoyed performing so much that they decided to come off the stage and perform percussion instruments in the aisles of the auditorium to a lively Family Weekend crowd.
  • More than 650 youth and teachers from Lewisburg, Milton and Muncy school districts as well as Mifflinburg and Greenwood Friends School came to a matinee of The Intergalactic Nemesis, a comic book coming to life on the stage.
  • Weis Center patrons participated in two service projects for the holiday season — sending holiday cards to military heroes in conjunction with the military-inspired multimedia performance Basetrack and a canned food drive for Union County Children & Youth Services in conjunction with a free kids' matinee by Parallel Exit.

Corporate sponsors make it possible
The Weis Center is grateful to its more than 35 corporate sponsors who make the 2014-15 series a reality. Series Sponsors include: Bucknell Sports Properties, Cumulus Radio, The Daily Item, Entercom, First Community Foundation Partnership of PA, Max Media of Pennsylvania, Sunbury Broadcasting, Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Susquehanna Life, WITF, WNEP-TV and WVIA Public Media.

Event Sponsors include: Backyard Broadcasting, Bucknell's Office of Alumni Relations, Coldwell Banker Penn One Real Estate, Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau and the Susquehanna River Arts initiative, iHeartMedia, PPL and its affiliates, RiverWoods, The Standard Journal, and WXPN.

Mezzanine Level Sponsors include: The Press Enterprise, ViaMedia and WYOU-TV/WBRE-TV. Dining Sponsors include: Mercado Burrito, Lewisburg Hotel, Siam Restaurant and Bar, and SweetFrog. Family Sponsors include: Douglas and Mary Candland, Nancy and Sam Craig, Bob and Dede Gronlund, Clayton and David Lightman, and Gary and Sandy Sojka.

The Weis Center also received major Foundation Support from the PA Council on the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the U.S. Department of State/CenterStage.

Coming in the spring
The spring 2015 season continues with 15 events including music and dance from across the United States and around the world. The events include world music, modern dance and contemporary ballet, jazz, classical, multimedia, soul, and two more events in the Family Discovery Series.

The majority of Weis Center tickets range in price from $10 to $25, with discounts available for senior citizens, college students, groups and youth. Advance tickets can be charged at bucknell.edu/BoxOffice or by calling 570-577-1000. Tickets also are available in person from the Weis Center lobby weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the CAPS Center Box Office, located on the ground floor of the Elaine Langone Center, weekdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about the 2014-15 Series, go to bucknell.edu/WeisCenter or facebook.com/WeisCenter, or contact Lisa Leighton, marketing and outreach director, at 570-577-3727 or by email at lisa.leighton@bucknell.edu.

(Click on any image for a larger view.)

Photos from the fall season

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