LEWISBURG - As per their usual eclectic standards, the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, 1 Dent Drive, at the Bucknell University campus, is offering a diverse, multicultural experience with their 2014-15 season.
The 33-event season - six of which are free - includes something for everyone, featuring artistic and musical performances of genres of all types; blues, modern dance, classical, folk, bluegrass, multimedia presentations and more. Also returning is the Family Discovery Series for children and families.
Why bring such diverse artistic performances to central Pennsylvania?
The 2014-15 Weis Center schedule features many eclectic shows. From top, the Sam Bush Band; the Preservation Hall Jazz Band; the Peking Acrobats; Intergalactic Nemesis; and the Nellie McKay Turtle Island String Quartet. Inset, Kyle Abraham In Motion.
For Weis Center's executive director, Kathryn Maguet, it's a no-brainer - and it's more than just to give people something to do. It's more broad and profound than that.
Having grown up in the Midwest, Maguet had access to "all kinds of art forms at a very early age." The experience, she said, "opened up all kinds of opportunities and possibilities for me - it literally shaped my life's path."
Maguet only hopes, through the Weis Center multicultural and artistic performances, to spread the same sort of inspiration that she received when she was young.
"I feel very strongly about this kind of work and the impact that it can have on a community through the powerful exchange of arts and ideas," Maguet said.
Additionally, the goal for the Weis Center as a whole is to "build bridges in our community."
Maguet believes that the center creates opportunities for patrons to touch an artist's creative spirit, and furthermore, provide opportunities for the artists and performers to learn from the audience.
"We know that these experiences touch us in ways we don't (understand), at times when we least expect it, with an effect we might not realize for days, weeks or even years," she said.
The center holds a special event to kick off a new season every year with a free outdoor concert on the Weis Center Plaza.
This year, patrons will be treated on a Friday night to Slavic Soul Party, a Balkan brass band from New York City, New York. The show starts at 6 p.m. on Sept. 5.
It's a great pick to kick off the season, as the band, in a way, encompasses the eclecticism that Weis Center strives to offer.
The band is comprised of nine musicians, who "have created an acoustic mash-up of Balkan and gypsy sounds with North American music, weaving the gospel, funk, dubb jazz and Latin influences of New York neighborhoods" according to the New York Times.
Maguet calls the annual kick off a "great event for both the campus and the community."
"People bring their lawn chairs, picnics and enjoy the music of a terrific band," she said, adding that this year, attendees should "bring your dancing shoes."
Maguet discussed her process of picking performances: "I'm always looking for the best possible and most relevant artists to bring to the Weis Center each year. The process involves evaluating hundreds of possibilities and coordinating touring schedules with the university calendar. We try to program a couple of events on specific days such as Homecoming and Family Weekend but mostly I program a wide variety of artists who will have some appeal to our audiences."
Ticket sales begin on Aug. 28. Find more information about tickets at bucknell.edu/WeisCenter; facebook.com/WeisCenter; bucknell.edu/BoxOffice; or by calling 570-577-1000.
"It's exciting to be part of an organization that creates memorable and eye-opening experiences for both the artists and the audience," Maguet said.
Highlights from the Weis Center's schedule:
Americana/folk music from The Stray Birds on Oct. 22, bluegrass music from Sam Bush Band on Oct. 31, and soul singer-songwriter Raul Midon on Feb. 11.
Blues by Guy Davis Trio on Sept. 10 and southern blues/rock and roll by North Mississippi Allstars on Sept. 26.
World music including Arabic music from Simon Shaheen on Nov. 19, Celtic holiday music from Lunasa and Karan Casey on Dec. 4, Ukrainian music from DakhaBrakha on April 1 and Malian guitarist Fatoumata Diawara on April 15.
Classical music from clarinetist Narek Arutyunian on Sept. 21, Brentano String Quartet on Oct. 4, Nellie McKay and Turtle Island Quartet on Nov. 7, Russian State Symphony Orchestra on Nov. 15, Nordic Voices on Feb. 15 and Trio Solisti on Feb. 22.
New Orleans music by Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Allen Toussaint on Oct. 17 and Hot 8 Brass Band on Jan. 23.
Modern dance by Mark Morris Dance Group on Oct. 24, Kyle Abraham Dance on Oct. 28, Jessica Lang Dance on Jan. 31, and BalletX on Feb. 7.
A Family Discovery Series that includes four events: The Intergalactic Nemesis on Nov. 13, Parallel Exit on Dec. 6, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favorites on March 7, and Peking Acrobats on April 4.
Jazz by vocalist Gregory Porter on Feb. 20 and Matt Wilson Quartet with John Medeski on March 18.
Multimedia presentations including a military-inspired performance called Basetrack on Nov. 18, Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq will accompany the 1922 silent film Nanook of the North on Jan. 28, and a Jewish Heritage performance called The Big Picture by David Krakauer on Feb. 28.