Wesleyan University to offer summer concerts, lectures

MIDDLETOWN — Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts summer series includes a free outdoor concert featuring the Connecticut debut of Sammy Miller and The Congregation on July 5; world premieres by pianist and composer Neely Bruce, John Spencer Camp Professor of Music on July 15; a staged theatrical reading by Toto Kisaku on July 12; contemporary musical theater by Martha Redbone on July 19; and free noontime talks by Toto Kisaku on July 10, Zulynette on July 17, and Bob Englehart on July 24.

All programs, artists, and dates are subject to change. All Center for the Arts facilities are air-conditioned. Summer at the CFA is co-sponsored by the Capitol Regional Education Council’s Center for Creative Youth and is presented in association with Wesleyan University’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance.

For tickets and information, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/boxoffice or call 860-685-3355, or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office, located in the Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown, starting at 1 p.m. on Monday, July 9.

July 5: Sammy Miller and The Congregation, 7 p.m., free. CFA Courtyard, 283 Washington Terrace, Middletown. Rain Location: Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue.

Grammy Award-nominated drummer, singer, and bandleader Sammy Miller and his sextet The Congregation will play joyful, feel-good jazz during their Connecticut debut at Wesleyan. Band members have performed and recorded with Wynton Marsalis, Iron and Wine, and Jason Mraz. The group features trombonist Sam Crittenden, tenor saxophonist Ben Flocks, trumpeter Alphonso Horne, pianist David Linard, and bassist John Snow.

July 10: Talk by Middletown artist Toto Kisaku, 12:10 p.m., free. Ring Family Performing Arts Hall, 287 Washington Terrace, Middletown.

July 12: Toto Kisaku: “Requiem for an Electric Chair” (Staged reading), 7:30 p.m. $10. Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown. Kisaku is originally from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His “Requiem for an Electric Chair” is the harrowing story of his imprisonment and near-execution there in 2015, before he was granted political asylum in the United States. The performance at Wesleyan is a staged reading of the work that premieres in June 2018 at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven. The reading will be followed by a 20-minute talkback with the artist.

July 15: This Is It! The Complete Piano Works of Neely Bruce: Part XV, 3 p.m., free. Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown. John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Neely Bruce presents the fifteenth in a series of CD-length recitals of his piano music, featuring the world premiere of “Furniture Music in the Form of Mutilated Schubert Waltzes;” three new “Friendly Fugues;” and works for celeste and reed organ.

July 17: Zulynette, 12:10 p.m., free. Ring Family Performing Arts Hall, 287 Washington Terrace, Middletown. Hartford-based poet and author Zulynette was a featured performer at Connecticut Arts Day earlier this year. Her memoir “Building a Powerhouse” is a meditation and social commentary about the beauty of fully owning one’s identity and purpose. At Wesleyan, she will discuss her work as a creative change agent that uses art as a tool to inspire others to heal and empower themselves.

July 19: Martha Redbone: “Bone Hill—The Concert”, 7:30 p.m., Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown. $28 general public; $26 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni; $12 students, youth under 18. Featuring a cast of eight actors/musicians, “Bone Hill” is inspired by four generations of Martha Redbone’s family lineage (Cherokee/Shawnee and African American), and its historic and cultural connections to the land in the coal-mining Appalachian Mountains of Harlan County, Kentucky. This contemporary musical theater work was created and developed by librettist/composers Ms. Redbone and Aaron Whitby.

July 24: Bob Englehart, 12:10 p.m., free. Ring Family Performing Arts Hall, 287 Washington Terrace, Middletown. Englehart is an artist and editorial cartoonist who worked for The Hartford Courant for 35 years. His cartoons have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, USA Today, Time magazine, Newsweek, and on ESPN. He will share some of his work and talk about his career as a cartoonist.