Wesleyan's Center for the Arts summer music series begins June 27

MIDDLETOWN >> Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts summer series includes the New England premiere of Ping Chong + Company’s “Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity” (July 13); acclaimed jazz vocalist Alicia Olatuja (July 6); world premieres by pianist and composer Neely Bruce, John Spencer Camp Professor of Music (July 16); a free outdoor concert by Aurelio on June 29; and free noontime talks by Sokeo Ros (June 27), Cedric Douglas (July 11), and Goldie Patrick (July 18).

Summer at the Center for the Arts schedule

June 27: 12:10 p.m., Sokeo Ros, Ring Family Performing Arts Hall, 287 Washington Terrace, Middletown. Free. Ros is the director of the hip hop dance program at the Everett Company, Stage, and School in Providence, Rhode Island. Born in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand, he arrived in the United States at the age of three. In 1998, he joined Everett as a creator and performer and, in 2004, founded the dance/theater troupe “Case Closed!” He is currently working on his fourth touring work, “Freedom Project,” which explores mass incarceration and its effects on all aspects of society.

June 29: 7 p.m., Aurelio, CFA Courtyard, 283 Washington Terrace, Middletown; rain location, Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown. Free. Singer-songwriter, acoustic guitarist, and conga player Aurelio Martinez is an ambassador of the traditional Garifuna music from Honduras, which has its roots in West Africa. After performing with numerous groups for two decades, AfroPop Worldwide named him “Newcomer of the Year” following the release of his first solo album in 2004. Since then, Aurelio has shared the stage with Youssou N’Dour and recorded with Orchestra Baobab, among other artists. At Wesleyan, he will be accompanied by bass, lead guitar, drums, and traditional percussion.

July 6: 7:30 p.m., Alicia Olatuja, Crowell Concert Hall. $28 general public; $26 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni; $12 students, youth under 18 (Reserved Seating) Praised by The New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone and an amiably regal presence on stage,” vocalist Alicia Olatuja grew up in St. Louis, Missouri immersed in gospel, soul, jazz, and classical music. She has worked with Christian McBride, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Chaka Khan, and others. At Wesleyan, she will be joined by guitarist David Rosenthal, pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Ben Williams, and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr.

July 11: Cedric Douglas, 12:10 p.m., Ring Family Performing Arts Hall, 287 Washington Terrace, Middletown. Free. Douglas is an artist and designer who integrates graffiti ideology into design and advertising. His work is inspired by everyday life idioms and the subculture of guerilla or street art. He uses this approach to express his social views on the world. He is the lead artist for the UP Truck, a mobile creative arts lab that engages people in the arts.

July 13: Ping Chong + Company: “Beyond Sacred—Voices of Muslim Identity”, 7:30 p.m., CFA Theater, 271 Washington Terrace, Middletown. $28 general public; $26 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni; $12 students, youth under 18 (Reserved Seating). The New England premiere of “Beyond Sacred” (2015), an interview-based theater production by Ping Chong + Company, explores the real-life stories of five young Muslim Americans, from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, coming of age in New York City at a time of increasing hostility towards, and violence against, Muslims in the United States. Made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters: Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grants Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The performance will be followed by a 30 minute talkback with the artists.

July 6:This Is It! The Complete Piano Works of Neely Bruce: Part XII, 3 p.m., Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown. Free, general admission. John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Neely Bruce presents the twelfth in a series of CD-length recitals of his piano music, featuring two tangos, a little Mozart, and the world premieres of “Trazom,” the “Flora Suite,” and “32 Variations on ‘Doggie Pate.’” With guest artists Professor of Music Jay Hoggard on vibraphone, Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble Director Noah Baerman on piano, Henry Lugo on bass, and Jocelyn Pleasant on drums.

July 18: Goldie Patrick, 12:10 p.m., Ring Family Performing Arts Hall, free. Based in Washington, D.C., Goldie Patrick is a spirited playwright, poet, performer, and teacher of hip hop education and culture. Originally from Detroit, she is a bold advocate for black women and girls, and has gained recognition for her work as founder and Executive Director of F.R.E.S.H.H. Inc.—Females Representing Every Side of Hip Hop.

Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts exists to catalyze people’s creativity by engaging them in the dynamic work of diverse artists. Three inter-related activities enable the CFA to realize its purpose: supporting the research, public productions, and in-studio teaching needs of the departments of Art and Art History, Dance, Music, and Theater; leading inter-disciplinary collaborations and other initiatives that integrate artists into creative curricular and co-curricular initiatives; and organizing powerful encounters between visiting artists and diverse elements of the Wesleyan community, the greater Middletown community, statewide, and regional audiences.

Tickets for Ping Chong + Company and Alicia Olatuja are on sale now online at http://www.wesleyan.edu/boxoffice. Tickets will also be available by phone at 860-685-3355, or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office, located in the Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown, starting at 12 p.m. on Monday, June 19. The box office will be open Monday to Frida, 12-4 p.m.. Tickets may also be purchased at each event beginning one hour prior to the performance, subject to availability. The Center for the Arts accepts cash, checks written to “Wesleyan University,” and all major credit cards. Groups of ten or more may receive a discount on tickets; call 860-685-3355. No refunds, cancellations, or exchanges.

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 Capital Regional Education Council’s Center for Creative Youth and is presented in association with Wesleyan University’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance.