Busiest season for arts, humanities events begins

With the end of the winter semester coming into view, public events in the arts and humanities reach their peak in late February and March. To assist with your story planning,listed are the following highlights from the arts and humanities calendar through the end of March. Detailed press releases will precede most events.

Perhaps the most prominent event in the humanities in the weeks to come will begin March 14: Toward Harmony: Understanding a New Diversity in Lewiston-Auburn, a two-day conference involving faculty, civic leaders and members of the local Somali community.

Other events sure to interest your readers include speaking appearances by conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza and Roe v. Wade attorney Sarah Weddington; concerts by the Brentano String Quartet with guest Yuri Funihashi, a Maine pianist; a reading by poet Lorna Goodison; and the Bates production of Eric Bogosian’s hard-hitting play subUrbia.

Here’s a summary of events by genre:

Humanities: Sponsored by the Bates Department of Philosophy and Religion, in collaboration with several local organizations and the Maine Humanities Council, the Toward Diversity conference is major news. Speakers include Bates President Elaine Tuttle Hansen, Stephen Wessler of the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence, and Heather Lindkvist, an Bates anthropologist who has worked with the local Somali community for more than a year. Performances end each day of discussions.

Also on the humanities calendar: the reading by noted Jamaican poet Lorna Goodison (March 6); a speaking appearance by Sarah Weddington, the attorney who successfully argued the Roe v. Wade case 30 years ago (March 12); the lecture What’s So Great About America by Dinesh D’Souza, the best-selling author and conservative commentator (March 19); and a discussion of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein by Marshall Brown, a scholar of gothic literature from the University of Washington (also March 19).

Music: A profile of pianist Frank Glazer, artist in residence at Bates, is timely, as this most enduring of Maine musicians performs twice in coming weeks. On Feb. 16 he devotes a program to composer Carol Maria von Weber. His March 14 program features work by Bach, Beethoven, Ravel and Chopin.

Another Maine pianist comes to Olin Arts Center Concert Hall about a week earlier. On March 8, Yuri Funahashi, adjunct professor at the University of Maine at Farmington and someone familiar to Maine audiences, is guest artist with the renowned Bretano String Quartet, resident quartet at Princeton University. This final entry in the 2002-2003 Bates College Concert Series features music by Bach, Webern, Shostakovich and Dvorak.

Finally in music, it’s the season for a variety of student concerts. In addition to individual performances, the schedule includes the Choir’s rendition of Mozart’s Requiem, with orchestral accompaniment (March 21) and a joint performance, still being planned, by the college’s Indonesian-style gamelan ensemble and orchestra (March 28).

Visual Arts: Continuing through March are exhibits by premiere Maine abstractionist William Manning (Museum of Art) and Harvard photographer Kris Snibbe, showing images of Cambodian, Chinese, and Tibetan Buddhists in the United States (Chapel).

Meanwhile, the popular annual exhibition by Lewiston Middle School students opens March 6 and continues through the month. On that same day, Gary Green, assistant professor of art at the University of Southern Maine, comes to Bates to discuss the photographs in his Landscape Diaries series.

The following evening, one of the nation’s foremost experts on the connections between African and New World arts — visual and performing — speaks at Bates. The topic of the lecture by Robert Farris Thompson, art history professor and master of Yale’s Timothy Dwight College, has yet to be confirmed.

Stage: In an annual tradition, Bates students perform Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues on Valentine’s Day, with donations at the door to benefit local charities. Another seasonal tradition is the senior thesis performance project, and March 21-23 it’s Thomas Kyd’s Elizabethan tragedy The Spanish Tragedy, produced by Dominick Pangallo, of Salem, Mass.

Meanwhile, March 7-16, the theater department offers six performances of subUrbia, Eric Bogosian’s semi-autobiographical exploration of alienated youth, set in a strip mall parking lot.

Finally, too many good dances to perform in one evening have led the Bates Modern Dance Company to offer two different programs in its annual spring concert, one of Bates’ best-attended events. Directed by Marcy Plavin, who has run the dance program since the late 1960s (another good profile subject), each program is performed twice, March 20-23.

This release represents only the highlights of a jam-packed month. Full releases will detail many of these events, and others, in the coming weeks. For more information, interview availabilities and art, please contact Staff Writer Doug Hubley at telephone 207-786-6329 or e-mail.

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