This month, Averett's arts offerings take a look at our past. In our 1859-Coffeehouse Lecture Series, Dr. Stephen Ausband, English professor, will share from his book "Byrd's Line: A Natural History at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9 in the multipurpose room of the Student Center. The theme for this year's 1859-Coffeehouse series is Exploring the Past, the Present and the Future. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Ausband, who has taught at Averett for more than 40 years, had "Byrd's Line" published in 2002. In the book, Ausband follows William Byrd, a wealthy, English-educated master of Westover plantation, who set out to determine the exact boundary between North Carolina and Virginia.
The arts series will delve into the past again at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11 in Blount Library. This time, they will focus on the life of composer Frederick Delius and his short stay in Danville The event is free and open to the public.
Delius arrived in Danville in 1885, and was heavily involved in the city's musical life. During his stay, Delius met and was mentored by Robert S. Phifer, who taught at what is now Averett. Phifer made arrangements for Delius to teach the music students, and welcomed the young Englishman into his home as a frequent visitor. Greatly influenced by this region, Delius incorporated southern rhythms and African American spirituals into his music. Delius is now world-renowned for his genius and contribution to music.
Then in November, the musical theme continues with the Tony Award winning production of "Chicago," which will be performed by the Averett theatre and music departments Nov. 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m. in Pritchett Auditorium.
A satire on the corruption in the criminal justice system and the concept of the celebrity criminal, the musical is set in Prohibition-era Chicago. It is based on a play of the same name written by a reporter for the Chicago-Tribune – Maurine Dallas Watkins. Watkins wrote the play following her coverage of the trials of two murderesses in 1924.
The departments have been working to build the musical theatre program at the University and according to Theatre Professor Jackie Finney this production will allow the students to show off what they've been learning and doing vocally and in dance. The dance portion of the production is being choreographed by artist in residence Brad Bass.
Tickets for the production, which are $9 for adults and $7 for students/senior citizens, may be purchased in advance or on the night of the performance. For more information, call 434-791-5712.
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