By Edwin B. Smith
University of Mississippi Communications
Grammy Award-winning classical and pop acts highlight the 2021-22 season of performances scheduled at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.
The fall 2021 schedule opens Sept. 14 with the world premiere of the multimedia experience “Voices of Mississippi.” The program features musical performances by notable Mississippi artists, archival film and images, and includes personal narratives and accounts from William Ferris, founding director of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Other scheduled performers include Grammy winners Reneé Fleming, on Sept. 20; Bruce Hornsby, Nov. 7; and the Beach Boys, Dec. 11; jazz group Post Modern Jukebox, Dec. 4; one-woman drama “The Fannie Lou Hammer Story,” Oct. 6; classical pianist Andreas Klein with photographer Andreas Rentsch, Nov. 4; and the unique physical theater production “Stomp,” Nov. 29.
“How exciting to open our doors again after this long intermission,” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director. “We have stellar events, varied and diverse, that will appeal to a wide range of arts enthusiasts. Because the restart is a little slow for the touring groups, we are offering the fall season only at this point.”
“In the spring, we are bringing back shows that were canceled with a Broadway series that includes ‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical,’ ‘Waitress’ and ‘An American in Paris,'” Aubrey said. “Plus, we’re adding a great blues event with Edgar Meyer and a Saturday morning with Dog Man.” Tickets for these shows will be available starting in October.
The full spring 2022 lineup will be announced later.
The Ford Center follows university guidelines, so all audience members must be masked while inside the facility, Aubrey said. The center has also brought back COVID protocols for backstage.
The performance by acclaimed soprano Fleming is a highlight of the season that will bring other opportunities for the community and Ole Miss students, Aubrey said.
“We are incredibly fortunate to bring the superb Renée Fleming to our performing arts center,” she said. “Through the generosity of Nancye B. Starnes, this will be a three-day event featuring Ms. Fleming leading ‘Music and the Mind,’ a panel discussion that explores the intersection of music, health and neuroscience with regional guest panelists at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19.
“We are privileged to offer this international star in concert the following evening, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20. On Tuesday morning at 11 a.m., Ms. Fleming will work with a few young singers in a vocal master class. The panel and master class are free and open to the public.”
Aubrey said that bringing “The Fannie Lou Hamer Story” to the Ford Center, in collaboration with the Center for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement, was important to her.
“A Mississippian and activist, Ms. Hamer established a national reputation fighting for voting rights,” Aubrey said. “Mzuri Aimbaye will engage students to join her onstage for her powerful presentation of Ms. Hamer’s journey as a civil rights activist.”
Aubrey said she is grateful for the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, Friends of the Ford Center, sponsors and volunteers for their generous contributions supporting this season.
“Thanks to all of you for making sure the arts thrive in Oxford,” she said.
For ticket information and reservations, visit http://fordcenter.org/.