BIG ARTS' upcoming season will feature 17 main stage performances that run the gamut - peppered in amongst art exhibits, a film series, lecture programs and more - and tickets go on sale today.
The 2019 Schein Hall series will run from January through March, kicking off on Jan. 5 with Beginnings, a Chicago tribute band that has performed at Disney's EPCOT Center and Las Vegas casinos since 2002. The band is comprised of some of the finest New York musicians around.
"We wanted something upbeat and fun to kick off the season," BIG ARTS Executive Director Lee Ellen Harder said. "They are the ultimate Chicago experience."
The organization is marking a big milestone in 2019.
"It's our 40th anniversary, and we are looking forward to a spectacular year," she said.
Following Beginnings, the musical lineup offers something for everyone.
Schein Hall series for 2019
- Jan. 5 at 8 p.m.: Beginnings
- Jan. 10 at 7:30 p.m.: Pacifica Quartet with Sharon Isbin
- Jan. 12 at 8 p.m.: DePue Brothers Band
- Jan. 13 at 3:30 p.m.: Oboe Fusion
- Jan. 17 at 8 p.m.: Bumper Jacksons
- Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m.: Jonathan Biss
- Jan. 30 at 7 p.m.: iluminate
- Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m.: Dover Quartet with Peter Serkin
- Feb. 2 at 8 p.m.: m-pact
- Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.: Hot Club of San Francisco
- Feb. 10 at 3:30 p.m.: Alfredo Muro with Natasha Farny
- Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.: New Shanghai Circus
- Feb. 22 at 8 p.m.: Judy Collins
- Feb. 24 at 3:30 p.m.: Parker Quarte
- March 1 at 7:30 p.m.: "Sister Strikes Again!: Late Nite Catechism 2" by Maripat Donovan
- March 8 at 7:30 p.m.: "Every Brilliant Thing" by Zoetic Stage
- March 16 at 8 p.m.: Live in Central Park (Revisited) Simon & Garfunkel
Source: BIG ARTS
We have some great music coming," Harder said.
Classical acts like the Grammy Award-winning Pacifica Quartet with Sharon Isbin, unusual and engaging Oboe Fusion, and American virtuoso pianist Jonathan Biss are on the lineup with Grammy Hall of Famer Judy Collins, seven-piece brass band Bumper Jacksons and globe-trotting m-pact.
"They range from pop and contemporary, to bluegrass and classical," she said.
Other performances include the Cirque du Soleil-caliber New Shanghai Circus and iluminate, a dance and acrobatic group aglow with wireless lighting that took third place on "America's Got Talent."
"We have some theater pieces coming," Harder said.
March will feature "Sister Strikes Again!: Late Nite Catechism 2" by Maripat Donovan, a sequel to the "standing-room-only" original, as well as the Zoetic Stage's heartwarming "Every Brilliant Thing."
"We're bringing in a new partnership with the Zoetic Stage theater company out of Miami," she said. "We're very excited about our new partnership with them."
In addition to the main stage acts, BIG ARTS will host a weekly film series on Monday nights from November to March. Foreign and independent documentaries from around the world, the first one takes place on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. The film, "Itzhak" by Alison Chernick, looks at the life of Itzhak Perlman.
"We show incredible films that you're not going to see at the first-run theater," Harder said.
While The FORUM lecture series is typically sold out early through subscribers, BIG ARTS does feature a daytime lecture series - and has added a new theater series - for February through March. Started about three years ago, Talking Points is held on Tuesday mornings on a variety of subjects.
"We have six lectures set up," she said, adding that they will range from local to timely issues. "One's talking about sea level rise, another is on Lee County and the issue with Robert E. Lee."
One lecture is with author Lynn Povich, who wrote "Good Girls Revolt."
"We have health, we have an education panel," Harder said. "So very interesting topics."
New this year, BIG ARTS will host a series of lectures focused on the theater.
"They'll be very informations and interactive, with the audience dialogue," she said, noting that they will include a question-and-answer session. "The theater lectures will also include multi-media."
BIG ARTS will also offer staged play readings, however, the dates have not yet been set yet.
"We've done them in the past, but we've expanded," Harder said. "We'll do a few more readings."
In October, the Phillips Gallery and the Founders Gallery will open to the public. The galleries each showcase one exhibit per month, with each of the exhibitions debuting with an artist's reception.
"Those are always free and open to the public, as are our galleries," she said.
Harder hinted that there will be a new expanded event in December for the community.
In addition, BIG ARTS features a range of ongoing workshops.
"We have a wonderful array of offerings, from painting and drawing, pottery and ceramics, to discussion groups," she said, noting that there is one program called the Winter Academy.
Some topics are HD Live at the Met Lectures, The Roosevelts and Masterpieces of Western Music.
"They really run the gamut, our educational programming," Harder said.
Registration opened on July 1, with options available for beginners to advanced.
"We're not full," she noted.
Tickets for the 2019 season can be purchased online or at 239-395-0900.
The main stage acts range from free to $5 for children and students 25 and under.
"We want to make sure that the arts are affordable to everyone, so that families can afford to come," Harder said.
Season brochures should be available in mid-September.
"We have a very diverse array of programming," she said. "There's something for everyone."
Plus, feedback is welcome and encouraged.
"We want to hear back from the community," Harder said. "We had the best season ever last year and we're looking forward to another one."
For more information on BIG ARTS, visit online at bigarts.org.