Mahaney Center for the Arts Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The 2012–2013 Arts Season Kicks Off with Campus-wide Symposium on Creativity and Collaboration

The Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with a season packed with hundreds of concerts, plays, museum exhibitions, dance performances, films, and more. An early highlight of the season is the Clifford Symposium on Creativity and Collaboration, hosted by the Mahaney Center for the Arts on September 27-29, 2012.


The annual Nicholas R. Clifford Symposium kicks off each academic year by giving the campus community rich opportunities to discuss and experience timely topics from many perspectives. This year’s symposium, entitled “Creativity and Collaboration” is hosted by the Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts in honor of its 20th-anniversary season, and includes over 30 arts activities and events, all open to the public. Peabody Award-winning radio producer Julie Burstein, author of the acclaimed book “Spark: How Creativity Works,” offers the opening keynote speech on Thursday, September 27. New York City’s High Line park is the topic of a second keynote, given by former New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and High Line Vice President for Planning and Design Peter Mullan on Friday, September 28. PearsonWidrig DanceTheater marshalls the energy of professional dancers, Middlebury College students, faculty, alumni, and staff to create A Curious Invasion, a sweeping, site-specific dance work that will travel through the Mahaney Center in four performances on Friday and Saturday, September 28 and 29. Other Symposium highlights include two screenings of the Oscar-winning dance film Pina on Saturday September 29 at Dana Auditorium, a capstone performance by the Emerson String Quartet on Saturday, September 29 in Mead Chapel, and much more. A full schedule of symposium events is posted at


The 93rd season of the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series includes an impressive list of world-class national and international performers. String quartets continue to be a hallmark of the Series, with concerts by the legendary Takács Quartet (October 2, 2012), two free performances by the prize-winning Jupiter String Quartet (November 29 and 30, 2012), and a free concert by BBC New Generation Artists, the Escher String Quartet (March 8, 2013). Pianists Paul Lewis (October 26, 2012), Shai Wosner (February 13, 2013), and Rafal Blechacz (April 23, 2013) uphold the Series’ excellent tradition of solo piano repertoire.

The Performing Arts Series is not limited to just music—theatre and dance play an important part of the season as well. In January, acclaimed theatre company the Rude Mechanicals comes to Middlebury for a week of residency activities with students, and two performances of their daring work The Method Gun (January 18 and 19). Inspirit Dance Company returns to campus in March with The Opulence of Integrity, (March 15 and 16,), a powerful new work inspired by the life and legend of Muhammad Ali. Tickets for the Performing Arts Series go on sale to the general public September 17.

The Series also launches the Performing Arts Series Society (PASS) this year. Supporters of the performing arts will uphold the tradition of excellent concerts, plays, and dance events. Member benefits include receptions, invitations to special events with the artists, and priority ticket processing. Tickets will be made available to PASS members on September 10, a week before the general public. Information is available at


On September 3, the Middlebury College Museum of Art reopened after a summer renovation. The major fall exhibition China Modern: Designing 20th-Century Popular Culture opens September 14. This vast exhibition takes an in-depth look at the rich tradition of Chinese designs and styles in advertising, packaging, and promotional art for cinema, music, comic books, pulp fiction, fashion, games, and toys. These iconic images chronicle China’s changing attitudes and identity and its transition to a giant commercial superpower.

The new year heralds the arrival of the much-anticipated exhibition Nature Transformed: Edward Burtynsky’s Vermont Quarry Photographs in Context, opening February 8. Burtynsky’s iconic photographs of the quarries of Vermont are explored within the context of the geological and social history of the area, including the Italian immigrant stoneworkers in the granite quarries near Barre. A series of related public talks and special events will expand viewers’ perspective on the exhibition, including a day trip to the Rock of Ages Quarry on September 22. Co-curators Juliette Bianco and Pieter Broucke give the celebratory opening lecture on February 12. Edward Burtynsky himself gives an artist talk on March 14.

Other exhibitions this season include Camera Work: Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand, and Company, (September 4–October 28); Oliphant: Editorial Cartoons and the American Presidency, 1968–2007, (October 30–December 9), and Linear Thinking: Sol Lewitt, Modern, Postmodern, and Contemporary Art from the Collection, (February 8–May 5). Museum admission is free.


The Theatre Program opens their season with contemporary American playwright Gina Gianfreddo’s biting coming-of-age comedy U.S. Drag, directed by Alex Draper ’88, on October 25–27. The play follows two stylish but vapid young women who move to Manhattan in search of love, happiness, and stardom.

Later this fall, Cheryl Faraone directs Shakespeare’s As You Like It, November 15–17. This melancholy tale of love and exile is set in the early part of the 20th century, as the old world tips forever into the new. Spring term productions will include Sham Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class, directed by Richare Romagnoli (April 11–13), and the Inaugural Middlebury New Play Festival, directed by guest artist Andrew Smith ’97.5 (April 25–27 and May 2–4). Tickets go on sale two weeks prior to each opening night.


The Dance Company of Middlebury celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with a repertory of diverse and dynamic new works created in collaboration with an accomplished group of artists: artistic director Andrea Olsen, choreographer and educator Catherine Cabeen, musician Kane Mathis, dancer Paul Matteson ’00, cellist David Darling, dance maker Peter Schmitz, and musician Michael Chorney. Under Olsen’s artistic direction, the seven-member company will tour to San Francisco and the Monterey Institute for International Studies following a Middlebury College premiere on January 25 and 26.

Student work is always a focus of the dance program. Seniors Davis Anderson ’13, Jessica Lee ’13, and Hannah Pierce ’13 present their thesis dance concert on April 19 and 20, exploring the intersections between contemporary dance and other interests, from language to literature to the environment.. Tickets for dance program events go on sale two weeks in advance.


The Department of Music presents a rich mix of concerts by students, faculty, and guest artists throughout the coming year. Among the excellent departmental ensembles are the Middlebury College Choir, performing Faure’s Requiem (November 8); the Middlebury College Orchestra (November 17); the Middlebury College-Community Chorus, giving a Thanksgiving concert (November 18); the African Music and Dance Ensemble (November 28); and the Sound Investment Jazz Ensemble, playing big band, swing, and jazz music (December 1). The third annual Bach Festival will take place April 26-28, with concerts, interest sessions, and more.

Visiting musicians include Duo Runedako, with a concert featuring multiple keyboard instruments on Monday, October 8. Soprano Deborah Lifton and pianist Charis Dimaras will give a springtime recital including art songs by Strauss and Rachnmaninoff, as well as Middlebury’s own composer and faculty member Su Lian Tan, on Saturday, March 2.


The Department of History of Art and Architecture will sponsor a series of public talks by guest artists and architects throughout the year. The first is Ann Beha of Boston, Massachusetts, whose firm is part of the team responsible for the Center for Arts and Education, a new year-round facility at the Shelburne Museum. Her lecture, “Architecture as Art House; Museums for a New Generation,” will take place on Wednesday, September 19 at Twilight Auditorium.

Other speakers include architect Jorge Silvetti of Machado and Silvetti Associates (October 18), Huey Copeland of Northwestern University, speaking about artist Lorna Simpson’s installation work (November 8), and architect Andrew Freear of Auburn University’s Rural Studio (February 28).


The Hirschfield International Film Series will present acclaimed foreign and independent films on Saturdays throughout the year at 3:00 and 8:00 PM, free of charge. This year’s series kicks off with Mike Mills’ comedy Beginners, which earned Christopher Plummer a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance as an aging father exploring his new gay identity (September 15). Other highlights include Cannes Jury prize-winner A Screaming Man, about a former swimming star in Chad (October 20), and A Separation, the Academy Award-winning Iranian film about a husband and wife who clash about the decision to leave their home country, on November 3.

Special events include a discussion with Chinese director and writer Liu Jiayin, who visits campus in conjunction with the screening of her film Oxhide II on October 27. Shot in real time, the film follows a family as they eat a dinner of dumplings and discuss everyday problems, revealing layers of intricacy behind a seemingly simple premise.


Student work is the focus of a series of exhibitions planned for 2012–2013. The first, Living Portraits, on view September 18–25, features oil paintings and ceramic sculptures created in professors Jim Butler’s portraiture class. Student artists present vivid images expressing the personalities of people who have made a difference in their lives. Other fall exhibitions include Environmental/Figurative Interiors (September 26–October 3), Line in Space: Just a Corner of Your Memory Palace (October 10–18), Pinhole Photography (October 30–November 7), The Autumn Campus (November 27–December 6), and Silkscreen Prints (November 28–December 6). These studio art shows are presented in the Johnson Building, and are free and open to the public.

For more information, or to request a 2012–2013 Arts Calendar, call 802.443.3168 or go to