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Wharton Center announces performing arts season lineup

Author and humorist David Sedaris returns to the Wharton Center for the fifth time on October 24.
Anne Fishbein
Author and humorist David Sedaris returns to the Wharton Center for the fifth time on October 24.

A few weeks ago, the Wharton Center at Michigan State University released its schedule of Broadway shows for the coming season.

On Monday, Wharton announces the rest of its programming for 2023-24.

Wharton has some exciting classical music programming on the slate, most notably the powerhouse trio of pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Leonidas Kavakos and celloist Yo-Yo Ma. Their January program of Beethoven works will include the Piano Trio No. 4 in D Major, Ghost. This concert was the first Wharton program contract signed by then-new Executive Director Eric Olmscheid.

“When I joined the team about 10 months ago, this conversation was already mid-swing. In my early weeks, we had the conversation with the agent about securing a date for the 23-24 season,” Olmscheid said.

Taiwanese violinist Ray Chen arrives next March with a solo recital. There’s no word yet on his program. Chen was a prominent prodigy as a teenager. Olmscheid says Chen is now almost 20 years into his career, adding that Chen “really hit the scene at age 15. He was very young, a prodigy violinist, and he will be doing a solo violin recital, so it would be piano and violin.”

In May of 2024, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Jader Bignamini, renews its long-standing relationship with the Wharton Center. Their program will include Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, Jupiter, featuring new concertmaster Robyn Bollinger.

“The Detroit Symphony Orchestra was really interested in bringing them back to the Lansing region,” Olmscheid explains. “As they think about being one of many, many great orchestras in Michigan. Having them back here as part of the season was kind of a throwback to our early years.”

Olmscheid is excited about a program of interest to fans of movies and their soundtracks on Nov. 17. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone will be shown on a 40-foot screen while the music is performed by the Lansing Symphony Orchestra.

“Everything that you can think of, all the sound effects and the text and the dialogue is still in the film, but they have removed all of the music bed and the underscoring, and that’s played live,” Olmscheid said. “It’s amazing! You see the orchestra in front of you really play the great John Williams score live, and it’s wonderful.”

That’s the first Harry Potter movie, so it will be interesting to see if the idea is renewed for the other films in the years to come.

Jazz events include the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Catherine Russell, and A Jazz Tribute to 100 Years of Disney.

For the Christmas season, Wharton will present The Hip Hop Nutcracker, the acapella group Voctave, and the Cirque Dreams program Holidaze.

New to Wharton next season will be four intimate programs in the Jackson Lounge. The series is called Club 750 Events, named for Wharton’s street address on East Shaw Lane. They include the Grammy Award nominated PUBLIQuartet performing music from their third album What Is American.

Capacity will be around 100 in a relaxed atmosphere, complete with table and bar service.

One other highlight will be the return of humorist and author David Sedaris, making his fifth visit to East Lansing.

The Wharton Center is a financial supporter of WKAR.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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