Jacqueline Davis spent mid-June in Europe reviewing performances she could bring to Lawrence as part of the Kansas University Concert, New Directions or Chamber Music series.
When she returned, however, she found herself minus a concert hall in which to present those acts. Hoch Auditorium, where Davis had scheduled Concert Series events in the past, had been gutted by a June 15 fire.
"The morning I got back I went up the hill and looked at Hoch, and tears came to my eyes," said Davis, the Concert Series director. "I thought about all the great performances I had seen there and all the memories I had of working in the building. Then some people I knew from working on the Lied Center (for the Performing Arts) came over and let me look inside.''
AS A result of the fire at Hoch, the Concert Series rescheduled seven events for the 1991-92 season to other venues and it also must find space for the 1992-93 season events. But beginning in the fall of 1993, the three series will be moved into the new Lied Center, where they will join other KU music and dance department concers. The Lied Center is under construction at the southwest corner of 15th and Iowa, on KU's West Campus.
In the meantime, the Concert Series will offer 17 events this season, including four at the Topeka Performing Arts Center. Davis said transportation will be provided to and from Topeka for students and others without their own transportation.
IN RECENT years, the series have brought a number of big-name or unusual events to Lawrence, including the Bill T. Jones-Arnie Zane dance company, which gained national attention for a large dance work called "The Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin-The Promised Land.'' The series also has co-sponsored some events, such as "SenseUs/The Rainbow Anthems," an evening of poetry and music that featured jazz drummer Max Roach.
Davis said she's always on the lookout for new and challenging work.
"There are two kinds of presenters," Davis said. "There's the passive presenter, who chooses a few artists and brings them into a theater. Then there's the active presenter who seeks out artists by seeing large numbers of works and does as much as possible to communicate the purposes of the work to the audience. These kind of presenters take risks.''
SHE SAID she's also found the university community open to this new work.
"I find this university is a place where the leadership opens its arms to new works," Davis said.
Besides performances, the series are set up to allow for as many educational opportunities as possible, Davis said. For example, one of the purposes of the New Directions Series is to provide either workshops or panel discussions on the presented work. In fact, Davis said she openly looks for artists who can communicate what they're doing to students and patrons.
"We want a program in place where people can enjoy the performances," Davis said. "That implies the audience has some knowledge of the performances before the curtain rises. I can help with that.''
HEADLINING this year's performance schedule is a concert featuring mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and tenor Jerry Hadley on Sept. 28 at Crafton-Preyer Theatre. The pair appeared together on the studio album of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II musical "Showboat.''
"They're very excited to be working together again," Davis said.
In addition to von Stade and Hadley, the Concert Series this year includes:
The Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, 8 p.m. Oct. 15 in Topeka. The company performs traditional Mexican dances.
Northern Sinfonia, 8 p.m. Jan. 24, Crafton-Preyer Theatre. The British orchestra will perform with conductor Barry Tuckwell and violin soloist Yung Uck Kim.
Violinist Joshua Bell, 8 p.m. Feb. 7, Crafton-Preyer Theatre.
THE New York City Opera National Company, returning with the opera "Tosca," 8 p.m. March 2 in Topeka.
The Garth Fagan Dance Company, returning at 8 p.m. April 8 in Topeka.
Fagan and his group will be performing residencies both in Lawrence and in other Kansas towns as part of their tour.
"My experience with that group is that the performers are trained to a way of life," Davis said. "Not only are they trained as dancers, but they're able to talk about their work with adults and children. It's a rare talent in artists, and we're going to use it here.''
The Chamber Music Series takes some unusual turns this year, starting off with the more traditional Cavini String Quartet at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at Crafton-Preyer.
THE PROGRAM goes on to include the Turtle Island String Quartet at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 6. The group is known for its avant-garde repertoire, which includes jazz and new music.
"I've heard them play a jazz arrangement, and their sound is very unusual for chamber music," Davis said.
Among other performers are Aequalis, a trio including percussion, at 8 p.m. Nov. 12; and The Musicians of Swanne Alley, an early music group, at 8 p.m. April 2.
Spalding Gray, the avant-garde monologuist and actor in such films as "The Killing Fields" and "Swimming to Cambodia," is scheduled to appear at 8 p.m. Feb. 24 and 25 at Liberty Hall as part of the New Directions Series. The actor will perform his latest monologue, called "Monster in a Box," that he recently gave at Lincoln Center in New York.
"HE CONJURES up an event, and he makes you think you're there," Davis said. "He has tremendous rapport with the audience.''
New Directions will be bringing Liz Lerman to Lawrence Nov. 1-2 for both a performance and an extensive workshop. Lerman already visited Lawrence to speak to community members in support of her project. KU is serving as a co-sponsor of her new work, called "The Good Jew?"
In addition, the New Directions Series will bring R. Carlos Nakai, a Native American flutist associated with New Age music, at 8 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Haskell Indian Junior College Auditorium; and the Bulgarian State Female Vocal Choir at 8 p.m. March 19 in Topeka.
Two special events round out the Concert Series season. The Tulsa Ballet Theatre will return with its holiday presentation of "The Nutcracker" at 8 p.m. Dec. 12 at Crafton-Preyer, and the National Theatre of the Deaf will present the play "Treasure Island" at 8 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Haskell auditorium.