MCLA Presents! Announces 2012-2013 Season


 NORTH ADAMS, MA - From Cuban percussions, Haitian rhythms, folk, rock, blues and gospel music to a performance of an American classic by an Irish actor, poetry and a bit of Broadway,  the 2012-13 season of MCLA Presents! will bring performances from around the globe to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and other nearby venues.

"MCLA Presents! once again is thrilled to share with North Adams performers from around the campus, around the block and around the world," said Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at MCLA. "With artists coming from New York and New Orleans, Cuba and Haiti, Ireland and Canada - and of course our own talented local musicians and students - MCLA students and their neighbors throughout the Berkshires will see, hear and feel a wonderfully diverse and talented group of performers."

The season will kick off on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m. in the MCLA Quad with Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez and his Afro-Cuban/Afro-Beat band. A native of Havana, Cuba, Martinez is a conga player, singer and bandleader who tours with artists such as the Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson and Ray Charles.

Deeply rooted in Afro-Cuban Rumba tradition, The Pedrito Martinez Group will bring a new mix of music to MCLA's campus with bata rhythms and vocal chants of the music of Yoruba and Santeria.

According to J.C. Hunter of, "This music was utterly joyful and completely addictive, and it left all of us howling for more." Ben Ratliff of the New York Times added, "...drums, singing and writing are the focus...Complex, blenderized Africa-to-the-New-World Funk- [Pedrito is] an incomparable performer."

Then, on Thursday, Oct. 4, at 8 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center, and on Friday, Oct. 5, at 8 p.m. at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, the Gare St. Lazare Players of Ireland return to MCLA Presents! with internationally renowned actor, Connor Lovett, in a one-man performance of the great American novel, "Moby Dick."

The Irish Examiner called this performance, "A must-see. Lovett holds us spellbound as he captures the humour as well as the wisdom of Melville." And, the Sunday Business Post said, "This is an intensely deliberate, focused piece of work, out of which Melville's writing emerges as the ultimate star of what is a constrained and lovely show."

BélO, a young, socially conscious singer-songwriter, and his band will deliver a high-energy mix of jazz, world beat, rock, reggae, and Afro-Haitian traditional rhythm known as "Ragganga" to the MCLA Church Street Center on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m.

"BélO's versatile guitar work and slightly raspy, soulful voice have made a fan of me," according to Condé-Nast Traveler. And, according to Frontline, "Haitian musician, BélO, has become internationally recognized for his socially conscious songs."

BélO will perform at MCLA thanks to Center StageSM, a pilot program, which will bring international performing artists in dance, music and theater from Haiti, Pakista, and Indonesia to tour throughout the United States in 2012. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with New England Foundation for the Arts, will develop and manage month-long tours for 10 ensembles, comprised of public and school performances complemented by lectures, demonstrations, classroom visits, workshops, master classes and artist-to-artist exchanges.

A taste of Broadway comes to the Berkshires on Friday, Nov. 30, at 8 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center when NYC's original, award-winning, improvised comedy, "Broadway's Next H!t Musical" comes to the MCLA campus.

The only unscripted theatrical awards show of its kind, "Broadway's Next H!t Musical" takes song suggestions from the audience, as improvisers create a spontaneous evening of music, humor and laughter. Then, the audience votes for their favorite song and watches as the cast turns it into a full-blown musical - complete with memorable characters, witty dialogue and multiple plot twists.

"I was literally crying from laughing so hard. I haven't had this good a time in the theater in an age," according to The Edge, New York. The New York Post said the show is "Remarkable...Something that few improvisers anywhere have the talent, experience and wit needed to successfully do....An 'A-list' of seasoned improvisers."

Getting into the spirit of the season, Dala will present "A Very Special Holiday Show" on Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in MCLA Gallery 51 in downtown North Adams. Brought back to MCLA Presents! by popular request, best friends Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine of Dala, will perform harmonies and acoustic pop music.

This duo have released five albums and toured much of North America, spreading their love of American folk and rock music. Juno nominees and winners of the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, Dala will bring familiar songs that make the holidays special.

According to the Peterborough Examiner, "What beautiful flights of melody and harmony... Dala can trade a melody line and leave one wondering who is taking the lead and simply leave one behind when the harmonies kick in." And, Direct Current said, "Sweetly nuanced melodies delivered with an unequivocal joy of two young women who simply love singing together."

Melody Rolph '12 will open for Dala.

Back to warm up audiences in the cold of winter, the Eighth Annual MCLA Blues and Funk Festival once again will present two nights of music.

Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Maya Azucena will return to campus on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in the MCLA Venable Gymnasium.

With Azucena's music, the worlds of blues, funk, hip hop, soul, reggae, and pop join forces with her profound lyrics, melodies, and irresistible rhythms, according to Secor. Whether performing before an audience of thousands or writing in solitude, Maya transcends genres and trends and sings on the universal themes of love, survival, and hope to inspire and empower her audience, he added.

"Armed with a powerfully compelling voice, Azucena just could be the most impressive of the current hip-hop/soul/r&b diva crop...." said the Village Voice. According to Billboard Magazine, Azucena brings "Storytelling lyrics and soulful, soaring vocals." And, the Washington Post called her "...voice is so sensuous and sultry...."

On the second night of the festival, Khris Royal and Dark Matter will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, also in the MCLA Venable Gymnasium.

According to Secor, electronic saxophonist Khris Royal, one of the talented acts from the revitalized New Orleans music scene, is ready to bring his searing, New Orleans alternative funk to MCLA for an energetic and fun night of dancing.

Royal and Dark Matter, who debuted at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, have shared the stage with hip-hop giants and jazz and funk legends such as Lettuce, Trombone Shorty, George Porter Jr., and more.

"Saxophonist Khris Royal has emerged as one of the most exciting up-and-coming musicians on the New Orleans music scene," said Upbeat Magazine. According to WHERE Y'AT Magazine, "New Orleans' Khris Royal has it all: talent, drive and work ethic, and he's not too hard on the eyes...."

Also returning to MCLA Presents! will be the Margaret A. Hart '35 Scholarship Concert, this season featuring the Campbell Brothers, with guest openers Harold "Zion" Edwards and MCLA's own Allegrettos. The performance will take place on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center.

The Campbell Brother band, which has been playing together for nearly two decades, is known for their unique playing of steel lap guitars. The family, rounded out by gospel vocalist Katie Jackson, combines traditional African-American gospel music with the electric steel guitars and vocal.

"The Campbell Brothers are a soul-stirring blend of gospel and the power and volume of electric blues and rock, a sound as hot as brimstone..." according to National Public Radio. "The Campbell Brothers play music that until recently was heard only in gospel churches, with pedal steel guitar lines swooping skyward like a gospel shouter..." said Jon Pareles of The New York Times.

The show's opener, Edwards is a minister and gospel rap artist. Named the Holy Hip Hop Artist in 2004, he travels nationally, teaching and ministering, and is the founder of Christ Centered Music Ministries.

All proceeds from this event will benefit the Margaret A. Hart '35 Scholarship.

On Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at 7 p.m., MCLA Presents! will devote an evening of poetry and the spoken word in remembrance of poet Sekou Sundiata. A Harlem-born, African-American poet, activist and performer, Sundiata's voice became iconic as his words were always full of honesty, warm-heartedness, comedy, righteous anger and longing, Secor said.

"Sekou Sundiata Evening of Spoken Word and Poetry" will feature students from MCLA and Williams College, who will perform their own contemporary poetry and spoken word.

According to Aurora Cooper '12, "Writing poetry in the vein of Sekou Sundiata made his work relevant to my own; Celebrating his words with others brought his spirit to life. During this tribute to the influential Sekou, the diverse voices of student poets complemented each other, from soft and somber to rhythmic and musical. Poet or not, anyone with soul could honor Sekou Sundiata by attending and find this event meaningful, powerful, and uplifting."

And, once again, MCLA will present the Fourth Annual PAM! Show, on Saturday, May 5, 2013.

With further details to be announced in the spring, the annual PAM! Show has become the highlight of arts management students' scholastic career at MCLA. The PAM! Show is entirely programmed and produced by the spring 2013 performing arts management class, under the guidance of Secor, adjunct arts management professor.

"It's almost indescribable; the feeling you get when you see thousands of people actively enjoying something you put blood, sweat and tears into. What was just an idea in a classroom became a day that touched people's lives. That's what makes everything worth it," said Juwonni Cottle '13, about PAM! Show 2012's "Rock the Block."

"I am so happy that I was able to be a part of this," said Lauren Sottile '12 of last year's show. "Jonathan Secor has given me so many amazing opportunities in North Adams and at MCLA, I didn't believe it could get any better. 'Rock the Block' made me know for sure that this is the career I love. My four years here, I've been trying to bring the community together, and I literally cried with joy when I saw an article in the Transcript where Mayor Alcombright said that the event proved MCLA is actually a part of the community."

Admission to the Seventh Annual MCLA Blues and Funk Festival are specially priced at $15 for both nights. All other ticket prices to MCLA Presents! performances are $10 for general admission. Tickets for MCLA alumni are $8, $5 for staff and faculty, and members and students are free.

Tickets may be reserved by calling MCLA Presents! at (413) 662-5204. For more information, (413) 664-8718, or go to presents .

MCLA Presents! is a program of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), a collaborative project with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and the City of North Adams. The BCRC provides professional development training, resources and support to the artists, art managers and creative workers of Berkshire County. Through its multiple programs and presentations, BCRC brings the best of performance and art to the Berkshires and showcases the best of the Berkshires to the world.


MCLA Presents! 2012-13 Season:

The Pedrito Martinez Group
Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012; 3 p.m.

Moby Dick
Thursday and Friday, Oct. 4-5, 2012; 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012; 8 p.m.

Broadway's Next H!t Musical
Friday, Nov. 30, 2012; 8 p.m.

Dala, A Very Special Holiday Show
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012; 7:30 p.m.

The 8th Annual MCLA Blues and Funk Festival
Maya Azucena
Friday, Feb. 1, 2013; 7:30 p.m.

Khris Royal and Dark Matter
Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013; 7:30 p.m.

Margaret A. Hart '35 Scholarship Concert
The Campbell Brothers with guest opener, Zion
Saturday, March 2, 2013; 7:30 p.m.

Sekou Sundiata Evening of Spoken Word and Poetry
Featuring the voices of MCLA and Williams Students
Wednesday, April 17 2013; 7 p.m.

PAM! Show
Saturday, May 4, 2013;
Details to be announced in the spring!