Artistic Partners

Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald

The Grand is now home to City Theater Company, The Rock Orchestra

At the close of the summer, The Grand made a very grand announcement indeed, welcoming two new organizations into its artistic partner family. Delaware’s Off-Broadway experience City Theater Company (CTC) and celebrated multi-genre ensemble The Rock Orchestra (TRO) have proudly joined the ranks of Resident Companies of The Grand Opera House.

Resident Companies are local or regional performing arts groups that make The Grand their primary artistic home, sharing their art in The Grand’s performance spaces and collaborating on marketing initiatives and other projects. CTC and TRO join the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, First State Ballet Theatre and Opera Delaware as Resident Companies.

“The non-profit Grand Opera House is a shared asset that we manage on behalf of the residents and citizens that we serve,” says Mark Fields, executive director of The Grand. “Having The Grand now be the artistic home for these organizations gives us the opportunity to more fully connect to the community and share the joy of the performing arts with more members of that community.”

CTC began its landmark 25th season in September, with Fearless Improv shows in the cozy Sarah Bernhardt Salon. Fearless’ next performance is an 8 p.m. show on Friday, Oct. 19, picking up again Jan. 9 with monthly second Saturday performances through April 2019. CTC’s main stage starts with a blast from its (recent) past—a one-night-only, in-concert version of Green Day’s American Idiot on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m. in the baby grand. (CTC staged the Delaware Premiere of the show in 2015.) The main stage continues with a run of Mamma Mia! (Dec. 7-15) in Studio One.

“As we head into our 25th year and my first as interim artistic director, I’m excited for the possibilities ahead,” says Kerry Kristine McElrone. “The Grand is a community built on relationships, and I’m thrilled to be renewing ours. Our brand of up-close-and-personal theater will be well-served in Studio One, where we can create worlds that immerse our audiences in the emotion and action alongside our actors.”

The Rock Orchestra starts its run in The Grand with a Saturday, Nov. 17, performance of “An Evening of The Who,” followed by “An Evening of R.E.M.” on Saturday, Jan. 26, and “An Evening of Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” on Saturday, May 18.

“The Grand Opera House has been the heart of the performing arts scene in Wilmington for as long as I can remember,” says TRO co-founder Matt Urban. “Having TRO present our shows in partnership with this treasured community organization is an incredible opportunity.”

Co-founder Joe Trainor concurs. “Not only is it an honor to perform in these spaces, but it allows us the flexibility to develop our productions into ‘must-see’ events and make them available to a wider audience.”

“The Grand is all about partnerships,” says Fields. “We partner intensely throughout each season with numerous arts organizations, individual artists, and other types of business to advance our own mission and benefit the entire community. Our resident companies are even more in-depth partners since we share these stages and this wonderful building.”

Tickets for all CTC, Fearless and TRO events can be purchased online at TheGrandWilmington.org, by phone at 652-5577, or in person at The Grand’s Box office, 818 N. Market St., Wilmington.

Christina Cultural Arts Center Opens with a Bustling Weekend of Art

Stephen Kingsberry’s exhibit, “The Burden of Palestine,” will be shown through Nov. 25. Photo courtesy of Stephen Kingsberry

On Friday, Oct. 5, as part of Art Loop Wilmington, Christina Cultural Arts Center (CCAC) will host local artist Stephen Kingsberry’s exhibit, “Burden of Palestine,” in its Edward Loper Sr. Gallery. Kingsberry’s love for art was reinforced after his visit to Palestine in 2017. A Gallery Talk will be led by Mike Abel of Delawareans for Palestinian Human Rights on that evening at 7 p.m.

“We’re excited to show Stephen’s compelling works,” said Raye Jones Avery. “It’s an exhibit that will undoubtedly draw strong responses from viewers and, hopefully, stimulate conversation and even action.”

Simultaneously that evening, Christina hosts an Achievement & Scholarship Celebration at 5:30 to celebrate the organization’s mission to make the power of arts accessible to youth and announce a new scholarship campaign to honor the achievements of longtime CCAC Executive Director Jones Avery.

Christina has long been known for intimate performances by acclaimed jazz and R&B artists (e.g., Gregory Porter, Delfaeyo Marsalis). Closing the weekend on Sunday, Oct. 7, the organization celebrates the launch of its music series with Live @ Christina Opening Night—a 3 p.m. debut performance by jazz/R&B duo The Baylor Project.

The duo, featuring Jean Baylor and Marcus Baylor, debuted their CD The Journey in 2017. The release topped the Billboard jazz chart at Number 8 and in 2018 garnered two Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance.

Christina will continue its Live @ Christina series on Friday, Nov. 2, with a 7:30 p.m. performance by five-time Grammy-nominated pianist Christian Sands. Tickets for each performance can be purchased at ccacde.org.

The engagements of The Baylor Project and Christian Sands are made possible through the Jazz Touring Network program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Music Fills (Mid) Market Street in a Historical Spot

Delaware Historical Society (DHS) brings music to the “mid-Market Street” area this season, partnering with two noted organizations—Mélomanie and Market Street Music—in a yearlong series of chamber music and jazz concerts in the splendid space of Old Town Hall.

Wilmington-based Mélomanie is an ensemble known for its “provocative pairings” of early and contemporary works, while Market Street Music hosts its own diverse series of classical, jazz, folk and world music just off Rodney Square. Both organizations are excited about expanding their footprint and their audience with DHS.

Mélomanie brings its Wilmington Series to Delaware Historical Society starting Oct. 7. Photo Tim Bayard

Mélomanie is the first of the collaborators, with a Season Launch & Concert on Sunday, Oct. 7. Their 3 p.m. performance will feature the Delaware Premiere of Hubble’s Eye, a multi-media piece for baroque flute, baroque violin, viola da gamba and harpsichord by Christopher Cook. The piece is complemented by the projection of actual photos from the Hubble Deep Space Telescope. “Hubble’s Eye is inspired by the spectacular images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope,” notes Mélomanie Co-Artistic Director Tracy Richardson. “The time-traveling aspect of the images is reflected in the use of baroque instruments. What a provocative pairing, indeed.” The ensemble presents additional concerts at DHS on Dec. 7, Jan. 27, Feb. 24, March 30 and April 7.

Tickets for all can be purchased at melomanie.org. Prices vary for certain performances.

Market Street Music arrives with a three-part mini-series of Thursday Noontime Concerts on Nov. 1, 8 and 15, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Featured artists include the Taggart Grycky Duo, Sharon Sable & Shawn Qaissaunee, and the Copeland String Quartet with baritone Grant Youngblood.

All Market Street Music performances are free to attend and are inspired by DHS’s exhibit, “First State at the Front,” which recognizes the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I.

“We’re always open to partnering with artists in our community and look forward to filling Old Town Hall with music this season,” says Karen Kegelman, advancement officer for the Delaware Historical Society. “Hosting performances allows DHS to welcome more guests to the museum and to provide added value to existing and potential members.”

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