Arts & Humanities

Performing Arts Center set for 25th anniversary season

Audra McDonald poses in front of a brick wall.
Six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald will perform as part of the Performing Arts Center’s 25th anniversary celebration on April 24. (Allison Michael Orenstein)

Robust, diverse program is based around the theme “Gather and Celebrate”

In a much-anticipated return to live, in-person performances, the University of Georgia Performing Arts Center announced that UGA Presents—the university’s professional concert series—will return this fall with an ambitious program of professional music and dance.

The new season marks a reopening of the venue after initially closing and then slowly returning, albeit with significantly scaled back activities, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The occasion also commemorates and celebrates the venue’s 25th anniversary.

Forced to pivot to a nearly all-digital program for the entirety of the 2020-21 season, UGA Presents will return to its traditional format of presenting touring artists in live performances at full capacity in the Performing Arts Center and Fine Arts Theatre beginning this fall and continuing through spring 2022.

“Our world has experienced unprecedented disruption since we were last able to gather together,” said Jeffrey Martin, director of the Performing Arts Center. “Throughout these many long and painful months of separation and isolation, I have been yearning for the time when we can be together once again. I’m absolutely thrilled that the time is now finally at hand.”

The UGA Presents season will feature a diverse mix of classical music, jazz, contemporary and traditional dance, Americana, and vocal music. The program’s 32 soloists, duos and ensembles will come to Athens from all over the United States and at least eight countries (travel conditions permitting).

Ricky Skaggs poses with his band.

Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder will perform Dec. 21. (Russ Carson/Carson Photoworks)

“Not only has the world changed significantly since we first opened our doors 25 years ago, it has changed dramatically in the last year as we have endured the devastating impact of a global pandemic, social injustice, and political uncertainty,” said Martin. “These experiences underscore the importance of the performing arts in our lives. As we gather together this season, we will tap into the power of the arts to unite us, to heal us, and to help us navigate the many difficult emotions we have been feeling.”

The new season launches on Tuesday, Oct. 5, with a free performance by the U.K.-based Doric String Quartet and American pianist Jonathan Biss. Additional ensembles in the Franklin College Chamber Music Series include Trio Con Brio Copenhagen (Oct. 26), Danish String Quartet (Jan. 29), Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (March 1), and the Pacifica Quartet with Anthony McGill, principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic (April 19).

Four performances originally planned and announced in spring 2020 have been rescheduled for the new season: Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn (Oct. 24), The Kingdom Choir (Nov. 28), Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (Dec. 7-8), and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (April 3). The two-night appearance by Jazz at Lincoln Center will bring the group’s acclaimed “Big Band Holidays” program to UGA for the first time.

American roots music will be well represented on the series throughout the season with performances by well-established artists as well as rising stars such as Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (Dec. 21), The Milk Carton Kids (April 14), and Sierra Hull and Justin Moses (May 6). On Nov. 16, two Grammy Award-winning artists join forces for “Southern Journey: An Afro-Americana Celebration!” featuring the Charleston-based band Ranky Tanky and Dom Flemons, founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Anthony McGill poses with his band.

Pacifica Quartet with Anthony McGill will perform April 19. (Eric Rudd Photography)

The season’s classical music highlights include the highly anticipated Hodgson Hall debut of two powerhouse performers together in recital—violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Yuja Wang (Nov. 1). Also featured on the series: guitarist Sharon Isbin with soprano Jessica Rivera (Nov. 21), The King’s Singers (Dec. 18), violinist Joshua Bell (Feb. 11), bassist Edgar Meyer and the Scottish Ensemble (April 1), and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with pianist Michelle Cann (March 4).

In April 2022, the Performing Arts Center will commemorate 25 years with a weeklong celebration including a gala concert by six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald (April 24) and concluding with a performance by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Donald Runnicles (May 1).

“As we gather together once again, I hope we will be inspired to learn, to love, and to have empathy,” Martin added. “In those moments after the lights go down and the music begins, we can take great comfort in the fellowship of those around us, forget the cares of the world for a short while, and find joy in our shared experience.”

Subscription packages with savings up to 25% off single ticket prices go on sale to renewing subscribers July 12. New orders begin July 26, and single tickets go on sale to the general public on Aug. 23. Subscriptions and more information are available online at or by calling (706) 542-4400.

2021-22 Season:

  • Doric String Quartet and Jonathan Biss, piano (Oct. 5)
  • Time for Three (Oct. 14)
  • Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn (Oct. 24)
  • Trio Con Brio Copenhagen (Oct. 26)
  • Leonidas Kavakos, violin, and Yuja Wang, piano (Nov. 1)
  • Southern Journey: An Afro-Americana Celebration! Featuring Ranky Tanky and special guest Dom Flemons (Nov. 16)
  • Sharon Isbin, guitar, and Jessica Rivera, soprano (Nov. 21)
  • The Kingdom Choir (Nov. 28)
  • Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Big Band Holidays (Dec. 7-8)
  • Christmas With The King’s Singers (Dec. 18)
  • Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (Dec. 21)
  • Momix (Jan. 13)
  • The World of Musicals (Jan. 18)
  • Nobuntu (Jan. 25)
  • Danish String Quartet (Jan. 29)
  • Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernandez (Feb. 4)
  • Joshua Bell, violin (Feb. 11)
  • Branford Marsalis Quartet (Feb. 19)
  • Anaïs Mitchell and Bonny Light Horseman (Feb. 26)
  • Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (March 1)
  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with Michelle Cann, piano (March 4)
  • Seven Things I’ve Learned: An Evening with Ira Glass (March 19)
  • Lúnasa (March 24)
  • Mnozil Brass (March 29)
  • Edgar Meyer and The Scottish Ensemble (April 1)
  • George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (April 3)
  • The Milk Carton Kids (April 14)
  • Pacifica Quartet with Anthony McGill, clarinet (April 19)
  • Audra McDonald (April 24)
  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (May 1)
  • Sierra Hull and Justin Moses (May 6)
  • Voctave (May 14)

Guest artists, programs, dates, times, ticket prices and service fees subject to change. Additional information about each performance can be found online at or by picking up a season brochure in the lobby of the Performing Arts Center.

Read more about the season and order tickets at or by calling 706-542-4400.