Athens, Ga. – George C. Foreman, director of the University of Georgia Performing Arts Center, and Paul Cramer, executive director of the Classic Center, announced today that both venues are entering into a partnership for the 2010-2011 season. The collaborative venture will showcase some of the biggest names in popular entertainment in a new series they are calling Celebrity Evenings.
Celebrity Evenings will feature the legendary Tony Bennett and America’s favorite trumpet player, Doc Severinsen. In addition, negotiations are currently underway to add a performance by Lyle Lovett and His Large Band to the Celebrity Evenings schedule.
In announcing the partnership, Foreman said, “I am truly excited about this new endeavor. I believe, by joining forces with the Classic Center, we are creating an innovative model for town and gown relationships.”
“We are so fortunate to have these two wonderful performing arts venues in Athens, and this partnership is going to allow UGA and the Classic Center to jointly expand the cultural and entertainment options for our community,” said Cramer. “It is a pleasure to work with UGA and we are very excited about the concerts in this new series.”
Bennett will kick off the Celebrity Evenings series with a concert at the Classic Center Theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m. With worldwide record sales in the millions and dozens of platinum and gold albums to his credit, Bennett has received 15 Grammy Awards, including the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
The MTV generation first took Bennett to heart during his appearance with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the 1993 MTV Video Awards. His initial fame came via a string of Columbia singles in the early 1950s, including his signature hit, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” which earned him two Grammy Awards. Bennett is one of a handful of artists to have new albums chart in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and into the new millennium.
Severinsen and El Ritmo de la Vida will perform at Hodgson Concert Hall in the UGA Performing Arts Center on Thursday, May 12, at 8 p.m. Severinsen arrived in New York City in 1949 to become a staff musician for NBC. After years of playing with the network’s studio bands, he was invited to do a gig with the highly respected Tonight Show band. An impressed conductor, Skitch Henderson, asked him to join the band in 1962 as first trumpet. Five years later, Severinsen took over as Music Director, where he stayed until 1992. After the TonightShow, Severinsen continued to perform and conduct major orchestras throughout the U.S. and Canada, holding simultaneous titles as pops director for the Milwaukee Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and the Phoenix Symphony. After moving to Mexico in 2006, he made new discoveries in two very talented Mexican musicians, Gil Gutierrez and Pedro Cartas. Together with these men, Severinsen has crafted an original program called El Ritmo de la Vida (The Rhythm of Life). “Latino music, along with the blues, has always been among my favorites, and Gil and Pedro do it along with a European style that I love and so do our audiences,” said Severinsen.
Arrangements also are underway for Lovett and His Large Band to perform at the Classic Center Theatre on a date to be announced. Lovett was one of the most distinctive and original singer/songwriters to emerge during the 1980s, and though initially labeled as a country singer, the tag never quite fit. Lovett’s musical tastes don’t rely on country, though the genre provided the foundation of his sound; instead, he incorporates jazz, folk, and pop into a country framework, pushing the musical boundaries of each genre. Since 1980, Lovett has recorded 13 albums and released 21 singles. He has won four Grammy Awards, including Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Album. In 1991, he made his acting debut in Robert Altman’s award-winning film, The Player.
In expressing his enthusiasm for the project, UGA President Michael F. Adams said, “One of the great strengths of the University of Georgia is the multifaceted partnership with the city of Athens. The Celebrity Evenings partnership brings together the two best performance venues in this area, and I look forward to enjoying many of these events in the company of UGA colleagues and Athens friends.”
Single tickets for the UGA Performing Arts Center/Classic Center Theatre Celebrity Evenings will go on sale July 24 at 9 a.m. Currently, tickets are on sale only with season subscription packages.
Tickets may be purchased through either the Classic Center or the UGA Performing Arts Center. Contact the Classic Center box office at 706/357-4444 or purchase online at www.ClassicCenter.com. Tickets also may be purchased by calling the Performing Arts Center at 706/542-4400 or toll free at 888/289-8497 or buy online at www.uga.edu/pac.