Carolina Performing Arts Announces the 2017-2018 Season and the Opening of CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio at Carolina Square

Chapel Hill, NC – May 17, 2017) – Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will present 60 performances by 35 internationally renowned and emerging performers for its 13th season, the organization announced today.

Important Announcements and Themes for the 2017-2018 season include:

1 – CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio – Opening February 2018

CPA’s latest artistic venture, “CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio”, will open in February 2018 and is part of the new downtown Chapel Hill Carolina Square development on West Franklin Street. CURRENT will serve as the physical and intellectual home for our artists-in-residence to collaborate with faculty, students and the community. Programming at the 7,000 square-foot will feature immersive and co-creative arts experiences, including interactive theater and time-based arts installations.  More information is available at Performances scheduled for the inaugural season of CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio are:

Feb. 2-5                Sound Maze | Paul Dresher Ensemble*

Feb. 19                  We are Gob Squad and So are You | Gob Squad

Feb. 23 & 24       Revolution Now! | Gob Squad

Apr. 7                    Boots Riley and The Coup

Apr. 11-15            The Fever | 600 Highwaymen

May 5-6                Farfalle | Compagnia TPO

“CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio will offer a unique chance for students, faculty and staff to interact with visiting artists and represent Carolina’s commitment to using the arts as a way to further our research and teaching mission and to serve our hometown, our state and the world.”said Chancellor Carol L. Folt.

“We envision CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio to serve as an incubator for artists and audiences to co-create experiences and to serve as the home for our artists-in-residence,” said Emil J. Kang, Executive and Artistic Director of CPA.  “These shared experiences will be immersive, interactive, and intimate, all qualities that resonate with our desire to bring artists and audiences closer together.”

2 – Reimagining the Artist’s Role on Campus

The 2017-18 season will also reflect CPA’s growing focus on broadening and deepening long-term artist relationships and their relationships with our community. Through our first-ever Andrew W. Mellon Foundation DisTil Fellowship program and The Nannerl O. Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professorship program we will increase the number and length of artist residencies, structure formal academic and community partnerships, and offer audiences the opportunities to engage with artists on multiple platforms.

Our commitment to integrating the work of our world-class artists into the academic lifeblood of the University is rooted in the strong belief that the arts are uniquely qualified to communicate across social and cultural barriers, thus fostering the understanding of and empathy for different points of view and ways of life.” said Emil J. Kang, CPA Executive and Artistic Director.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation DisTIL Fellowship (Discovery Through Iterative Learning) invites artists to UNC’s campus for multiple semesters to collaborate with faculty in a department outside their own area of expertise, providing them the opportunity to gain new insights into questions they have been asking about their work and the world. The DisTIL Fellows will bring the unique creativity and approach of the arts to the work of faculty and students, helping them look at their own work through a new lens. DisTIL Fellows will share the results of their ideas and discussions with the wider community.

Our first DisTIL Fellow is singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon, whose commitment to social consciousness and supporting communities will see her collaborate with the Department of City & Regional Planning in the College of Arts and Sciences to gain insight into their work studying the impacts of the environment, social policy, government decisions and healthcare on communities.

Our second DisTIL Fellow is installation artist and puppeteer Robin Frohardt, whose performance and installation experiences spur audiences to rethink our world. She has already begun work with the Department of Archeology in the College of Arts and Sciences on the emergence of plastic as relic and will continue to explore UNC faculty research into the impact of plastic bags in our environment, new ideas to lessen their impact on our future, and how archeologists study containers and remnants from the past.

The Nannerl O. Keohane Visiting Professorship is a joint program of the Provosts at both UNC and Duke University.  This is the first year artists have been included in this program.  The Keohane Visiting Professorship brings scholars to UNC and Duke for a series of residencies on both campuses. The mission is to “advance social engagement and innovation programs at Duke and Carolina and inspire students and faculty to consider how their work can improve our communities.”

Our first Keohane Visiting Professor is musician and writer Jace Clayton, also known for his work as DJ/rupture. Clayton uses an interdisciplinary approach to focus on how sound; memory and public space interact, with an emphasis on low-income communities and the global South. He will participate in the Duke FHI Social Practice Lab and collaborate with UNC and Duke faculty and students to create new tools and performances that stretch across academic disciplines and cultural traditions.

Our second Keohane Professor is muralist Nina Chanel Abney, whose work touches on narratives on politics, race, homophobia, celebrity, consumerism and other controversial topics. She will connect with faculty in art, law and social work and with Campus Y students to discuss needs and interests in the community, and collaborate with local organizations to create a public mural in Chapel Hill.

3 – Artists Defying Classification

CPA presents artists whose innovative and multidimensional work expands beyond the boundaries of traditional genre labels.  The season kicks off on Sept. 7 with Ghanaian global fusionist Jojo Abot, who combines Afrobeat, jazz, reggae and electronica with fashion, film, literature and performance art.  In November, Big Dance Theater presents 17C, a CPA co-commissioned work, inspired by the exhaustive and eccentric 17th century diary of Samuel Pepys, which mirrors today’s social media obsession through a fascinating and wickedly funny combination of theatre and dance.

4 – Chamber Music Redefined

Building on the success of CPA’s opening season in the newly renovated Moeser Auditorium, we will present artists working at the leading edge of innovation in chamber music.  Attacca Quartet and Spektral Quartet are devoted to commissioning and performing new work; cellist Katinka Kleijn, of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and International Contemporary Ensemble collaborates with Chicago Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence Samuel Adams in a recital of new music for cello and electronics; and B.O.X. (Baroque Orchestration X)  collaborates with Antwerp-based indie rockers Dez Mona to create a shimmering modern song cycle called Sága which explores themes of home and memory against a delicate Baroque soundscape.

5 – Additional Season Highlights

Season highlights include a fully staged production of the opera Cold Mountain, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon, based on the best-selling novel by UNC alumnus Charles Frazier, presented in collaboration with North Carolina Opera; Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower an new opera based on the epic novel by the same name, with music and lyrics by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon, which blends science fiction and African American spiritualism; the return of three great CPA friends: the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields led by Music Director and violinist Joshua Bell who will also perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto, two performances by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Music Director Riccardo Muti, and two nights with Broadway superstar Audra McDonald.

Other CPA regulars include pianist András Schiff, bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers, Galician bagpiper Cristina Pato, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, banjo virtuoso Abigail WashburnNederlands Dans Theater, singer/songwriter Tift MerrittCloud Gate Dance Theatre of TaiwanJazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, and Carolina Ballet’s The Nutcracker.

Single tickets and subscriptions go on sale to the general public on June 7, 2017. For more details on the 2017-18 season, including ticket information, digital brochure and artist profiles, please visit

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelors, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

About Carolina Performing Arts

The mission of Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) is to enrich lives by creating and presenting exceptional arts experiences and connecting them to the UNC community and beyond. Established in 2005 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CPA presents the very best from the full spectrum of the performing arts: internationally renowned recitalists and orchestras, chamber ensembles, jazz, folk, and world music artists, dance and theater.  CPA strives to nurture artistic innovation and the development of new works on and off campus; to challenge and inspire audiences with powerful and transformative performances; and to integrate the arts into the life of the University, embracing its mission of teaching, research and public service.

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