Pepperdine University kicks off the new year with an exciting lineup of musical performances at the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts at Pepperdine’s Malibu campus. Serving as an arts hub for the community, the Center links professional guest artists with Pepperdine students and more than 50,000 patrons annually.
First up, on January 10, the Ezralow Dance Company mingles contemporary dance with playful humor, provocative ideas, striking visuals and “a fine-scaled, gutsy energy” (New York Times). Artistic Director Daniel Ezralow leads performances that transport audiences to a new dimension with an explosive blend of extraordinary creative fantasy and dramatic emotion. EzralowDance.com
Guitarist from Down Under
Two-time Grammy nominee Tommy Emmanuel, one of Australia’s most respected guitarists, and singer/guitarist J.D. Simo shake it up midweek, Wednesday, January 17 and Thursday, January 18. With a repertoire spanning pop, jazz, blues, gospel, classical, flamenco, and aboriginal styles, Emmanuel’s passionate and infectious performances delight fans worldwide.
His shows feature his new 16-track collaborative album Accomplice One, scheduled for release Friday, January 19, with guest artists Jason Isbell, Mark Knopfler, Rodney Crowell, Jerry Douglas, Amanda Shires, Ricky Skaggs, David Grisman, and more offering a unique take on indelible classics and new originals.
A world-renowned guitarist, songwriter and singer, Emmanuel is known for his complex fingerstyle technique, energetic performances and use of percussive effects on the guitar. Emmanuel began playing the guitar at age 4, joining his family’s touring band just two years later. Following high school, he became one of Australia’s most in-demand rock musicians, playing guitar in a succession of bands, including one of Australia’s best-known acts, Dragon. He also worked as a studio musician, playing on recordings for Air Supply and Men At Work, as well as thousands of commercial jingles and tunes. In the 1980s, he embarked on a successful solo career, releasing over 30 studio albums and intersecting with some of the finest musicians in the world. TommyEmmanuel.com
The “Prairie Mystic”
On Sunday, January 21, folk singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer, accompanied by pianist Gary Walters, brings her intimate, introspective performance to Smothers Theatre. Described as a “prairie mystic” by the Boston Globe, Newcomer is known for her “deep, rich alto and penchant for exquisite melodies” and interweaving her music with her contemplative Quaker faith.
This conversational songwriter celebrates and savors the ordinary sacred moments of life and champions interfaith dialogue and progressive spirituality. As a performer and educator, Newcomer speaks about creativity, vocation and activism at colleges, conventions and retreats. She has shared the stage with artists like Alison Krauss and has collaborated with influential authors, scientists and theologians, including Parker J. Palmer, Jill Bolte Taylor, Philip Gulley, Scott Russell Sanders, Rabbi Sandy Sasso and Barbara Kingsolver.
Newcomer has performed around the world for humanitarian efforts, and Boston’s WBEZ named her one of the most influential folk artists of the past 25 years. In 2009 and 2011, she was invited by the American Embassy of India to serve as a cultural ambassador, leading to her interfaith collaborative benefit album, Everything is Everywhere with world master of the Indian Sarod, Amjad Ali Khan. In 2012, she traveled to Kenya, Africa, performing in schools, hospitals and spiritual communities, and in 2013, she visited organizations dedicated to nonviolent conflict resolution through the arts and empowerment of women in the Middle East. Her song, “Holy as the Day is Spent,” was named one of the best spiritual songs of 2012, and Chicago’s WFMT called Newcomer one of “the 50 most influential folk musicians of the past 50 years.” CarrieNewcomer.com
Join violinist Tessa Lark and pianist Julio Elizalde for a performance January 21. The award-winning Lark is one of the most captivating artistic voices of her time. She is praised consistently by critics and audiences alike for her astounding range of sounds, technical agility, captivating interpretations and multi-genre performance. TessaLark.com
Testing the Limits
Pilobolus Maximus – Beyond The Limits of Dance comes to Pepperdine on January 25, bringing their tradition of testing human limits through collaborations with influencers, thinkers and creators in the world. Taking the most diverse and impactful elements of Pilobolus—some old, and some brand new— Pilobolus Maximus assembles them in a series of continually changing worlds. From the irreverence of a wild circus to the physical filigree of Pilobolus’ most classical physical work, Maximus is not only the best of Pilobolus but the most revealing of how diverse and surprising Pilobolus’ work can be. Pilobolus.org
January 28 brings The Four Freshmen to Smothers Theatre, sponsored by Anne Marie and Mitch Bredefeld. Since their inception in 1948, The Four Freshmen have toured the world with a unique blend of harmonic jazz arrangements and big band vocal group sounds. FourFreshmen.com
Award-winning jazz singer, songwriter and motivational speaker Mandy Harvey performs January 30, incorporating American Sign Language into her rich performance. Although Harvey lost her residual hearing at age 18, her timing, pitch and passion are perfect. She glides from a “breathy jazz standard to growling blues” that gets the audience up on its feet (LA Times), and though she can’t hear the applause or her own remarkable voice, she continues to find joy in music and inspire all who can listen.
After a connective tissue disorder led to Harvey’s residual hearing loss while she was attending Colorado State University as a Vocal Music Education major, she left the program and pursued other career options, returning to music, her true passion, in 2008. Named VSA’s Top Young Soloist in 2011, Harvey has performed at the Kennedy Center and throughout the U.S. Recently featured on “NBC Nightly News,” “Canada AM,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” and in the Los Angeles Tmes, Harvey is an ambassador to No Barriers USA and the Invisible Disabilities Association. Her mission is to encourage and assist others to break through personal barriers. MandyHarveyMusic.com
Time for Three comes to town January 31, with their groundbreaking, category-shattering sounds that transcend traditional classification, mixing elements of pop, rock and classical forms. With an infectious energy, virtuosity and showmanship, Time for Three performs everything from Bach to Brahms to ingenious mash-ups of hits by the Beatles, Kanye West, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake and more.
Comprising violinists Nicolas (Nick) Kendall and Charles Yang and double-bassist Ranaan Meyer, Time for Three delivers high-energy performances that merge each member’s musical backgrounds to create unique arrangements of traditional music and original compositions. The trio has brought its signature style to hundreds of performances for diverse audiences, including appearances at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall and ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Tf3.com
Tickets start at $22 for adults ($10 for Pepperdine students). Reserve your seat at 310.506.4522 or visit Arts.Pepperdine.edu.