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"Midsummer Nights in Midtown" turn Wayne State's cultural district into a SOHO-style entertainment destination featuring name acts performing free, open-air weekend concerts in June

May 19, 2009


DETROIT -- New York City's East Village Opera Company, a rock group that transforms traditional operatic pieces into modern musical arrangements, should feel right at home performing in Wayne State's Midtown Detroit cultural district, in the epicenter of an artistic fringe community not unlike the one associated with New York University. EVOC will join former Ann Arbor rock sensation Tally Hall, popular local R&B crooner Thornetta Davis, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Wayne State's world-acclaimed professor Chris Collins and the Detroit Jazz Collective as one of many eclectic performances headlining Midsummer Nights in Midtown.

"There is a growing appetite for social, cultural and intellectual stimulation within the university's burgeoning campus community and surrounding areas of metropolitan Detroit," said Sue Mosey, executive director of the University Cultural Center Association (UCCA), and leader of Detroit's Midtown redevelopment efforts. "Midsummer Nights in Midtown" is an unprecedented opportunity to expose locals, tourists and suburbanites to the richness of Midtown's museums, galleries and performance venues."

Co-created by Wayne State University and the University Cultural Center Association (UCCA) in lieu of the Detroit Festival of the Arts, "Midsummer Nights" is an open-air summertime festival and concert series that spotlights a different Midtown venue every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening in June. The series features an admission-free performance by international, national and local guest artists ranging from acclaimed musicians to award-winning poets and authors, and a large-puppet theater for children. In total there will be more than a dozen participating venues and over 25 performances amid the state's premier arts and cultural institutions, neighborhood galleries, and entertainment facilities.
Highlights

Thursday, June 4th -- The N'Namdi Arts Center featuring Malcolm-Jamal Warner's Miles Long, and the Detroit Artists Market presenting Tally Hall, Ann Arbor's upbeat rock band favorite returns triumphantly from New York City. The once-Cosby Show youngster, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, now a celebrated musician in his own right, appears with his Los Angeles band.

Saturday, June 6th -- American poet and 2008 National Book Award winner, Mark Doty, headlines the "Midsummer LitFest" at the Scarab Club. Considered "a star of contemporary American poetry," Doty is the author of seven books of poems and three memoirs. Coordinated with Springfed Arts and WSU English professor, M.L. Liebler, this progressive literary festival will also include readings by national and regional poets and authors, and music by noted jazz musicians.

Saturday, June 13th -- The Detroit Science Center will host the "Midsummer Children's Fair" featuring the Hudson Vagabond Puppets' latest production, "Butterfly: The Story of a Life Cycle". This evening of non-stop, hands-on fun includes 24 young creatives in the Youth Artists Market and more than a dozen imaginative children's make-and-take crafts for all ages - as well as the Detroit Science Center's huge variety of novel installations and educational experiences.

Thursday, June 18th -- Detroit vocalist and perennial favorite, Thornetta Davis, opens for the London-based, Jamaican-born poet, Linton Kwesi Johnson, who is credited as creator of the hybrid genre of reggae poetry. A book signing will start the evening at the Detroit Public Library Main Branch, Thursday, June 18th.

Saturday, June 20th -- The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will perform selections from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" on Saturday, June 20th, in a late-night outdoor concert held on the lawn adjacent to The Ellington parking structure, across from Orchestra Hall. San Francisco's extraordinary aerial dance troupe, Project Bandaloop, will add their beautiful, gravity-defying vertical choreography, performing to the dulcet sounds of the celebrated hometown orchestra. Opening the evening's open-air music and dance festivities is NYC's East Village Opera Company, a rock group -- composed of two guitarists, a bassist, a percussionist, a string quartet and a vocalist -- that has toured the world.

Wednesday, June 24th -- Spectators can also watch as the sidewalks of Wayne State's campus come to life during a street painting exhibition on Wednesday, June 24 and Thursday, June 25. A mix of high school, college and professional artists will be recreating well-known works of art in chalk along Wayne State's Reuther Mall from noon to 8 p.m.

Thursday, June 25th -- Wayne State University's Community Arts Auditorium hosts a special evening of jazz, Thursday, June 25th, featuring special guests The Bad Plus. This Minneapolis acoustic jazz trio performs modern avant-garde jazz with influences of rock and pop. Professor Chris Collins leads the WSU Detroit Jazz Collective bringing together Jazz Department faculty, Detroit Jazz artists and outstanding WSU jazz students presenting new music arranged and composed by the members.

Presented by the Detroit International Jazz Festival, this evening's screening of, A Great Day In Harlem, will include introduction of the jazz fest's own "A Great Day In Detroit" photo. This Academy Award nominated documentary tells the story behind the legendary August 1958 photograph of 57 of the world's greatest jazz stars who snapped a picture that day that would live forever.

Saturday, June 27th -- The "Canfield St. Street Party", Saturday, June 27th will close the month-long celebration with an evening of special guests, featuring the Lovell Sisters and the internationally known Orishas. Orishas, a two-time Grammy Award winning trio, combines hip hop with classic Cuban beats, will be a "can't miss" event to conclude this summer series. Food and drink stations supplied by the Traffic Jam & Snug Restaurant, and a retail booth area showcasing some of Midtown's finest boutique businesses.

Midsummer Nights in Midtown is co-produced by the University Cultural Center Association and Wayne State University with sponsorship from MASCO, Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, and Wayne State University. Valet parking will be available for all events at designated locations.

For more information and a complete listing of all the venues and performances, parking locations, and food & drink options, visit www.midsummernightsinmidtown.com or call 313.577.5088.

  • Contact: Francine Wunder
  • Voice: 313-577-8155
  • Email: francine@techtownwsu.org
  • Fax: 313-577-4459
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5700 Cass Avenue, 3100 Academic Administration Building * Detroit, Michigan 48202
Phone (313) 577-2150 * Fax (313) 577-4459 * Newsline (313) 577-5345