Mason Gross Summer Series features free music and dance

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The doors are open and the air-conditioning is set to high: Summer’s hot at Mason Gross.

The 2014 Mason Gross Summer Series, a five-event music-and-dance program, takes place July 16, 23, 24, 30, and August 6, 2014. Performances are free, family-friendly, and run just over an hour long.

This year is a medley: The music concerts range from jazzy to contemporary, while dance showcases both up-and-coming and established talent.  

The series “should be a gateway experience–we want people to leave as music and dance lovers,” says Christopher Kenniff, artistic director of the Mason Gross Summer Series.

The Mason Gross Summer Series opens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 16, at Nicholas Music Center with a performance by the Boston Brass. The quintet incorporates jazz, Latin, pop styles and ragtime into their performances.

The Rutgers Jazz Faculty will perform at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23, at Nicholas Music Center. Generations will mingle as precollege members of the Rutgers Summer Jazz Institute selected by  institute director Conrad Herwig open the show. Look for Herwig on trombone, Ralph Bowen on tenor sax, Tim Hagans on trumpet, Bill O'Connell on piano, Vic Juris on guitar, Victor Lewis on drums, and Kenny Davis on bass.

Two dance concerts follow: the first will be Summer Airs, featuring choreography from members of the renowned Mason Gross faculty, Randy James and Doug Elkins. The concert is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 24, at the Victoria Mastrobuono Theater. Douglas Dunn and Dancers will perform on Wednesday, July 30, at 7 p.m., at the Victoria Mastrobuono Theater. Dunn, a postmodernist dancer and choreographer, often uses humor, props, and text in his work.

JACK Quartet will wrap up the series with a concert set for Wednesday, August 6 at 7 p.m.

“JACK is  a very unusual string quartet,” Kenniff says. He says the members, known for playing contemporary music, have also done “some incredible work with traditional and early music.”

Kenniff says JACK Quartet, which won New Music USA’s 2013 Trailblazer Award, brings a fresh, left-of-center perspective to the series.

“There’s an excitement and newness to the group,” Kenniff adds.  “They are champions of new, emerging, and established composers.”

Both Douglas Dunn and the JACK Quartet specialize in new works, but Kenniff promises that the repertoire will be “accessible.”

Best of all? The entire series is free.

“There are no barriers to coming,” Kenniff points out. “It’s a great opportunity to sample something new.”

The Mason Gross Summer Series 2014 takes place at the Nicholas Music Center  and the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater, both part of the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center, 85 George Street (between Route 18 and Ryders Lane), on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. Admission is free, and no tickets are required. For more information about the Mason Gross Summer Series, call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 848-932-7511.

Posted May 2014