Mason Gross Summer Series 2012 features free music and dance

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Flamenco Vivo Carlota SantanaLet the whole family soak up a little summertime fun at the Mason Gross Summer Series 2012. The four-event program, featuring a flamenco performance and an all-Charles Mingus program by our renowned jazz faculty, among other offerings, takes place Wednesdays from July 11 through Aug. 1, 2012. Performances are free, family-friendly and run just over an hour long.

Christopher Kenniff, artistic director of the Summer Series, says he hopes the program’s affordability and accessibility will encourage audiences to sample something new.

“There’s a lot of variety,” Kenniff says. “The offerings span from the Middle Ages to contemporary dance in the 21st century. Plus, most free summer events don’t offer programming on this level. The Summer Series allows you to dip into an area of the arts you may not be familiar with.”

The Summer Series 2012 opens at 7:30 p.m. July 11 at Nicholas Music Center with a performance by vocal ensemble TENET. The New York City-based group performs lesser-known masterworks from Medieval and Renaissance eras while injecting new energy into more familiar classical music pieces.

Get ready to dance: Next up is a side trip to Andalusia, with a concert by innovative dance group Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana.The performance takes place 7:30 p.m. July 18 at the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater. The group, which, according to The New York Times combines “meticulous attention to choreographic details with outpourings of passionate feelings,” is known for dynamic performances of works fusing African, American and Middle Eastern influences.

Monica Bill Barnes & Company contemporary dance group draws inspirationMonica Bill Barnes & Company from the humor and drama of everyday life. The group has been awarded creative residencies by The Joyce Theater Residency Program and Jacob’s Pillow, among others. Monica Bill Barnes & Company perform at 7:30 p.m. July 25 in the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater.

The series concludes 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1 at Nicholas Music Center with a beloved annual tradition—a performance by the esteemed Rutgers Jazz Faculty with Kenny Davis on bass; Conrad Herwig on trombone; Ralph Bowen on saxophone; Bill O’Connell at the piano; Vic Juris on guitar; Donald Edwards on drums, and Joe Magnarelli on trumpet. This year’s performance is a tribute to the late bassist and composer Charles Mingus in honor of what would have been his 90th birthday.

“This is an all-star lineup,” Kenniff says of the Rutgers Jazz Faculty, all of whom enjoy international careers. “You can’t go into New York City and hear all these guys in one room—let alone for free.”

The Mason Gross Summer Series 2012 takes place at the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater and the Nicholas Music Center, 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 Mason Gross Presents, call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 732-932-7511.

Media inquiries: Laurie Granieri, 848-932-5239

Posted June 2012