LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 21, 2012) — The Singletary Signature Series at the University of Kentucky Singletary Center for the Arts is under way. In a season that includes blues, rockabilly, jazz and classical music concerts, as well as international dance productions. Kentucky audiences will have the opportunity to catch greats like Hugh Laurie, Chris Isaak, Christine Brewer with the UK Symphony Orchestra, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, “Live at Birdland” and dance by Celtic Nights.
The 2012-2013 season will open with somewhat of an unlikely performance by a well-known TV star — Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band. Laurie, who starred in the TV series “House,” and company come to the Bluegrass with their first album, “Let Them Talk.” Produced by Joe Henry and recorded in Los Angeles and New Orleans, the album is a celebration of New Orleans blues, a genre that drives Laurie’s musical raison d’etre. Spiritually inspired by similar genre albums like Ry Cooder’s “Buena Vista Social Club” and T-Bone Burnett’s “O’ Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack, Laurie’s “Let Them Talk” recordings bring together an extraordinary selection of heritage tracks, renowned musicians and vocal legends to champion this much neglected body of work. Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band will perform 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24.
Next up for the Signature Series line-up will be “Live at Birdland” featuring The Birdland Big Band directed by Tommy Igoe. “Live at Birdland” recreates the ambience and experience of a night at the jazz club Birdland. This dynamic new ensemble, straight from the jazz mecca of New York City, provides an unforgettable musical event that goes beyond the traditional and sets the standard for the 21st century jazz orchestra. The night will feature fresh treatments of iconic Charlie Parker compositions, as well as innovative arrangements from composers such as Chick Corea, Arturo Sandoval, Sting, Herbie Hancock, John Lennon/Paul McCartney and Leonard Bernstein. “Live at Birdland” comes to the stage 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20.
The much-anticipated return performance of Chris Isaak will fill the Singletary Center in November. Isaak returns to Lexington with a new record in his discography — “Beyond the Sun.” As a child spinning his parents 45s in their California home, this deeply committed artist has been obsessed with the glory days of Sun Studios in Memphis and the visionary artists who got their start there — including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Isaak has acted on this lifelong obsession, recapturing the transformative hepcat brilliance of the classic sides cut by these greats at Sun Records during the ‘50s, while also getting down to the heart and soul of his own deeply rooted musical identity. Chris Isaak will perform 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17.
The holiday season will bring the Brian Setzer Orchestra to the Bluegrass. Brian Setzer a punk rocker grinning across a gorgeous Gretsch guitar splashed through the neon of the ‘80s scene with a sound that channeled the earliest primal yelps of rock ‘n roll. Then in the ‘90s, when every guy within a fedora’s throw of Hollywood wanted to form a swing band, Setzer massed an orchestra and launched an assault on all the zoot-suited mannequins cruising the scene. With an astonishing consistency and quality of output, an honest reverence for the American musical tradition and an idiosyncratic swagger that is itself the kind of brand that defies all contrivance, Setzer’s on that short list alongside guys like Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck, and Jimi Hendrix who inhabit their own crazy little islands where the waves around them may change direction but the guitar licks are scorching, the drinks stay cold and the circle remains unbroken. The Brian Setzer Orchestra will command the stage 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7.
The UK Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of John Nardolillo, will join famed soprano Christine Brewer in concert in 2013. In 2007, BBC Music Magazine listed Brewer among the top 10 sopranos of the recorded era. Brewer not only made the list, she was one of four alive and one of only three Americans recognized. Brewer combines her vibrant personality with an emotional honesty that distinguishes her performances in opera and concert. The soprano’s range, tone, power and vocal control have made her a favorite of the stage as well as the recording studio. Christine Brewer will perform 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15.
“Celtic Nights: Journey of Hope” will close out the Singletary Signature Series. Celtic Nights features the finest male and female voices of the Celtic world against a thundering backdrop of expert dancing and musicianship. In this production, six of Ireland’s most prominent vocal talents are complimented by six of its most accomplished step dancers, in creating a picture of a proud people who dared to dream big and doggedly carved out a home in the New World. “Celtic Nights: A Journey of Hope” dances onto Singletary’s stage 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2.
Tickets prices vary for 2012-13 Singletary Signature Series performances and are on sale individually over the next six weeks. Tickets to Singletary Signature Series shows can be purchased by calling the Singletary Center ticket office at 1-859-257-4929, visiting online at www.scfatix.com, or in person at the venue.