It's hard to imagine a more fun curatorial task than organizing the Duke Performances series. The Durham university's annual slate of live music, dance, theater—and ambitious intersections there of—is an onslaught where traditionally "high culture" offerings meet more challenging concepts. Spaced between September and May, it's not a series for people who want their art rigidly divided by arbitrary criteria. It's for those who get giddy when performers break down those boundaries and mess around in the space between, an expectation very much maintained by the recently unveiled schedule for the 2013-14 season.
In September, Duke's resident and reliable Ciompi Quartet will team up with the Kruger Brothers, a knotty and exhilarating Appalachian group, mining the often ignored overlap between classical music and bluegrass. In November, local musician Nick Sanborn, an impressive collaborator whose credits include Megafaun's mystifying folk experiments and Sylvan Esso's sly electro-pop, will present his own genre-busting piece exploring the existence of rock 'n' roll sidemen. For a few dates in February, Bombadil will pair their emotionally potent, musically playful folk and rock with Torry Bend's distinct puppetry.
These are the kind of bold, original ideas that set Duke Performances apart from many of their university-funded peers. But the goodies don't stop there. Grammy-winning jazz pianist Billy Childs will offer up a piece he wrote to commemorate the 50th anniversary of integration at Duke with help from the powerfully piped Dianne Reeves. Lauded—and happily married—pianists Emanuel Ax and Yoko Nozaki will add one of their rare and coveted duo performances. The Urban Bush Women, long a force in the world of African dance, will open minds with pieces that splice modern dance and ballet with African traditions.
The full schedule, which you can check out here, features many more intriguing selections. Check it out.