KU Presents! Announces 2023-24 Lineup of Thrills and Surprises

The Wallflowers' Jakob Dylan

Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers will kickoff the 2023-24 KU Presents! season on Sept. 27.

KU Presents! is delighted to share the diverse array of performances scheduled for 2023-24, beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 27 with The Wallflowers. Season tickets are available now for the Performing Artists Series season, which will include seven evenings of music, dance and theater in a variety of genres, as well as the recently revived Family Series with four Sunday afternoon events. Single tickets will be on sale beginning August 1.

Since its inception in 1988 as the Kutztown University Performing Artists Series in Schaeffer Auditorium, KU Presents! has been a center of cultural life, not only for the university, but for the surrounding region. It has given students and the wider community rare opportunities to enjoy top-quality performances they might not otherwise experience without traveling to New York or Philadelphia.

The opening performance will feature singer/songwriter Jakob Dylan, who created The Wallflowers as a roots rock band in 1989. The son of Bob Dylan and model Sara Lownds, Jakob Dylan has forged his own path as a gifted artist, not only as the lead singer and primary songwriter for the band, but as a soloist. The Wallflowers’ breakthrough 1996 album, “Bring Down the Horse,” produced the number-one single, “One Headlight,” which won two Grammy Awards in 1998. The band has released nine albums over the years, most recently “Exit Wounds” (2021). Dylan has released three solo albums, including “Echo in the Canyon” (2019), a celebration of the Los Angeles enclave Laurel Canyon, and its 1960s-era musicians’ colony.

The rest of the evening concert series will include:

The Mark Morris Dance Group (Wednesday, Oct. 11)—Morris is one of America’s pre-eminent modern dance choreographers, who has created more than 150 influential works for his own company, founded in 1980 and based in Brooklyn, N.Y., and for other dance companies. Morris had previously danced with Lar Lubovitch, Eliot Feld and others; his original training included ballet, flamenco and Balkan dance. He is also a conductor, and directs and choreographs operas. In 1990 he co-founded the White Oak Dance Project with the legendary Mikhail Baryshnikov. His dance company always tours with live musicians.

The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players: The Pirates of Penzance (Thursday, Nov. 9)—For close to 50 years, this renowned company has given more than 2,500 performances of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Founded by artistic director Albert Bergeret, this professional repertory ensemble specializes in these works. Their productions are not only hilarious, but meticulously staged and performed with a top-notch orchestra conducted by Bergeret.

Celtic Thunder’s Emmet Cahill and Celtic Woman’s Chloe Agnew (Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024)—Irish tenor Emmet Cahill is a member of the popular singing group Celtic Thunder, founded in 2007 in Ireland. The native of County Westmeath, Ireland, joined the group in 2010, and has since built a solo career, and has released the album “Emmet Cahill’s Ireland.” Singer/songwriter/actress Chloe Agnew was an original member, at age 14, of Celtic Woman; after 10 years with the group she left to pursue her own solo career. She tours internationally and performs with a variety of partners. Cahill and Agnew will blend their phenomenal voices in a concert of Irish music and other genres.

tenThing Brass Ensemble (Tuesday, March 5, 2024)—Founded in 2007 by Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth as an all-female, all-Norwegian 10-piece ensemble, tenThing has performed on all six continents to wild acclaim. The unusual combination of four trumpets, four trombones, a tuba and a French horn produces gorgeous performances of custom-arranged works of music ranging from Baroque to modern, and original pieces Helseth has commissioned.

The Del McCoury Band (Wednesday, March 20, 2024)—Del McCoury, born in York County, Pa., started out playing banjo, inspired by the legendary Earl Scruggs. In 1963, he joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, switching to guitar and lead singer under Monroe’s tutelage. By 1967 he had his own bluegrass band, The Dixie Pals, which later morphed into his current Grammy-winning band (including his sons Ronnie on mandolin and Rob on banjo, bassist Alan Bartram and fiddler Jason Carter). McCoury founded the four-day DelFest in Cumberland, Md., 15 years ago. His 16th recording, “Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass,” was released in 2017.

Lakecia Benjamin (Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in partnership with Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest)—Alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin fuses jazz, hip-hop and soul. The New York City native has performed with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Missy Elliot, Clark Terry, Christian McBride and many others. She is also an arranger and horn section leader for various artists. Her fourth album, “Phoenix” (2023), celebrates her recovery from a horrific car accident in 2021, and features guests Dianne Reeves, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, civil rights leader Angela Davis, poet Sonia Sanchez and R&B singer Patrice Rushen.

The Family Series performances, all on Sunday afternoons, will include:

Sugar Skull: A Dia de Muertos Musical Adventure (Oct. 1)—This touring bilingual/bicultural musical for young audiences and families uses traditional regional music and dance from Mexico to tell a story that focuses on the Day of the Dead, in which ancestors are honored. It was developed by Rhythm of the Arts, Gregory Van Acker, Sinuhé Padilla, and Elena Aráoz, with Mexico Beyond Mariachi, and features a company of gifted musicians and dancers.

The Okee Dokee Brothers (Nov. 19)—Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing are childhood friends who grew up in Denver, Colorado, and were always exploring the outdoors. They perform and record Americana music with the goal of inspiring children and their parents to enjoy the outdoors and be creative. The five-time Parents’ Choice Award winners have been called “two of family music’s best songwriters.”

Janet’s Planet: A Tour Through the Solar System (Feb. 4, 2024)—This 45-minute interactive presentation by Janet Ivey-Duensing, creator of the award-winning TV show, “Janet’s Planet,” introduces the wonders of the galaxy to families and young audiences throughout the country. It engages and challenges students and their parents, and is designed to inspire an interest in STEM subjects in elementary school-age kids. Ivey-Duensing is committed to enriching the lives of children through education, live performances, television and online programming. With more than 25 years in the media, she has received 12 Regional Emmy Awards and 5 Gracie Allen Awards.

Lightwire Theater: The Ugly Duckling (April 7, 2024)—Lightwire Theater combines theater and technology to bring stories to life in darkness, using electroluminescent artistry. Founders Ian Carney and Corbin Popp met while dancing in Twyla Tharpe’s “Movin’ Out” on Broadway, and decided to experiment with puppetry-based neon creatures. Along with their wives, Eleanor and Whitney, they bring this unusual experience to families throughout the world.

For complete information on the KU Presents! 2023-24 season, and to order tickets, visit the KU Presents! website, or call the KU Presents! Box Office Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00am - 3:00pm at 610-683-4092.