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CPA hosts three groups in a week


After a virtually empty performance schedule this January, featuring only Brooklyn Rider and the Knights, Carolina Performing Arts is hosting four shows by three different groups in a span of six days.

In conjunction with Black History Month, the organization has selected African-American artists as well as a prominent American jazz quartet to perform at Memorial Hall.

Each show will be accompanied by an installation of the Program Notes LIVE series, which provides context with pre-performance discussions, lectures and demonstrations led by UNC faculty.

Four Electric Ghosts

In partnership with the UNC art department, Carolina Performing Arts will host Four Electric Ghosts, a critically acclaimed “opera-masquerade.”

The performance, conceived by married couple Mendi and Keith Obadike, was inspired by a 1954 novel by Amos Tutuola and the popular video game “Pac-Man.”

Thursday’s show is part of Carolina Performing Arts’ smaller “Loading Dock” series, which only admits 155 audience members. It is sold out.

Ellen James, marketing manager for Carolina Performing Arts, said the show will create a more audience-oriented experience.

At the end of the show, the audience will be invited to participate in the performance, James said.

Joseph Jordan, director of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center, will give a lecture prior to the performance with special attention to how the show encompasses multiple artistic genres.

“The Obadikes perform a function to push boundaries of forms,” he said.

He also said that the type of art that “Four Electric Ghosts” will showcase is for everyone.

“People without artistic talent can claim to be part of this movement,” he said.

Overtone Quartet

Friday’s show at Memorial Hall will feature a concert by jazz band Overtone Quartet.

The group of four includes bassist Dave Holland, a notable jazz legend who played with jazz drummer Miles Davis. Holland won a Grammy for his collaborative album “Overtime” in 2006.

Jim Ketch, director of jazz studies in the UNC music department, will lead a lecture and demonstration on jazz improvisation prior to the performance.

“Everyone can seek to uncover something new and exciting, while all the time staying connected to the collective dialogue that is being generated by the quartet,” he said in an email.

Junior Tyler Bench, a business administration student who calls himself a devoted jazz fan, said the Overtone Quartet will surely put on a good show.

“They have form and structure but are highly improvisational,” he said. “All four players are world class musicians.”

Ketch said each of the four musicians encourages exploration within jazz performance.

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“The listener who comes prepared for the journey will certainly be lifted and transported by the collective brilliance of these four master musicians,” he said.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Monday and Tuesday’s performances by New York’s Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in Memorial Hall are both nearly sold out.

The group performed at Memorial Hall during the spring semester of 2010 and 2011.

Deborah Stroman, chairwoman of the Black Faculty and Staff Caucus, said the show will be of incomparable quality.

“Everyone who cares about dance should be required to see a show by the Alvin Ailey Company,” Stroman said.

“What makes them so special is the history and tradition of excellence,” she said.

The theater was founded in 1958 in New York City by Alvin Ailey and is now directed by Robert Battle.

As a part of Carolina Performing Arts’ Program Notes LIVE series, there will be a pre-performance discussion with Louise Toppin, a professor in the music department.

Toppin will focus on the idea of legacy, past and future in African-American art.

The company — which consists of 32 dancers — will perform four pieces each evening. Each night will end with a piece called “Revelations.”

“We’re very blessed here at Carolina for them to come,” Stroman said.

Contact the Arts Editor at