Harlem’s crown jewel, the Apollo Theater, announced its programming for the 2015-2016 season. Along with staples, including Amateur Night and Uptown Hall, this season features events in genres including classical, hip-hop, jazz and African.
Mark your calendar and make sure you check out these events. For tickets and more information go to www.apollotheater.org
1.) Harlem Healthy Soul Festival
The Apollo Theater will present its third annual community initiative focused on family wellness—Harlem Healthy Soul Festival. This day-long, free event is designed to serve as a platform for Harlem families to learn about the numerous community health resources to help live active and healthier lives. The Festival transforms the Apollo and 126th Street behind the Theater into a block party filled with music, entertainment, health, and educational resources, and family fun.
2.) Breakin’ Convention—An International Festival of Hip-Hop Dance Theatre
October 16, 17, & 18
New to this year’s Festival is the inclusion of an original work commissioned for Breakin’ Convention by the Apollo and created by acclaimed choreographer Rennie Harris, currently in development as part of the Apollo’s new works incubation program, the Apollo Salon Series. The Philadelphia-based Rennie Harris Puremovement Dance Company and the Brooklyn-based Next Level Squad, both standout participants in the Theater’s first Breakin’ Convention, will perform 100NAKEDLOCKS, a new piece inspired by the themes of Afro futurism and the Black sci-fi genre.
3.) The New Orleans Jazz Weekend and Masquerade
October 30 & 31
Grammy Award-winning jazz musician and newly appointed Apollo Jazz Artist-in-Residence Irvin Mayfield returns to the Theater to bring the spirit of his hometown, New Orleans, to Harlem for a special Halloween weekend of events, marking the official start of the new artistic partnership between the Apollo and Mayfield. The weekend includes a special performance by the renowned trumpeter with legendary jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater in the New York concert premiere of Bridgewater’s and Mayfield’s new album, Dee Dee’s Feathers (slated for release in the U.S. on August 11). Be sure to stay for the after-party in the Apollo Music Cafe.
4.) Beautiful, Also, Is The Sun
November 20 & 21
The Apollo and the nation’s leading Latino dance organization, Ballet Hispanico, present the world premiere of renowned Brazilian choreographer Fernando Melo’s new work, Beautiful, Also, Is The Sun. A co-commission of the Apollo and Ballet Hispanico, the work is choreographed to a medley of Brazilian sounds, electronic and acoustic, and explores the cultural contrasts of Melo’s homeland of Brazil in an homage to Melo’s native country.
5.) Je Suis Soul!: A Salute To French And African Jazz And Soul
December 4 & 5, 2015
Apollo Theater and Jazz a Vienne continues their partnership and artistic exchange with a weekend in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Jazz à Vienne Festival. Through the sounds of French and African jazz and soul, Je Suis Soul!: A Salute to French and African Jazz and Soul will explore the influences of soul on jazz, funk, and other popular music from around the globe. Featured artists include: the legendary Cameroon saxophonist Manu Dibango, who made his Apollo debut in the 1970s and is best known for his hit “Soul Makossa”; French soul superstar Ben l’Oncle Soul performing with San Francisco’s foremost retro-soul group, Monophonics; and Les Nubians, the Grammy-nominated duo whose unique mix of neo-soul, hip-hop and African music is epitomized in their most recent hit, “Nü Revolution.”
6.) The Classical Theatre of Harlem—The First Noel: A World Premiere Musical
Preview Performances: December 11 & 12
Opening Night: December 13
Performances: December 15 – 30
In this World Premiere, The Classical Theatre of Harlem presents The First Noel, a new Harlem-based holiday musical that promises to be an evergreen classic for years to come. Presented in the Apollo’s Soundstage, The First Noel follows three generations of a Harlem family affected by the tragic loss of a loved one until an unexpected visit reveals some long-absent Christmas joy. It is a story about how a community is healed, one family at a time, as everyday people do extraordinary things to help one another receive the gift of love at Christmas time. The First Noel features music that crosses genres—from disco to rock to gospel — to tell a universal story of love and belonging.
7.) Apollo Uptown Hall: A Martin Luther King Tribute
January, 17 2016
In celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, WNYC’s annual Martin Luther King Day celebration will return to the Apollo for a special edition of the Apollo’s Uptown Hall series. The series brings together community members, leaders, scholars and activists to engage in conversation about Dr. King’s legacy and how his teachings affect us today. WNYC’s Brian Lehrer will co-host this free event.
8.) Africa Now!
March 26, 2016
The fourth annual Africa Now! concert celebrates the best of the contemporary African music scene. This year’s main stage blow-out concert will feature Bombino, Mokoomba and Jojo Abot—artists whose music showcases the origins of African music and its extensions into today’s global pop culture. Omara “Bombino” Moctar is a young Tuareg guitarist and songwriter whose electrifying jams capture the spirit of resistance and rebellion while echoing with guitar riffs reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, Tinariwen, Ali Farka Touré, John Lee Hooker, and Jimmy Page. Mokoomba, the eclectic six-piece band, brings an electrified blend of Afro-fusion and traditional Tonga music and will be making their U.S. debut at the Apollo show.
9.) Jazz and Spirit
April 2, 2016
Grammy Award-winning composer Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra returns for this concert featuring two works by O’Farrill, which explore the deep connection between jazz and spiritual traditions. The first piece, “A Still Small Voice,” is a hybrid of classical jazz and Afro Latin elements focused on the idea of a conscience— a voice inside of us that knows right from wrong. The second piece, “The Cornel West Concerto,” newly commissioned by the Apollo and penned by O’Farrill, will set text by the speaker, scholar and activist Dr. Cornel West to Afro Latin Jazz orchestration.
10.) Charlie Parker’s Yardbird
Opening Night: May 31, 2016
Performances: June 3 and 5, 2016
The New York premiere of this new opera follows the inspirations, demons, and women who fueled the bebop great, Charlie Parker. Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, a co-production of the Apollo Theater, Gotham Chamber Opera and Opera Philadelphia, will premiere at the Apollo as part of the Apollo’s and Gotham’s artistic seasons, and will also be a part of the 2016 NY Philharmonic Biennial Contemporary Music Festival. Set in the famed NYC jazz club Birdland, saxophonist Charlie Parker composes his final masterpiece. Tenor Lawrence Brownlee stars as the legendary saxophonist—a role crafted around the effortless, improvisational style that makes him one of opera’s most sought- after tenors. Soprano Angela Brown appears as his mother, Addie Parker, and baritone Will Liverman debuts as jazz icon Dizzy Gillespie.