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Performing arts stars, stars on the rise coming to Madison as part of 2023-24 Wisconsin Union Theater season

Posted: 05/04/23

Performing arts stars, stars on the rise coming to Madison as part of 2023-24 Wisconsin Union Theater season

A programming team with a history of booking stars and stars before they rise to popularity releases its next season lineup

A season of stars and stars-in-the-making will perform in Madison, Wisconsin, as part of the Wisconsin Union Theater’s (WUT’s) 2023-24 season of jazz, dance, chamber music, an annual celebration of contemporary Black art, and global music, with subscriptions available for purchase beginning June 1 and single tickets to each performance available beginning June 16.

For 104 years, the Classical Series, formerly called the Concert Series, has celebrated classical music with recent seasons including artists that celebrate its traditions and those who seek to redefine aspects of the genre. The Classical Series lineup for the upcoming season includes:

  • Pianist Simone Dinnerstein on Sept. 28, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Shannon Hall
  • Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason on Nov. 3, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Shannon Hall
  • The Isidore String Quartet on Dec. 8, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Shannon Hall
  • The Schumann Quartet on Feb. 8, 2024, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Shannon Hall
  • The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine on Feb. 20, 2024, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall
  • Soprano Brenda Rae with pianist Bénédicte Jourdois on March 7, 2024, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Collins Recital Hall

Cello prodigy Kanneh-Mason’s fame grew around the world after he performed at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s royal wedding in 2018.

For Rae, her Wisconsin Union Theater-hosted performance is a bit of a homecoming, having graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a bachelor’s degree in voice in 2004.

The global music events include performances by:

  • Las Cafeteras on Nov. 1, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Shannon Hall
  • The Zakir Hussain Trio on March 16, 2024, 8-9:30 p.m., Shannon Hall

Las Cafeteras will perform “Hasta La Muerte: A Day of the Dead” show, a program that celebrates life and death and that aims to inspire social change. Patrons will experience a performance filled with dance, folklore, and music with a foundation of son jarocho with influences of numerous genres, including hip-hop and folk.

The Zakir Hussain Trio features GRAMMY-winning tablaist Zakir Hussain, 10th-generation sarangi artist Sabir Khan, and award-winning bansuri player Debopriya Chatterjee.

The 2023-24 Jazz Series features:

  • Harpist Brandee Younger on Sept. 29, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Play Circle Theater
  • Percussionist, composer, and producer Makaya McCraven on Oct. 11, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Shannon Hall
  • The Blue Note Records 85th Anniversary Tour on Jan. 26, 2024, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Shannon Hall
  • Jazz and R&B singer Lady Wray on Feb. 29, 2024, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Play Circle Theater
  • Pianist and drummer Julius Rodriguez on March 14, 2024, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Play Circle Theater
  • Trumpeter Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah, formerly Christian Scott, on May 2, 2024, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Shannon Hall

McCraven will perform a program with selections from his extensive, critically acclaimed discography, including his newest album, titled “In These Times,” and a vanguard approach to jazz that reflects the musical inspiration he has found in many music styles, such as hip-hop and funk.

The Blue Note Records 85th Anniversary Tour features GRAMMY-nominated pianist Gerald Clayton, vibraphonist Joel Ross, alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, drummer Kendrick Scott and bassist Matt Brewer.

WUT, the Madison Music Collective, and the Arts + Literature Laboratory will co-present performances by to-be-announced artists at free jazz events, as part of the DIG JAZZ lineup on Sept. 15, Oct. 27 and Nov. 17 at the Play Circle Theater at Memorial Union. Seating for DIG JAZZ performances will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Sept. 15 event will feature Feetstet, with will perform starting at 7:30 p.m. 

The season will also include professional touring dance company Ronald K. Brown's EVIDENCE on Feb. 18, 2024, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in Shannon Hall. EVIDENCE performs with a mission to promote understanding of the human experience in the African Diaspora through dance and storytelling and to provide sensory connections to history and tradition through music, movement, and spoken word, leading deeper into issues of spirituality, community responsibility and liberation.

The Theater team encourages patrons to save the date for the Black Arts Matter Festival, which is slated to take place Nov. 8-12 and will feature performances that celebrate contemporary Black art, including a poetry slam with nationally renowned poets.

“What’s next in the performing arts industry is happening right now during the Wisconsin Union Theater season,” WUT Director Elizabeth Snodgrass said. “From hosting a performance by Lizzo in 2017 to scheduling an event featuring Samara Joy in 2022 before she became a GRAMMY winner in 2023, the Wisconsin Union Theater season is a chance to experience performing arts legends and up-and-coming stars.”

WUT has a more than 80-year history of hosting world-class performing arts experiences and seasons that feature both traditional performances of genres and artists forging new arts style paths.

2023-24 season performances will take place at the Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall and the Play Circle in Memorial Union, and, in partnership with the UW–Madison Mead Witter School of Music, two performances will take place at the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall and Collins Recital Hall in the Hamel Music Center.

Patrons can save on season events tickets by purchasing subscriptions available between June 1 and Sept. 28. Options include:

  • A Classical Series subscription for a 20% discount
  • A Jazz Series subscription for a 20% discount
  • Brand-new build-your-own subscription options of three to five events for 15% off or six or more events for a 20% discount

Purchases of tickets to individual performances, pending availability, will begin June 16.

Patrons can purchase subscriptions and single tickets to Wisconsin Union Theater performances online, in person at the Memorial Union Box Office, or by phone at (608) 265-2787.

Patrons can also support Wisconsin Union Theater events as well as performing arts-related student leadership opportunities with their purchases of food, merchandise and beverages at Memorial Union, Union South, the Memorial Union Terrace and

Patrons can visit to learn more about the 2023-24 season. 

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