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Temecula Presents unveils sixth season

The Old Town Temecula Community Theater is cueing its stage lights for its sixth season where the traditional and contemporary will once again converge in the theater behind the historic Burnham’s mercantile building. Temecula Presents has unveiled its 2010-2011 lineup of performances ranging from big band to Bach with a healthy dose of the blues, brought by talented artists from all over the world.

The season, which runs from Aug. 15 to May 6, 2011, will again feature four series: Big Band/Cabaret, Classical Music, Dance, and Friday Night Groove.

House manager Bea Barnett said that by partnering with groups already performing at the theater, Temecula Presents is able to offer a more expanded season with a variety of performances that will appeal to many different audiences.

The All Star Big Band and Cabaret Pops Orchestra will bring one of America’s favorite genres to the Old Town stage on Sunday afternoons. “Old Band, New Music,” a big band performance of modern musical hits will kick off the season for its loyal fan base.

Recording artists and instrumentalist alums from groups such as the Les Brown, Stan Kenton, and Tex Beneke Bands will be joined for a performance by guest jazz singer Sherry Williams. The series will also include a tribute to 1940s bandleader Harry James and “Let’s Be Frank” music in the style of Sinatra.

The California Chamber Orchestra will return to Old Town under the new leadership of Conductor Dana Mambourg Zimbric for a classical music series in collaboration with the Golden Valley Music Society. The series will showcase the great composers of that era with additional performances from the Duo Prism ensemble and solo pianist Di Wu.

While classical music tends to be a niche audience, Barnett said that attendance at this series is growing. Groups such as the Carpe Diem String Quartet from Ohio Wesleyan University help with this effort, bringing a unique perspective to the genre. Known as “the classical string quartet that rocks,” the American “indie” ensemble often fuses its classical instruments with gypsy, tango and folk music.

Theater Manager Bruce Beers said that all the groups he books first establish themselves as top-quality classical musicians, but often finish out their performances with more unique repertoire that audiences long remember.

Culture, art, and athleticism combine as contemporary dance comes to the stage Friday and Saturday nights in the most well attended of the Temecula Presents series. Stunning performances are expected from this year’s four dance troupes including the City Ballet of Los Angeles, ODC/Dance of San Francisco, Philadelphia’s BalletX, and the New-York based Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company.

“People who come to a dance performance for the first time are absolutely astonished by what they’re looking at and they want to know more,” said Beers.

Pre-show talks and Q&A sessions after each performance allow the audience to explore the genre further. Each dance troupe also offers a master class Saturday afternoon before their evening performance, free to the first 30 dancers to register.

The Old Town Theater is one of five presenters in the state recently selected to participate in the InnerState Dance Project from the ODC Theater, sponsored by the James Irvine Foundation. Grant funding allows them to expand their dance performances and reach out to the community on behalf of the art form.

On weekends between the dance troupes, Temecula Presents introduces its Friday Night Groove series. This year, the series focuses on blues music, brought by a sampling of talented performers including Bill Magee, a Southern blues guitarist whose love of the genre brought him out of retirement and back on tour in the Greater San Diego Area.

The series will also feature international artist Joe Henry, Gregg Young and The 2nd Street Band, The Soul of John Black, Smokin’ Joe Kubek, and will conclude with Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers.

“If you’re a blues lover, you will love every one of these six artists,” Beers said.

Barnett encourages audiences to explore the groove series for something new and distinctive. “Even if you don’t know their name or recognize their face…it’s worth it to be adventurous to find a group you’re really going to love,” she said.

The variety of the Temecula Presents’ 2010-2011 season offers people the chance to appreciate many different genres. With exciting performances expected from artists in all the series, the next 10 months at the Old Town Theater are ones to look forward to.

“You don’t have to drive to San Diego, you don’t have to go to L.A.,” Barnett said. “You have access right here in your backyard to affordable and professional performers.”

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