Wharton Center bringing Jeff Daniels, Yo-Yo Ma, and more to EL

Apr 20, 2017

Part two highlighting some of the visiting artists and lectures coming to East Lansing as part of the just-announced 2017-18 season of the Wharton Center.


Yesterday, the Wharton Center announced their 2017-18 series, and WKAR's Jamie Paisley highlighted the Broadway series that will be coming to mid-Michigan. You can find that rundown right now online at WKAR.org --- But that’s only part of the season!

Since I am also the afternoon classical host on WKAR, we’ll start with that series which includes a return engagement from the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra playing music by Wagner and Sibelius, and they are joined by the up-and-coming cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan who solos with Schumann’s Cello Concerto. That concert will be in early November, but later that same month, after Thanksgiving the Vienna Boys Choir arrives in East Lansing.

"They are coming November 28th in a holiday concert." says Ryonn Clute of the Wharton Center. "So, when people think of the Vienna Boys Choir, they think of, you know, obviously kids performing, but the magic and the music they elicit is just stunning and it's so beautiful to hear. So they are coming with all kinds of holiday classics that folks will love."

The classical season ends with a bang in February with romantic era trios by Schubert and Brahms played by three superstars, including the most famous cellist in the world: Yo-Yo Ma, who is joined by pianist Emmanuel Ax, and violinist Leonidas Kavakos.

Dance-wise, the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago troupe brings some of their most popular works to the Wharton Center in October but yet another Russian ensemble plies their welcome in mid-Michigan, explains Clute:

"[The] Moscow Festival Ballet and they are coming with Cinderella, and that's in January. Great for the family. Sometimes we will present ballets [and] we will see kids showing up in tutus and they have a lot of fun."

During this unveiling of the Wharton Center’s 2017-18 season, we learned that their World View Lecture series is bringing three speakers to mid-Michigan, David Ignatius, novelist and journalist with the Washington Post in October; in December, Gina McCarthy, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama’s 2nd term will talk public policy. But in April of 2018, an artist who just became, this past week, the first woman to twice win the Pulitzer Prize for drama: Lynn Nottage will discuss theater as well as her award winning plays Ruined and Sweat.

In November, one Hollywood veteran and Michigan native will be returning to East Lansing, according to Wharton Center executive director Mike Brand:

"That's right, we actually stay in touch with Jeff Daniels. He sends me a letter once a year either telling me that he can't come and do this big project we've been talking about because he's got another big film or TV series, but he wanted to do a Wharton Center appearance this year and he got his son's (Ben Daniels) band. And David Sedaris, we have a partnership with his management and he comes here every time he gets a new book out and so they kinda watch that and he likes the audience here. He feels at home at the Wharton Center. [And the NPR audience loves him] so it's a good fit for us."

Both Jeff Daniels and David Sedaris will be taking over the Wharton Center in November later this year. Again, there is much more coming to East Lansing in the just announced Wharton Center 2017-18 line-up.