By Michael Grady
Into the cold, grey heart of February, Yavapai College Performing Arts Center brings three bold and evocative acts: dancers, musicians, and vocalists who will take you (in spirit, at least) to the verdant hills of Ireland and the hallowed halls of Cambridge – with a smoldering dose of modern song and brass in between. For reservations – or additional show information – call the YCPAC Ticket Office at (928) 776-2000, or visit www.ycpac.com.
- Bria Skonberg
- Friday, February 8, 7:30pm
- Tickets from $32
How good is Bria Skonberg? Good enough to get the buttoned-down Wall Street Journal raving: “One of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation.” Vanity Fair dubbed the Canadian singer/songwriter/trumpeter as a millennial who is “shaking up the jazz world.”
Bria Skonberg’s ability to work new sass and pop into jazz classics – and then segue gracefully over to her own musical creations – makes her that rarest of creature: a living jazz innovator. She alternates her amazing trumpet skills with smoky, torch song vocals that recall the sound of Norah Jones. Her flair for contemporary songwriting creates a sophisticated jazz sound reminiscent of Diana Krall, Harry Connick, Jr., or Michael Bublé.
Lest you think her just a critical darling, Bria and her band have left a trail of enthusiastic crowds across the entire Jazz-osphere: the Jazz Festivals at Monterey, Newport, Montreal, Lincoln Center, and a hundred other places. Her debut LP, Bria, cracked the Top Five on Billboard’s Jazz Charts, and her innovative take on Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” racked up more than 1.3 million streams. But you can’t read about the uniqueness of her sound. So Google Bria Skonberg and give her a listen…and chances are we’ll see you at the PAC on February 8.
- Murphy’s Celtic Legacy
- Friday, February 15, 7:30pm
- Tickets from $29 (A themed pre-show dinner prepared by Gabby’s Catering Service is available; tickets are only $36.)
Celtic music and dance have developed an international following since the days of “Riverdance” and “Lord of the Dance” in the mid 1990’s. Murphy’s Celtic Legacy, appearing Friday, February 15 at YCPAC, takes these two staples of Irish culture and combines them with a third: storytelling. Billed as “Irish Dance Reborn,” Murphy’s Celtic Legacy blends wistful flute-and-fiddle play with a pounding soundtrack and plenty of rapid-fire step dancing, and spins it all into a tempest-tossed saga.
We follow the Murphy Clan as they flee an Ireland beset by corruption and greed in search of an idyllic new home. But they trade bad for worse. A violent storm casts the travelers onto the mystical isle of Ishan, where the local tribes are persecuted by a malevolent Dark Queen. The fugitive Murphys and put-upon Ishan’s eventually unite to do battle against the forces of evil.
If that sounds harrowing, remember: it’s a battle fought and won with dance. Created by lead dancer Chris Hannon, Murphy’s Celtic Legacy features a talented cast of 23 dancers and seven musicians. The show, which premiered in 2015, has toured the world to critical praise. We won’t tell you the end, but there is plenty of high-steppin’ and rollicking music before the deal is done.
- The King’s Singers
- Thursday, February 21, 7:00pm
- Tickets from $25
Think you can’t be amazed by the power and dexterity of the human voice? Share an evening with a group that has spent half a century doing just that. The King’s Singers – six choral students from King’s College, Cambridge – played their first gig in May 1968. Since then, the group has become an international ambassador of vocal music, playing London’s Albert Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and everywhere in between – winning two Grammys and an Emmy award along the way.
They aren’t the original six guys, of course; the spots are passed, with appropriate solemnity, to rigorously screened successors. But the format is still the same: two counter-tenors, two baritones, a tenor, and a bass. Their voices, which slot seamlessly atop one another for a gorgeous collective sound.
They show an astonishing versatility, nailing baroque choral pieces and ballads like “Danny Boy” before moving on to the likes of the Beatles, Leonard Cohen, and Jason Mraz. The most surprising thing about The King’s Singers is that they share an infectious sense of fun, working off each other in moments of joy that fill an evening as easily as their polished sound fills the concert hall.
IMAGES Courtesy of YCPAC