BY MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Chinese acrobatics, rhythmic dance, Tuvan throat song and punk percussion are among a diverse range of acts on tap at the 2013-14 Dennos Concert Series at Milliken Auditorium.
The popular world performance series returns Oct. 4 and features more than a dozen shows from the United States to Brazil, China to Ireland, and Tuva — a Republic of Russia — to Tibet.
Dennos Museum Center Director Gene Jenneman said a highlight is a weeklong presentation in April by the Tibetan monks of the Mystical Arts of Tibet world tour, which promotes artistic activities of Tibet and Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta.
During their residency, the monks will produce a mandala sand painting in the museum court and perform a concert of multiphonic or “overtone” singing. The distinctive singing is traditionally practiced in Tibetan temples and is created by simultaneously intoning three notes to form a complete chord. Mandala sand painting, or “dul-tson-kyil-khor,” is the painstaking two-dimensional art of laying millions of grains of colored sand in a complex pattern on a flat platform, using funnels as tools.
“Creating and painting is not just an art piece. It’s art created with monks chanting,” said Yeshe Phelgey, a former monk and administrative director of Drepung Loseling Monastery. “It’s like a blessed art piece, not just an art demonstration. Traditionally people do come and meditate while the monks are creating.”
Phelgey said the creation of the painting, depicting palaces of the deities, can be watched from start to finish.
The series also includes returning acts Golden Dragon Acrobats, Rhythmic Circus (tap), Street Drum Corps (punk percussion) and Leslie McCurdy and “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman” (one-woman theater); Celtic music with RUNA and An Irish Christmas in America; the blues and soul of Mississippi Heat, Deanna Bogart and Jesse Dee; Tuvan throat singing by Alash; “Brazilian bluegrass” from Matuto; and American roots with Lee Murdock and Jay Ungar and Molly Mason.
A second theater production, “Letters Home,” brings to life actual letters written by soldiers serving in the Middle East. The show was inspired by The New York Times op-ed piece, “The Things They Wrote,” and the subsequent HBO documentary, “Last Letters Home.”
Tickets are available online at dennosmuseum.org and MyNorthTickets.com, by phone at 1-800-836-0717 or 995-1553, and at the Dennos Museum Center ticket kiosk and the Milliken box office.
In addition to public performances, many of the artists will offer educational concerts and workshops. For more information, educators should contact the Dennos curator of education at 995-1029.
2013-14 Dennos Concert Series* Oct. 4 - Golden Dragon Acrobats Oct. 19 - "Letters Home" Oct. 26 - Rhythmic Circus: "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" Nov. 1 - Lee Murdock: Forgotten Folk Songs from "MICHIGAN-I-O" Nov. 14 - Street Drum Corps Nov. 16 - Alash Dec. 4 - An Irish Christmas in America Jan.11 - Mississippi Heat Jan. 31 - Matuto Feb. 7 - Leslie McCurdy and "The Spirit of Harriet Tubman" March 1 - Deanna Bogart March 14 - RUNA March 22 - Jesse Dee April 5 - Jay Ungar and Molly Mason April 19 - Mystical Arts of Tibet *Street Drum Corps, An Irish Christmas and Leslie McCurdy and "The Spirit of Harriet Tubman" begin at 7 p.m. All other shows start at 8 p.m.