Smile Politely

Krannert Center announces the 2017-18 season

It’s the first week in May, and we’re all looking forward to warmer temperatures, all types of graduations, and the faint promise of vacations on the breeze. While art appreciators throughout C-U may be just as antsy to get started with summer, we’re also awaiting that major precursor of the season: the arrival of the beautiful, giant Krannert Center season book. While those won’t be mailed until June 26th, Smile Politely has all the goods on what season 17/18 has to offer. 

And take special note — tickets are going on sale even earlier than ever! The magic date this year is July 8th, so put a reminder on your calendar and get yourself to or have your list ready when you call 1-800-KCPA-TIX.

The Youth Series, Ellnora Festival, and Illinois Theatre have already had their own season announcements, so while they’re included in this listing, you’ll find more information about them in the previous articles (linked). 


KCPA’s Opening Night Party is always a must-attend, but doubly-so during ELLNORA years. Per tradition, the two events happen simultaneously, kicking off the extra-special events with activities, food vendors and community partners. Those are merely the periferals surrounding multiple high-energy, good-time musical acts. This year those performers will be the James Jones Trio, Samantha Fish, and Soulive (pictured below). In addition, there will be a separate ticketed event with ELLNORA ambassador Kevin Breit. 


September 14-16 ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival concentrates entirely on musicians who have demonstrated mastery of the guitar, covering the entire swath of genres. This year will have a special focus on artists with Illinois roots, like Jeff Tweedy, Jack Brighton, Ryley Walker, and Andy Baylor. 

September 21 — Pygmalion Festival (2016’s Frightened Rabbit, pictured right)

September 23 — Madeleine Peyroux, the French-American songstress. 

September 28 — Jupiter String Quartet 15th Anniversary

September 28 — All the King’s Men, Illinois Theatre, through Oct. 8

September 30 — Tiempo Libre: 3 time Grammy-nominated Afro-Cuban ensemble.

September 30 — A Young Person’s Guide, Sinfonia da Camera


October 4 — Tango Buenos Aires (pictured above)

October 5Takács Quartet, Christoffersen Faculty Fellows from the University of Colorado Boulder. 

October 7 — The Bad Plus w/Bill Frisell: Epistolary Echoes

part of the Ellnora Reverb 

(pictured left and right)

October 7 — Verdi’s Requiem, Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra (CUSO)

October 19 Travesties, Illinois Theatre, through Oct. 29

October 20-22  Japan House and the Illinois Prairie Chapter of the Ikenobo Ikebana Society present Headmaster Designate Senko Ikenobo (pictured right)

  • Exhibition in Foellenger’s Great Hall Foyer
  • Ikebana demonstration in Foellenger’s Great Hall

October 21 — Unfinished Business, Sinfonia da Camera

October 24 — National Acrobats and Martial Artists of Tianjin, the People’s Republic of China: China Soul

October 28 — Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Riccardo Muti


November 1 — Festival of South African Dance feat. the Gumboots and Real Action Pantsula (pictured right)

November 5  Young Concert Artists Winner Nathan Lee, piano

November 7-8 — Guy Mendilow Ensemble: Around the World in Song (Youth series)

November 9 — Guy Mendilow Ensemble: Tales from the Forgotten Kingdom, Global Transfer Afterglow on Stage 5

November 9 — Marlinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg

November 9-11  November Dance: Celebration of Kate Kuper

November 9-12 — Hansel & Gretel, Lyric Theatre @ Illinois

November 14 — Jason Moran (pictured right) & the Big Bandwagon. In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, 1959. Lectures and other remembrances will complement this presentation celebrating the 100th anniversary of Thelonious Monk’s birth. 

November 16 — Rules of the Game, a KCPA-commissioned stage production written by Jonah Baker and Daniel Arsham, with original score by Pharrell Williams, arranged and co-composed by David Campbell (pictured left)

November 17  Simply Songs, Sinfonia da Camera

November 30 — Jupiter String Quartet with Michael Brown, piano


December 1-10 — The Nutcracker featuring CU Ballet and CUSO (pictured above)

December 3 — Noel, Sinfonia da Camera

December 7  Music of the Season, CUSO (with traditional appearance of Santa Claus!)


January 16-18 — Moscow Festival Ballet: Swan LakeDon Quixote, and Cinderella respectively. Each date a different performance.

January 17-20 — Scott Silven Wonders at Dusk, renowned illusionist (pictured right)

January 25 — Minnesota Orchestra (pictured below)

January 28 — Concert Artists Guild Winner: Jiji (guitar), part of the Ellnora Reverb 


February 1 — Joshua Bell, violin (pictured right)

February 1-3  February Dance: Not Normal

February 1 — Assassins, Illinois Theatre, through the 11th.

February 3 — Baroque Brilliance, CUSO

February 6-7 — La Belle Lost in the World of the Automaton, Imago Theatre (pictured below)

February 9-10  Dublin Irish Dance: Stepping Out

February 17 An Anniversary Celebration, Sinfonia da Camera

February 17 — Family Fun Free Concert:  Sonia de los Santos, part of the Ellnora Reverb. (pictured right

February 22-25 — Don Giovanni, Lyric Theatre @ Illinois.

February 28  Paige Hernandez: Havana Hop, Youth Series (pictured below)


March 1-2 — Paige Hernandez: Liner Notes (pictured above)

March 1 — Vienna Piano Trio

March 1-3 — Studiodance I 

March 1  Twelfth Night, or What You Will, Illinois Theatre, through the 11th.

March 2 — Music of Destiny, CUSO

March 4 — M-Prize Winner: Calidore String Quartet

March 8-9 — Layla and Majnun, Mark Morris Dance Group with Silk Road Ensemble. This performance was an idea of Yo Yo Ma’s over a decade ago and is co-commissioned by KCPA. (pictured below)

March 9 — Beethoven’s Apotheosis of the Dance, Sinfonia da Camera

March 10 — Staatskapelle Weimar. This historic ensemble founded in 1491 will present an all-Brahms program. 

March 13 — Zakir Hussain, tabla, with Rakesh Chausuria, bansuri

March 1-3 — Studiodance I 

March 14  Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medalist (TBA)

March 27 — TAO:Drum Heart, koto drumming  (pictured right)

March 29 — Barbecue, Illinois Theatre, through April 8. 


April 5 — Jupiter String Quartet with Timothy Ehlen, piano. This program will ruminate upon the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, with supporting lectures. 

April 7 — Asian American Jazz Trio, Global Transfer Afterglow, Stage 5

April 7 — Songs of Freedom, Ulyssess Owens Jr., music director (pictured right) featuring Theo Blackmann, Alicia Olatula, and Joanna Majoko performing the songs of Abbi Lincoln, Joni Mitchell, and Nina Simone. 

April 19 — Lawrence Brownlee, tenor (pictured left)

April 19-21 — Studiodance II 


April 22  Krannert Center Debut Artist: TBA

April 26-27 — Cahoots NI: Shh! We Have a Plan, Youth Series, the Northern Irish troupe returns to present their take on a beloved picture book. (pictured below)

April 26-29 — She Loves Me, Lyric Theatre @ Illinois

April 27 — A Suite Ending, Sinfonia da Camera

April 28  Music of Titans, CUSO

This season definitely proves that our community still appreciates and will support a wide variety of world-class artistic experiences. No matter what your taste, certainly there is something to be discovered at KCPA, and if you’re ever unsure, check back with us here at Smile Politely for year-long coverage of the season as it unfolds. 

All images provided by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. 

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