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Gypsy jazz and silent films to open performing arts series year

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The jazz ensemble Hot Club of San Francisco opens the 2015–16 season of Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts Oct. 24 at Bethel College.

Cinema Vivant, celebrating the imagination and innovation of early filmmakers Ladislaw Starewicz and Charley Bowers, starts at 7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center on the Bethel campus.

In the Hot Club tradition of Django Reinhardt, Cinema Vivant features vintage silent films accompanied by live gypsy swing.

Imagine yourself in the French countryside in the 1930s, where a gypsy caravan sets up camp in a field outside town, luring the locals for an evening’s fun. The wanderers travel with a film projector that they point at the side of a barn.

As the images flicker to life beneath the stars, gypsy musicians play their guitars and fiddles, matching every movement on the screen with characteristic virtuosity, passion and humor.

Before World War I, European filmmaker Ladislaw Starewicz pioneered stop-action animation, creating a never-before-seen movie experience. A gifted storyteller who used the new medium of animation to illuminate his fantastic imaginings of the secret lives of ordinary objects, Starewicz has become an obscure cult hero.

On the other side of the Atlantic, American Charley Bowers revolutionized the industry in the 1920s by combining animation with live action.

Cinema Vivant features There It Is (1928), a recently rediscovered film by Bowers. This whimsical comedy is about a mysterious occurrence investigated by Scotland Yard.

There are also two Starewicz films in Cinema VivantThe Cameraman’s Revenge (1912), a charming piece about the marital troubles of beetles, and The Mascot (1933), an adventure story about lost toys.

Hot Club of San Francisco celebrates the music of guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli’s pioneering Quintette du Hot Club de France. HCSF borrows violin, bass and guitar instrumentation from the original Hot Club while breathing new life into the music, with innovative arrangements of classic tunes and original compositions from lead guitarist Paul Mehling.

Featuring the violin of two-time Grammy® Award-winning Evan Price, the vocals of Isabelle Fontaine and a swinging rhythm section, the group never fails to surprise and delight.

To hear the ensemble live, or any of their 13 albums, is to be carried back to the 1930s and the small, smoky jazz clubs of Paris and the refined lounge of the Hotel Ritz. Often called gypsy jazz, the music ofHot Club of San Franciscohas entranced audiences around the globe for more than 20 years.

Acoustic Guitar has hailed the group’s playing as intricate, scorching and often brilliant. HCSF frequently tours nationally and internationally — from Iceland to Lincoln Center to the Monterey Jazz Festival.

In addition to presenting Cinema Vivant, HCSF will do a two-day residency at Bethel, thanks to support from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Three of the events are free and open to the public:

Oct.24, 3–4:30p.m. Jazz Music: How to Listen, a lecture and demonstration for kids, including interaction and short selections; part of BCAPA’s annual Hauntfest activities; Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts,
400 South Main Street in Newton
Oct.25, 2–3p.m. Gypsy swing workshop for intermediate to advanced guitarists Krehbiel Auditorium stage,
Luyken Fine Arts Center
Oct.25, 4–5p.m. Gypsy Swing 101, lecture and demonstration Krehbiel Auditorium,
Luyken Fine Arts Center

Members of Hot Club of San Francisco will also work with the Bethel College Honors Orchestra Oct. 25.

HBPA season tickets are available from $75 to $85 for adults. Single tickets can also be purchased for individual performances at either Hesston College or Bethel College. Discounts are available for non-Bethel or -Hesston students and senior citizens (Bethel and Hesston students receive free tickets).

For more information or to purchase season tickets, call 620-327-8158 or go to the HBPA website.

The next HBPA program will help usher in the holiday spirit with Cherish the Ladies, a long-running, Grammy®-nominated, Irish-American group. Celtic Christmas is Dec. 3 at Hesston Mennonite Church on the Hesston College campus.

Minguet Quartet, with guest pianist Andreas Klein,will be at Hesston Mennonite Church Feb. 1, 2016. The string and piano ensemble will feature composers like Bach, Mendelssohn and more.

The internationally famous, Grammy® Award-winning men’s a cappella chorus Chanticleer returns to HBPA series after five years Feb. 23 at Bethel College’s Memorial Hall.

Rounding out the season will be London-based The Swingles,April 3 at Hesston Mennonite Church. The vocal ensemble, whose members have changed over the years, pushes the boundaries of vocal music, with innovation that has resulted in five Grammy® wins.

The Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series is a collaborative effort of Hesston College and Bethel College, presenting five performances by world-renowned or regionally acclaimed artists each year. HBPA is funded in part by the cities of Hesston and North Newton, Excel Industries and Hustler Turf Equipment, the Hesston and North Newton Community Foundations, Mid-America Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding for HBPA is provided by area businesses and patrons.

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