Author: Adam Goldstein

2023-24 Artist Series Season Features an Eclectic Mix of World-Class Performers

The 86th season of CU Presents’ Artist Series features an exciting lineup that includes familiar favorites, world-class artists and one-of-a-kind collaborations.

The 2023-24 season includes an array of artists that span genres, cultures and expressions. From a special performance at Macky Auditorium by Mexican American superstar Lila Downs, to a tribute to the music of Disney performed by the house band from one of Harlem’s pre-eminent jazz museums, to an appearance by Western swing group Asleep at the Wheel, the menu for this season offers attractions that cover a broad spectrum of styles.

“This series has always had an amazing diversity of genres, styles and cultural traditions. It’s such a natural fit for where we are today,” says CU Presents Executive Director Joan Braun. “It’s one of the most rewarding series we offer, and a program that has great value to our community and to our students.”

The Artist Series lineup kicks off with a performance by multiple Grammy Award-winning singer Lila Downs on Friday, Sept. 22. The concert will include selections from her album “Al Chile,” which pays tribute to the complex relationship that Mexican culture has established with the “fiery fruit” that summons happiness, sweat, pain and flavor.

“When You Wish Upon a Star” on Friday, Oct. 6, is a tribute to decades of Disney music. It features musicians from the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, which touts Jon Baptiste and Christian McBride as its artistic directors. The performance will reframe tunes that have become iconic in the pop culture consciousness in a way that is both familiar and fresh.

On Nov. 2, the female a cappella group Nobuntu returns to the Artist Series to deliver their signature interpretation of the traditional music of Zimbabwe and other genres. The group will offer a mix of timeless tradition and brand-new musical creations.

The holiday season at CU Boulder features a performance by the Canadian Brass on Dec. 13. It’s an ensemble Braun describes as a “perennial favorite” and one that is well versed in joyously sharing seasonal music with audiences.

The Grammy Award-winning Takács Quartet—the CU Boulder College of Music’s string quartet in residence—continues its popular, long-running series in Grusin Music Hall. However this year, the group also appears on the Artist Series with pianist Joyce Yang on Jan. 12. Yang is a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition silver medalist with many other accolades to her name. The quartet and Yang join forces to perform Antonín Dvořák’s Piano Quintet, a work that Braun describes as “one of the most beautiful pieces of music you’ve ever heard.”

On Jan. 20, the dance company MOMIX will bring a different dimension to physical movement as they pair their choreography with a multimedia show that’s designed to immerse audiences in a fantasy world. The program “Alice” is based on Lewis Carrol’s magical “Alice in Wonderland.”

Step Afrika! will follow up that performance on Feb. 2 with a percussive, immersive approach to dance. Step Afrika! sets African American, West and South African dance traditions in a decidedly contemporary framework.

Violinist Ray Chen, whose credits vary from traditional orchestral performances to soundtracks for video games to a social media presence of more than 1 million followers, will perform with pianist Julio Elizalde on March 21. The performance was originally slated for 2020 and rescheduled because of the pandemic.

The CU Presents season will wrap up on April 5 when the Austin, Texas-based Western swing group Asleep at the Wheel teams up with the CU Symphony Orchestra for a one-of-a-kind performance that melds a kaleidoscope of sounds. According to Braun, this show neatly sums up the unique appeal of the series. Past Artist Series collaborations with the orchestra have featured renowned artists like the Indigo Girls. The collaborative projects have been a showcase not only for internationally renowned musicians, but also for CU Boulder student musicians who have a chance to show off their skills and prepare for future careers.

“During their time in Boulder, many Artist Series guests offer master classes in which CU Boulder music students participate. These are opportunities for our students to be on stage and to interact professionally with an award-winning touring band,” Braun said. “That is unique and valuable, like the series itself.”

“Part of our mission is to bring artists to Boulder that audiences wouldn’t otherwise experience,” she added. “It’s an opportunity to see a world-class act that you don’t have to go to New York or Los Angeles to see. You can see it right here on the Artist Series at Macky Auditorium. That is a huge value.”

2023-24 Artist Series season tickets will go on sale Monday, March 27, at
Season tickets for the Takács Quartet’s 2023-24 season are now on sale.
Season tickets for the Eklund Opera Program, Musical Theatre Program and CU Theatre & Dance will be available July 5. 
All CU Presents single tickets will go on sale Monday, Aug. 21.