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Stars come out for CPS season Potsdam series offers mix of genres, from music to dance to plays for all ages

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POTSDAM — The Community Performance Series doesn’t want to leave any potential audience member out for the 2011-12 season, which has acts ranging from a premiere banjo player to a taping of National Public Radio’s “From The Top” program.

The season will bring eight artists to the SUNY Potsdam campus.

“All of these artists perform around the world in major music halls and theaters,” CPS executive director Amy Flack said in a release. “Each are experts in their genre.”

Mrs. Flack is in her first full year as CPS’s executive director. Before taking the job last winter, she worked for 4 1/2 years as director of the Thousand Islands Performing Arts Fund and its Clayton Opera House.

She said she put the CPS season together with interim director Wally Siebel.

CPS, a college-community partnership, also offers programming focusing on youth and families with five performances in its 2011-12 Meet the Arts series.

Mrs. Flack said there’s similarities between her CPS job and her previous job in Clayton. Series hosted by the organizations must cater to two audiences, she said. In Clayton, it’s year-round and summer residents and in the Potsdam area, it’s members of the college community and those not associated with it.

“The key is to be mindful of who you are serving and how to meet those needs,” she said.

The season kicks off Sept. 17 with Broadway singer Linda Eder. Her career soared in 1987 when she won for 12 consecutive weeks on CBS’s “Star Search.” It led to a leading role on Broadway as Lucy Harris in “Jekyll & Hyde,” where she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. Ms. Eder launched her recording career in 1991 with a self-titled debut album featuring renditions of pop standards and theatrical songs. She has since released 12 other albums.

Ms. Eder has performed across the country and throughout Europe and her concerts have been televised on Bravo and PBS.

Other concerts in the CPS series:

Sept. 20: Paul Taylor’s ensemble, Taylor 2, returns to the north country. It performed July 24 at the Norwood Village Green Concert Series.

Paul Taylor is considered by many to be the greatest choreographer alive today. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, he attended Syracuse University in the late 1940s, where he majored in art and excelled in swimming. He transferred to the Juilliard School in New York City and began his career with the Martha Graham Dance Company. He created his New York City dance troupe in 1954.

His six-member Taylor 2 company brings many of his masterworks to smaller venues around the world.

Oct. 2: Organist Janette Fishell, a noted recitalist and teacher from Indiana, will perform as part of the 12th annual L. Felix and Helen Miller Ranlett Organ recital series. Her program will include works by classic and contemporary composers.

Nov. 5: Premiere banjoist and multi-Grammy-award winner Bela Fleck returns to Potsdam, playing with his Original Flecktones. Mr. Fleck last appeared in the series in 1998.

He created the Flecktones in 1989. The band plays a “blu-bop” mix of jazz, bluegrass, country folk and classical.

Nov, 13: The New York Philharmonic Principal Brass Quintet will perform as part of the McElheran Visiting Artists Series, taking part in a celebration of brass music at the college’s Crane School of Music.

Feb. 2: Ethel, acclaimed as America’s premier postclassical string quartet, will perform its “Present Beauty” production featuring the group’s new arrangement of Philip Glass’s score from the film “The Hours.”

March 3: The SFJAZZ Collective will perform the works of pop musician Stevie Wonder, presenting new arrangements of his work.

April 21: National Public Radio’s “From the Top” will present a live show showcasing America’s finest young musicians. It’s NPR’s most popular weekly music series.

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The following is the lineup in the CPS Meet the Arts series:

Sept. 21: The Taylor 2 company will give a lecture/demonstration for young people.

Oct. 24: “Danny, King of the Basement” is a play that explores the issues of homelessness, poverty and the power of the imagination. A morning and evening show will be presented.

Jan. 8 and Jan. 9: John Tartaglia’s “ImaginOcean” uses puppetry, back-light techniques and music to tell of an ocean journey.

March 23: The Orchestra of Northern New York will present the concert “My Many Colored Days” based on the book by Dr. Seuss.

May 4: The National Players will present John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” at two performances.

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The Guest Artist Series is sponsored in part by SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, the Northern New York Community Foundation, North Country Public Radio and Tom and Mabel Walker, with media sponsorship from Northern New York Newspapers and 7 News/Fox 28. The Meet the Arts Series is made possible through underwriting from the Edward John Noble Foundation, with additional support from the Maresca Family Endowment, Stearns-Cottrell Endowment, Stewart’s Shops and the Sweetgrass Foundation.

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