Fourth Annual West Circle Series returns with ’S Wonderful

Gershwin music opens newly renovated Fairchild Theatre Oct. 28

Experience the mesmerizing music of George Gershwin in ’S Wonderful, as the MSU College of Music begins its fourth annual Joanne and Bill Church West Circle Series on Monday, Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m. Making the move to the reinvented Fairchild Theatre in MSU’s Auditorium, 13 artists from the MSU College of Music will take the stage for this inaugural concert, which includes favorite songs from Porgy and Bess and the classic Rhapsody in Blue performed by pianist Ralph Votapek and the Beaumont Brass Quintet.

The famous folk opera, Porgy and Bess, with its unforgettable songs and drama, is based on DuBose Heyward’s novel of the South Carolina Gullah culture. Rhapsody in Blue first captured audiences in 1924 and paved a new era of American music as it presented a stepping-stone for audiences to understand and enjoy symphony and opera.

Series sponsors Joanne and Bill Church, both MSU alumni living in New York, return often to East Lansing for College of Music performances.

’S Wonderful has a dynamic concert program, including:

  • Cuban Overture - Panayis Lyras, Derek Polischuk, piano
  • Gershwin Selections - Gwen Burgett, marimba
  • Selections from Porgy and Bess - Molly Fillmore, soprano; Peter Lightfoot, baritone; Reggie Thomas, piano
  • Rhapsody in Blue - Ralph Votapek, piano; Beaumont Brass Quintet; Jon Weber, percussion

Concert guide is Dr. Ken Prouty, musicologist.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors (age 60 and older), and $5 for students and anyone under 18. (Free “rush” seating for students, if available). Tickets may be purchased online at, or at the door.

Fairchild Theatre Grand Opening

The much-anticipated renovation of MSU Auditorium’s Fairchild Theatre will provide state-of-the-art performance space for students, faculty artists, and guest performers. The extensive $20 million renovation of Fairchild Theatre, with improved acoustics and attention to comfort and accessibility, will introduce a fresh musical life to the historic hall after a 16-month renovation.

It promises to offer audiences a one-of-a-kind, theatre-going experience with its intimate connection to the performers. Improvements include ceiling clouds, an adjustable acoustic shell and sound absorbing banners, a 47-seat orchestra pit, audio and visual sound reinforcement, air conditioning, and a recording/visual control room. 

“The 462-seat Fairchild Theatre, which will be used primarily by the College of Music, will be the new home for our popular chamber and recital series, as well ad choral music, opera, jazz, and Musique 21,” says James Forger, College of Music dean. “This new venue will better allow our students and faculty to engage with the audience and it will give our patrons a comfortable and accessible hall where they can truly enjoy the music.”

In addition, the renovation is answering the community’s need for convenient, free parking, which is located directly across the street in MSU Parking Lot #9. Further improvements for guests include more restrooms and improved accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Forger says he is very appreciative for the support from MSU and its leaders. “The university has made a sizeable investment in this renovation,” he says, “which serves as a stellar example of the endorsement that MSU has given the College of Music and the arts.” The venue will also be used by the Department of Theatre.

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