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Season of music and dance opens at Anne Arundel Community College

At Anne Arundel Community College, spring is a major entertainment season at the Robert E. Kauffman Theater stage at the Pascal Center for the Performing Arts.

The AACC Symphony Orchestra scheduled its "Made in America" concert for Saturday, April 26, at 8 p.m., and the AACC Concert Choir and Chamber Singers are to perform Sunday, April 27, at 6 p.m.

And next weekend, the AACC Dance Company will host three evening performances of "Spring Migrations." An alumni concert will also be offered at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 3.

For the "Made in America" show, Anna Binneweg was scheduled to conduct a program featuring two vintage 20th century Americana works – Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” (full orchestral version) and Samuel Barber’s “Overture to School for Scandal” (Barber’s first orchestral work written at age 21 as his Curtis Institute graduation thesis) and the premier of “Mourning to Dancing”” by Gregory Pascuzzi of the AACC composition faculty to bring the 21st century to the first half of the concert.

The second half will feature world-renowned jazz guitarists Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo in a variety of popular classics including “Tico-Tico,” “Stardust,” “Stairway to Heaven” and  “Walking on the Moon” plus classical arrangements such as a Rimsky-Korsakov medley.

Sunday's choir and chamber concert will feature a program of contemporary pieces as well as selections from Bach and Mozart, led by Douglas Brandt Byerly, chair of performng arts, and Eleanor Minor.

Looking ahead to next weekend, the dance company's performances promise spontaneity and whimsy with a little extra celebratory fizz: The weekend shows mark the company's 25th anniversary.

The troupe's success is largely attributed to founder and artistic director Lynda P. Fitzgerald, who has trained decades of dancers whose later successes reflect the discipline and work ethic in the college's dance program.

This core ethic was much in evidence at a recent rehearsal, which started with dancers gathered in a semicircle for a chat. Subjects included technical dance queries, lighting questions and how best to publicize shows through social media.

All that preparation builds to the three "Spring Migration" performances, where audiences will see Fitzgerald's innovative choreography. The director will premiere one piece, "Because I Said So," offer a reworking of the December 2013 work "Kitchen Sink" and direct a hilarious piece titled "We're Back."

Fitzgerald's choreography begins and ends each program to set a smart tone and close on a bright note. Most of the program — at least a dozen numbers — will feature the creative work of students. These performers choreograph and dance to express their contemporary insights, from probing commentary on social issues to celebrating life and love.

The May 3 concert will feature 15 pieces created by returning AACC alumni.

Two alumni who own their own studios — Emily Martin of Level Dance Project in Annapolis and Kelsey Kocur of the Maryland Performing Arts Center in Severna Park — will display their talents, aided by two of their gifted employees who are also alums: Sarah Keller of Level Dance and Kristy House of Maryland Performing Arts Center.

Additional alumni include the dance company's former president, Racheal LaBonte, currently a graduating senior at Towson University, who will perform a solo and has choreographed a group piece to appear at the concert. Two other soloists, Rebekah Fresco and April Ewaski, transferred from Anne Arundel Community College to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where they completed their degrees in dance.

Aimee Planche Phillips, an Anne Arundel student from the 1990s, will perform a contemporary piece to a song by Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn; and other alumni scheduled to perform include C.J. Patalinghug, Nadje Hutchinson, Missy Thompson and Amanda Rambali.

Fitzgerald envisions the event as "a fabulous concert to see."

Additional music performances to be offered by the college's performing arts department include a concert band and wind ensemble Spring Concert led by Bruce Mansfield at 8 p.m. May 9; and the jazz ensemble Spring Concert, led by Marty Knepp and Ian Wardenski, presented at 8 p.m. May 10.

Tickets for all of the performances are $10 general admission; $7 for senior citizens, active military, groups, outside students, Anne Arundel Community College employees and children under age 10; and $5 for those with valid student ID from the college. The Robert E. Kauffman Theater is in the campus' Pascal Center for Performing Arts, 101 College Parkway, Arnold. Call the box office at 410-777-2218 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. for information or to order tickets.

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