As clouds and rain showers begin appearing at regular intervals, Juneau remembers many lovely hot and sunny days enjoyed over the summer. Autumn approaches, winter soon to follow, and plans are made for seasons which bring — alongside rain, snow and long dark nights — the brightness and warmth of the panoply of artistic offerings so vibrantly on offer in Alaska’s Capital City. Sorrow at the passing of summer can not negate one’s eager appreciation that is to come (or cause us to pause in taking steps to get tickets now).
The Juneau Symphony Orchestra is calling its upcoming season, “The Past and the Future,” in recognition of the fact that Kyle Wiley Pickett, longtime conductor and artistic director, is moving on to a new appointment at the Topeka Symphony Orchestra in Kansas. For 13 years Pickett has provided tremendous leadership to JSO and Topeka’s gain is certainly Juneau’s loss. There is consolation, however, in the concerts this year including a Russian show in October, music celebrating the Wild West in February, and a Mozart and Dvorak bill-of-fare in April. The season finale will reprise Pickett’s first concert in 2000 with Brahms, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Respighi before Juneau bids farewell to a great musician whose presence has made Juneau a better place for musicians and audiences alike.
Juneau Lyric Opera is also hard at work getting ready to thrill Juneau audiences in the coming season. The popular — indeed, certain to sell out — Who’s Your Diva? fundraiser is back on Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center. This clever event showcases the talents of a new set of Juneau ladies each year and never fails to please. The nine divas up this year have been featured in the pages of this paper over the past few weeks in the lead-up to diva night. JLO will also be presenting a full production of La Traviata at the end of September at Juneau-Douglas High School Auditorium.
Opera-to-Go will bring the skills of one of the principal singers in JLO’s production of La Traviata to Juneau singers in a master class scheduled for Sept. 15 with tenor Mark Andrew Katz (Alfredo in Traviata). Opera-to-Go is also offering a master class for conductors this season, and is co-producing Seussical the Musical with Theater at Latitude 58, which will run at Thunder Mountain High School in late November.
Across the channel at Perseverance Theatre (where I am a company member) a robust season kicks off with God of Carnage opening on the 13th of September, followed in November by a family-friendly production of Treasure Island, and then in January by Rush at Everlasting, a premiere piece by Alaska playwright Arlitia Jones. Tennessee Williams’s classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof will play in Juneau in March and will also be one of three shows (with Carnage and Everlasting) traveling to the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in Anchorage over the course of the coming season, part of the continuing expansion of the theatre’s mission to reach more Alaska audiences. 1960s comedy Boeing, Boeing will wrap up the season in May, and subscriptions with all their attendant benefits are certainly still available.
The Juneau Arts & Humanities Council will celebrate its 40th Anniversary with a raucous season of frolicking shows, all the while maintaining its regular delivery of gallery shows and a multitude of other services. The last hurrah of the summer season at the will be the Juneau Food Festival next Saturday, Aug. 31, featuring locally grown foods and food products. JAHC’s indefatigable staff are still looking for volunteers to help at the Food Festival next week and can be reached at 586-ARTS. Through the end of the year ‘Music on the Fly’ will bring an hour of live music to the arrivals area of Juneau International Airport each Sunday evening.
All through the year, Juneau is extremely well served by two different cinematic enterprises, the large-screens operated for over a century by the Gross cinemas, and the small-screen charms of the Gold Town Nickelodeon. The Gold Town makes available film experiences that would otherwise utterly elude most, if not all, Juneauites. Selfless owner Mark Ridgway is to be commended, as is Colette Costa’s expert direction of the sumptuous film menu.
The rich array of arts opportunities in Juneau only exists because of the demand created by a large and interested population that profoundly appreciates music, theatre, film, and every other form of artistic expression. Juneau is especially fortunate also to have such a huge amount of talent creating and bringing the arts to all.