The 2011-2012 Norton Center for the Arts season will bear little resemblance to the seasons of recent years. The composition of the season has been reconceived, and of the 21 shows that will take place at the arts center, only one — “Fiddler on the Roof,” which was performed at the Norton Center 10 years ago — has played on the Norton Center stage.
There will be two series in the season: the Newlin Hall Series, which is comprised of 16 shows, and the Club Weisiger Series, which will have five performances.
Norton Center for the Arts Executive Director Steve Hoffman said the condensation to two series is among a number of little changes that have been made to the season. They’re based on discussions he’s had in the year he’s been the executive director.
“One of the biggest comments I heard was there were a lot of repeats (in the seasons),” Hoffman explained. “I took that to heart.”
He also heard the tickets had become quite expensive. Last season, excluding the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra special event, the premium ticket price was $150 for the Tony Bennett concert. Next season, none of the tickets will be more than $75.
“In the Newlin Hall Series, there’s a top price. The third price is about half that top price (and the middle price falls between the two),” Hoffman said.
So, for a show with $75 as the top price, the lowest price for tickets will be about $38. “If you’re seeing a huge Broadway musical, (the ticket prices) are more reasonable.”
In addition, a season package begins with six performances — of the buyer’s choice. Platinum packages will be 14 to 16 Newlin Hall Series performances, and will feature the steepest ticket discount for Newlin Hall Series tickets. Gold packages will have 10 to 13 performances, and silver packages will have six to nine events. Hoffman hopes people will look closely at the pricing and opt up to the next package level to get a better discount.
Platinum subscribers also will have their names put in a drawing for five Club Weisiger Series packages “as a thank-you for people who are taking advantage of the most shows.” If platinum package subscribers also are Club Weisiger Series subscribers, and their names are picked during the drawing, then those subscribers will not be charged for those Club Weisiger shows.
All tickets for Club Weisiger shows are $30, unless a patron chooses all five, in which case that patron will save $25 per subscription.
He noted next season will feature more weekend performances. For shows that happen on a weekday, the curtains-up time will be 7:30 rather than 8 p.m., so people can get home a half-hour earlier.
Valet parking will be available, and concessions will be sold during Newlin Hall Series performance intermissions.
Hoffman hopes people attending the performances will turn it into an excursion. “If you have time, go out to dinner. ... Have a fun time with it,” he added.
Here’s a look at the Norton Center for the Arts season:
NEWLIN HALL SERIES
The series will feature Grammy winners, celebrities, rising stars, traditional orchestras and dance troupes.
Sept. 9: Robert Cray band and Shemekia Copeland band, 8 p.m. Cray is a Grammy Award-winning artist whose sound combines R&B, pop, rock, soul and traditional blues. Copeland has been ranked as one of the world’s top blues performers, and she has opened for the Rolling Stones. Hoffman said Cray helped the Blues Brothers get started. “It’s very accessible blues — very smooth,” he noted.
Sept. 23: “The Hills Are Alive,” by Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata. The show has been described as “‘The Sound of Music’ songbook remade in a pop/rock style.”
Oct. 5: “Viva Brazil!,” by Luciana Souza Trio, 7:30 p.m. Grammy winner Souza is a leading singer in the jazz genre. The evening is described as “a seductive evening of traditional and contemporary Brazilian songs.” The group also does lyrical interpretations of Pablo Neruda’s poetry.
Oct. 22: “Cloris: A One-Woman Show,” by Cloris Leachman. The Homecoming Weekend performance is by a one-time Academy Award winner, nine-time Emmy Award winner, and 22-time Emmy nominee. At 85, Leachman brings to stage moments from her professional career and personal life. “She was the original Timmy’s mom in ‘Lassie,’” Hoffman noted.
Nov. 1: Yamato, the Drummers of Japan, 7:30 p.m. The ensemble travels all over the world with Japan’s traditional Wadaiko drums. Hoffman calls them “extremely interactive and theatrical” and the performance “Kodo meets Stomp.” “It’s high energy all the way.”
Nov. 4: Dailey & Vincent, 8 p.m. Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent are considered a rising bluegrass duo. The New York Times has called them “the most celebrated new bluegrass act,” and they have won numerous Performance, Entertainer and Band of the Year awards during the past three years, including a 2011 Grammy nomination and seven Bluegrass Music Awards this year.
Nov. 18: Ballroom with a Twist, 8 p.m. The performance was created and choreographed by Louis Van Amstel, who is well-known for his work with “Dancing with the Stars.” Headlining the show will be Edyta Sliwinska and Alec Mazo of “Dancing with the Stars” fame, and “American Idol” singers will perform during the show.
Dec. 2: Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie, 8 p.m. The renowned singers will present a holiday concert of seasonal favorites and classic hits. Hoffman said the two singers will perform individually as well as together.
Jan. 13: “Tschaikowski,” by St. Petersburg State Orchestra; Roman Leontiev, conductor, and Alexander Pirozhenko, pianist, 8 p.m. The program the acclaimed orchestra will present includes Wagner, Beethoven and Mahler. Hoffman called this a “big, robust evening” of music.
Feb. 10: “The Rivalry,” by L.A. Theatre Works, 8 p.m. L.A. Theatre Works is a non-profit media arts organization whose mission for more than 25 years has been to present, preserve and disseminate classic and contemporary radio plays. The presentation depicts the Abraham Lincoln-Stephen Douglas Illinois Senate debates.
March 4: “Fiddler on the Roof,” 8 p.m. The Tony Award-winning musical has entertained numerous musical theater-lovers for decades. It has been lauded by critics and audiences alike.
March 10: Diavolo Dance Theater, 8 p.m. Diavolo creates abstract narrative through movement and athletics, under the direction of Jacques Helm, who recently choreographed Cirque du Soleil’s “KA.”
March 27: “Moulin Rouge — the Ballet,” 7:30 p.m. The work premiered in 2009 and is based on an original burlesque-inspired storybook ballet. “It’s a new look at the Moulin Rouge cabaret-cafe,” Hoffman said.
April 5: Brentano String Quartet, 7:30 p.m. Founded in 1992, the ensemble has performed throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. The program will include works by Bach, Bussoni and Beethoven.
April 13: Australian Chamber Orchestra, featuring soprano Dawn Upshaw, 8 p.m. Upshaw is the first vocalist to win a MacArthur “genius” grant for her role as an advocate for new music. They will perform a new work by Grammy Award-winning composer Maria Schneider.
April 17: “We Are What We Eat,” a conversation about the ethics of food in everyday eating, 7:30 p.m. The program will be led by Marion Nestle, a consumer activist, nutritionist and academic, and Daphne Miller, a family physician and author. The event will be different from other performances in the season and will be moderated.
CLUB WEISIGER SERIES
Sept. 30: Hahn-Bin, violin, with John Blacklow, piano, 8 p.m. Hahn-Bin is Juilliard-educated and “looks like a punker but plays like a virtuoso,” Hoffman said, and is a special protege of Itzhak Perlman. Imagine the love child of fiery violinist Paganini and diva Grace Jones, he added.
Nov. 30: Raul Malo band, 7:30 p.m. Malo is best known as the frontman and founder of Grammy Award-winning band The Mavericks. He also is a member of Los Super Seven.
Jan. 28: Stanley Jordan Trio, 8 p.m. A guitar virtuoso, Stanley Jordan has made a name for himself as a significant player in the world of guitar performance. He has four Grammy nominations and many film and television appearances.
March 15: Geri Allen & Timeline, featuring tap-percussionist Maurice Chestnut, 7:30 p.m. “Rolling Stone” magazine has called Allen “the finest pianist of her generation, a gripping stylist whose mastery can no longer be denied.” Chestnut is considered one of tap’s brightest young stars. He has performed on “Dancing with the Stars” and with renowned tap virtuoso Savion Glover.
May 7: Portland Cello Project, 7:30 p.m. The ensemble’s performances are unique and eclectic, with each concert being a one-time event. The group blends classical music with pop culture covers, creating an “indie chamber music experience.”