• New Arts Jazztet Concert, reception at The Varsity opens SI Music Fest

    May 16, 2019
    The 15th annual Southern Illinois Music Festival opens May 24, and The Varsity is hosting the first event of the annual celebration created and directed by Edward Benyas, professor and conductor of the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra at Southern Illinois University.

    Tickets for the Friday evening opening reception include a concert by the New Arts Jazztet and hors d’oeuvres. The Varsity Bar will be selling beer, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. Tickets are $25.

    The New Arts Jazztet has long been regarded as Southern Illinois' premier jazz group. The NAJ is in residence at Southern Illinois University, where all but one of its members are School of Music faculty. Its current line-up is Dick Kelley, reeds; Bob Allison, trumpet/flugelhorn; Isaac Lausell, guitars; Phil Brown, bass; and Jimmy Beers, drums/percussion.

    Through June 9, the artists and directors of the Southern Illinois Music Festival will present three dozen performances in venues from Carbondale to Cairo, Murphysboro to Herrin and points in between. SIFest 2019 features two fully staged operas, three orchestral concerts, multiple chamber music performances, Klassics for Kids and Jive with Jazz. For more details, go to www.sifest.com.

    The Varsity also will host one of multiple Klassics for Kids events. The free admission program is at 10 a.m. June 5. Klassics for Kids is an interactive concert designed to expose children to the joys of live classical music. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to help youngsters develop skills appropriate for a live performance in an informal atmosphere.

    Tickets for the opening reception and all other 2019 festival performances are available at the SIU Ticket Office, online at www.sifest.com/buy-tickets, and at the door of each performance. Patrons may also purchase a non-transferable SIFest pass, through the SIU ticket office for $100.

    The Varsity is downtown Carbondale at 418 S. Illinois Ave. To keep up with all upcoming events, go to www.thevarsitycenter.org or follow us at www.facebook.com/varsitycenter.