Catapult-Shadow Dance will perform on Oct. 25 at the John Legend Theater as part of the Wittenberg Series 2018-2019

Wittenberg Series to feature strong arts programs, lectures

The theme “Boldness in Thinking, Pursuits & Education” sums up the speakers and artists set to visit Springfield over the coming months to cover a range of subjects when the Wittenberg Series returns for its 36th season.

Literature, history, science, the arts and other subjects will inform and entertain among the 11 programs on the Wittenberg University campus beginning Tuesday, Aug. 21 with alumnus Shakeer Abdullah doing the opening convocation.

All lectures, concerts and convocations are free.

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Programming committee chair Katie Warber and series coordinator Lisa Watson have found themselves working and shuffling to accommodate the high-profile speakers and performers. The pieces have now fit nicely.

“We have different draws that speak to several different audiences,” Warber said. “We’ve gone a little less traditional with our arts programs this year.”

Catapult will present the dance concert on Oct. 25 and Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform the vocal concert on Feb. 26.

Warber said dance is especially difficult to present on campus and Catapult may already be familiar as it was a finalist on “America’s Got Talent.” It will perform a concert called Shadow Dance that tells stories through movement and gymnastics, mostly presented in silhouette at the John Legend Theater.

“I hope it’s going to be an entry to dance for a lot of people,” Watson said.

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South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo has entertained for nearly 60 years, collecting several Grammy Awards and collaborated with Paul Simon on his “Graceland” album. Its concert will tie into Black History Month.

The series has a tradition of high-profile speakers and the series continues that tradition with its endowed lectures.

Watson said the series has been after Elizabeth Fenn for its William A. Kinnison history lecture for years. The Pulitzer Prize winner will present “Sacagawea’s Capture and the History of the Early West” on March 13.

The Koppenhaver Literary Lecture will feature “Hillary Jordan on the Writing Life” on Oct. 3 and the Fred R. Leventhal Family Lecture will have Seth M. Siegel on “Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World” on Nov. 7.

Watson said some lectures will be relevant to campus and current events topics including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation on Jan. 21 which brings in criminal justice reform advocate Adam Foss.

The series will wrap March 27 with the IBM Endowed Lecture in the Sciences with Yale University psychology professor John Dovidio’s program “Why Can’t We All Get along? - The Challenges of Race Relations in America.”

Warber cited him in her school research, and Dovidio was a graduate school colleague of Wittenberg professor Cliff Brown.

“We’re working to bring a lot of diversity and that comes in a variety of forms, speakers and performers,” said Warber.

Some programs will feature question and answer and colloquium sessions prior to the lectures. Events will be on the Wittenberg campus at the Bayley Auditorium or Weaver Chapel at 7:30 p.m. except where noted.

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