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The Staller Center for the Arts remains closed for in-person events.  We remain innovative in developing engaging films, performances, and educational content for you to enjoy virtually. As soon as it is prudent, we will reopen safely for our patrons and artists who yearn for live performances and the arts. Until then, please enjoy this monthly content from our Virtual Stage.
Take me to the Stage

Be sure to check out our other virtual content:
Seawolves Showcase   Spring Films Series      Outreach Programming   Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery   Stony Brook Music Performances  




BODYTRAFFIC is a world-class contemporary dance company, known internationally for its Los Angeles-grown, contagious vivacity. Founded in 2007 by Lillian Rose Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett, BODYTRAFFIC continues to push boundaries and establish Los Angeles as a city known for dance. The company is deeply committed to producing acclaimed works by distinctive choreographic voices, all while surging to the forefront of the contemporary dance world.

Named “the company of the future”, and called “one of the most talked-about companies - not just in LA, but nationwide” by the Los Angeles Times, BODYTRAFFIC is internationally recognized for its high caliber work and palpable love of dance. BODYTRAFFIC is home to an exceptionally versatile family of world-renowned dancers who have trained with the likes of Mikhail Baryshnikov, The Juilliard School, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and more.

BODYTRAFFIC’s diverse repertory includes original works by McArthur Fellow Kyle Abraham, Stijn Celis, Barak Marshall, Ohad Naharin, Matthew Neenan, Arthur Pita, Victor Quijada, Hofesh Shechter, Richard Siegal, and many more incredible choreographers. BODYTRAFFIC seamlessly pays homage to traditional styles and techniques, while forging the way for contemporary dance of today. 

BODYTRAFFIC dancers wowed the crowd in the house in February, 2020. They also wowed the patients with a visit to Stony Brook Children's prior to the show.

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Janis Ian

Janis Ian, songwriter, singer, musician, columnist, and science fiction author. Her singing career was at its height in the 1960s and 1970s, and she has continued recording into the twenty-first century. In 1975 Ian won a Grammy Award for her song, "At Seventeen".

Born Janis Eddy Fink on 7th April 1951 to a Jewish family in New York City, she was primarily raised in New Jersey, initially on a farm, and attended East Orange High School and the New York City High School of Music & Art. Her parents, Victor (a music teacher) and Pearl, ran a summer camp in upstate New York, and, in that Cold War era, were frequently under government surveillance because of their left-wing politics. (Ian alluded to these years later in her song "God and the FBI"). Young Janis admired the work of folk pioneers such as Joan Baez and Odetta. At the age of twelve, Ian wrote her first song, "Hair of Spun Gold", which was subsequently published in the folk publication Broadside and was later recorded for her debut album.

At the age of thirteen she legally changed her name to Janis Ian, using as her new last name her brother Eric's middle name. Also in that year, Ian wrote and sang her first hit single, "Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)", about an interracial romance forbidden by a girl's mother and frowned upon by her peers and teachers; the girl ultimately decides to end the relationship, claiming the social norms of the day have left her no other choice. Produced by George "Shadow" Morton and released three times between 1965 and 1967, "Society's Child" finally became a national hit on its third release, after Leonard Bernstein featured it in a television special: Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution . The song's content was taboo for some radio stations, and they withdrew or banned it from their playlists; in her 2008 autobiography Society's Child , Ian recalls receiving hate mail and death threats as a response to the song, and mentions that a radio station in Atlanta that played it was burned down. In the summer of 1967, "Society's Child" reached number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100.

Her most successful single in the United States was "At Seventeen", released in 1975, a bittersweet commentary on adolescent cruelty, the illusion of popularity, and teenage angst, as reflected upon from the perspective of a twenty-four-year-old. It reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Adult Contemporary chart. It won the 1975 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance - Female. The song's album, Between the Lines , reached number one on Billboard's Album chart. It was quickly certified gold, and later earned a platinum certification for sales of over a million copies sold in the U.S.

Ian finally became one of the first "indie artists", resurfacing in 1993, with the worldwide release of Breaking Silence and its title song about incest. She also came out as a lesbian with that release. Her most recent album, Hope, a collection of 12 pieces from the Janis Ian Archives was released in 2021.

Janis Ian first performed at Stony Brook University in 1968 and again in 1973. In March of 2002 she performed to a sold out house in the Recital Hall.

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Sean Lennon

As the son of John Lennon, perhaps the most beloved Beatle, and avant-garde musician Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon was a celebrity before he even began his recording career. That may be the reason why he didn't choose straight-ahead pop as his musical vocation, like his half-brother Julian did. Instead, he cleverly positioned himself between pop and experimental, taking his cue from such kaleidoscopic '90s multiculturists as the Beastie Boys, Beck, and Cibo Matto. To many ears, his 1998 debut album, Into the Sun, had unexpectedly eclectic roots and a laid-back vibe, earning him positive critical reviews and securing a modest place in the post-alternative hierarchy.    

Ten years before Into the Sun, such a transformation seemed unlikely. But toward the end of the '80s, Lennon began to emerge from the seclusion that marked the years following his father's assassination. During his childhood, he was educated in Swiss boarding schools, but occasionally appeared on his mother's albums and sang on the 1984 Ono tribute Every Man Has a Woman. In his early teens, he was occasionally seen decked out in a plastic Thriller jacket and hanging out with Michael Jackson, but his first official step into the spotlight was in the form of filmed interviews for the 1988 documentary Imagine: John Lennon.     

Three years later, he organized -- with Ono and Lenny Kravitz -- a star-studded re-recording of his father's "Give Peace a Chance" as a protest to the Gulf War. That year, he also appeared on Kravitz's album Mama Said. Shortly afterward, he retreated from the spotlight again, deciding to attend Columbia University. He spent only a few semesters at college before he dropped out of school to hang out in the New York indie rock scene. He encouraged his mother to begin performing again, supporting her in a noise rock trio named IMA; the trio was featured on Ono's 1995 album Rising and backed her on her subsequent tour. During that time, Lennon met Cibo Matto, who were hired to remix a song on Ono and IMA's EP, and he became Cibo Matto's touring bassist as well as keyboardist Yuka Honda's boyfriend. For a short while in the mid-'90s, he was touring with both IMA and Cibo Matto; it was the first time he was on the road playing music for an extended period of time.

Once the touring was completed, Lennon played some of his songs to Beastie Boy Adam Yauch. Impressed with the demos, Yauch asked Lennon if he wanted to record a solo album for the Beasties' label, Grand Royal. He accepted the offer and had Honda produce the resulting album, Into the Sun. A mellow, eclectic album that bounces between bossa nova and alternative rock, Into the Sun was released in the spring of 1998. Journalists and observers were ready to spot musical similarities between Sean and his father, but perhaps the clearest shared trait was an ability to unwittingly stick his foot in his mouth just like his dad. Shortly before Into the Sun, he gave an interview to The New Yorker, claiming his father was assassinated by the American government. It helped stir up interest for his debut album, but he didn't need it, since the rock press was already eager to run stories about him -- not only was he the heir to rock royalty, he had the Grand Royal stamp of approval. Consequently, Into the Sun received strong reviews and, on the basis of those reviews, earned a small following, debuting at number 153 on the charts.  

When Grand Royal folded in 2001, Lennon found himself without a label, but Capitol soon signed him. However, it wasn't until 2006 that he released new material. His second album, the mostly piano-driven Friendly Fire, appeared that fall and featured contributions from Honda, Ono, Money Mark, and Vincent Gallo. In 2008, Lennon formed a new project with Charlotte Kemp Muhl called the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. In 2009, they performed at the opening of the independent film Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead,(also screened at the 2009 Stony Brook Film Festival) which Lennon had scored. GOASTT released the critically acclaimed LP Midnight Sun in 2014 and joined Dinosaur Jr. and Primus on tour in 2015. While touring, Lennon and Primus' Les Claypool hit it off and formed the psych-rock duo the Claypool Lennon Delirium.  

Lennon’s band Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger opened the 2011-12 Staller Center season and was complemented by Yoko Ono’s exhibit  Yoko Ono Imagine Peace Featuring John and Yoko’s Year of Peace  at the University Art Gallery.        

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Jon Batiste

Keyboardist, singer, and composer Jon Batiste is an ebullient and highly eclectic performer with a sound that combines the jazz traditions of his New Orleans home with a vibrant blend of funk, pop, and R&B. Since 2015, Batiste has been the bandleader and musical director for CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He has toured the globe with his own Stay Human ensemble and issued releases like 2013's chart-topping jazz album Social Music. A member of the esteemed Batiste musical family, he emerged in his teens as a gifted jazz pianist with a strong grasp of the Crescent City jazz and R&B sound.

Batiste has busked on street corners, held music clinics worldwide, and managed to draw multitudes to his wide-open, accessible brand of rhythmic swing on virtually any keyboard instrument he chooses, in any genre. Though heralded as a brilliant pianist and organist, his use of the melodica -- which has graced albums by artists ranging from Stevie Wonder and Harry Connick, Jr. to Trombone Shorty -- has become a visible signature of his work.

Batiste has earned accolades including Grammy nominations for his rootsy take on "Saint James Infirmary" off 2018's expansive Hollywood Africans and for 2020's Chronology of a Dream: Live at the Village Vanguard. He has also scored films, such as Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer and 2020's animated Pixar movie Soul, the latter of which earned an Academy Award for Best Original Score. On the heels of his nomination, Batiste released his stylistically cross-pollinated 2021 album We Are.     

In Spring of 2014 Jon Batiste and Stay Human thrilled a sold-out Recital Hall with an electrifying performance which included Jon travelling through the audience with melodica!

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Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega was among the first major figures in the bumper crop of female singer/songwriters who rose to prominence during the late '80s and '90s. Her hushed, restrained folk-pop and highly literate lyrics (inspired chiefly by Leonard Cohen, as well as Lou Reed and Bob Dylan) laid the initial musical groundwork for what later became the trademark sound of Lilith Fair, a tour on which she was a regular. Moreover, her left-field hit singles "Luka" and "Tom's Diner" helped convince record companies that folk-styled singer/songwriters were not a thing of the past, paving the way for breakthroughs by Tracy Chapman, Michelle Shocked, Shawn Colvin, Edie Brickell, the Indigo Girls, and a host of others. Vega's early commercial success helped open doors for a wealth of talent, as she scored a platinum album with 1987's Solitude Standing, and she would maintain a strong and dedicated cult following. Her association with -- and marriage to -- experimental producer Mitchell Froom during the '90s resulted in two intriguing albums, 1992's 99.9 F and 1996's Nine Objects of Desire. Following their painful divorce, Vega returned in 2001 with her first album in five years, Songs in Red and Gray, which was greeted with her strongest reviews in a decade. She explored jazzy arrangements on 2007's Beauty and Crime, and wrote a musical one-woman show that was documented on the 2016 album Lover, Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers.          

In November 2010, Suzanne Vega performed to a sold-out Recital Hall and spent hours after the show greeting fans and signing autographs in the lobby.  

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PAST performers ...




Puppini Sisters

Three simple words define gorgeous close harmonies, impeccable fashion sense, and trailblazing re-workings of pop and classic songs… The Puppini Sisters!

Often copied, never equaled, this original trio, founded in 2004 by Marcella Puppini and featuring Kate Mullins and Emma Smith, seamlessly blend elegance and sophistication with a touch of retro and turn it into a must-have lifestyle.

With five unprecedented albums under their waist-cinching belts, including the fastest-selling UK jazz album of all time,  Betcha Bottom Dollar, and with fans such as Prince Charles and Michael Bublé, it's no wonder everybody wants a piece of this group. Come and join the worldwide followers of this inspirational band and check out their new online shop below to help bring Puppini retro-chic to your life!

The Puppini Sisters were slated to perform on the Recital Hall stage on Valentine's Day in 2009. Due to overwhelming ticket sales, they were quickly moved upstairs to the Main Stage.

 The Puppini Sisters delivered just such an evening of magic and music this past Saturday to a packed house at the Staller Center. "Mr. Sandman," "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," and "In the Mood" were just some of the vintage classics they converted into three-part vocals . After the show, they delighted the crowd with a two-hour meet and greet in the Staller Center Lobby. 

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Renée Fleming

One of the most beloved and celebrated singers of our time, soprano Renée Fleming is renowned for her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry, and compelling stage presence. Awarded America's highest honor for an individual artist, the National Medal of Arts, as well as four Grammy awards, she brought her voice to a vast new audience in 2014 as the first classical artist ever to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl.

Performing in opera houses, concert halls, and theaters worldwide, she is a recording artist with Decca Classics. Recent triumphs have included a Tony-nominated appearance on Broadway in Carousel, the opening performances at The Shed opposite actor Ben Whishaw, and the London premiere of the musical The Light in the Piazza. Renée has been sought after on numerous distinguished occasions as a musical statesman, from the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to performances in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games. In 2014, she sang in the televised concert at the Brandenburg Gate to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 2012, in a historic first, she sang on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in the Diamond Jubilee Concert for HM Queen Elizabeth II. In January 2009, Renée was featured in the televised. We Are One: The Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial concert for President Obama. She has also performed for the United States Supreme Court and, in 2009, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic's "Velvet Revolution" at the invitation of Václav Havel. A ground-breaking distinction came in 2008 when Renée became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala.

Ms. Fleming starred in Staller Center's 2019 Gala. Her program included songs by Brahms; Kevin Puts,  Letters from Georgia; a group of songs from films including "You'll Never Know" from  The Shape of Water, and "Tis the Last Rose of Summer" from  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. A group of Italian songs and a selection of songs from the musical theater genre were also featured: "Till There Was You" from  The Music Man, "Unusual Way" from  Nine, and "Glamorous Life" from  A Little Night Music, among others. 

"Renee's  diverse program of Opera, Broadway, and Lieder wowed the Staller audience, and her performance on stage was matched by her delightful interaction with the audience in the Gala reception that followed the evening's concert." Alan Inkles, Director, Staller Center for the Arts

After the amazing performance, Ms. Fleming spent time conversing with our patrons at the Gala Reception in the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery. 

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"40 Years of endless innovation."

Known internationally for presenting works of exceptional inventiveness and physical beauty, MOMIX is a company of dancer-illusionists under the direction of Moses Pendleton. In addition to stage performances worldwide, MOMIX has worked in film and television, recently appearing in a national commercial for Hanes underwear and a Target ad that premiered during the 67th Annual Golden Globe airing Awards. With performances on PBS’s “Dance in America” series, France’s Antenne II, and Italian RAI television, the company’s repertory has been broadcast to 55 countries. Joining the Montreal Symphony in the Rhombus Media film of Mussorgsky’s  Pictures at an Exhibition, winner of an International Emmy for Best Performing Arts Special, the company’s performance was distributed on laserdisc by Decca Records. MOMIX was also featured in  IMAGINE, one of the first 3-D IMAX films released in IMAX theaters worldwide. MOMIX dancers Cynthia Quinn and Karl Baumann, under Moses Pendleton’s direction, played the role of “Bluey” in the feature film  FX2; and  White  Widow, co-choreographed by Moses Pendleton and Cynthia Quinn, was featured in Robert Altman’s movie,  The Company. Participating in the  Homage a Picasso in Paris, MOMIX was also selected to represent the US at the European Cultural Center at Delphi.

With the support of the Scottsdale Cultural Council Scottsdale Center for the Arts in Scottsdale, Arizona, Mr. Pendleton created  Bat Habits to celebrate the opening of the San Francisco Giants’ new spring training park in Scottsdale. MOMIX has been commissioned by corporations such as Fiat and Mercedes Benz, performing at Fiat’s month-long 100th Anniversary Celebration in Torino, Italy, and Mercedes Benz’s International Auto Show in Frankfurt, Germany. With nothing more than light, shadow, props, and the human body, MOMIX has astonished audiences on five continents for more than 40 years.

MOMIX has performed numerous times at the Staller Center over the past 15 years. In 2014 the production “Botanica” thrilled our Gala audience and included a  performance for 900 Stony Brook students the night before.  You can be sure to look forward to seeing them again at the Staller Center soon! Until then, enjoy these performances, available on our youtube channel. 

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Yo Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is testament to his enduring belief in culture’s power to generate trust and understanding. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, collaborating with communities and institutions to explore culture’s role in society, or engaging unexpected musical forms, Yo-Yo strives to foster connections that stimulate the imagination and reinforce our humanity.

In August 2018, Yo-Yo began a new journey, setting out to perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s six suites for solo cello in one sitting in 36 locations around the world, iconic venues that encompass our cultural heritage, our current creativity, and the challenges of peace and understanding that will shape our future.

The Bach Project continues Yo-Yo’s lifelong commitment to stretching the boundaries of genre and tradition to explore music as a means not only to share and express meaning, but also as his contribution to a conversation about how culture can help us to imagine and build a stronger society and a better future.

It was this belief that inspired Yo-Yo to establish Silkroad, a collective of artists from around the world who create music that engages their many traditions. Through his work with Silkroad, as well as throughout his career, Yo-Yo Ma has sought to expand the classical cello repertoire, frequently performing lesser-known music of the 20th century and commissions of new concertos and recital pieces. He has premiered works by a diverse group of composers, among them Osvaldo Golijov, Leon Kirchner, Zhao Lin, Christopher Rouse, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Giovanni Sollima, Bright Sheng, Tan Dun, and John Williams.

In addition to his work as a performing artist, Yo-Yo partners with communities and institutions from Chicago to Guangzhou to develop programs that champion culture’s power to transform lives and forge a more connected world. Among his many roles, Yo-Yo is as a UN Messenger of Peace, the first artist ever appointed to the World Economic Forum’s board of trustees, and a member of the board of Nia Tero, the US-based nonprofit working in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and movements worldwide.

Yo-Yo’s discography of over 100 albums (including 18 Grammy Award winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. In addition to his many iconic renditions of the Western classical canon, he has made several recordings that defy categorization, among them “Appalachia Waltz” and “Appalachian Journey” with Mark O’Connor and Edgar Meyer, and two Grammy-winning tributes to the music of Brazil, “Obrigado Brazil” and “Obrigado Brazil — Live in Concert.” Yo-Yo’s recent recordings include: “Sing Me Home,” with the Silkroad Ensemble, which won the 2016 Grammy for Best World Music Album; “Brahms: The Piano Trios,” with Emanuel Ax and Leonidas Kavakos; “Six Evolutions — Bach: Cello Suites;” and “Not Our First Goat Rodeo,” with Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. Yo-Yo’s latest album is “Songs of Comfort and Hope,” created and recorded with pianist Kathryn Stott in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yo-Yo was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and three years later moved with his family to New York City, where he continued his cello studies with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. After his conservatory training, he sought out a liberal arts education, graduating from Harvard in 1976. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize (1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize (2006), the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), Kennedy Center Honors (2011), the Polar Music Prize (2012), and the J. Paul Getty Medal Award (2016). He has performed for nine American presidents, most recently on the occasion of President Biden’s inauguration.

Yo-Yo and his wife have two children. He plays three instruments, a 2003 instrument made by Moes & Moes, a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice, and the 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius.

Yo-Yo Ma returns to Staller Center for Gala 2022 after performing here 40 years ago with the late Kenneth Cooper, Harpsichord for a Special Benefit concert in May of 1982.

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Les Ballets Trockadero

It is a Company of professional male dancers performing the full range of the ballet and modern dance repertoire, including classical and original works in faithful renditions of the manners and conceits of those dance styles. 

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo was founded in 1974 by a group of ballet enthusiasts to present a playful, entertaining view of traditional, classical ballet in parody form and en travesti. Les Ballets Trockadero first performed in the late-late shows in Off-Off Broadway lofts. The TROCKS, as they are affectionately known, quickly garnered a major critical essay by Arlene Croce in The New Yorker, and combined with reviews in The New York Times and The Village Voice, established the Company as an artistic and popular success. By mid-1975, the TROCKS’ inspired blend of their loving knowledge of dance, their comic approach, and the astounding fact that men can, indeed, dance en pointe without falling flat on their faces was being noted beyond New York. Articles and notices in publications such as Variety, Oui, The London Daily Telegraph, as well as a Richard Avedon photo essay in Vogue made the Company nationally and internationally known.

The Trocks last graced our stage in May 2013. Keep your eyes peeled for their return to Staller Center in 2022. Until then, “Keep on Trockin.’”

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Judy Collins

Judy Collins has inspired audiences with sublime vocals, boldly vulnerable songwriting, personal life triumphs, and a firm commitment to social activism. In the 1960s, she evoked both the idealism and steely determination of a generation united against social and environmental injustices. Five decades later, her luminescent presence shines brightly as new generations bask in the glow of her iconic 55-album body of work, and heed inspiration from her spiritual discipline to thrive in the music industry for half a century.

The award-winning singer-songwriter is esteemed for her imaginative interpretations of traditional and contemporary folk standards and her own poetically poignant original compositions. Her stunning rendition of Joni Mitchell's “Both Sides Now” from her landmark 1967 album,  Wildflowers, has been entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Judy’s dreamy and sweetly intimate version of “Send in the Clowns,” a ballad written by Stephen Sondheim for the Broadway musical  A Little Night Music, won "Song of the Year” at the 1975 Grammy Awards. She’s garnered several top-ten hits gold- and platinum-selling albums. Recently, contemporary and classic artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Shawn Colvin, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, and Leonard Cohen honored her legacy with the album  Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins.

Judy began her impressive music career at 13 as a piano prodigy dazzling audiences performing Mozart's “Concerto for Two Pianos,” but the hard luck tales and rugged sensitivity of folk revival music by artists such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger seduced her away from a life as a concert pianist. Her path pointed to a lifelong love affair with the guitar and pursuit of emotional truth in lyrics. The focus and regimented practice of classical music, however, would be a source of strength to her inner core as she navigated the highs and lows of the music business.

In addition, she remains a social activist, representing UNICEF and numerous other causes. She is the director (along with Jill Godmillow) of an Academy Award-nominated film about Antonia Brico – PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN, the first woman to conduct major symphonies around the world–and Judy's classical piano teacher when she was young.

Judy Collins is as creatively vigorous as ever, writing, touring worldwide, and nurturing fresh talent. She is a modern-day Renaissance woman who is also an accomplished painter, filmmaker, record label head, musical mentor, and an in-demand keynote speaker for mental health and suicide prevention. She continues to create music of hope and healing that lights up the world and speaks to the heart. 

Judy Collins performed at the Staller Center in 2000 and 2003 to sold-out houses. "I remember we had an incredible turnout that night with a really young audience," said Inkles, " she was so enamored with the young people who came to the show." "During the concert she said, 'I didn't know this many young people knew my music,'" remembers Inkles, "She was a class act and an amazing performer." "Personally, it was a huge pleasure to see one of my absolute favorite female singers live on stage," said Elizabeth Silver, Production Manager for the Staller Center. 

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The Doo Wop Project

The Doo Wop Project performed at the Staller Center in 2015, bringing the audience to their feet and dancing along with their smooth and upbeat vocals. After fastly becoming a Staller audience favorite, the Doo Wop Project was invited back for the 2017 Gala to open for Jay Leno. Following the Gala, the group visited with patrons, taking photos with them, and performed in the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery during the Gala reception party. 

The Doo Wop Project begins at the beginning, tracing the evolution of Doo Wop from the classic sound of five guys singing tight harmonies on a street corner to the biggest hits on the radio today. In their epic shows DWP takes audiences on a journey from foundational tunes of groups like the  Crest sBelmonts and  Flamingos through their influences on the sounds of  Smokey RobinsonThe Temptations, and  The Four Seasons all the way to DooWopified versions of modern musicians like  Michael JacksonJason Mraz and  Maroon 5. Featuring  stars of Broadway’s smash hits Jersey Boys and  Motown: The Musical, the Doo Wop Project brings unparalleled authenticity of sound and vocal excellence to recreate—and in some cases entirely reimagine—some of the greatest music in American pop and rock history.

"All of this group’s training and performance experience comes through in grand way because the sound that the group produces is smooth listening. I dare say there is not one note out of place. ... But one thing stands out above all else and that is the pure joy that comes from their performance to the audience. There is no doubt that this group loves performing and they do all they can to entertain their audience. No doubt that they love the genre and are great caretakers of all that makes it so special ." 

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Emerson String Quartet

Next year will mark the 20th year of the relationship between the Staller Center, the Department of Music, Stony Brook University, and the nine-time Grammy-winning Emerson String Quartet. While The Emerson's had played before at Staller Center in 2002, they officially became Artists-In-Residence in our Music Department, playing three concerts each year as part of the Staller Center season and performing with students at the end of the year in the annual Chamber Music Festival. All four ESQ members are on faculty in the music department and often play throughout the year in the highly acclaimed "Starry Nights" concerts, a high-level series curated by SBU cellist Colin Carr and featuring faculty and students. Former ESQ cellist David Finkel is now the Artistic Director, with pianist WuHan of both The Chamber Music of Lincoln Center and Music@Menlo. 

The Emerson String Quartet has maintained its status as one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles for more than four decades. “With musicians like this,” wrote a reviewer for The Times (London) , “there must be some hope for humanity.” The Quartet has made more than 30 acclaimed recordings, and has been honored with nine GRAMMYs® (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, and Musical America’s “Ensemble of the Year” award. The Quartet collaborates with some of today’s most esteemed composers to premiere new works, keeping the string quartet form alive and relevant. The group has partnered in performance with such stellar soloists as Reneé Fleming, Barbara Hannigan, Evgeny Kissin, Emanuel Ax, and Yefim Bronfman, to name a few.

Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson String Quartet was one of the first quartets to have its violinists alternate in the first chair position.  The Quartet, which takes its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, balances busy performing careers with a commitment to teaching, and serves as Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University.  In 2013, cellist Paul Watkins—a distinguished soloist, award-wining conductor, and devoted chamber musician—joined the original members of the Quartet to form today’s group. In the spring of 2016, the State University of New York awarded full-time Stony Brook faculty members Philip Setzer and Lawrence Dutton the status of Distinguished Professor, and conferred the title of Honorary Distinguished Professor on part-time faculty members Eugene Drucker and Paul Watkins.  The Quartet’s members previously had received honorary doctorates from Middlebury College, the College of Wooster, Bard College, and the University of Hartford.  In January of 2015, the Quartet received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, Chamber Music America’s highest honor, in recognition of its significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field. 

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Four times - 11/12; 95/96; 03/04; 07/08

Pilobolus has performed at the Staller Center four times. The first time, in 1995, again in 2003, and twice more in 2008 and 2012. Pilobolus defines itself as a rebellious dance company. Since 1971, Pilobolus has tested the limits of human physicality to explore the beauty and the power of connected bodies. "We continue to bring this tradition to global audiences through our post-disciplinary collaborations with some of the greatest influencers, thinkers, and creators in the world. Now, in our digitally driven and increasingly mediated landscape, we also reach beyond performance to teach people how to connect through designed live experiences. We bring our decades of expertise telling stories with the human form to show diverse communities, brands, and organizations how to maximize group creativity, solve problems, create surprise, and generate joy through the power of nonverbal communication." 

Pilobolus has created and toured over 120 pieces of repertory to more than 65 countries. Currently performing  for over 300,000 people across the U.S. and around the world each year. In the last year, Pilobolus was featured on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, NBC’s TODAY Show, MTV’s Video Music Awards, The Harry Connick Show, ABC’s The Chew, and the CW Network’s Penn & Teller: Fool Us. Pilobolus has been recognized with many prestigious honors, including a TED Fellowship, a 2012 Grammy® Award Nomination, a Primetime Emmy® Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Programming, and several Cannes Lion Awards at the International Festival of Creativity. In 2015, Pilobolus was named one of Dance Heritage Coalition’s “Irreplaceable Dance Treasures”.

"I think they’re amazing," Chris Schmitt, a local from Suffolk country," said, in a 2011 interview with the Statesman. "Chris has seen Pilobolus in the past. 'I always like to see them.'" In the same review, Genie Ruzicka, said "It was like a combination of Cirque du Soliel, So You Think You Can Dance and the silhouette dance from America’s Got Talent."

"Pilobolus is always such fun, and a crowd favorite here at Staller," said Daria Carioscia, Development Director at the Staller Center, "they're one of my favorites!"

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Itzhak Perlman

"Thank you, Itzhak Perlman," read the opening line from the Times Beacon Record review of the 2017 Gala. "It was a fabulous concert by the superstar violinist last Saturday night at Gala 2017 held at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts. And besides the music, of Vivaldi, Beethoven, Schumann and Stravinsky, there was pleasure in just being in Perlman’s company. He produces extraordinary music in a most relaxed, unaffected and joyful fashion. His face, known for its elasticity, changes expression as he plays the notes, encouraging the listener not just to hear but also to feel the elegant sounds."

Perlman was 3 years old and living in the newly created state of Israel when he heard classical music on the radio. He asked for a violin but was turned away from the Shulamit Conservatory, which his father had brought him to, because he was pronounced too small to hold a violin. Instead he was given a toy fiddle and taught himself to play until he was finally accepted.

When he was 4, he contracted polio and in time was able to walk with crutches, but he plays seated on an electric scooter that he uses to get around the stage. He gave his first recital at 10 and not too long afterward came to the United States and to Juilliard. By 1958, when he was just 13, he appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and then went on tour with “The Ed Sullivan Caravan of Stars” across the country. In 1963 he debuted at Carnegie Hall and a year later won the prestigious Leventritt Competition before embarking on an extensive performing and recording career.

Perlman is known as a violinist, conductor, teacher and speaker, the last sometimes on behalf on those with disabilities. He usually performs as a soloist, accompanied by the gifted pianist, Rohan De Silva from Sri Lanka. But Perlman has shared the stage with many of the world’s greatest musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Isaac Stern and his friend and fellow violinist, Pinchas Zukerman. He has collaborated often with screen composer John Williams and plays the score for “Schindler’s List” in the movie, as well as that of “Memoirs of a Geisha” and other films. He even did a stint with the Muppets on “Sesame Street.”

Perlman has played with or conducted some of the great orchestras performing classical music. He also loves klezmer, a Jewish folk music, and jazz. What is not so well known is that he can sing. He actually sang the role of the jailer in the opera “Tosca,” alongside Placido Domingo and conducted by James Levine. At another time, he sang the same part, joining Luciano Pavarotti with Zubin Mehta conducting. That’s keeping pretty good company.

Known for his charisma and humanity, Perlman and his wife Toby — also a violinist, who he met in high school — started the Perlman Music Program that is housed in Shelter Island. There gifted young string players attend summer camp and mentoring programs. The Perlmans have five children and live in New York City.

Over the years, Itzhak Perlman has won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest honor for a civilian, and the National Medal of Arts with numerous Grammy and Emmy awards. He has performed several times at the White House and all over the world, perhaps most notably in the Eastern European bloc countries with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in 1987 before the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union in 1990, also China and India in 1994. "He won over those audiences with his elegant yet seemingly effortless technique, his affability and humor, as he so totally did with us in Stony Brook this past weekend," writes Leah Dunaief of the Times Beacon Record.

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Peabo Bryson


We've been lucky enough to host Peabo Bryson two times here at the Staller Center. Once in 1996 and again for a Gala with Vanessa Williams in 2016. "All Galas are memorable for me, but 2016 will always stick with me," said Inkles, "Vanessa Williams and Peabo were both late additions to the ticket." Natalie Cole, originally scheduled for the Gala, had to withdraw to to health reasons and not long after she died of congestive heart failure, "I was so sad to hear of Natalie Cole's passing, she was a musical legend," said Inkles.  

Born Robert Peabo Bryson on April 13, 1951 in Greenville, South Carolina, this world renowned balladeer got his start as the lead singer of Al Freeman & The Upsetters and Moses Dillard & The Tex-Town Display. In 1976, he released his debut LP, “Peabo”, on Atlanta’s Bullet/Bang label.

Peabo had back-to-back gold albums with Capitol Records, Reaching for the Sky (1977) and Crosswinds (1978). The title tracks of these albums, as well as the hit singles “Feel the Fire” and “I’m So Into You”, truly penetrated the hearts of soul fans everywhere. During his relationship with Capitol, Peabo collaborated with label mate and friend Natalie Cole for the 1979 project “We’re the Best of Friends”. A year later he worked with the phenomenal Roberta Flack for the double-LP “Live & More” (on Atlantic Records). Peabo delivered four more albums for Capitol before making a second, even bigger album with Ms. Flack titled Born to Love, a gold seller that featured the smash “Tonight I Celebrate My Love” (Top 5 R&B and #16 Pop). Peabo soon moved over to Elektra Records for four albums, the second of which, “Take No Prisoners” featured the crossover smash “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again” (Top 10 Pop and R&B).

A return to Capitol in 1989 for the one-off album “All My Love”, earned Peabo his first R&B #1 single with a remake of the late Al Wilson’s “Show & Tell”. He hit the top of the R&B charts a second time with the smash “Can You Stop The Rain”, the title track of his R&B chart topping first of two albums for Columbia Records.

It was with the help of very famous Disney animated films that earned Peabo his two Grammys and the songs two Oscars®. The first was 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast” with international pop singer Celine Dion which also topped the pop chart. The very next year, Peabo struck gold with a Grammy® and an Oscar® with Regina Belle for “A Whole New World” (Aladdin’s Theme) from Aladdin. 

" Bryson made his reputation with a pristine tenor,  working on a continuum of R&B singers that stretches from Sam Cooke to Brian McKnight. His voice is finely buffed; he has overwhelming reserves of technical ability. He specializes in towering ballads — “I’m So Into You,” “Let the Feeling Flow,” “If It’s Really Love,” “Feel the Fire” and “Through the Fire” — where he can work towards modulations and make remarkable series of ad-libs seem casual," reads a 2018 Rolling Stone article about Bryson's career. 

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Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actor. The winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards and an Emmy Award, in 2015 she was named one of   Time  magazine’s 100 most influential people and received a National Medal of Arts—America’s highest honor for achievement in the field—from President Barack Obama. Blessed with a luminous soprano and an incomparable gift for dramatic truth-telling, she is as much at home on Broadway and the opera stage as in her film and television roles. Alongside her theatrical work, she maintains a major career as a concert and recording artist, regularly appearing at the world’s foremost venues.

McDonald’s other theater accolades include five Drama Desk Awards, five Outer Critics Circle Awards, an Ovation Award, a Theatre World Award, Roundabout Theatre’s Jason Robards Award for Excellence in Theatre, a Rockefeller Award for Creativity, the Casting Society of America’s 2020 Marion Dougherty New York Apple Award and the Drama League’s 2012 Distinguished Performance and 2000 Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Awards. Besides her six Tony wins, she received nominations for her performances in   Marie Christine   and   110 in the Shade, eight NAACP Image Award nominations, and an Olivier Award nomination from her West End debut in   Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.

As one of today’s key cultural figures, in 2017 McDonald was inducted into Lincoln Center’s Hall of Fame as a member of its inaugural class, which also included Louis Armstrong, Yo-Yo Ma, Leontyne Price and Harold Prince. In 2014 she was named   Musical America’s “Musician of the Year,” a title previously bestowed on such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein and Beverly Sills. 

In June 2020, Audra McDonald and a coalition of professionals from across the theatre industry launched Black Theatre United, an organization whose mission is to inspire reform and combat systemic racism within the theatre community and throughout the nation. Emphasizing four goals—awareness, accountability, advocacy, and action—BTU works at the community and national levels to elevate anti-racist causes and support the Black community through various resources and initiatives. 

The illustrious performer last visited the Staller Center in April of 2018, closing her performance with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." A SB Statesman article noted: "After a second standing ovation, Maryellen Lubinsky, 67, of East Setauket tried to figure out the best part of the concert. 'How can you just choose a favorite part when it was all so good?' she said."

She also performed at the Staller Center in 2013 and 2007. 

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One year ago, when concerts and live music was something many of us took for granted, Sutton Foster graced the Staller stage with Kelli O'Hara for the Staller Center's 2020 Gala. This was an unforgettable evening, starring a dynamic duo that came together for the first time ever, and it all happened on the Staller Center stage. 

In December 2021, Foster will co-star alongside Hugh Jackman in The Musicman on Broadway.

Sutton Foster is an award-winning actor, singer and dancer who has performed in 11 Broadway shows – most recently the revival of Violet – and originated roles in the Broadway productions of The Drowsy Chaperone, Little Women, Young Frankenstein, Shrek The Musical, and her Tony Award-winning performances in Anything Goes and Thoroughly Modern Millie.

She was first seen on television on Star Search at age 15, and has more recently appeared in   Bunheads , Psych, Johnny and the Sprites, Flight of the Conchords, Sesame Street, Law and Order SVU and Royal Pains.

As a solo artist, Sutton has performed all over the country as well as internationally with her musical director Michael Rafter… featuring songs from her debut solo CD “ Wish ” as well as her follow up CD, “ An Evening With Sutton Foster: Live at the Cafe Carlyle. ” She has graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, Feinstein’s, Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series, Joe’s Pub and many others.

In 2011 she received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Ball State University where she also is on faculty as a teacher and advisor to the Department of Theatre and Dance.

Since March 2015, she stars in TVLand’s new series, “ Younger ” created by Darren Star.

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Kelli O'Hara

It was a full house for the 2020 Staller Center Gala on March 7. Tony award-winner  Kelli O'Hara  took the stage first, saying, "No one drank out of my cup, right?" O'Hara asked. "Thank you all for coming out tonight. This may be our last gathering." At the time, it wasn't easy to believe that we would not host another live performance for over a year. But on March 7, the crowd laughed, and the night went on with jokes, touching moments, and unparalleled singing.

O'Hara opened the Gala evening with an audience favorite, " They Don't Let You in the Opera. " The song tells of her start as a country girl who dreamed of becoming an opera star. She closed her solo performance with "La Vie En Rose." 

Sutton Foster joined O'Hara on stager, and together they performed for the first time on the same bill. Starting their shared time with " Sing, Sing a Song " by the Carpenters. They both had smiles on their faces and were openly thrilled about performing together for the first time. The audience enjoyed the performance just as much as the duo did. 

Foster took over the second half of the performance. Foster's facial expressions animated her performance. She thanked everyone for coming, "This is the first time I had a chance to perform with the amazing Kelli O'Hara, and this was thanks to the efforts of the Staller Center [for the Arts]." 

Stage and screen star Kelli O’Hara has established herself as one of Broadway’s greatest leading ladies. Her portrayal of Anna Leonowens in  The King and I  garnered her the 2015 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, along with Grammy, Drama League, Outer

Critics, and Oliver nominations. She reprised the role while making her  West End  debut, and performed a limited engagement at Tokyo’s Orb Theatre.

Kelli also received an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Katie Bonner in the hit web series  The Accidental Wolf . Other film and television credits include the second season of Netflix’s  13 Reasons Why All The Bright Places, Peter Pan Live!, Sex & The City 2 , Martin Scorsese’s  The Key to Reserva , Showtime’s  Masters of Sex , CBS All Access’  The Good Fight Blue Bloods, N3mbers , and the animated series  Car Talk

Other Broadway credits include  Kiss Me Kate  (Tony, Drama League, OCC nominations),  The Bridges of Madison County  (Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, OCC nominations),  Nice Work If You Can Get I t (Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, OCC nominations),  South Pacific  (Tony, Drama Desk, OCC nominations),  The Pajama Game  (Tony, Drama Desk, OCC nominations),  The Light in the Piazza  (Tony, Drama Desk nominations),  Sweet Smell of Success, Follies, Dracula, and Jekyll & Hyde . She was awarded the prestigious Drama League’s Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award in 2019.

In 2015, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in Lehár’s  The Merry Widow  and returned as Despina in Mozart’s  Così fan tutte . Her concerts have gained international acclaim, spanning from Carnegie Hall to Tokyo. She is a frequent performer on PBS’s live telecasts, The Kennedy Center Honors and performs often alongside The New York Philharmonic.

Along with two Grammy nominations, her solo albums,  Always  and  Wonder in the World , are available on Ghostlight Records.

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Anoushka Shankar

In October of 2006, the Staller Center hosted Anoushka Shankar, daugher of the world-renowned sitar player, Ravi Shankar in the Recital Hall. 

Indian Classical Music is divided into Southern and Northern Classical, Hindustani and Carnatic, respectively. The differences between them lie in the styles of vocal execution, as well as instrumental accompaniment. In Hindi, microtone, or ‘Shruti,’ makes different compositions sound unique. There are 22 Shrutis.

In Hindustani music, Shankar’s forte, the main musical dialogue or movement is called ‘Raag,’ composed from any of ten parent scales: various combinations using the seven basic notes, known as the ‘Saptak’: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha and Ni. Variations of notes, ‘Vikrit’ or displaced notes include sharp,’Tivra,’ and flat, ‘Komal.’

Sitarist, composer, producer: Anoushka Shankar is a singular, genre-defying figure within the classical and contemporary, acoustic and electronic world music scenes. Her dynamic and spiritual musicality has garnered several prestigious accolades, including seven Grammy® Award nominations, recognition as the youngest and first female recipient of a British House of Commons Shield, credit as an Asian Hero by TIME Magazine, two Eastern Eye Awards for Music and a Songlines Best Artist Award. Anoushka has the notable honour of becoming the first Indian musician to perform live at the Grammy® Awards.

During her twenty-five years as a live, touring sitarist, Anouska has come to be known for her deeply emotional and fiery playing style, surprising and inventive instrumentation, and intense rhythmic interplay. Whether it’s Carnegie Hall in New York or the psytrance festival Boom in Portugal, the Sydney Opera House or Glastonbury, Anoushka is equally at ease presenting classical Indian ragas with tabla accompaniment, soloing with world-renowned orchestras like the Berlin, London or New York Philharmonic, or live-looping with her pedal-board over a screeching bass, sharing her passion for the spirituality and depth of the sitar whilst breaking it out of the constraints of cultural expectations.

Anoushka studied the sitar and Indian Classical music from the age of nine exclusively under her father and guru, the late, legendary Ravi Shankar, and made her professional debut at the age of 13. By twenty, she had toured the world extensively and made three classical solo recordings for EMI/Angel Records: Anoushka, Anourag and Live at Carnegie Hall. With the latter she became the first Indian woman to be nominated for a Grammy® award, and the youngest-ever nominee in the World Music category.

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Storm Large

Storm Large visited the Staller Center in 2015 and again in 2019, performing to sold out Recital Halls both times. Her powerhouse voice blew audiences away and got the entire house up on their feet. In 2019, she closed with a riotous version of   Bohemian Rhapsody,” getting the audience up on their feet and singing along. 

Storm Large: musician, actor, playwright, author, awesome. She shot to national prominence in 2006 as a finalist on the CBS show   Rock Star: Supernova  , where despite having been eliminated in the week before the finale, Storm built a fan base that follows her around the world to this day.

Storm spent the 90s singing in clubs throughout San Francisco. Tired of the club scene, she moved to Portland to pursue a new career as a chef, but a last-minute cancellation in 2002 at the Portland club “Dante’s” turned into a standing Wednesday night engagement for Storm and her new band, The Balls. It wasn’t long before Storm had a cult-like following in Portland, and a renewed singing career that was soon to be launched onto the international stage.

Highlights of the 17-18 season include debuts with the San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Vancouver, Jacksonville, and RTÉ National Symphonies, as well as return engagements with the Houston, Toronto, and Toledo Symphonies. Storm and her band, Le Bonheur, continue to tour concert halls across the country. The 16-17 season included debuts with the Atlanta, Baltimore, and BBC Symphony Orchestras, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, as well as return engagements with National Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Recent highlights include engagements with the New York Pops, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Memphis Symphony, and the Knights, as well as performances at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. She joined Michael Feinstein as special guest on the Jazz at Lincoln Center Popular Song series, as well as with Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, and the Pasadena Pops.

Storm made her debut as guest vocalist with the band Pink Martini in April 2011, singing four sold-out concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. She continues to perform with the band, touring nationally and internationally, and she was featured on their CD,   Get Happy  . Storm has also sung with Grammy winner k.d. lang, pianist Kirill Gerstein, punk rocker John Doe, singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer George Clinton.

She debuted with the Oregon Symphony in 2010, and has returned for sold out performances each year thereafter. Storm made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2013, singing Weill’s   Seven Deadly Sins   with the Detroit Symphony as part of the Spring for Music festival. The   NY Times   called her “sensational,” and the classical music world instantly had a new star.

In 2007, Storm starred in Portland Center Stage’s production of   Cabaret   with Wade McCollum. The show was a smash hit, earning Large glowing reviews. Her next endeavor, the autobiographical musical memoir,   Crazy Enough  , played to packed houses in 2009 during its unprecedented 21-week sold out run in Portland. Storm went on to perform a cabaret version of the show to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Adelaide Festival in Australia, and Joe’s Pub in New York. Her memoir,   Crazy Enough  , was released by Simon and Schuster in 2012, named Oprah’s Book of the Week, and awarded the 2013 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction.

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Natalie Merchant


Natalie Merchant visited the Staller Center in 2014. It was her first time at Stony Brook and she performed to a sold-out house.  Merchant performed a 16-song setlist followed by an encore of "Break Your Heart," "Wonder," "Carnival," and "Kind & Generous."

Merchant became a household name in the '90s as a member of 10,000  Maniacs but enjoyed even greater success as a solo artist. " Her literate, socially conscious songs established her among the preeminent women in pop music, while her solo debut -- 1995's Tigerlily -- helped pave the way for a number of female performers in a pre-Lilith Fair market.

In February, Merchant celebrated 20 years since recording her third solo album, Motherland. Until the pandemic shut down live performances, Natalie was touring the country. Until her tour can resume safely, she continues her virtual tour. For more information visit her website at 

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Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dance Theatre of Harlem visited Stony Brook in March of 2014. During their performance at Staller, the piece "New Bach," was performed, which was created for Dance Theatre of Harlem's 30th anniversary as an homage to George Balanchine, the group's dance "godfather." 

The show also included "When Love," with music by Philip Glass, and "Dancing on the Porch of Heaven," which was originally choreographed for the Royal Swedish Ballet and was set to the music of Arvo  Pärt. The performance also included "Return," choreographed for 12 dancers and blended classical ballet and the gritty drive of soul music, danced to the music of Aretha Franklin and James Brown.

Now a singular presence in the ballet world, the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company tours nationally and internationally, presenting a powerful vision for ballet in the 21st century. The 17-member, multi-ethnic company performs a forward-thinking repertoire that includes treasured classics, neoclassical works by George Balanchine and resident choreographer Robert Garland, as well as innovative contemporary works that use the language of ballet to celebrate African American culture. Through performances, community engagement and arts education, the Company carries forward Dance Theatre of Harlem’s message of empowerment through the arts for all.

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Big Sam's Funky Nation

Our audience will never forget when Big Sam's Funky Nation brought them all to their feet during their performance at Stony Brook in the 2017/2018 season.

When you think of New Orleans, the city’s foremost flambeaux-lit traditions of Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, voodoo, Po’ boys, beads, gumbo, and second line undoubtedly come to mind. You can also count Big Sam’s Funky Nation amongst those NOLA treasures.

Known for a boisterous blend of funk, jazz, rock, and hip-hop, nothing short of seismic live “experiences , and a whole lot of Southern charm, Big Sam’s Funky Nation might very well be The Big Easy’s best kept secret.

No other place could birth such an undeniable, unpredictable, and downright unique collective.

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Wynton Marsalis

The Jazz World's most gifted trumpet player visited the Staller Center in November of 2019, but it wasn't his first visit to Stony Brook. Wynton Marsalis has graced the Staller Main Stage four different times in the Center's history. His first visit was in 1993, and again in 2003, 2008, and 2014. During each and every visit, Marsalis wowed the sold out full houses.

"My favorite part of his visits was always the time he took to visit with music students at Stony Brook," says Paul Newland, Outreach Director. Wynton Marsalis always hosted a meet and greet with aspiring music students and young fans during each of his visits to the Center. 

Marsalis recently released his new album,  The Democracy! Suite. The new album proves that the joy and beauty of jazz can bring us all closer together.  “Jazz music is the perfect metaphor for democracy,” says famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. At a time when America—and indeed, the whole world—finds itself at a crossroads, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer has been inspired to write a poignant and buoyant work, The Democracy! Suite. 

“The question that confronts us right now as a nation is, ‘Do we want to find a better way?’” Marsalis says. The music of The Democracy! Suite may be instrumental, but it speaks for itself, urging us onto action—to get out of our seats and fight for the world we believe in.

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Mavis Staples

Grammy Award-winning legend Mavis Staples teamed up with multi-platium recording artist Joan Osborne on their national tour, "Solid Soul," and performed at the Staller Center in October 2015. 

From her early days with the iconic Staple Singers when she was on top of the charts with songs like the #1 hit "I'll Take You There," to her recent albums with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Ben Harper and Hozier, Staples has been a leader in American R&B music. 

Staples launched a new album in 2019 titled We Get By, which continues to convey her sense of moral authority, and showcases her powerful voice and joyful and generous disposition.

"I'm the messenger," Staples says, "that's my job -- it has been for my whole life -- and I can't just give up while the struggle's still alive. We've got more work to do." That message lies at the heart of We Get By,  Staples’ spectacular twelfth studio album and first full-length collaboration with multi-GRAMMY Award-winner Ben Harper. Backed by her longtime touring band, Staples breathes extraordinary life into Harper’s compositions on the record, delivering roof-raising performances with both a youthful vigor and a commanding maturity. The arrangements here are spare but weighty, matched by Harper’s suitably lean and thoughtful production, and Staples seizes the opportunity to showcase her remarkable and continued evolution as an artist, one still growing and exploring more than half a century 

into her storied career. We Get By  is undoubtedly a timely collection, arriving such as it does in the face of deep social divisions and heightened political tensions, but like everything Staples touches, it’s also larger than any particular moment, a timeless appeal to the better angels of our nature that’s universal in its reach and unwavering in its assurance of better things to come.  

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Savion Glover

In 2018, Savion Glover tapped his way into the hearts yet again. Savion Glover is a Staller fan favorite, making visits here in our 2006, 2009, 2011, and 2015 seasons.

Glover and his ensemble take tap dancing to new heights as they perform on an amplified platform to music by John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Prince, Stevie Wonder and Shostakovich. Savion Glover was joined by Marshall Davis Jr. and three accomplished female tap dancers.

Glover is a virtuosic tap dancer who made his Broadway debut at the age of 12 in  The Tap Dance Kid, followed by  Black and Blue. He later worked with director George Wolfe on  Jelly’s Last Jam and  Bring in ‘da Noise/Bring in ‘da Funk, for which Glover won a Tony Award for choreography. A teacher as well, he has established the Savion Glover Productions Hoofers Club – School for Tap in Newark, New Jersey. He is also known for appearances in a variety of television and film projects. In the 1990s he became a regular on “Sesame Street,” where he introduced a whole generation to tap dance.

Glover is committed to teaching the history and art form of dance to younger generations. 

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Soweto Gospel Choir

Soweto Gospel Choir visited the Staller Center in 2018 and performed to a full  house of excited and engaged Stony Brook students, local school groups, children and families.

Soweto Gospel Choir was formed to celebrate the unique and inspirational power of African Gospel music. The choir draws on the best talent from the many churches in and around Soweto. The choir is dedicated to sharing the joy of faith through music with audiences around the world.

Their latest album commemorates the birth of Nelson Mandela. Their repertoire is a mix of South African songs and "world music," or American or reggae, that carry spiritual messages. There is a breathtaking cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" available on youtube, where group members take turns as soloists.

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