The annual Brazos Valley Youth Concerto Competition has been revamped and the finals moved to Nov. 11. Deadline for entries has been moved to Sept. 28.

Sponsored by the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra and its support guild, the Friends Association of the Symphony Orchestra, the competition is open to any student in any public or private school in the Brazos Valley or any home to schooled student, up to and including grade 12.

To enter, students should prepare a movement from any concerto for any instrument not to exceed 12 minutes. A CD of the performance with no markings on it may be submitted in person to the Brazos Valley Symphony office at 750 William D. Fitch Parkway. Suite 430 in College Station or by mail to the symphony at P.O. Box 3524, Bryan TX 77805 to 3524. Deadline for submitting entries is Sept. 28.

Entries must be accompanied by a from that is available online at

Entrants do not have to include a piano accompanist on their entry CD, but must use one provided by the Friends Association of the Symphony Orchestra at the Nov. 11 finals, which will be held at 3 p.m. at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 1001 Woodcreek Drive in College Station.

The entries will be judged anonymously by Marcelo Bussiki, conductor and music director of the Brazos Valley Symphony, who will pick three to five finalists who will perform before a panel of judges at the finals. The finalists will perform their entry from memory at the finals. Winners will be awarded plaques and the first to place winner will be invited to perform with the symphony at its Jan. 28 Children's Concert. The winner also will be eligible to enter the prestigious Juanita Miller Concerto Competition sponsored by the Texas Association for Symphony Orchestras at SMU in Dallas in January. The Friends Association of the Symphony Orchestra will play the winning finalist's application fee.

The Brazos Valley Youth Concerto Competition has had winners who play strings, piano, euphonium, French horn and marimba.

Once again, I am privileged to chair the competition. Should you have any questions, please email me at

Summer programs

Brazos Valley TROUPE long has been known for its outstanding youth theater programs, and this summer promises to be no different. Registration for the summer classes begins today and continues through Saturday. More on this in a bit.

Here is the summer schedule:

• Laugh Out Loud! Improv Boot Camp -- Explore and learn the nature of good clean, improvisation through various games and sketch work and create the laughs right along our statewide recognized team. Participants get to perform in two Laugh Out Loud! shows on June 22 and 23. For ages 7 and older; $125 ($80 for current YOUTH members). The boot camp will run from 1 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. June 18 to 22.

• TROUPE Summer Stock -- TROUPE's Summer Stock Program will allow kids to choose their productions to perform in and/or work crew or design for. Participants will have the option to be part of Celebrate America!, an original TROUPE revue set for the weekend before July 4; Dreamworks' Madagascar The Musical set for late July; At The Hop, an old-fashioned sock hop in August celebrating TROUPE's 25th Anniversary; and prep for Antisocial, a full teen-directed and designed project set for this fall as part of TROUPE's 25th season. For ages 7 and older; $250 ($175 for current YOUTH members).

Classes start June 19 and the schedule is:

Week 1 -- June 19 to 21 from 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Week 2 -- June 25 to 29 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Week 3 -- July 2 & 3 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Week 4 -- July 9 to 13 from 1 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

Week 5 -- July 16 to 20 from 1 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

Week 6 -- July 23 to 25 from 1 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 to 8:30 p.m.

Production Dates for Celebrate America!: June 30 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and July 1 at 3 p.m.

Production Dates for Dreamworks' Madagascar: July 26 at 730 p.m. and July 27 and 28 at 3 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Production Dates for At The Hop: Aug. 11 at 6:30 p.m.

Participants automatically will receive a $25 discount on each camp if participating in both programs.

All classes will be taught at TROUPE's 29th Street Studio, 3702 E. 29th St. in Bryan's Town & Country Center.

Raise Your Voice

Anne Black and her dedicated coterie of workers in the MSC OPAS office at Texas A&M University work hard year-round to bring top entertainment to the Brazos Valley and they once again have come up with an outstanding slate of offerings for the 2018-2019 season, titled Raise Your Voice.

The season -- OPAS's 46th -- officially was announced online Tuesday night, although season ticket holders have known for several weeks so they could renew their tickets before they went on sale to the public following Tuesday's online announcement.

The season includes the Boston Pops on March 22, something Black long has dreamed of.

"We have been trying to get the Boston Pops for years. Because they usually tour later in the spring or summer, we have not been able to get them here," Black said.

"I think this will be a high point of the season."

Most likely Black is right, but there will be plenty of highlights from which to choose. Among them most assuredly will be the kickoff of the first U.S. tour of the Choir of Man, the return of The Capitol Steps just before the November elections and a special appearance by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary with the cast of Lonesome Traveler: The Concert. And I really am looking forward to the return of the jubilant Soweto Gospel Choir. The singers are fantastic.

Tickets for the season now are on sale at the MSC Box Office and online. Season ticket packages -- the most affordable and convenient way to go -- for all six Main Stage events range from $149 to $476, while season tickets for the Broadway 4-pack featuring the four Broadway shows on the season range from $110 to $350.

Season tickets for the five Intimate Gatherings presentations are $250 for the center section of Rudder Theatre and $180 for the side sections.

Tickets for the Soweto Gospel Choir range from $20 to $50, while tickets for Erth's Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure are $30 and $42.

Individual tickets for performances vary, with details available online at

Details on tickets for the Boston Pops will be announced soon.

Here is a look at the upcoming season, starting with the Ann Cobb Wiatt Main Stage series, all of which will be presented in Rudder Auditorium, most at 7:30 p.m.:

• The Choir of Man, Oct. 2 and 3 -- It's a party set in an Irish pub when this 9-member group kicks off its first American tour in Rudder Auditorium.

The group's Facebook page says, "The Choir of Man is a new touring concert show that features some of the best voices in the UK and some of the most fun guys to hang out with."

Rudder Auditorium is the opening stop on the group's first U.S. tour. Black said, "I am terribly excited to be hosting the opening of the first US Tour of The Choir of Man. It is an honor to be asked to launch a tour."

The OPAS season announcement said, "It's a concert. It's a pint-filled good time set in a working pub that combines hair-raising harmonies, high-energy dance and live percussion with foot-stomping choreography."

The nine singers perform everything from pub tunes and folk to opera and classic rock.

The Sound of Music, Nov. 6 and 7 -- An all-new tour of the great Rodgers & Hammerstein's final musical brings the inspiring story of the von Trapp family back to life.

Hammerstein died of stomach cancer a few months after the original version opened on Broadway in 1959. His final song as the hauntingly beautiful Edelweiss.

The Los Angeles Times called this production "sparkling, fresh and lively."

The Dallas Morning News wrote, "Even if you've seen The Sound of Music Before, it's worth going again to see it this way."

• Celtic Woman: The Best of Christmas, Dec. 3 and 4 -- You've heard their music, seen their TV performances and, most likely, are thrilled OPAS is bringing this internationally popular group for its Christmas presentation.

It's hard to believe it has been 14 years since we heard the ethereal voices of Celtic Woman. Although the membership of the group has changed over the years, the beautiful sound has remained constant.

Celtic Woman has earned the Billboard World Album Artist of the Year award six times. The group has been called "Riverdance for the voice."

The King and I, Feb. 5 and 6 -- The second of Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals gracing the Rudder stage next season, The King and I features some of the duo's most beautiful music, including I Have Dreamed, Getting to Know You, Hello Young Lovers and, of course, Shall We Dance.

The Lincoln Center revival coming to Rudder Auditorium is a critical success, with The New York Times raving, Something wonderful indeed. Breathtaking. Exquisite. Remarkable."

New York Magazine said, "Too beautiful to miss! An astonishing achievement."

The enduring acclaim for this show is anything but a puzzlement.

Something Rotten!, February 23 and 24 -- Set in 1595, Something Rotten! is the story of the brothers Bottom, Nick and Nigel, who labor to write a hit play. They turn to a soothsayer who predicts the future of theater will include not only acting, but singing and dancing as well. Ultimately, the brothers write the world's first musical.

Opening on Broadway in 2015, Something Rotten! references some of the greatest tropes of Broadway.

New York Magazine described this hilarious music as "The Producers + Spamalot + The Book of Mormon. Squared!"

Something Rotten! will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 and 3 p.m. on Feb. 24.

Finding Neverland, April 11 and 12 -- You've probably seen the 2004 film of the same name about J.M. Barrie and his quest to create an enduring character. Of course, he succeeds and Peter Pan has been delightfully entertaining audiences for more than 100 years.

Ed Drantched, of WKBW TV's Morning Show, said, "The show was amazing and I've been raving about it all day. I found this show to be an escape from our chaotic reality, only to realize there's a Peter Pan in all of us.

"The characters and the music bring you into this world of possibility and what a magical world that could be."

That's it for the Main Stage series, but OPAS has so much more on the calendar for the new season.

OPAS plans a full Intimate Gathering Series, presented at 7:30 p.m. in Rudder Theatre:

• The Capitol Steps, Oct. 11 -- If it is an election year, we know OPAS will bring The Capitol Steps back to the Rudder Theatre Complex.

The group originally was formed by a group of Senate staffers with perhaps a little too much time on their hands and too much madness in their hearts. The Steps skewer everyone and everything in Washington. They are termed "equal-opportunity offenders" who leave no politician unscathed.

Their humor is as current as that day's news and as irreverent as all get-out.

Steel Magnolias, Oct. 24 -- I have seen the play numerous times and the movie probably more, but I never tire of the women who populate Truvy's beauty salon in Nachitoches, Louisiana. The woman -- Truvy, Clairee, Ouiser, M'Lynn, Annelle and Shelby -- interact with love, sarcasm and insight. Prepare to laugh, to cry and to bond with these amazing, strong women.

L.A. Theatre Works, which brought The Mountaintop to Rudder Auditorium earlier this year, is producing this version of Steel Magnolias.

• Frankenstein, Feb. 26 -- Mary Shelley was only 20 when she published Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1818, the result of a dare with future husband Percy Shelley and Lord Byron on who could write the best horror story. Since then, the story of the scientist Victor Frankenstein and his monster created from the body parts of the dead, has scared, thrilled and captured the imagination of generations of readers.

Aquila Theatre brings its version of this classic horror story to Rudder Theatre, so prepare to gasp, recoil in horror and understand the humanity of what science attempts regularly.

Should Frankenstein have created the monster simply because he could? Discuss.

• Red Hot Chili Pipers, March 19 -- No, Anthony Kiedis, Flea and the rest of the Red Hot Chili Peppers aren't involved. Instead, this is bagpipes as you've never heard them before, a group whose signature sound is described as "Bagrock." It mixes traditional pipe tunes with covers of songs such as We Will Rock You, Don't Stop Believing and Smoke on the Water.

The group's fourth album, Music for the Kilted Generation, reached number two on the U.S. Amazon Chart, surpassed only by the phenomenon of Adele's album 21.

• Lonesome Traveler: The Concert, April 4 -- Special guest Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary joins the festivities for an evening of Americana music. Covering everything from Woody Guthrie to James Taylor, with Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, Gordon Lightfoot and, of course, Peter, Paul and Mary, the concert promises to be foot-tapping fun. Get ready to sing along (I promise my seat mates I won't!).

And then there are the special presentations:

• Soweto Gospel Choir, Oct. 30 -- I was so enchanted by this exuberant signers from South Africa that I went out the next day and purchased several of their albums. The group of more than 50 South African musicians returns to Rudder Auditorium with its special brand of joy and faith and inspiration. You will be captivated and leave the auditorium with joy in your heart.

Erth's Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure, Nov. 30 -- OPAS audiences thrilled to the recent presentation of Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Live, with its magical combination of actors, technology, puppets and imagination. Now, this talented company will return to Rudder Auditorium to immerse the audience into an undersea adventure. This show will be at 6:30 p.m. so younger family members can attend.

• Boston Pops, March 22 -- No doubt you have watched the annual July 4th celebration on the banks of the Charles River and perhaps you have at least one of their albums in your collection. Making Rudder Auditorium one of only five stops in Texas, the famed Boston Pops, under the capable baton of Keith Lockhart, will bring an exciting mix of jazz, big band, Broadway, pop, classical and film. More details will be forthcoming.

Kicking the entire OPAS season off will be celebrated Irish tenor Paul Byron, who will give a free concert for OPAS donors at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13 in Rudder Auditorium. An original member of Celtic Thunder, Byron is known as "The Swanky Tenor" for his suave and romantic style. Be sure to make a generous donation to MSC OPAS when purchasing tickets so you can attend this donors-only concert. The benefits of donating to MSC OPAS go far beyond a ticket to this concert, as they help bring seasons such as this to area audiences.

Black and her crew better get busy now if they expect to top the upcoming season in 2019-2020.


Through Saturday -- Hometown Teams, Brazos Valley African American Museum, 500 E. Pruitt St. in Bryan, Tuesdays through Fridays 1-5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (

Thursday through June 23 -- Last of the Boys, StageCenter, 201-B W. 26th St. in Downtown Bryan, above Mr. G's Pizza. An intense and often hilarious look at the lives of two friends who formed a bond in the jungles of Vietnam. Be warned that adult language abounds, 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, $10 to $14. (

June 18 and 19 -- Auditions for Ben Hecht's and Charles MacArthur's Twentieth Century, directed by Jennifer Hargis, StageCenter, 201-B W. 26th St. in Downtown Bryan, above Mr. G's Pizza (for now). (

Every Sunday -- Open mics and poetry slams sponsored by Mic Check Poetry, 8:30 p.m. Revolution Café in Downtown Bryan, (

Items for Arts Watch should be emailed to Deadline is noon Tuesday before the weekend you want it to run.

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