Bringing legends like Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, newer artists like Grammy-winner Esperanza Spalding, and interactive groups such as Bread and Puppet Theatre, Grinnell College's free Public Events Series is a welcome surprise for many newcomers.
Each year students and faculty members on the public events committee identify performers they’d like to invite, focusing on those of significant cultural importance. In a recent interview with Rachel Bly ’93, Grinnell College director of conference operations and events, Iowa Public Radio’s Charity Nebbe asked, “Is it difficult to attract people to Grinnell, Iowa, which is not a very big town?” The question isn’t unusual. Many people wouldn’t expect a small Midwestern town to host acts that perform at venues such as Carnegie Hall and the White House.
Grinnell’s size and location can be a draw; Bly explains, “Iowa is very nicely located on two major interstates, so we are often on the way to somewhere else. We can actually get a lot of people between other shows, and they love to get another night, [and] stop in a great venue.” Performers often take advantage of the intimate setting, interacting with students and the community in planned activities, like Bread and Puppet Theatre’s workshops, or unplanned ones, like Marsalis and orchestra members jamming with students at Lyle’s, the campus pub.
And in the tight-knit community, students have a direct influence on the acts chosen — both as members of the Public Events Committee and through personal connections, such as the one between the Georgian Zedashe Ensemble and Claire Griffith ’12.
The Public Events Series is only one of the many programs offering entertainment on campus. The College hosts more than 500 free events each year, including concerts, films, film festivals, comedians, and much more selected and hosted by students representatives in the Student Government Association and by programs throughout campus.
2012–13 Public Events Season
Public Event Series performances are free to the campus and public, though due to their popularity, tickets are required.
- The Second City: Sept. 29, 2012, Harris Center Concert Hall. Tickets available Sept. 26.
- Des Moines Symphony Orchestra: Oct. 1, 2012, Herrick Chapel. Tickets available Sept. 26.
- Ti-Coca and Wanga-Nègès: Oct. 9, 2012, Herrick Chapel. Tickets available Oct. 4.
- Bluegrass Mass: Nov. 18, 2012. Location TBA. Tickets available Nov. 14.
- Ninety Miles: Dec. 6, 2012, Herrick Chapel. Tickets available Dec. 3.
- Michael Mao Dance: Jan. 30, 2013. Roberts Theatre, Bucksbaum Center. Tickets available Jan. 28.
- Anonymous 4: Feb. 11, 2013. Herrick Chapel. Tickets available Feb. 6.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Public Events Listserv" if you'd like to get reminders about performances and ticket distribution.
The College is also a site for the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, coordinated by the Public Events Series. The Metropolitan Opera does charge for tickets, though tickets for Grinnell College students, faculty, and staff are sponsored by the president's office. See the 2012–13 Metropolitan Opera schedule for details.