Local Arts

5 must-sees at this year’s Sensoria fest at CPCC

Noah Hutton
Noah Hutton

There’s too much to see, hear and experience at Central Piedmont Community College’s Sensoria, the annual celebration of the arts, to take it all in. (But we recommend you try.) Here’s our unofficial don’t-miss guide in five categories.

1. Literature

This is – to borrow the title of a great work of modern literature – a real “Sophie’s Choice.” Not even Amy Bagwell, a CPCC English instructor and member of Sensoria’s literary events committee, could narrow her list down to just one. (In fact, even when pressed, she mentioned four literary events.) We’ll fudge and give you two events in this category. Both are related to Sensoria founder Irene Blair Honeycutt.

The Irene Blair Honeycutt Distinguished Lecturer is always a nationally recognized author. This year, it’s novelist and poet Chris Abani, and Bagwell says hearing Abani could change your life. He’ll do two readings and book signings April 15. The Nigerian-born, London-raised author is a former political prisoner and a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the PEN/Hemingway Award.

The recipient of the 2015 Irene Blair Honeycutt Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts is poet and author Rebecca McClanahan, who manages to find the miraculous in the mundane. “The same questions keep asking themselves,” she has written. And she’s searched for the answers in five collections of poetry, three books of writing instruction and her most recent work, “The Tribal Knot: A Memoir of Family, Community, and a Century of Change.” She’ll read selections from her work at 7 p.m. April 14 in Tate Hall.

2. Film

Noah Hutton is Hollywood royalty. But the 28-year-old son of Deborah Winger and Timothy Hutton is an up-and-coming documentary filmmaker, too.

His three-minute short, “Brain City,” compares brain function to the way a city operates. New Yorkers got to see it last New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Charlotteans get our chance from 6 to 10 p.m. April 11. It’s showing on continuous loop at the pocket park at Sixth and Tryon streets during the Novant Invitational Criterium bike race.

3. Theater

August Wilson is the most important chronicler of the African-American experience in modern American theater. His “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” is set in Pittsburgh in 1911 and tells the story of boardinghouse residents and their relationship to a past that includes slavery. “Joe Turner” is the second installment in Wilson’s Century cycle (also referred to as the Pittsburgh cycle), which recounted, decade-by-decade, the African-American experience. The play deals with racism, discrimination, spirituality – with a little voodoo tossed in. Pease Auditorium, April 10-19; $18.

4. Music

Just one of these virtuosos playing Charlotte would be significant. But classical musicians Inon Barnatan and Alia Weilerstein are sharing a stage, and that’s positively headline-worthy. Pianist Barnatan is the New York Philharmonic’s first Artist in Association – meaning he’ll be a frequent soloist with the orchestra during his three-year tenure. Cellist Weilerstein is a 2011 MacArthur genius grant recipient who has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Halton Theatre, 8 p.m. April 17. $35-$55.

5. The unexpected

“I’m Gonna Sing Out” incorporates a number of art forms into one funky Saturday night stew. A multimedia presentation of music, art, literature and dance, the uplifting performance will showcase historical accounts of African-American contributions to the arts. Classical, jazz, funk, gospel and old-timey spirituals are all part of the mix at this free event. The performance features original music by Charlotte’s Brandi Q. Hancock, who counts as her influences God and Chaka Khan. 7:30 p.m. April 18 in Tate Hall. (If you prefer getting your groove on in the morning, there’s also a performance at 9:30 a.m. April 15.)

This story was produced as part of the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance.

Fill up your senses

More than 80 events celebrating literature, film, food, and visual and performing arts take place on CPCC’s Elizabeth Avenue campus April 10-18. The events feature well-known and emerging artists from nearly every genre – including magic.

Details: Most events are free. sensoria.cpcc.edu.