It takes an iconic work of rock ’n’ roll, which itself drew on a centuries-old classical music form, and re-contextualizes it with American roots music that continues to spring up all around us. And these are the types of seasons that Steve Hoffman has programmed since he arrived at the Centre College arts center in 2010: diverse lineups of genre masters and genre benders, marquee names and names you ought to know.
The HillBenders’ own neighborhood of bluegrass and country gets off to a quick start, with banjo master and Punch Brother Noam Pikelny Sept. 16, preceded eight days earlier by country star Martina McBride. Marquee names on the lineup include the Edgar Winter Band; Trace Adkins; Kool & the Gang; and Olivia Newton-John, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky on their “Liv On” tour, which addresses their experiences with illness and loss.
In the you-oughta-know department are New Orleans jazz pianist and singer Henry Butler; the Tierney Sutton Band, with its program, “The Sting Variations” — yes, that Sting; and a Latin music showcase with Las Cafeteras and Orkesta Mendoza. The Norton Centre’s reputation was built on classical stars, and this year will see the return of the American String Quartet and pianist Andre Watts with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
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The theatrical highlight of the season is the Bluegrass debut of the 2014 Tony Award winner for best musical, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” The schedule also has the 20th anniversary tour of “Rent,” the new family musical “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site,” and the British stage hit “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.”
Norton Center for the Arts 2017-18
Sept. 8: Martina McBride
Sept. 16: Noam Pikelny
Oct. 7: Edgar Winter Band
Oct. 14: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Andre Watts, piano
Oct. 15: “Liv On”: Olivia Newton John, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky
Oct. 20: Kool & The Gang
Oct. 26: Flip FabriQue: “Catch Me!”
Nov. 8: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”
Nov. 18: Henry Butler
Jan. 20: Jessica Lang Dance
Feb. 9: The American String Quartet with Tom Sleigh and Phil Klay: “Personal Reflections of War: In Words and Music”
Feb. 16: The Hillbenders: “Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry”
Feb. 18: “Rent: 20th Anniversary Tour”
Feb. 21: GlobalFEST: “The New Golden Age of Latin Music,” featuring Las Cafeteras and Orkesta Mendoza
Feb. 25: “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
March 1: The Tierney Sutton Band: “The Sting Variations”
March 5: Mr. Popper’s Penguins
March 10: Trace Adkins
April 29: “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, The Musical”
May 11: “One Man Dark Knight: A Batman Parody”
Tickets: Season subscriptions are on sale now. Single show tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Aug. 7.