International festival aims to delight, unite, and inspire

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It begins with a bike tour on the East Coast Greenway and ends with a performance by the Grammy-nominated Cuban timba group Tienpo Libre and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. In between, there will be circus acts; storytelling; discussions about art, culture, science, and other topics; dance; theater; films; bicycle, walking, and boat tours; kayaking excursions; workshops and classes; and even a wear-all-white-party that aims to break a Guinness World Record.

All told, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, which will take place June 8-22 in downtown New Haven, will feature over 200 performances, conversations, and other special events over the 15 days. Yale is a major sponsor of the festival, which is now in its 24th year.

We will laugh. We will sing. We will dance. Our eyes may be opened. Our minds may be changed,” say organizers in a brochure for the festival, which brings world-class artists, thinkers, and leaders to New Haven, and attracts thousands of visitors to the city. Many events take place on the Yale campus and on the New Haven Green, and many are free.

Tiempo Libre
Tiempo Libre will perform with a full orchestra backing at the Festival Stage on the Green on Saturday, June 22 at 7 p.m.

Our festival has something for everyone,” writes Gordon Geballe, chair of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas board of directors, in the festival program. “With a focus on our common bonds, the festival is devoted to bringing people together. Together in celebration. Together in joy. Together in the things we love. A marriage of great art with brilliant ideas invites us into the moment and gives us a reason to celebrate. Our two-week-long intensive adventure through 200-plus events connects us more meaningfully with who we are, where are come from, and where we live.”

A complete schedule of events can be found on the festival’s website; there tickets can also be ordered for performances that require them. Here is just a sampling of some of the festival’s offerings:

Big Read: Several discussions, performances, film screenings, and more are related to this year’s Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts that inspires a community to share in the joy of reading a good book. This year’s book is Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Namesake.” A Big Read-related Town Hall on “Confronting Identity” will examine the importance of one’s culture and background, gender, and name. June 8, 1 p.m., Alexion Pharmaceuticals, 100 College St.

Mini neighborhood festivals: Entertainment will be offered in the several city neighborhoods at the start of the festival to celebrate their unique offerings. These include festivals in Fair Haven, Westville, and the Dixwell neighborhoods. June 8 at times throughout the day.

Jazz on the Green: Jazz soprano saxophonist Marion Meadows and New Haven guitarist Rohn Lawrence will perform on the New Haven Green. June 8, 8 p.m.

Jazz saxophonist Marion Meadows
Marion Meadows

Harbor Bash: A gala at New Haven’s new Canal Dock Boathouse will feature live music, food, cocktails, and more. Ticketed event. June 10, 6 p.m., 475 Long Wharf Dr.

Tap dance: Among the festival’s dance events will be a performance by MacArthur Fellow and choreographer Michelle Dorrance and her tap dance company, Dorrance Dance. Celebrated for honoring tap’s history and connecting it to contemporary culture, Dorrance Dance will perform “Myelination,” a program that connects tap back to its roots in jazz and jump blues and forward to the cadences of hip-hop and indie rock. Ticketed event. June 11, Shubert Theater, 147 College St., 8 p.m.

Contemporary circus: The Australian contemporary circus company Circa will perform “What Will Have Been,” which will challenge the audience’s perceptions of what is possible within the human body. Also on stage during the performance will be a violinist who fuses together the music of Bach and Philip Glass. Ticketed event. June 12-15, University Theatre, 222 York St.

Kids or no kids?: The U.K.-based, award-winning company Ad Infinitum will perform “No Kids,” an “off-beat” demonstration of the conundrum of whether or not to have children, performed by the real-life, same-sex couple George and Nir. Ticketed event. June 12-15, Iseman Theatre, 1156 Chapel St.

Author! Author!”: Photo-portraitist Michael Childers will share anecdotes about his work and interactions with notable writers. Presented in partnership with the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (BRBL). June 14 at 5 p.m., BRBL, 121 Wall St.

Quantum Sounds: What does a single electron moving through the universe sound like? Composer and performer Spencer Topel, artist in residence at the Yale Quantum Institute, and Yale graduate students Kyle Serniak and Luke Burkhart will present the first-ever music created from the measurements of the dynamics inside superconducting quantum devices. The 40-minute musical set will be preceded by a short introduction to quantum physics, and will be followed by a discussion with the artists. Ticketed event. June 14, 8 p.m. & 10 p.m., Firehouse 12, 45 Crown St.

quantum crystals

From/To Nothing”: Dancer and choreographer Sara Xiao and composer and musician Liam Bellman-Sharpe will perform an experimental work that is constantly in flux. Presented in partnership with the Yale-China Association and the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media (CCAM). June 15, 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Leeds Studio, CCAM, 149 York St.

Hip-hop and history: Supreme Easy A.D. of the Cold Crush Brothers, and Nikki D., the first female emcee signed to Def Jam Records, will discuss the birth of hip-hop as a culture and their perspectives of hip-hop’s contribution to the world and to the music industry. June 15, 3:30 p.m., Alexion Pharmaceuticals.

Break a record: Try to break the Guinness World Record for the biggest gathering of people wearing all white. June 15, starting at 5 p.m., New Haven Green.

Vivian Green on the Green: Contemporary R&B performer Vivian Green, whose hit songs include “Gotta Go Gotta Leave (Tired)” and “Emotional Rollercoaster,” will perform. June 15, 9:35 p.m., New Haven Green.

New colleges tour: Tour Yale’s two newest residential colleges, Pauli Murray College and Benjamin Franklin College. June 16, 3 p.m., Prospect Walk, 130 Prospect St.

New Life for New England’s Industrial Past”: Yale faculty member Elihu Rubin, public radio host John Dankosky, public humanist Cathy Stanton, and NXTHVN inaugural executive director Nico Wheadon will participate in the live event NEXT, in collaboration with The Cities Project, to discuss how communities are honoring their industrial heritage while looking to the future. June 18, 5:30 p.m. Alexion Pharmaceuticals.

The ’60s and change in America: The social, political, and cultural upheavals of the 1960s will be remembered through the music of the Kronos Quartet, which will perform Zachary J. Watkin’s “Peace Be Till,” which is inspired by the moment just before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech and features the voice of King’s speechwriter and friend Clarence B. Jones. The program also includes a celebration of the music of political activist and American folk music icon Pete Seeger. Ticketed event. June 18, 8 p.m., Shubert Theatre.

What does home mean?: “HOME,” a “visual poem” and theatrical experience by award-winning absurdist Geoff Sobelle that explores the meaning of home, will begin on an empty stage. A house will rise before the audience’s eyes, and people will move in and out, eat, sleep, love, argue, and throw a party — as though generations of the house’s inhabitants are there together. The performance features live original songs about life. The show is produced by Geoff Sobelle and Beth Morrison Projects. June 19-22, University Theatre.

A scene from “HOME”
A scene from “HOME”

Writing workshop: Congolese playwright, actor, director, producer and the festival’s artist in residence Toto Kisaku will guide writers to consider who truly is empty, who is not, and the gaps we each need to fill in “One Square, Billions of Lives … Which Seeds for the Green?” Free, but reservations are suggested. June 20, 2:20 p.m., New Haven Green.

Tanya Tagaq: The experimental singer, author, and composer Tanya Tagaq, hailed as “one of today’s most electric, transfixing performers in any genre” by Rolling Stone, will perform her futuristic mix of punk, metal, and electronica. June 20, 8 p.m., College Street Music Hall, 238 College St.

Voices from New Haven”: Yale Choral Artists will perform choral works by living composers who are known all over the world for their contributions to new music, and who all share musical roots in New Haven: Caroline Shaw, Christopher Theofandis, Ingram Marshall, Michael Gilbertson, and Aaron Jay Kernis. Ticketed event. June 21, 8 p.m., Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall, 470 College St.

Yale Choral Artists
Yale Choral Artists

Puppet theater: Sova Dance and Puppet Theater will celebrate humanity and the environment by engaging audiences through interactions on the New Haven Green. Nine-foot-tall puppets Oberon and Titania will visit, hug, and escort audience members. June 22, 5:30 p.m., New Haven Green.

Many of the featured artists will discuss their works. For more information about these and for a calendar of all events, visit the festival’s website.