With 44 artists on its performance schedule, this year’s Joye in Aiken will be one of the largest events yet.
“That’s close to a record for us,” said Janice Jennings, Joye in Aiken’s executive director.
An array of performers including singers, musicians and dancers will take part in the event, which will be March 4-10 at various locations in Aiken.
Originally under the banner of Juilliard in Aiken, the festival has removed the prestigious school’s name from its header, but it has not severed the relationship; in fact, it’s only been bolstered.
“Juilliard has been very helpful,” she said.
Not only are there performers from Juilliard this year, but there are other performers who are taking part in this year’s festival because of the relationship between the two entities. The festival has a curator who is a Juilliard alumnus.
“Since we don’t use the Juilliard name, we’ve been able to expand beyond Juilliard artists in the program,” she said.
This year’s festival finale will feature Norm Lewis, who was the first African-American to play the role of Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Lewis has also performed in Les Miserables and was nominated for a Tony Award in 2012 for his performance in Porgy and Bess. He’s played the role of Edison Davis on the television show, Scandal.
New to this year’s festival is the Joye of Jazz from 2 to 11 p.m. on the opening day; returning are the Anderson and Roe Piano Duo with Time for Three at 8 p.m. March 9 at the Green Boundary Club; however, tickets for those events are sold out.
Performances also include BODYTRAFFIC at 7:30 p.m. March 5 at the AECOM Performing Arts Center in Aiken, the Verona String Quintet at 7:30 p.m. March 7 at St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church, the Decoda Wind Ensemble at noon March 9 at First Presbyterian Church, and the finale at 8 p.m. March 10 at the USC Aiken Etherredge Center.
One of the main missions of the event, which was started in 2008, was to bring high quality outreach to students in the area.
“They (Juilliard) do outreach in New York City, but they don’t do it anywhere else except Aiken,” said Jennings.
In 2016, Joye in Aiken received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award, South Carolina’s highest honor in the arts, for its educational outreach programs, according to organizers. Between 3,500 and 4,000 students of all ages will be part of the outreach this year.
To learn more, visit joyein aiken.com. Tickets are available by calling the Etherredge Center box office at (803) 641-3305.