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Image of a jazz dance performance.
CSU Summer Arts begins June 27th and it's going to be awesome! Get your tickets today!

CSU Summer Arts Festival Kicks Off With Jazz and Poetry

FRESNO STATE — The California State University released its 2022 Summer Arts performance schedule, opening with a concert featuring acclaimed saxophonist Benjamin Boone in collaboration with two-time United States Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and other guest artists.

Image of the Fresno State logo.For the 17th time, CSU Summer Arts is being hosted in-person at Fresno State, from June 27 to July 24. Summer Arts was hosted at Fresno State from 1999 through 2011 and returned to the Central Valley in 2017 after being held at CSU Monterey Bay from 2012-16. The program wasn’t offered during the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020 and last year was exclusively online.

Image of Rachel (Ray) Smith.

Rachel (Ray) Smith.

“We’re back on campus offering live instruction and performances this year,” said Summer Arts director Rachel (Ray) Smith. “This is fantastic news for artists, art enthusiasts or those of us who love to discover new experiences and have missed the thrill of live performances, art and culture during the pandemic.”

Boone and Herrera will perform a musical/poetry piece entitled “What If…?” at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 27, at Fresno State’s John Wright Theatre.

The performance will be followed by a reception that all ticket holders may attend.

Image of Origin Records logo.Boone and Herrera previously collaborated on a poetry and jazz album called “The Poets are Gathering” that was released in 2020 by Origin Records.

A Fowler native, Herrera was a professor in Fresno State’s Chicano and Latin American Studies Department from 1990 to 2004. In 2015, he was appointed the United States’ 21st poet laureate, becoming the first Hispanic to hold the position. He was reappointed in April 2016 to a second term.

Image of Philip Levine.

Philip Levine.

In 2015, Boone produced the highly acclaimed “Waterless Music” performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles that incorporated the recorded poetry readings of the late Philip Levine, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Fresno State professor emeritus and former U.S. poet laureate.

In addition to performances, Summer Arts also features masterclasses in the fields of art, creative writing, dance, media, music and theatre. Classes are taught by guest artists and CSU professors who are renowned in their fields.

In the evenings, the community is invited to an open-to-the-public arts festival, where the visiting guest artists perform so locals can experience the type of world-class talent that is often only enjoyed in major metropolitan areas. Summer Arts students also proudly showcase their artistic talents and what they have created during the summer.

The CSU has offered this multidisciplinary program since 1985. This summer, 14 intensive courses are being taught at Fresno State, as well as four courses abroad in Ireland, Spain, and Germany.

Tickets to “What If…” and other performances, lectures and art exhibitions are on sale now. For the full calendar of events or to purchase tickets, visit calstate.edu/summerarts.

By Suzanne Crosina-Sahm and Eddie Hughes.

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