Center to host virtual ‘Meeting the Moment’ series with Michael Mwenso

September 29, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK—Michael Mwenso, cross-genre artist and leader of jazz-funk band Mwenso and The Shakes, will make a virtual return to the Center for the Performing Arts with his “Meeting the Moment” livestream series. Each monthly episode, during the fall and spring semesters, will feature Mwenso speaking with artists about what it means to be a Black creative.

At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30, B. Stephen Carpenter II, dean of the College of Arts and Architecture at Penn State, will open the series by interviewing Mwenso. The free live webisode will be broadcast via the Zoom video conference service, and questions will be taken in real time from audience members. Visit “Meeting the Moment” for more information.

Contributions from the members of the Center for the Performing Arts and a grant from the University Park Student Fee Board help make the program free of charge. The program is part of the center’s “Up Close and Virtual” fall season. “Meeting the Moment with Michael Mwenso” also is the keystone event of the center’s Fierce Urgency Festival, the center’s commitment to celebrating Black artists and sharing their stories.

“When thinking about the artist who should lead these efforts, we were so honored that the incomparable Michael Mwenso, who may be familiar to our audiences for his appearance in last October’s ‘Harlem 100,’ has agreed to partner with us,” said Amy Dupain Vashaw, the center’s audience and program development director.

In a 2019 Center for the Performing Arts interview, Mwenso said the first of his group’s three values is to “portray a reflection of the history of Black music.” Because of his expertise on Black cultural and musical history, he recently was appointed a visiting professor of the arts at the University of Buffalo, teaching “Protest, Hope and Resilience through the Black Arts.” He introduced the “Black Music Series” of showcases at Sonoma State University, and Mwenso and The Shakes debuted Duke University’s “The Show Must Go Online” fall season.

“I think he will set about illuminating that history through the artists he interviews,” Vashaw said.

As curator and events programmer at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Mwenso booked and performed with the likes of Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jon Batiste, Aaron Diehl, Sullivan Fortner and Jamison Ross. And through performances at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, he collaborated with a variety of Juilliard-trained musicians, a global-artist collective that became known as The Shakes.

Carpenter is co-director of the Penn State School of Visual Arts Studio for Sustainability and Social Action and co-director of the Summer Institute on Contemporary Art. He is a National Art Education Association Distinguished Fellow and a recipient of the association’s Eugene Grigsby Jr. Award.

Learn more about Carpenter and his work in response to the global water crisis.

Geisinger is the season sponsor for virtual presentations by the Center for the Performing Arts.

Visit for updated events, details on accessing the livestream performances, and discussions and engagement opportunities.

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(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 29, 2020