10 Can't-Miss Fall Arts Events

Make a date with culture this autumn for one of these inspiring events.

Carmina Burana
Carmina Burana Courtesy of the Touhill
Despite the unavoidable stickiness of St. Louis' heat and humidity, summer is when the city truly comes alive. All over town, events such as the Whitaker Music Festival and Shakespeare in the Park present opportunities for St. Louisans to get out and enjoy the arts — usually on the cheap and occasionally totally free.

But as the summer winds down and temperatures cool, you may have to work a little harder to find the kind of great performances and festivals that were near-impossible to avoid from April to August. Not to worry, though. While they may be fewer and further between, plenty of cultural institutions are hosting highly anticipated events in and around St. Louis in the fall. Here are ten of the most exciting.

click to enlarge 10 Can't-Miss Fall Arts Events
Hurvin Anderson
1. Hurvin Anderson at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660
Free admission

Starting September 11 and lasting through December 27, the Contemporary Art Museum (www.camstl.org) will host Backdrop, the most comprehensive survey yet of Hurvin Anderson's work, including not only the paintings for which the London-based artist is best known, but many as-yet-unseen sculptures and photographs, illuminating his aesthetic and process. Anderson was born in the United Kingdom, but is of Afro-Caribbean descent; his work appears in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Saatchi Gallery in London.

2. Strange Folk Festival at Union Station
1820 Market Street; 314-421-6655
Pay-as-you-wish ticketing at www.indiegogo.com/projects/strange-folk-festival-2015#/story

After a messy dispute with the city of O'Fallon, Illinois, over ownership of the area's premiere arts-and-crafts festival, Autumn Wiggins is bringing the ten-year-old Strange Folk Festival (www.strangefolkfestival.com) to St. Louis' Union Station. On September 26 and 27, artists and craftmakers will occupy the vacant stores and restaurants in the mall, live bands will take over the third-floor space that was once Hooters, and the parking lot will be filled with food trucks and additional vendors. Purchase a ticket online ahead of time and receive rewards based on your level of support.

3. An American in Paris at Powell Hall
718 North Grand Boulevard; 314-533-2500
Tickets $31.50 to $111

The weekend of October 16, the St. Louis Symphony (www.stlsymphony.org) will perform music from three composers who helped define the sound of the United States during the early- to mid-twentieth century. In addition to Gershwin's An American in Paris, the orchestra will play selections from Leonard Bernstein's On the Town and On the Waterfront, as well as Aaron Copland's Piano Concerto, fronted by renowned pianist Inon Barnatan. 'S wonderful. 'S marvelous!

4. Kota: Digital Excavations in African Art at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation
3716 Washington Boulevard; 314-754-1850
Free admission

Beginning October 16 and lasting through the spring of 2016, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (pulitzerarts.org ) will host Kota: Digital Excavations in African Art, a presentation of more than 50 African reliquary guardian figures, as well as a searchable database created by co-curator Frédéric Cloth to analyze and understand patterns among more than 2,000 of the figures. Many of them have unknown origins; Cloth's work attempts to reveal their secret histories.

5. Best of BALANCHINE: Serenade and Western Symphony at the Touhill Performing Arts Center
1 University Boulevard; 866-516-4949. Tickets $32 to $51

St. Louis Ballet (www.stlouisballet.org ) will open its 2015-2016 season on October 11 with two works by the prolific George Balanchine, the Russian-born choreographer widely considered the father of American ballet. Led by artistic director Gen Horiuchi — the only of Balanchine's protégés still performing — the company will perform the first piece the master choreographed in the U.S., 1934's Serenade. The music is by Tchaikovsky; for the second piece, 1954's Western Symphony, American folk tunes provide the soundtrack.

click to enlarge 10 Can't-Miss Fall Arts Events
Courtesy COCA/ProPhotoSTL
6. Carmina Burana at the Touhill Performing Arts Center
1 University Boulevard; 866-516-4949. Tickets $40 to $65

Just a few weeks after Serenade and Western Symphony, the Touhill (www.touhill.org ) will host the Nashville Ballet's performance of the monumental Carmina Burana on the weekend of November 6. With more than 200 performers contributing, the production will feature the UMSL Orchestra & Singers, the St. Louis Children's Choir and the Bach Society of St. Louis, working together to present composer Carl Orff's 1936 work in all its glory. You've heard the cantata's haunting opener, "O Fortuna," in everything from Jackass: The Movie to Capital One commercials; this is a chance to hear it in its original, and much finer, context.

7. Jazz St. Louis at 20 at the Ferring Jazz Bistro
3536 Washington Avenue; 314-571-6000. Tickets start at $45; $10 for students

Jazz St. Louis (www.jazzstl.org) will kick off its twentieth season on September 23 with a supergroup septet featuring Christian McBride on bass, Gregory Hutchinson on drums, Cyrus Chestnut on piano, Russell Malone on guitar, and Terell Stafford and Tim Warfield on trumpet and saxophones, respectively. If you haven't been to the midtown space since last year's impressive renovation, this bill provides the a perfect excuse to get on it already.

8. Bad Jews at Wool Studio Theatre
2 Millstone Campus Drive; 314-442-3283. Tickets $39.50 to $43.50

Late this fall, the New Jewish Theatre (www.newjewishtheatre.org) will present Joshua Harmon's Bad Jews featuring St. Lou Fringe Festival creator Em Piro in the leading role of Daphna Feygenbaum. A fast-paced comedy about faith and family brought together by a father's funeral, Bad Jews opens December 3, with performances through December 20.

9. Colin & Brad: Two Man Group at the Touhill Performing Arts Center
1 University Boulevard; 866-516-4949. Tickets $15 to $59

Best known for their residency on ABC's Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood will bring their stripped-down brand of improv comedy to the UMSL's Touhill Performing Arts Center (www.touhill.org ) on December 4.

10. wUNDERland at COCA
524 Trinity Avenue; 314-725-6555. Tickets $16 to $20

From October 2 to 11, dancer and choreographer Anthony "Redd" Williams will present wUNDERland — his contemporary take on Alice in Wonderland (www.cocastl.org). While the St. Louis native's production will feature recognizable characters including the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat, Williams thoroughly reimagines the classic fantasy/allegory with innovative choreography and imagin ative costume design.

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