The Performing Arts Thrive in Lincoln

by Rayna Collins

Lincoln’s performing arts are vibrant and growing—playwriting workshops, Shakespeare, jazz, ballet, folk music. Here is a look at some of Lincoln’s treasured creative outlets.

Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra

The symphony was first organized in the 1920s. There most recent change was a 2011 move to the Lied Center for Performing Arts. Since then, its audience size has doubled and the total number of unique households served has more than tripled. 

The 2017-18 season of ten concerts includes several family concerts that include children’s activities and puppets. Singer and comedian Jane Lynch will perform with the symphony in March. Renowned violinist Joshua Bell joined the symphony in September, and their traditional holiday concert in December is a lovely way to get in the spirit of the season. For tickets and more information: (402) 476-2211 or lincolnsymphony.org.

Haymarket Theatre
& the Nebraska Youth Theatre

Haymarket Theatre performances are often among the year’s best local theatre productions. For more than 14 years, professional repertory productions and high-quality children’s theatre have brought to the stage every facet of the human experience. 

The Nebraska Youth Theatre produces full-length theatrical productions that offer young people the opportunity to learn what it takes to put together a play or musical.  For tickets and more information: (402) 477-2600 or haymarkettheatre.org.

Nebraska Chamber Players

Now in its 21st year, Nebraska Chamber Players is made up of professional musicians dedicated to playing a unique brand of chamber music. Known for creative programming, the group has premiered commissioned works from composers across the country. The spirit of chamber music, performed in an intimate atmosphere, comes alive through each of the Nebraska Chamber Players’ gifted musicians. For more information: (402) 429-8227 or nebraskachamberplayers.org.

The Lincoln Civic Orchestra 

The Lincoln Civic Orchestra is a symphonic orchestra comprised of community musicians from around the Lincoln area. Formed in 1977 on the campus of Union College, the Lincoln Civic Orchestra became the resident orchestra at Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1987. The 70-piece ensemble regularly performs on the Nebraska Wesleyan campus with performances in the fall, winter and spring, and travels to other communities with concert presentations. LCO aims to provide a quality symphonic experience for musicians and the community at large, through collaborative musical performances and education. Visit www.lincolncivicorchestra.org for more information.

Angels Theatre Company

Made up of professional and amateur artists, the Angels Theatre Company has staged more than 50 productions since 2000. The company promotes original works, often with compelling social messages, and the best of well-known theatrical drama. They hold playwriting workshops with the Angels Playwriting Collective. For more information: angelscompany.org.

Nebraska Jazz Orchestra

One of the region’s premiere big bands, the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra presents at least four concerts annually featuring the genre’s best musicians. The NJO features traditional big band classics from masters like Duke Ellington and Count Basie, as well as new compositions and arrangements from local talent. The NJO is committed to educating future musicians through sponsorship of the Young Artist Jazz Composition, the Young Lions All-Star Big Band, and the annual Nebraska Jazz Camp. For more information: (402) 477-8446 or artsincorporated.org/njo.

Sheldon Friends of Chamber Music

The SFCM, established in 1964, presents chamber music concerts, lectures, and masterclasses to introduce the public to live chamber music. Nationally-known and exceptionally talented musicians perform new works by living composers as well as a standard classical repertoire. For more information: (402) 435-5454 or sfcm.info.

Lincoln Community Playhouse 

Since 1947 the Lincoln Community Playhouse has provided opportunities for theatre artists of all ages and talents to express their creativity. Following the final production of the season, LCP focuses on its Penguin Project Production. The Penguin Project partners youth artists with special needs with peer mentors.

Lincoln Community Playhouse was the first community theatre outside of Illinois to partner with The Penguin Project to produce a production. The Playhouse is located at 2500 S. Call 402-489-7529 or at the website www.lincolnplayhouse.com. E-mail: info@lincolnplayhouse.com for details about the Penguin Project, tickets and information.

Lincoln Municipal Band

For more than 100 years, the Lincoln Municipal Band is both Nebraska’s oldest professional music organization and its only professional wind ensemble. The LMB annually presents a series of free outdoor concerts at 7 p.m. on Sunday evenings during July and August. Held in the John Shildneck Memorial Bandshell in Antelope Park, these popular free concerts draw regular crowds of more than 1,500 and feature some of the capital city’s best instrumentalists and vocalists. The organization also holds the annual John Schildneck Young Artist Competition. For more information: (402) 477-7899 or artsincorporated.org/lmb.

Nebraska Repertory Theatre

The Nebraska Repertory Theatre provides professional acting and production experience to University of Nebraska-Lincoln students and faculty in collaboration with professional artists-in-residence. For more information: (402) 472-4747 or unl.edu/rep.

Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company

For 33 years the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company has been presenting its annual staging of the holiday season classic, The Nutcracker. Dance students from southeast Nebraska star in the performances that also feature a live orchestra and nationally-known guest artists. In conjunction with performances, LMBC hosts Backstage at the Ballet, an artist-in-residency program at Lincoln elementary schools. LMBC also produces rotating spring ballets, Cinderella and Snow White, and holds a summer dance camp. For more information: (402) 477-8446 or lincolnmidwestballet.org.

Capital Jazz Society Big Band

The Capital Jazz Society Big Band performs 3-4 nights a month at Cottonwood Café in downtown Lincoln. This weekly big band provides an opportunity for jazz musicians of all ages to hone their chops by sight-reading and performing both classic and new big band literature. The Lincoln Jazz Series provides formal jazz groups with a venue to showcase their talents. Local, regional and national groups have performed as part of this series. The Monday Night Big Band and Lincoln Jazz Series are supported by the Capital Jazz Society. For more information: (402) 477-8008 or artsincorporated.org/cjs.

Flatwater Shakespeare Company

The Flatwater Shakespeare Company shares William Shakespeare’s plays and other classic works with Nebraska audiences. Since 2001 the company has not only presented classics such as Hamlet and Macbeth, but has also been committed to educating youth about the unique language and stagecraft of Shakespeare in a hands-on manner. Past performances include The Merry Wives of Windsor and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, a collaboration with the Crooked Codpiece Company. For more information: (402) 473-2897 or flatwatershakespeare.org or read more on page 79.

Plainsong Folk Festival

The Plainsong Folk Festival is a showcase for the unique cultural value of folk music. Held annually since 2002, the festival features folk music with roots ranging from Celtic to bluegrass, singer-songwriter to folk-rock all on a rural acreage just outside Lincoln. Visit plainsongfestival.com for more information.

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