418 South Illinois Avenue, Carbondale, Illinois 62901, United States

(618) 457-5353

A historic visual and performing arts venue in downtown Carbondale, IL.

LIVE MUSIC

Foster’s Satchel

image158

7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21
$10 / $7 for students with ID
Doors and Varsity Bar at 6:30


The Varsity is pleased to present Foster’s Satchel, a musical and multi-media performance group that will carry you on a journey through time, on Saturday, Sept. 21.


Foster's Satchel includes accomplished historical musicians Stace England and

Charlie Tabing from Stace England and the Salt Kings (“Greetings from Cairo, Illinois” and “The Amazing Oscar Micheaux”), Jake and Mary Deleonardis from St. Louis-based May Day Orchestra, and Beth Koehler, back-up singer for alt-country legend Jason Ringenberg. 


The show takes listeners on a journey through 19th-century musician and composer Stephen Foster's unlikely triumph and ultimate heartbreak. Multimedia projections of photographs and original sheet music give audiences additional insight into Foster's life.


Foster composed more than 200 songs between 1847 and 1864, yet few know more than a handful of his most enduring, such as “Oh! Susanna,” “Camptown Races,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair,” “Old Folks At Home/Suwannee River,” “My Old Kentucky Home.” Foster's Satchel takes a deep dive into his obscure and complex legacy, mining unknown songs from his entire catalog to illuminate the composer's life and the state of America as his writing progressed, from his optimistic and successful early years to wrestling with psychological survival at the end of his life with the country mired in civil war. 


The band has taken a Mermaid Avenue approach (the partnership between Wilco and Billy Bragg with Woody Guthrie's unknown writing), focusing on Foster’s often evocative lyrics and re-arranging music for modern ears to reveal one of the most remarkable and unknown stories in American music. 


Southern Illinois favorites Carter & Connelly will open the show.


Advance tickets are available by clicking the link below. Tickets are not available at the venue until the night of the show when doors open at 6:30.

Classical Guitar: Ioana Gandrabur

image159

7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12
$14 adv / $16 at the door / $42 season ticket
$8 for students with ID
Children 10 and younger admitted free
Doors and Varsity Bar open at 6:30
 

The 2019-20 Southern Illinois Classical Guitar Series opens Oct. 12 at the Varsity. This is the second year for the series at the downtown performance venue. The series is presented by First Southern Bank and co-produced by the Varsity and SI Classical Guitar.

  

First up in the series is Romanian/Canadian blind guitarist Ioana Gandrabur on Oct. 12. Gandrabur will play several of the most beautiful and difficult of the classical guitar repertoire including those of J.S. Bach, Augustine Barrios Mangore and David Russell. 


Gandrabur, blind since birth, first began playing piano at age 5; at age 11, she switched to classical guitar. By 13, she was entering competitions and twice won the Romanian All Styles Competition as the best player in the country for all ages. She has played in many festivals throughout the world as a featured guest artist, as well as being a busy touring concert artist. For the Varsity program, two of her pieces will be played in total darkness, thus giving the audience an insight in her world of blindness. 


Oscar Ghiglia, the great Italian guitar master, says Gandrabur “plays with a sensitivity and style unmatched.”


The performance begins at 7 p.m., and doors and the Varsity Bar open at 6:30. 


Tickets are $14 in advance or $16 at the door for adults, $8 for students with ID, and children 10 and younger are admitted at no charge. Season tickets are available for the first time this year, and pricing is $42. They will not be available after the Oct. 1 performance.


Tickets are available in advance at www.thevarsitycenter.eventbrite.com. Tickets are not available in advance at the venue but will be available when doors open on the night of the performance.

Classical Guitar: Christopher Allen

Christopher Allen performs Nov. 16 at The Varsity.

7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16
$14 adv / $16 at the door
$8 for students with ID
Children 10 and younger admitted free

The 2019-20 Southern Illinois Classical Guitar Series continues at the Varsity. This is the second year for the series at the downtown performance venue. The series is presented by First Southern Bank and co-produced by the Varsity and SI Classical Guitar.

  

Second up in the series is Christopher Allen on Nov. 16. Allen’s playing is described as “powerful but sublime, a step away from explosive, a power to be reckoned with.” He plays classical guitar, Flamenco guitar, medieval and Baroque lute, jazz guitar, country mandolin, and the Oud (an ancient Moorish pre-guitar). 


Allen’s undergraduate and master degrees are from SIU, where he studied under Joseph Breznikar, professor of guitar studies for many years at the university. Allen then studied with Rene Esquierdo at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a doctorate in guitar performance. Post-graduate master classes included those with Carlos Barbosa-Lime, Ben Verdeny, Ana Vidovic and other great teaching concert artists. 


Allen brings a visible enthusiasm for his chosen instruments, particularly his love of classical guitar, which shines through in his exciting performances. His colorful stories add to each program an element of information that lets the listener into the nuances of the piece, the composer or the artistic experience. Chris founded and is president of the Madison Classical Guitar Society in Madison, Wisconsin, where he also teaches at Madison College and the Monroe Street Arts School. 


The performance begins at 7 p.m., and doors and the Varsity Bar open at 6:30.

 

Tickets are $14 in advance or $16 at the door for adults, $8 for students with ID, and children 10 and younger are admitted at no charge.


Tickets are available in advance at www.thevarsitycenter.eventbrite.com. Tickets are not available in advance at the venue but will be available when doors open on the night of the performance.

Classical Guitar: Hector Torres

Hector Alonso Torres performs at The Varsity on March 7, 2020.

7 p.m. Saturday, March 7
$14 adv / $16 at the door
$8 for students with ID
Children 10 and younger admitted free


The 2019-20 Southern Illinois Classical Guitar Series continues at the Varsity. This is the second year for the series at the downtown performance venue. The series is presented by First Southern Bank and co-produced by the Varsity and SI Classical Guitar.

  

Third in the series is Hector Alonso Torres, guitarist, lutenist and Theorbo player who will perform on March 7. 


Hailing from Puerto Rica and now completing his doctoral studies in performance guitar at the University of North Texas, Denton, Hector’s musical presentation is a complex mix of island rhythms, Spanish sounds and the contrapuntal music of the Baroque, of which he is a master interpreter. Multi-talented when it comes to the variety of guitar and guitar like instruments, Hector plays classical guitar, medieval lute and the Theorbo (a lute like instrument with a 5-foot-long fingerboard and five octaves). 


Hector has performed around the world, including a recent tour of China playing both as a soloist and with his trio, the Trio Resonance. He also teaches, and performs at festivals around the world. He has received many top prizes in guitar competitions both in the U.S. and abroad. He is president of the North Texas Guitar Consortium. 


The performance begins at 7 p.m., and doors and the Varsity Bar open at 6:30. 


Tickets are $14 in advance or $16 at the door for adults, $8 for students with ID, and children 10 and younger are admitted at no charge. 


Tickets are available in advance at www.thevarsitycenter.eventbrite.com. Tickets are not available in advance at the venue but will be available when doors open on the night of each performance.

Classical Guitar: Kirk Hanser

Kirk Hanser performs at The Varsity April 4.

7 p.m. Saturday, April 4
$14 adv / $16 at the door
$8 for students with ID
Children 10 and younger admitted free


The 2019-20 Southern Illinois Classical Guitar Series offers its last performance of the season. This is the second year for the series at the downtown performance venue. The series is presented by First Southern Bank and co-produced by the Varsity and SI Classical Guitar.

  

Kirk Hanser will take the stage on April 4. Hanser is one of the world’s most versatile guitar players, excelling in virtually every type and style of guitar. He is most known for his classical solo concerts, his duet pieces as a part of the Hanser-McCellan Duo, and for his fingerstyle interpretations in the style and technique of Chet Atkins. 


Hanser will present a multi-media music and visual program that will transport the listener around the world. And the award-winning youth classical guitar ensemble, Bella Corda, instructed by Kirk, will perform the pre-show for the event.


Hanser is the on-call guitarist for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the MUNY and the St. Louis Opera. He also is on the faculty at several colleges and universities, including the Paris Conservatory in Paris, France. He is director of the St. Louis Guitar Academy and the Childbloom Guitar Program for St. Louis, in addition to his very active concert and gig calendar in the Midwest and internationally.


The performance begins at 7 p.m., and doors and the Varsity Bar open at 6:30. 


Tickets are $14 in advance or $16 at the door for adults, $8 for students with ID, and children 10 and younger are admitted at no charge.


Tickets are available in advance at www.thevarsitycenter.eventbrite.com. Tickets are not available in advance at the venue but will be available when doors open on the night of each performance.