Birmingham Museum opens renovated, reprogrammed African galleries

After two years of renovations, Alabama’s Birmingham Museum of Art reopens its African art galleries this weekend, with more works from the 1,600-piece permanent collection displayed.

The galleries have been redesigned so that objects are now organized geographically. Large maps, displayed throughout the galleries, will help orient readers, and a wide flat screen will show footage of art-making practices.

“Our gallery is now organized in a way that celebrates this wide-ranging, but interconnected expanse of African art across the continent,” says Emily Hanna, the museum’s curator of the arts of Africa and the Americas.

Ranging from 1500 BC to contemporary African art, the works include figurative sculpture, ceramics, masks, household and ritual objects, musical instruments, currencies, furniture, textiles, clothing, costumes and jewelry. Color photographs illustrate objects being used or worn.

Free. 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., Birmingham. 205-254-2565,


Pridgen to lead Atlanta Chamber Players

The Atlanta Chamber Players has announced Elizabeth Pridgen as artistic director.

She will replace Paula Peace, who co-founded the ensemble in 1976 and has served as its artistic leader for all but a few months of its 38 seasons.

An in-demand solo pianist and chamber musician, Pridgen will assume the post July 1. Her concert schedule in May alone will take her to Florida, Texas, New York and Italy. She’s also a distinguished artist and piano chair at Mercer University’s McDuffie Center for Strings.

A popular chamber music collaborator, she has performed with artists including Elmar Oliveira, Robert McDuffie, Hilary Hahn, Sarah Chang, Mark O’Connor and the American String Quartet.

An Atlanta native, Pridgen began playing chamber music as a teen with her grandfather, violinist Martin Sauser, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concertmaster for 17 seasons.

Peace, who is retiring, called her replacement “a gifted performing artist who connects in a special way with audiences and musicians” and said she will bring “passion and verve” to leading ACP.

The pianist’s swan song with the group will be the “Back to the Baroque” program at 7:30 p.m. May 13 at the New American Shakespeare Tavern, 499 Peachtree St., Atlanta. Tickets, $15-$24, via 404-874-5299,


Tri Cities rules at Hensley Awards

Tri Cities High School is likely still celebrating its victories at the recent 2014 Shuler Hensley Awards (also known as the Georgia High School Musical Theater Awards) at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The Fulton County school scored 13 trophies for its production of “Dreamgirls,” running the table on acting prizes, while taking the best musical and best director awards, among others.

Milton High School’s “Legally Blonde” drew two awards, while Pebblebrook High School and Wesleyan School took home one each for “Les Miserables” and “Into the Woods,” respectively.

Based on their best actress and actor victories, Tri Cities' Jai'len Josey and Rubin Barksdale will next compete in the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York on June 30.

WSB/Channel 2 plans a special broadcast of the Hensley Awards at a date still to be announced. Information:

Hilty to star at Alliance benefit

Alliance Theatre has announced that stage and screen star Megan Hilty has replaced Rita Wilson as featured performer at the 6th annual A Tony Evening fund-raiser at the W Hotel-Midtown at 7 p.m. May 10. The theater cited a Wilson family obligation for the change. The party, which also will feature Atlanta singer Francine Reed, benefits the Alliance’s programs for youth and families. Single tickets, $350; patron pair, $1,500. Information: Bryan Saxon at 404-733-5186 or

Hilty’s A Tony Evening appearance will follow her 8 p.m. concert that same night at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Tickets, $39-$75 plus applicable fees: 1-800-745-3000,


Office of Cultural Affairs parties at 40

Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a public party at Oakland Cemetery on May 4.

The selection of the fete’s site was purposeful: former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, who founded the cultural office and the Atlanta Jazz Festival, is buried at the historic Grant Park cemetery. Mayor Kasim Reed will host the free 4-6:30 p.m. event, including music by the Good Times Brass Band and the Clark Atlanta Jazz Orchestra as well as a multimedia exhibition detailing Jackson’s administrations and impact on Atlanta’s arts.

The exhibit is presented in partnership with the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, drawn from its Maynard Jackson Mayoral Administrative Records collection (open to the public; details,

Transportation alternatives include MARTA (King Memorial station is two blocks from the cemetery) and parking for free in Grady Health Systems' garage behind the King station). Map:

248 Oakland Ave. S.E, Atlanta.


Turner, Woodruff launch Kent Fellowship

Turner Broadcasting System and the Woodruff Arts Center recently announced the Phil Kent Creative Fellowship.

Each year for the next four years, a Kent Fellow will be named by the Woodruff and underwritten by Turner Broadcasting. This “emerging voice in the creative community” will contribute in a defined capacity to one of the arts center’s four entities: Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, High Museum of Art and Young Audiences.

Each Kent Fellow will receive a stipend of $50,000. Candidates will apply through a process to be established by the Woodruff. A committee formed by the center (to include Kent) will make selections.