Fisher AuditoriumIUP and its arts-related departments and programs have been presenting performances and exhibits as far back as the founding of IUP. In 1989, the Lively Arts was established to bring all of the College of Fine Arts' visiting artist, exhibits, and performances under one umbrella and to better inform the community of all that we have to offer.

Presenting nearly 200 events each year from theater to music, from art exhibits to dance, and from traditional to classical to jazz to folk, the Lively Arts has become the single most-active presenter of arts events and activities in Southwest Pennsylvania outside the Pittsburgh City limits.

In addition to the dozens of exhibits presented by the University and Kipp Gallery over the years, below is a timeline of some of the many major performance accomplishments, projects, and events for the Lively Arts since the late 1980s.

Wilfred E. Helwig1988-89

  • The Lively Arts is established by the College of Fine Arts.
  • Events include the Gorell Chamber Music Series, Theater-by-the-Grove, Music Theater, a variety of music events, University Museum, and Kipp Gallery.
  • College of Fine Arts works with the family of the late Wilfred E. Helwig (pictured) and establishes the Helwig Distinguished Artist and, under Artist Series and Activities, presents the first Helwig Artist, Itzhak Perlman.


  • Miami String QuartetThe position of director of Public Events and technical director for the College of Fine Arts are established and filled.
  • The Lively Arts and College of Fine Arts assume the leadership for the management of Fisher Auditorium.
  • Gorell Chamber Music Series continues with three performers, including the popular Miami String Quartet.
  • Theater-by-the-Grove presents its first academic-year season in the newly renovated Waller Hall, opening with Amadeus and closing with The Good Woman of Setzuan.

Dave Brubeck1990-91

  • The Lively Arts debuts its popular combination subscription plans, “Totally Theater” and “Totally Everything.”
  • Performance Plus premieres with a combination of three visiting artists and three major Music Department events, and the Dave Brubeck Quartet kicks off the premiere of the Sound Progressions Jazz and Blues series.
  • Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight! is presented as the third Helwig Distinguished Artist to a sold-out crowd, and the Chestnut Brass Company starts a long tradition of outreach to the community and area schools.
  • Receives award recognition for the design and printing of its first unified brochure for the Lively Arts.
  • Student production and ensemble events include Another Antigone, Fiddler on the Roof, Bands in Review, The Consul, and the now-annual Holiday Music Festival premieres.

James Cotton1991-92

  • The Lively Arts presents its first international artists, the Steel Kings, as part of Performance Plus.
  • Other international presentations include the Mexican-based classical group Cuarteto Latinoamericano and Russian pianist Mikhail Yanovitsky as part of the Gorell Chamber Music Series.
  • Sound Progressions series offers three artists, including Chicago blues legend James Cotton.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include A Little Night Music, Three Sisters, Bullshot Crummond, The Magic Flute, and lots more.

Leon Redbone1992-93

  • Performance Plus features Helwig Distinguished Artist and award-winning actor Brian Bedford.
  • Performance Plus also features Grammy-winning vibist Gary Burton, starting an impressive tradition of major visiting artists performing with a variety of student, faculty, and community performers.
  • Leon Redbone headlines the Sound Progressions series, and Pittsburgh radio personality and jazz enthusiast Tony Mowod hosts the appearance of Salsamba.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include The Time of Your Life, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Mikado, and much more.

Jane Alexander1993-94

  • Dave Brubeck and his quartet return, this time as the Helwig Distinguished Artist and with the IUP Jazz Ensemble backing Dave on a few numbers.
  • The Lively Arts creates and leads a community-based team to present “ArtWorks!,” a day-long event to bring awareness of the impact of the arts which includes keynote speaker and award-winning actor Jane Alexander in her first speaking engagement as newly-confirmed head of the National Endowment for the Arts, and hosted by event honorary chairperson, the late John P. Murtha.
  • By popular demand, both Mikhail Yanovitsky and Miami String Quartet return.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include Pirates of Penzance, The Misanthrope, Elektra, Choral Masterworks, and more.

Laine and Dankworth1994-95

  • Singer Cleo Laine and pop band legend and Cleo's husband John Dankworth perform with the IUP Jazz Ensemble as the Helwig Distinguished Artist.
  • Through a grant from the Heinz Endowments, City Theatre of Pittsburgh performs the groundbreaking musical Spunk.
  • The Gorell Chamber Music Series hosts three stellar artists, including the Bachmann-Klibinoff-Fridman Trio, pianist Mia Chung, and soprano Camellia Johnson.
  • Blues guitarist and singer Kenny Neal headlines Sound Progressions.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include Dancing at Lughnasa, The Comet of St. Loomis, The Music Man, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, among others.

Doc Severinsen and Florence L. Helwig1995-96

  • The tradition begins to send the season brochure to every enrolled student at IUP to keep them engaged and informed of upcoming events.
  • Famed trumpeter and band leader Doc Severinsen, just off his long run on The Tonight Show, brings his big band to IUP and fronts the IUP Jazz Ensemble for three numbers.
  • Canadian classical pianist Janina Fialkowski performs in recital, and the New Jersey Mass Choir appears with IUP's Voices of Joy.
  • The still highly popular Flex Pak subscription plan makes its debut.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include A Christmas Carol, Romeo and Juliet, The Heidi Chronicles, and Die Fledermaus, among many others.

Cephas and Wiggins1996-97

  • Mel Tormé, slated as this year's Helwig Artist, becomes ill and is replaced by the incredible award-winning Broadway and film star Chita Rivera in a U.S. premiere performance review.
  • Jon Nakamatsu, pianist, performs in September 1996 as part of the Gorell series, then goes on to be a Gold Medalist in the tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in June 1997.
  • Storyteller Jackie Torrance is joined by world-famous blues musicians Cephas and Wiggins for Bluestory.
  • New Orleans jazz great Michael White makes his first of several appearances at IUP.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include On the Town, The Runner Stumbles, Afternoon at the Pops, and the premieres of the now-annual Homecoming Concert and the IUP Dance Theater Spring Performance.

Ying String Quartet1997-98

  • Award-winning pianist Billy Taylor joins the list of Helwig Distinguished Artists, performing with his band and the IUP Wind Ensemble.
  • River City Brass Band performs in a joint concert with the local popular community ensemble, the Wildcat Regiment Band.
  • The incomparable Ying String Quartet headlines the chamber series that includes violinist Charles Treger and Steinway artist Orli Shaham.
  • Lively Arts hosts the amazing and stunning National Theater of the Deaf in their production of Peer Gynt.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include two Menotti operas, Arcadia and My Fair Lady, and a year-long celebration of the hundredth anniversary of Gershwin's birth.


  • Dance Alloy visits IUP for several days of outreach activity and is the Lively Arts' first presentation of professional contemporary dance, with many to follow.
  • Peter Nero headlines Performance Plus as the Helwig Distinguished Artist.
  • Diva, an all-female big band from New York, is a popular hit with area schools and an enthusiastic audience.
  • Renaissance City Winds and New Century Saxophone Quartet are featured on the chamber series.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include The Merry Widow, As You Like It, Hair, and Cat Among the Pigeons, and IUP Dance Theater and Percussion Ensemble combine for their first of many popular collaborations.

Afro-Cuban All-Stars1999-2000

  • Performance Plus presents the world-renowned jazz ensemble Afro-Cuban All-Stars.
  • The IUP Brass Ensemble and Faculty Brass Quintet perform with top touring ensemble Rhythm and Brass.
  • A celebration is held to honor the Helwig Distinguished Artist program and the contributions made to the university and the community through the Helwig family, who have made this all possible.
  • The Lively Arts joins the festivities celebrating IUP's 125th anniversary by featuring music and art that have contributed to our heritage of the past one thousand years.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include The Crucible, West Side Story, The Rimers of Eldritch, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and lots more.

Rosemary Clooney2000-01

  • Rosemary Clooney performs with her band and the IUP Jazz Ensemble as the Helwig Distinguished Artist, and is joined the night before for a community dinner that included her brother and sister-in-law and frequent Indiana visitors Nick and Nina Clooney (their son, George, was not able to attend).
  • Paavali Jumpanen of Finland performs a spine-tingling piano recital.
  • IUP alumnus and popular studio artist Jim Self performs as part of the Basset Hound Blues Band.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include Fool for Love, Cabaret, Stop Kiss, H.M.S. Pinafore, and still more.

ArtsPath Logo2001-02

  • Pan-Latin band Sol y Canto makes its first appearance at IUP, and the Boilermaker Jazz Band raises the roof with their New Orleans style.
  • Actor Ann Timons performs as well as Mum Puppet Theatre in From the Ashes with classical performers, including Mimi Stillman, flute, and the Johannes Quartet.
  • The Lively Arts and Department of Music begin a partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, which includes a sold-out concert in Gorell Recital Hall featuring their chamber ensemble.
  • The Lively Arts is invited to become a full partner in the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Arts-in-Education Partnership, and creates ArtsPath, serving Indiana, Jefferson, and Armstrong counties.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include The Magic Flute, Bands in Review, Macbeth, Into the Woods, and a reprise of Ed Simpson's A Christmas Carol, among others.

Deborah Henson-Conant2002-03

  • The Core Ensemble presents Of Ebony Embers in celebration of Black History Month—one of dozens of projects partnering with the IUP African American Cultural Center.
  • Wild jazz harpist Deborah Henson-Conant performs with the IUP Wind Ensemble, and famous brass acts join the season, including Boston Brass and trumpeter Marvin Stamm, and, from a sister university in Croatia, we host the Zagreb Saxophone Quartet.
  • The Lively Arts presents the touring premiere of Headlong Dance Theater's contemporary work Britney's Inferno, incorporating IUP Dance Theater members.
  • ArtsPath begins to expand and provides arts-in-education services for Butler County.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include Scapin, The Tender Land, Oya, The Hostage, and more.

Mystical Arts of Tibet2003-04

  • The Mystical Arts of Tibet comes to campus for their first visit that includes a week-long stay of Tibetan Buddhist monks creating a spiritual sand mandala and performing Sacred Songs Sacred Dance.
  • The Lively Arts works to effect exchanges with Japanese artists and presents the touring premiere of No-to: Memory Fades, a contemporary dance work created by Attack Theatre of Pittsburgh and Nibroll of Tokyo; presents the Tokyo-based theater troupe Mizuto Abura; and then receives grants for a small group of faculty and staff to travel to Japan to begin a collaborative project with father-and-son Sapporo-based shamisen duo Nitta Oyako.
  • Just-discovered piano virtuoso Vassily Primakov, from Moscow, stuns the crowd with his performance and goes on to a highly successful international touring career.
  • The Lively Arts partners with OnStage to present Olivia Newton-John and the full Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, featuring Danny Glover.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include A Streetcar Named Desire, Zastrozzi, The Mikado, and Arms and the Man, among others.

Nitta Oyako2004-05

  • International performance style is spotlighted this season with Spanish dance troupe Flamenco Olé! and Afro-Brazilian drum and dance group Nego Gato.
  • Other international music connections include the Lively Arts leading the first U.S. tour of Nitta Oyako from Japan, and features the world premiere of Hiroshi Nitta's “Ricky” and several arrangements by IUP faculty and alumni, performed by this shamisen duo and the IUP Little Big Band.
  • Roger Williams, pianist and composer, performs as Helwig Distinguished Artist.
  • Lively Arts director elected to serve as president of Pennsylvania Presenters and chairs state conference.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include You Can't Take It With You, Candide, Much Ado About Nothing, Spring Dance Performance, and much more.

New Century Sax Quartet2005-06

  • The Lively Arts presents the world premiere of a new work performed by contemporary dance company Group Motion.
  • New Century Saxophone Quartet returns to perform The Art of Fugue, part of a co-commission by the Lively Arts combining live performance with original video animation.
  • In collaboration with the Counseling Center and Department of English, Dafmark Dance Theater's Unsilenced Voices combines music with dance and the spoken word to uncover stories of personal journeys.
  • ArtsPath continues to expand, this time bringing Clarion County into its five-county service area.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include Cosi Fan Tutte, Minor Demons, A Flea in Her Ear, Little Shop of Horrors, and more.

Attack Theater Games of Steel2006-07

  • By popular demand, the Tibeten monks return to create their signature sand mandala and present performance highlights.
  • Paris-based steel pan drummer Andy Narell visits to present a week of workshops and a finale performance with the IUP Percussion Ensemble, and Thaddeus Rex is a real trouper performing his unique brand of original music for children, despite a 12-inch snowfall.
  • January 12, 2007, marks the day Fisher Auditorium closed its doors as work started towards the creation of the IUP Performing Arts Center.
  • Blues artist Ernie Hawkins performs in town and as part of the Performance Plus series, and Attack Theater returns to perform the gritty Games of Steel in the sculpture studio in Robertshaw.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include Guys and Dolls, Hedda Gabler, Die Fledermaus, and much more.


  • Kaissa of Cameroon, Il Fondamento of Belgium, and Romanian-born Steinway Artist Eugene Alcalay all add to the international offerings for the year.
  • Paul Taylor Dance presents some workshops and an incredible performance in Zink Hall Dance Theater.
  • The Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Orchestra continues its annual appearance under the baton of Lawrence Loh.
  • The Lively Arts receives word that it has garnered the largest PennPAT New Directions grant ever awarded to commission and present the world premiere of a new dance work by Miro Dance Theatre based on the theory of quantum physics.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include Citizen/Soldier, Henry IV/Part 1, La Périchole, The Beauty Queen of Lenane, and more.

Opening of Performing Arts Center2008-09

  • The IUP Performing Arts Center re-opens on September 18, 2008, with a ribbon cutting, grand concert, and post-performance reception and tours.
  • Simon Shaheen of Palestine travels to Indiana with his quartet as part of International Education Week, and Universes performs Live from the Edge, a performance of original music and poetry coming from their personal experiences growing up in the African-American and Latino neighborhoods.
  • In one of its biggest performance projects ever, the Lively Arts enlisted the help of over 200 university and community members to collaborate on the musical spectacle Indiana County: The Opera, created and performed by Squonk Opera.
  • The Lively Arts works with state arts leaders and organizations to advocate for state funding to the arts and helps avoid a proposed total elimination of state arts funding.
  • The Lively Arts commissions and presents the world premiere of Spooky Action, an original contemporary dance piece by Miro Dance Theatre.
  • Sound Choices, a series featuring the “best of the best” that our Department of Music has to offer, premieres with IUP's own Celentano Quartet performing Brahms, Jazz Alumni in Concert, the traditional Holiday Music Festival, and three other concerts.

Marvin Hamlisch2009-10

  • Marvin Hamlisch visits campus as the Helwig Distinguished Artist and performs with the IUP Jazz Ensemble and faculty member Laura Ferguson for a one-of-a-kind concert.
  • The Jones-Mauri Duo brings classical cello and guitar from the U.K. and Spain, and the Chestnut Brass Company returns to work with three high schools and our own brass ensembles.
  • ArtsPath and the Lively Arts receive an award from the IUP Research Institute for outstanding public service, and are honored by receiving the first Presenter of the Year Award from Pennsylvania Presenters, a professional state organization.
  • The touring premiere performance of the odd and amazing Wandering Alice is performed in and throughout the Performing Arts Center by the Nichole Canuso Dance Company.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include The Importance of Being Earnest, New Works/New Voices, Sweet Charity, The Collector of Beauty, and still more.

Evidence: One Shot2010-11

  • The season is announced throughout the summer that includes two world preview performances, a co-commission in music, and the largest amount of grants awarded to any single presenting organization from PennPAT.
  • Sol y Canto returns for a workshop and performance as part of International Education Week.
  • Evidence: A Dance Company, one of the world's leading contemporary dance companies, is planned as part of Black History Month.
  • The full Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra returns to celebrate a decade-long partnership.
  • Student productions and ensemble events include Crimes of the Heart, White Christmas, The Comedy of Errors, Trial by Grand Jury, and lots more.

Berndette Peters2011-12

  • The Lively Arts sees a huge change this season with the start of the Ovations! series, greatly expanding the offerings. Coupled with the newly-opened Kovalchik Complex, IUP offers more performance opportunities than ever before.
  • The new series includes several firsts including Eileen Ivers as the first Celtic musical group to appear, Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole with Zydeco, Yamato as first Japanese taiko group, and more. Mnozil Brass from Austria also makes their first thunderous appearance.
  • Broadway star Bernadette Peters closes the season that included Broadway shows Young Frankenstein and In the Heights.
  • Theater and music present many performances including Lindsey's Oyster, Three Sisters, Alan Parsons Movement Project, Crimson Pops, American Art Song, and much more.

Renee Fleming2012-13

  • For the second season of Ovations!, shows include Shrek and Hair plus the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, New Directions Veterans Choir, and Nai Ni Chen Dance with the Ahn Trio, to name a few.
  • The region is overwhelmed with the rare appearance of the People's Diva, Indiana's own Renée Fleming, welcoming this great opera star back with family, friends, and hundreds of fan.
  • Theater and music provide us with performances of Hay Fever, A Whirlwind to Oz, Dance and Percussion, Pirates of Penzance, Lysistrata, and a wide variety of concerts.

Beauty and the Beast2013-14

  • The season sees the triumphant return of Mnozil Brass, the rousing performance of Rhythmic Circus, the PSO Pops's Broadway Valentine, Ballet Hispanico, and young jazz phenom Grace Kelly.
  • Touring theater includes Baby Wants Candy in collaboration with the Indiana High School, The Addams Family, and the sold-out Beauty and the Beast.
  • Our departments provide audiences with The Optimist, A Christmas Carol, The Brothers Karamazov, Pipe Dreams, Faces of Love, and the annual offering of Bands in Review.
  • ArtsPath continues its tradition of offering annually thousands of area school students, along with university students, opportunities through artist residencies conducted by area professional artists, and special outreach featuring every touring artist engagement.


    Lively Arts 25
  • The season kicks off with the triumphant and spectacular return of Helwig Distinguished Artist Doc Severinsen, helping celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Lively Arts. Other artists returning include jazz harpist Deborah Henson-Conant, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra—this time under the baton of Maestro Manfred Honeck, and the Jones-Maruri Duo.
  • Manfred HoneckFirst appearances in Indiana were in store for the Vienna Boys Choir and the Martha Graham Dance Company while Broadway touring shows included Sister Act and the Tony-winning Memphis.
  • The year also started with a bang by organizing and hosting the Pennsylvania Governor's Awards in the Arts.
  • Our theater and music departments presented their usual long list of engaging events, including Dr. Rick's Traveling Shakespeare Show Presents The Tempest, Fahrenheit 451, Into the Woods, two dance productions, An Evening of Story Legends in Music and Dance, Celebrating Our Own, Bach and Beyond, and more.