Cultural series begins Monday

Taylor Harrison

The Cultural Enhancement Series is returning for its 16th season on Monday starting with a group of “cool cats.”

The Birdland Big Band, a jazz group directed by Tommy Igoe, will be performing at 7:30 p.m. in Van Meter Auditorium.

David Lee, dean of Potter College, said the Cultural Enhancement Committee, which he chairs, chose this band because the committee frequently gets requests for jazz music.

“These folks play a sophisticated form of music at a very high level, and I think it’s a great opportunity for students — for folks in the community — to hear a really excellent kind of performance that you can’t hear in this community every day,” Lee said.

Musicians who take part in the series are asked to do a Master’s Class with music majors, where those students can get hands-on training. Tommy Igoe will be doing this on Monday.

Also this month, writer Jon Meacham will be speaking in Van Meter at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 29.

Lee said Meacham will be a timely guest because he wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography about Andrew Jackson and will be speaking just a week before Election Day.

“He’s very much plugged into things that are happening politically and culturally in the United States right now, and he has some really challenging and interesting things to say about what’s going on,” Lee said.

Mina Doerner, formerly assistant to the dean of Potter College, organized the series since its beginning in 1997, but recently left WKU.

Doerner said in an email the series has always tried to bring a mix of well-known and rising artists.

She said some of her favorite guests in the series were poet Billy Collins and E.O. Wilson, the “father of Sociobiology.”

“You’d have to pay out the nose to see some of these folks,” Doerner said.

Kelly Scott, communications coordinator, said the series has always offered a variety of events.

“We’re bringing this to our campus and to the community and it’s free, so you don’t get that a lot,” Scott said.

Scott also said this could be another way for students to discover what they are interested in.

“If you’re not quite sure what you want to do yet, this might be another avenue,” Scott said.

Other guests in the series will come to WKU during the spring semester in March and April: dance company Ailey II, writer Garrison Keillor and men’s chorus Chanticleer.