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Maulik Pancholy Opens Eastern's Art/Lecture Series

Written by Tim Talley

Maulik (2).JPGWillimantic, Conn. - Rising star Maulik Pancholy will open Eastern Connecticut State University's 10th Annual Arts and Lecture Series at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 in the Betty R. Tipton Room in Eastern's Student Center.

            Pancholy is among a handful of Indian-American actors changing the character and face of Hollywood. He stars in two of TV's most critically-acclaimed shows -- the showtime hit "Weeds" and the Emmy-award-winning "30 Rock." Taking on smart, select roles, he is helping, in his own way, to broaden the cultural and racial diversity on film and in television.

            Pancholy is a classically trained actor with a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama. According to movie critics, he has carved out a career that spans the stage, the small and big screen, where he invests whatever project he's working on -- from movies like "Hitch" to plays like "Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom."  

            Pancholy has received a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for "30 Rock," along with two additional nominations -- one each -- for "30 Rock" and "Weeds." He played the lead role in "India Awakening" at the Samuel Beckett Theater, for which The New York Times praised his " and funny" performance. He also voices the character Baljeet on the top-rated Disney show "Phineas and Ferb." His other credits include guest spots on "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" and "The Sopranos."

Aardvark Jazz Orchestra (2).JPG

            The Arts and Lecture series will continue at 7 p.m. on March 16, 2011, with the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, led by founder Mark Harvey, helping Eastern celebrate African American and Women's History Months. The orchestra will honor the musical legacy of the late Mary Lou Williams, an African American who rose to prominence in the pre-Civil Rights/pre-Women's Rights era. The performance will take place in Shafer Auditorium in Shafer Hall, located at the corner of Windham and Valley Streets in Willimantic.

             Dubbed the "First Lady of Jazz," Williams composed and arranged songs for hundred of bands, most notably Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. She gave the premiere of her masterwork, the 12-movement "Zodiac Suite," in Carnegie Hall.  Following a spiritual crisis in the 1950s, Williams became a Roman Catholic in 1957 and began to compose sacred music, including "Black Christ of the Andes," in honor of St. Martin de Porres. She composed three complete masses, the most famous being "Mary Lou's Mass," performed at the Vatican, and later staged as "Music for Peace" by the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

            The orchestra, in its 38th season, will showcase such Williams' masterpieces as the swing-era classic "Roll 'Em" and the rarely-heard "Scorpio" movement from "Zodiac Suite." Eastern's Concert Chorale, led by David Belles, will join the orchestra in a rendition of the "Gloria" from "Mary Lou's Mass." Harvey will present his own tributes to Williams, including "Blues for Mary Lou" and the premiere of "Soul on Soul," a new piece written for the occasion.

            The Aardvark Orchestra has won various awards, including one for Best Jazz song, "Scamology," at the 2000 Independent Music Awards, and has released at least eight albums since 1993. 


Mycoskie (2).JPG            Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS Shoes, Inc., will wrap up the 2010-11 Arts and Lecture Series when he speaks at 7 p.m. on April 12, 2011, in the Betty R. Tipton Room. Mycoskie helped revolutionize the way consumers shop by giving a new pair of shoes to less fortunate children around the world with every pair sold. Within three years, the one-for-one business model has encouraged conscientious consumers to purchase and donate more than 140,000 pairs of new shoes to children in need.

            Mycoskie is an entrepreneur who has created five businesses since college. His first was a successful national campus laundry service. His second start-up, Mycoskie Media, caught the attention of Clear Channel Media, which later bought out the company. Between business ventures, Mycoskie competed in the CBS primetime series, "The Amazing Race," with his sister, Paige.

            In 2009, at the Clinton Global Initiative University plenary session, former President Clinton introduced Mycoskie to the audience as "one of the most interesting entrepreneurs (I've) ever met." People magazine featured Mycoskie in its "Heroes Among Us" section, and TOMS Shoes was highlighted in the Time magazine article, "How to Fix Capitalism."

            In addition to free admission to Eastern faculty, staff, and students, admission to the Arts and Lecture Series events is free to all middle school, high school and college students, who are encouraged to attend. Admission for the general public is $10 per ticket; tickets can be reserved by calling (860) 465-0036 or sending an email to For information on the 2010-11 Arts and Lecture Series, visit


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