Honoring a musical legend: Joni Mitchell’s 80th Birthday Bash at WCR Center for the Arts

The WCR Center for the Arts, in partnership with the Reading Film Office, is hosting a special 80th Birthday Party to honor Joni Mitchell.

A singer, composer and lyricist of exceptional talent and unmatched influence, Joni Mitchell has crafted an extraordinary body of work spanning more than 50 years and is widely regarded as one of the brightest musical lights of recent generations.

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Joni Mitchell is this year’s winner of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress.

The Joni Mitchell celebration will be held on Sunday, November 5, at the WCR, 140 N. 5th Street in downtown Reading. Doors open at 1:45 p.m.; the program starts at 2:30 p.m. A $10 donation at the door is encouraged.

“The Joni Mitchell celebration is a continuation of WCR’s programming to honor influential artists across genres,” said Crystal Kowalski, WCR Program & Events Committee Chair. “We hope Joni fans and music fans in general will join us.”

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Previous WCR birthday honorees were musician John Prine and author Kurt Vonnegut.

The Mitchell celebration will provide fans an opportunity to gather and discuss her timeless music, their favorite songs, personal concert experiences, and enjoy a display of Mitchell’s albums, paintings and drawings.

The program will feature the screening of the documentary “Joni Mitchell: A Woman of Heart and Mind” and live performances of classic Mitchell songs.

Featured vocalists will be Reading High senior Twyla Ewen, member of the Olivet Boys & Girls Club’s Center for the Arts since she was 7 years old.

Last year, Ewen was selected Olivet Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year, going on to represent Olivet at the Pennsylvania Youth of the Year competition – and the winner of the National Boys & Girls Talent Search, leading to performances at National Boys & Girls Clubs events in Atlanta, Washington, Orlando, and Chicago.

Joining Ewen for Mitchell musical tributes will be vocalist Maria Damore, guitarist Ken Bagenstose, and Suzie Ernesto, who also will serve as event emcee.

The music portion of the program will conclude with Ewen, Damore, Ernesto, and Bagenstose leading fans in a sing-along of Mitchell’s classic “Circle Game.”

“The sing-along will be the perfect ending to the celebration,” said Ernesto, a Mitchell fan for over 50 years. “The song is timeless. We all have been going round and round in the ‘Circle Game’ of life.”

The 80th celebration will end with a birthday toast and cupcakes provided by Sweet Streets. Other sponsors include Quality Quinn Grabias.

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