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Tony producer Heather Hitchens comes to 'Behind the Scenes' at the Atlanta Public Library & Museum

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[January 08, 2013]  ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Public Library will continue offering its "Behind the Scenes" program in 2013. Behind the Scenes offers a rare opportunity for people to rub shoulders with renowned artists in theater and music. The series this year will feature prominent artists Heather Hitchens, executive director of the American Theatre Wing in New York and producer of the Tony Awards; Casey Childs, founder of the off-Broadway theater company Primary Stages in New York and well-known director of theater and television; and Mikhail Istomin, chamber musician and cellist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Behind the Scenes events will take place on Jan. 11, Feb. 8 and April 5 at the North Greens Golf Course in Atlanta. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. artists will speak about their lives and careers, share stories about their experiences on a national and international stage, give insights into the people they have met, and talk about what it means to be an artist. A reception with the artist will follow each event.

Behind the Scenes is sponsored by the Atlanta National Bank and the city of Atlanta.


Heather Hitchens

This week the Behind the Scenes program will feature special guest Heather Hitchens, executive director of the American Theatre Wing and producer of the Tony Awards.

Hitchens joins the series on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the North Greens Golf Course Community Room in Atlanta. The event kicks off with a reception with the artist followed by her presentation at 7 p.m.

Hitchens began her tenure at the American Theatre Wing in July 2011. As the chief executive officer, she is charged with maintaining its brand of excellence in the Tony Awards as well as overseeing and shaping its other vital grant-making, professional development, educational and media programs.

She came to the Wing after a four-year term as executive director of the New York State Council on the Arts, the largest state arts agency in the country. Prior to her leadership there, she served as president of the renowned national arts service organization Meet the Composer.

A percussionist since the age of 6 and a lifelong lover of the performing arts, she holds a master's degree in arts administration from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa., and a bachelor's degree in percussion and music business from DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind.


Casey Childs, Feb. 8

For the Feb. 8 program, the speaker will be Casey Childs, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor's degree in acting and a master's degree in directing. He has acted and directed all over the United States and Great Britain and has taught and lectured on the subjects of television and theater at leading theater schools throughout the country. He has made three trips to Russia as a guest of the Federation of Russian Theatre Workers. Since founding Primary Stages in 1984, he has produced over 100 new plays, many of them world premieres.

Childs also has produced and directed television for over 25 years, working on such shows as "As the World Turns" for CBS; "Another World" for NBC; and "The City," "Loving," "One Life to Live," "All My Children" and segments of "Spin City" for ABC. He also directed "The Catlins" for Turner Broadcasting, "Our Group" for Lifetime and "Hollywood Heights" for Sony's "Nick at Nite." Childs has won two Emmy Awards for his television directing and countless nominations for both producing and directing in television.


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Mikhail Istomin, April 5

Born and educated in Russia, Mikhail "Misha" Istomin holds a master's degree in music from the St. Petersburg Conservatory. While still in school, he became principal cellist of the State Hermitage Orchestra and later joined the orchestra of the Kirov Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre.

In 1987, he became the cellist of the Leningrad Conservatory String Quartet, and in 1989 the group won the grand prize in the National Soviet Union Competition of String Quartets. Later that same year, Misha defected during the quartet's U.S. tour and was granted political asylum in the United States. Immediately following these events, he joined the Richmond Symphony and became a faculty member of both Virginia State University and the Governor's School for the Performing Arts at the University of Richmond.

Misha was appointed principal cellist of the Pittsburgh Opera and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater orchestras in 1991, and the following year he joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In July 1998, he returned to St. Petersburg to perform in the Second World Cello Congress under the direction of Mstislav Rostropovich.

Misha is a founding member of the Pittsburgh Piano Trio, which has released three CDs on the Minstrel label to resounding critical acclaim.


Tickets for Behind the Scenes are available in advance at the Atlanta Public Library, as well as at the door on the evening of each event. Seating is limited and advance purchase is recommended. Individual event tickets are $12.50 for adults and $7 for students under age 21 and under. Discounted series tickets for all four events are also available for $40 for adults and $25 for students. There are group rates as well for groups over 10 people. Email to arrange tickets for your group.

Visit the library's website at to learn more about all the library's programs in 2012-13.


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