From “Star Wars” to a Poet Laureate: Festival of the Arts’ 2019 Lineup

The Force is with Festival of the Arts Boca.

The venerable festival in Mizner Park announced its 2019 lineup this week, with a certain science-fiction masterpiece among the headliners. On March 1, the Festival will present its annual blockbuster movie with live orchestra, and this time it’ll be 1977’s “Star Wars Episode IV—A New Hope,” the history-making introduction to the franchise. Constantine Kitsopoulus will, as usual, conduct the Boca Symphonia through John Williams’ soaring score, perking us up with its Pavlovian peaks and valleys.

Elsewhere, the performances run an agreeable gamut from worldly jazz to lush classical and rigorous ballet, while the Authors & Ideas program takes a step back from the politics of today to examine trends in issues such as global health, cybersecurity and the Constitution.

Mark your calendars for the following special guests:

Feb. 28: Returning champion Doris Kearns Goodwin will discuss her latest book Leadership: in Turbulent Times, focusing on what contemporary leaders can learn from the taxing presidencies of Lincoln, the two Roosevelts and Lyndon B. Johnson. (7 p.m.)

March 1: “Star Wars Episode IV—A New Hope” with live orchestra (7:30 p.m.)

March 2: The Cultural Arts Center presents a screening of “Bending the Arc,” a documentary about three dedicated youths who strived to bring world-class, American-style health care to disease-ravaged Haiti. (4 p.m.)

March 2: Master pianist, composer and arranger Shelly Berg will make a special appearance behind the 88 keys in “Rhapsody in Blue: An Evening of Orchestral Favorites.” He’ll join the Boca Symphonia under Kitsopoulos’ baton. (7:30 p.m.)

March 3: For something that’s invoked and debated ad nauseum, the Constitution also under siege—arguments that arise from the both the left and right, for different reasons. Jeffrey Rosen, president of the National Constitution Center, will discuss how the 200-year-old document is weathering 21st century storms. (4 p.m.)

March 3: With a sound that’s as fun as its name, Pink Martini has been entertaining global audiences for 23 years with its multilingual, international ensemble of players elegantly traversing classical, jazz, Latin, cabaret and cinema music. Once referred to as the “house band of the United Nations,” these global musical ambassadors will shake a hip or two. (7 p.m.)

March 4: In “Global Public Health Today or Tomorrow,” two experts will share their perspectives on the global health crises of which most us are probably in the dark: Dr. Agnes Bnagawaho, a practicing physician and former Rwandan Minister of Health; and Thomas Bollyky, author of the forthcoming Plagues and the Paradox of Progress: Why the World is Getting Healthier in Worrisome Ways. (7 p.m.)

March 5: In my personal most-anticipated event of the festival, former Poet Laureate Robert Pinksy will read his work under the accompaniment of a small jazz ensemble. The author of 19 books, including his latest collection At the Founding Hospital, Pinksy is a national treasure—and with a jazz band backing him up, his lyrical work may even conjure the beat poetry era. (7 p.m.)

March 6: David Sanger, a 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner with 36 years of reporting experience, will discuss the rise of cyperweapons—the subject of his scary new tome The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age. (7 p.m.)

March 8: An “Evening of Russian Ballet” is always welcome, and this classical dance program will feature stars from the Bolshoi Ballet interpreting choreography from “Swan Lake” and other classics, with live music from members of the Russian National Orchestra. (7:30 p.m.)

March 9: Miami’s own Nu Deco Ensemble will perform a spirited set of its genre-bending repertoire, spanning classical to pop. (7:30 p.m.)

March 10: Legendary Cuban-born jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, who trained under the great Dizzy Gillespie and has won 10 Grammy Awards, will close out the festival with his fiery sextet of musicians. (7 p.m.)

Performances are split between Mizner Park Amphitheater and Mizner Park Cultural Center. Tickets are available now. Call 561/368-8445 or visit festivalboca.org.