UA Presents is introducing a new comedy series, teaming up with a local Grammy nominated choir and tipping its hat to women in its 2017-18 season.

It’s the first season that programming director Candace Feldman curated from start to finish after joining the University of Arizona arts presenting arm in February 2016.

“This year we had a chance to sit back and figure out the story we wanted to tell and one that (would resonate) with Tucson,” said Feldman, who came to the UA from New York City. “I’m used to producing seasons that are thematic; the season itself has a theme and it has its own message and everything about that is connected to that theme.”

And the theme: highlighting women to focus on their role in shaping the performing arts and changing the landscape.

The season, which includes the staples of classical and world music, dance, movement art and pop music, zeros in on “Women of Influence.” Influence is not defined by iconic measures or legendary status, although the season lineup has a few artists who easily fall into that category.

The broader definition is women who made inroads into a male-dominated niche and struck a strong claim that “I am here and I am changing lives,” Feldman explained.

“I just feel like that is such an important message to deliver not just to women but to every person who comes to the show,” she said. “We have been here, we continue to be great.”

Artists who fit into the Women of Influence category include Broadway great Chita Rivera (Jan. 22, 2018), the first Hispanic woman and the first Latino American to receive a Kennedy Center Honors award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and guitar goddess Kaki King (Oct. 24), the youngest guitarist and only woman to be named to Rolling Stone’s “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” list, updated in 2007.

Other highlights of the 2017-18 season:

  • Comedian and late night television host Trevor Noah anchors a new comedy series (April 14, 2018). He also is among more than a half-dozen artists making Tucson debuts.
  • UA Presents is teaming up with Tucson’s Grammy-nominated True Concord Voices & Orchestra for two shows: Bernstein’s Mass for the Tucson Desert Song Festival (Jan. 26, 28) and the Verdi Requiem, featuring UA’s Arizona Choir (Feb. 25).
  • The jazz and blues series kicks off (Jan. 11) with Hypnotic Brass, featuring the eight sons of Earth, Wind & Fire trumpeter Phil Cochran.
  • Black Arm Band, Australia’s celebrated aboriginal ensemble, kicks off the Passport to the World series (March 27), and the critically acclaimed “Straight Outta Philly,” a collaboration between Philadanco and Rennie Harris Puremovement, will surely be a highlight of the dance series (Feb. 8).

Season tickets are on sale now through uapresents.org; prices vary. Single tickets go on sale beginning in August.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@tucson.com or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.