Keeping Up with Kristy Edmunds

It’s been a whirlwind around here lately, between preparing for the launch of our 2015-2016 season (subscriptions are officially on sale!) and the final performances of our 2014-2015 season, which included several epic events such as last weekend’s John Zorn Marathon and our April 25 presentation of Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament, not to mention a sold-out Gilberto Gil concert and a series of incredibly touching theater performances from Jean-Michele Richaud of Leonard Nimoy’s Vincent.

That flurry of activity is dying down and we’ll take a much-needed deep breath over the next few months as we gear up for 2015-2016. There is one whirlwind around here however,  that never quite stops—Kristy Edmunds, who is constantly on the go working with artists on upcoming projects, participating in arts-advocacy programs, speaking at conferences and events, teaching classes, working with local and national philanthropists and groups to make a case for increased giving to the arts and so much more.

Kristy (33 of 56)

Tonight, our season wraps up with David Sedaris and tomorrow, Kristy is in Portland, a place that represents an important marker on her path as an arts curator. Twenty years ago this year, Kristy founded the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), and for the first ten of those years led the institution, also creating the lauded Time Based Art festival, a convergence of contemporary performance and visual art that annually takes over theaters and unexpected public spaces throughout Portland, activating the city with art and energy.

Today, a special exhibition opens at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, titled PICA: Celebrating 20 Years, Reflecting on the First Decade. The exhibition celebrates Kristy’s dynamic vision as the founder and inaugural curator of PICA and showcases 21 artists selected from the impressive roster of artists who exhibited, performed or were in residency at PICA during the first decade. As Kristy has said, the programming involved both tremendous risk taking and a great deal of trust.

Tomorrow, Kristy will be joined by two of the artists from that exhibition, Kristan Kennedy (currently Visual Art Curator at PICA) and Topher Sinkinson for a public conversation about the first decade of PICA. We’ll post video of it when we have it.

Later this month, PICA will ring in its anniversary by reviving its gala, the TaDaDa Ball.

This year Kristy has also been serving as is the Scholar in Residence for the Pew Center for Art & Heritage in Philadelphia and has traveled there often to consult with the organization and local artists.

Check out this recent video of her time there.

And stay tuned for more Kristy Edmunds and CAP UCLA activities. Cheers!

From the Center: John Zorn Marathon

Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes. 

Artist vision. Undiluted. So reads the credo of Tzadik, visionary composer, arranger, producer, multi-instrumentalist and MacArthur Fellow John Zorn’s not-for-profit cooperative record label. Zorn’s impact on contemporary music worldwide is immeasurable. His vision is vital and relentlessly prolific. As we have worked with John Zorn over the course of almost two years to help realize his vision for this robust day of performance, his first time in Los Angeles in 25 years, we have borne witness to his deep sense of rigor and the profound persistence of his undiluted artist vision.

Zorn’s remarkably diverse aesthetic draws inspiration from art, literature, film, theater, philosophy, alchemy, and mysticism. For those of you here tonight who were also among the many intrepid explorers of Zorn’s artistic vision through the halls of the permanent
collections of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art earlier today, we thank you for joining us on this marathon. And we suspect you’re still vibrating with the incredible energy brought to that space by a group of truly commanding musicians—Kinan Idnawi, Mellissa Hughes, Kirsten Sollek, Jane Sheldon, Jack Quartet, Kenny Wollesen, Carol Emanuel, Chris Otto, Kevin Mcfarland, Dave Lombardo, William Winant, Nava Dunkelman and Zorn himself. Today’s musical progress through LACMA could not have happened without our friends Claire Kim, Jane Burrell and Mitch Glickman at LACMA.

It is an experience we will not soon forget. We are incredibly grateful to them, all the artists and everyone at LACMA for saying yes to making that experience happen. Everyone who steps into the hall tonight will keep the vibration going, into the wee small hours of tomorrow after Zorn’s eclectic midnight organ recital.

It has truly been a marathon, one that has gathered so much momentum as this epic moment in the art of performance drew near. Helping set the tone for tonight on the Royce Terrace are artists from our most immediate community, UCLA students and faculty who have been influenced by Zorn’s work. Our thanks also go to Ganavya Doraiswamy, Elizabeth Erickson, Hassan Estakhrian, Putu Hiranmayena, Aaron Hogan, Molly Jones, AJ Kluthm Elisabeth Le Guin, Steven Loza, Alex W. Rodriguez, Mehrenegar Rostami, Richard Savery, Otto Stuparitz, Andrea Vancura, Jordan Watson, Dave Wilson, who performed a series of improvisational duets, inspired by Zorn’s compositional techniques.

Today is for all of us. For everyone Zorn has influenced, inspired, thrilled or challenged—artists and music lovers, Zorn aficionados and newcomers to his work, collaborators and curiosity seekers.

Today is a beautiful example of what we make together as artists and audiences. Together, in this moment in time we become the permanent collection of this project. There will be no John Zorn Marathon album to re-visit, no poster or painting to hang on a wall. But there will be all of us. We are the keepers and caretakers of this incredible moment in the art of performance.

Thank you for being part of the permanent collection.

Welcome to the 2015-2016 Season

The process of planning for and later presenting live performances is a remarkable encounter with careening variables. However refined a season schedule might be or however long we have planned with artists and colleagues for each project – we are ever aware that in an instant, things can change on a dime (and frequently do). Multifarious daily adventures become months and then a year, and a new season is born!

Since our work at the Center parallels life at large, it also offers us abundant recognition of how interdependent we are in creating the conditions for great artistry to arrive and thrive on our stages. That is a potential and vitality that includes you – our patrons, members, supporters, subscribers, audiences, students and visiting cultural omnivores. Without your interest, involvement and support, none of this would happen. Thank you.

As you have come to expect from Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, the 2015-2016 season reflects a diverse and highly considered program of contemporary performances.

One particular intention within our programming focus this season is the massive contribution of women in all of the art forms that our mission envelops.

Our Words & Ideas series is chock full of powerful, maverick and generous voices – from the literary genius of Ursula K. Le Guin, to the disarmingly brilliant cultural commentary of cartoonist Roz Chast. Miranda July returns to the Center for a top-secret experience, and we will hear from Moscow-based Russian feminist punk protest group Pussy Riot.

We also present a retrospective survey of one of the world’s most admired and influential choreographers Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and her company Rosas. The world premiere of a major commissioned work by Ann Carlson, entitled The Symphonic Body UCLA features 100 performers culled from the workers on this campus. It is unlike anything you have experienced before. And, we present the world premiere of new work from L.A.’s beloved Latin-Urban collective CONTRA-TIEMPO under the direction of Ana Maria Alvarez.

Anne Bogart and SITI Company return to the season in a new collaborative work with Julia Wolfe and Bang on a Can All-Stars. And we’ve linked arms with our colleagues at Center Theater Group to welcome Young Jean Lee back to L.A. Her newest theater piece titled STRAIGHT WHITE MEN opens just in time for the holiday season. To start the season’s theater offerings, CAP UCLA is proud to present Desdemona, written by Toni Morrison and Rokia Traoré. Directed by the singular Peter Sellars, this thoughtful work is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Othello, as told from the female characters’ perspectives.

In music, Cassandra Wilson performs her disarming Billie Holiday tribute and Regina Carter takes the stage in collaboration with Sam Amidon, in a celebration of her own Southern roots. We will also host Anoushka Shankar, Noura Mint Seymali, Lucinda Williams, as well as Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho in an intimate concert featuring UCLA’s one-and-only Gloria Cheng—just to name a few. We love men too! A generous and formidable contingent of men join us as well.

Thank you for finding us, for supporting what we do, and for coming along as we host some truly unforgettable performances this season.

Here’s just a snapshot of what’s in store.  You can also click through the online 2015-2016 program guide.

From the Center: ‘River of Fundament’ by Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler–Royce Hall April 25, 2015

Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes. 

Nearly seven years in the making, River of Fundament is Matthew Barney’s largest filmic undertaking since The Cremaster Cycle—an an elaborate contemporary opera of cinematic dimension.

Alluring, authentic and intense, it is a vast, multidimensional experience interspersed with remarkable live performances.
The multidimensional scope of Barney’s work in River of Fundament is truly epic and vast. His longstanding collaboration with composer Jonathan Bepler is alive in the structure and operatic pacing of the work, and Bepler’s score is extraordinary.

In the extensive advance planning to present River of Fundament at the Center, we discussed at length the requirements associated with Barney/ Bepler’s vision for the work. Put succinctly, it was envisioned to be held within the architecture of a “grand concert venue” and in this presentation, Royce Hall itself plays a role in the framing of Barney’s original intent. Royce Hall technical and production staff have made major adjustments to the soundscape in order to balance the acoustic properties of Royce with the rich and refined composition of Bepler. These details aren’t visually apparent – but will certainly be in the aural experience, the effort of which warrants mention.

In an era of downloadable clips, and repeated loops and various points of digital points of reference, we are honored to be able to present River of Fundament as it was meant to be experienced – live, large, an epic in its entirety, surrounded by the refined acoustics that simply cannot be achieved without this grand
architecture.

We are also proud to collaborate with fellow artsinstitutions
around the presentation of this work, starting with the Manchester International Arts Festival where it had its World Premiere—UCLA
Hammer Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

This week the Hammer Museum presented the entire Cremaster Cycle, giving local Barney aficionados a chance to view that seminal work in anticipation of this West Coast premiere. The Hammer also hosted a discussion between Barney, Bepler and Kenneth Reinhard, UCLA associate professor of English and Comparative Lit.

In September MOCA opens the eponymous exhibition, Matthew Barney: River of Fundament, featuring 14 large-scale sculptures weighing up to 25 tons, drawings, photographs, and vitrines
that were inspired by or made in conjunction with the film. The exhibition will be presented at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Little Tokyo, from September 13 through January 18, 2016.

Matthew Barney is one of the most influential artists of his generation, and our multi-institutional collaboration is a testament to Barney’s relevance and vision, while marking the collegial esprit du corps there is among all of us in Los Angeles.

Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA makes Royce Hall the creative home for many performing artists from here and around the world. So too for the audiences who have dubbed us their ‘living room’ for live performance. Feel free to ‘move in’ for this unforgettable night – a journey in in many ways – and thank you for being here.

From the Center: Leonard Nimoy’s ‘Vincent’–Little Theater April 17-19, 2015

Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes. 

This July marks the 125th anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh’s death. In the intervening century-plus, the images he created in his life have become an indelible part of popular culture.

Vincent Van Gogh was just 37 when he died. His years as a working artist were largely made possible by the unflagging emotional and financial support of his brother, Theo. Sadly, early 2016 will also mark the 125th anniversary of Theo Van Gogh’s death as well. He died just six months after his brother.

Together they left behind an important and powerful legacy in the art world, Vincent through his works and Theo, as not only a patron of his sibling, but as an art dealer who helped shepherd the early careers of such Van Gogh contemporaries as Monet and Degas.

Vincent is a work of performance laden with memory and great storytelling potential that can be extracted from the art of archiving. The telling of this tale is made possible thanks to the careful preservation of hundreds of letters sent between these two devoted brothers.

Vincent also carries within it an inherent inspiration for gratitude. As we experience this story, we can be grateful for the incredible works Vincent Van Gogh brought into the world, images that continue to pervade our culture. We are grateful for Theo Van Gogh, for his passionate support of artists and belief in their contributions to society.

We are grateful to Jean-Michele Richaud, the extraordinary artist who so lovingly performs this intimate work of theater here and continues to share it worldwide.

As this performance celebrates a great artist as well as a great supporter of the arts, we are also given pause to remember and give thanks for the remarkable man who was inspired to write this work of theater.

Leonard Nimoy was not only a great artist of his time, but a passionate supporter of fellow artists and artistic endeavor.

He is dearly missed and dearly beloved.

How fortunate we all are that he left so much of himself behind for us and future generations to experience, from his films and photography to his words of poetry and the words we will hear on stage today. Nimoy himself ensured that an archive of his passions and vision will live long and prosper.

Thank you for joining us.

From the Center: Ethel ‘Documerica’–Schoenberg Hall April 17, 2015

Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes. 

Thank you for joining us as we welcome ETHEL back to the program. If you’ve experienced this masterful quartet before, you know well just how buoyant and electrifying they are in live performance. This very special multimedia project allowed the members of ETHEL to apply their keen artistic sensibilities to a major photographic undertaking of the people, places and landscapes that comprise this country.

At first blush it might not seem so significant to think that there is a massive collection of images documenting daily life in the U.S. After all, here in 2015, we are confronted daily by, or making our own contributions to, myriad social media applications that allow us to share any and all photographic details of our independent experiences. Most of us walk around holding in our hands the ability to snap a high-quality photograph of anything that moves us– ourselves, our meals, people and sights around us. We can even immediately and sophisticatedly edit, stylize and share that image fairly broadly.

But from 1972-1977, this was decidedly not the case, and therefore the 15,000 images now available to view from the EPA’s Documerica project, if you take pause to consider how nascent the digital world was then, is utterly fascinating. Don’t be surprised if you leave here feeling inspired to peruse the entire archive. (Which you can do at Flickr.com)

Investigating these images and selecting ones that resonated was the driving force behind each composer’s approach to their segment on tonight’s program. Their highly individual and creative responses to the imagery they encountered has resulted in new layers of poignancy and buoyancy around each shot.

Combined with the creative editing and technologies employed in this unique performance project and animated further by ETHEL’s incredible stage presence, it makes for an unforgettable program of sight and sound.

Sit back and enjoy.

From the Center: Delfos Danza Contemporanea–Royce Hall April 14, 2015

Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes. 

The Body is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

For one final time in the 2014-2015 we will rally around this idea as the impeccable dancers from Delfos Danza Contemporanea take the stage. Tonight they invite us to examine the masks we wear when looking at one another, at the world or even at ourselves.
Art in all its possibilities, permutations and reverberations can varyingly strip away a disguise, reveal new or forgotten truths, or grant us with a perfect costume that somehow serves the same purpose.

The body itself can be both a disguise and an unveiling, as it glides and stretches into new shapes, new possibilities.

The performers we welcome here tonight are unmasked and open, willing to share themselves, the beauty of their individual bodies, the stories and ideas and heritage embedded into each line, each syllable of movement. Cuando los Disfraces se Cuelgan (When the Disguises Are Hung Up) is a reflection on appearances, the loss and rediscovery of the self, told through a performance that combines multimedia and dance. You’ll find the lyrical aesthetic marked by intense physicality.

Delfos is one of the leading companies in Latin America, and one of the artistic imperatives of all involved is to see their vision as Mexicans transcend the local and connect with the universal from a humanist, ethical, political and social standpoint.

They are led by two incredible co-artistic directors Claudia Lavista and Víctor Manuel Ruiz who are committed to the ongoing exploration of possibility and purpose that is inherent in dance forms.

We count ourselves fortunate to have them with us tonight.
Thank you for being here.

 

From the Center: Claire Chase-Schoenberg Hall–April 4, 2015

Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes.

The flute is not an instrument that often gets to be a rock star. It is lyrical and pleasing and integral to so many wonderful traditional melodies and memories in the art of performance.

But, in the hands of one Claire Chase, the flute gets to be a rock star, mostly by virtue of being held in the hands of one.

Claire is not only a masterful and energetic performer, she is a tireless champion of all the possibilities inherent in contemporary instrumental music. She has been with us this past week, working with the cadre of volunteer flutists who have migrated here to perform with us tonight. She is an inspiring leader full of verve and enthusiasm, ready to unlock the potential and creativity of all who perform and collaborate with her.

We’re very proud to have her with us, and especially for the West Coast Premiere of Cutting the Circle of Sounds. You’ll read more in the coming pages about this unique work. Claire and her team have come up with new creative performance elements for our presentation of this extremely rare composition, which has usually been performed in open-air or gallery spaces. In keeping with the heritage of the work, we were also proud to partner with our sister organization the Hammer Museum, where tonight’s migrating flutists gathered to learn the elements of the piece and practice the unique and liberating non-tonal techniques that make it so special.

Claire has said of Density, her solo work in part two of this afternoon’s program, that it is a work that unleashes the spirit of the flute. We think, every time Claire takes the stage anywhere in any configuration, in front of any kind of audience, she plays her own very important part in that unleashing of the flute’s spirit.

Thank you for joining us on this glorious spring holiday weekend. Enjoy the performance.

Breathing Circles

We began rehearsals this week with flutist extraordinaire Claire Chase to prepare for the West Coast premiere of Cerchio Tagliato dei Suoni (Cutting the Circle of Sounds). This is a rarely performed work for 104 flutes, four soloists situated at the four corners of the performance space and 100 migrating performers who continually move throughout the space, cutting into the circle of sound created by the soloists.

We gathered at the Hammer Museum Wednesday and Thursday night for public rehearsals where we were introduced to several very interesting breathing techniques that make this instrument play a very different role than one would usually expect from it.

It was fascinating and kind of physically dizzying actually. As Claire pointed out several times, we were doing breathwork tantamount to several yoga classes.

We all brought our own relationship to the flute, to performance and to music in general and it is a piece that creates space for that individuality to shine.

Tonight we move over to Schoenberg Hall and we’ll explore how to activate that space in this very purposeful manner.

Check out images from our rehearsals below and read Claire’s note for the program. We hope you’ll join us and become part of this circle of sound and breath we are creating.

I have always been fascinated by the emotional impact of a single, unpitched exhalation into the flute, a sound that, as we discovered during our thrilling public workshops at the Hammer Museum this week in which both flutists and non-flutists participated, anyone can make with exhilarating individuality, purpose and nuance. There is a kind of irrepressible poetry to this most quotidian of labors: the simple gesture of breathing in and out, trying precisely not to make a tone on the most lyrical of musical instruments. As I found myself engrossed in the sounds that this remarkable group of people, the youngest of them ten and the oldest in his seventies, were huffing and heaving and woooof-ing into these tiny metal tubes Wednesday night, I was reminded of Rumi’s wise words on flute-playing from nearly 800 years ago: We have fallen into the place/where everything is music.

 Salvatore Sciarrino’s sonic explorations of the flutist’s bow arm – our breath — have metabolized into slow-moving soundscapes, operas and immersive musical experiences that defy categorization. There are few composers since the 18th century who have done more to expand the expressive capacity of the flute than Sciarrino, whose compositional influences range from Perotin to Punk Rock.  Cutting the Circle of Sound, which takes its inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic spiraling architecture, is one of the composer’s most intrepid investigations into a few simple, barely audible sounds re-imagined en masse.

The composer describes the impulse of the work through the patterns of a particularly fearless, but supremely delicate migrating animal:

 “A wild butterfly crosses the space and seems to fly randomly, but she has a precise direction and she is at once moving of her own volition and not ever alone. There are no living beings that don’t move periodically…. In recent times we have seen that our species is very attracted to the opposite instinct, to home, to stability, to the absence of motion, to keep ourselves and our society in balance. An impossible balance. Impossible? Yes, life is mutation.”

 The hour-long piece has only been performed a handful of times, and it has never been documented as a complete performance, so our work this week has been equal parts inventing and inheriting a nascent oral tradition. I have been in constant contact via Skype and e-mail with Luisa Sello, the Italian flutist who premiered the work under Sciarrino’s supervision, and members of our dedicated migrating flute force have been online with one another, communicating between Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Brooklyn, sharing instructional videos, impressions, musings and ideas on breathing new life into humankind’s oldest musical instrument.

 I am grateful to The Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA for taking the leap to present the West Coast Premiere this afternoon; to the brilliant sound engineer and instrument-builder Levy Lorenzo whose idea it was to design LED lights that illuminate the migrating flutes; to Erin, Christine and Michael for their tireless work on the devilishly difficult solo parts; and most of all to my fellow fearless, migrating, metamorphosing flutists.

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A Little Versa Style Hits Royce Hall

Today, Versa Style Dance visited the Royce Rehearsal Room for a series of Design for Sharing workshops with fifth and sixth graders. Their work is an infectiously energetic blend of hip-hop, latin and afro-latin styles.  The company aims to elevate social dances–the moves spotted on street corners and quinceneras, on dance floors and school yards–of Los Angeles, counteracting the many misrepresentations and misconceptions of hip-hop and popular dances in the process.

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They covered a lot of ground.  There was salsa dance and popping and locking. There was a quick primer on ’90s hiphop and today’s internet-fueled hits likeThe Nene and The Whip (don’t worry, we didn’t know about those either–we’re still trying to learn the dougie).  There was a Soul Train tribute that had everyone dancing in their seats. No matter what they were doing, it was impossible to watch this young company, practically buzzing with enthusiasm, without a smile.

When Versa Style shares their work with student audiences, they also share a message of hard work, pride in your community, dedication to an art form, and the value of education. Many of the dancers are the first in their families to go to college.  Some are the first to finish high school. One of those was Ernesto, who started after-school dance classes with VersaStyle’s cofounder Jackie Lopez when he was just 12.  He graduates from UCLA’s World Arts and Culture department in June with a minor in Arts Education.  Our kids thought that was almost as impressive as his moves.

There were some pretty important take-homes for the 11 and 12 year olds in the audience today.  But for us, and for the company,  this morning was all about joy.  Joy in movement, joy in sharing, joy in inspiring and supporting a new generation of artists. Joy in bringing our whole selves when we do the things we love, on stage and off.

More shots below of the joy in full effect. All photos by Phinn Sriployrung.

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Thoughts from the staff of CAP UCLA