Tag Archives: Kronos Quartet

Marathons and Milestones

March has been quite a month. A few themes have emerged for me in the coalescence of life in this city and the way the art we present winds itself into our lives as a presenting organization.  And since I dearly love metaphor, bear with me as I express one.

For the first time in more than a decade of living in West L.A., instead of avoiding leaving the house during the L.A. marathon, I dove into it. Not insofar as I would actually participate in such a daunting activity. (yikes!) But, since I live just a bit south of the marathon route, my S.O. and I went to watch the runners at a couple of different spots along the way.

Mile 22 made me believe in the power of humans to support each other’s endeavors. I literally teared up as I watched the crowds that lined the route. A few people were looking for friends or family members specifically, but mostly it was just people from the neighborhood, the churches and local business that lined the route, out there cheering every runner on, encouraging and congratulating, handing out tiny cups of water and candies and bits of fruit to stranger after stranger. Athletic clothing store Lululemon went big, with a DJ and dancers holding up witty encouraging signs for all to see.  It brought more than a few smiles, fist bumps and bursts of dancing to the sweaty, determined faces as they ran past.

HaMikeatmile22ving witnessed this moment of the race, we really wanted to see some people cross finish line too so we navigated to the point along the ocean in Santa Monica where the marathon ended. Here again were mounds of people lining the route, many layers of them. But, unlike back at Mile 22 where the onlookers cheered and applauded and encouraged every single runner, here, it was clear that the people clamoring at the edge of the race boundary were posted up in an effort to witness their specific friend or family member cross the finish line, and didn’t spare much cheer for strangers. It was awesome to see that support, but also made me a bit wistful for the vibe a few miles back. Runner after runner marked this major accomplishment in front of a sea of people who did not cheer spontaneously for them, because they were waiting for, checking their phones for text messages from, straining to get a glimpse of…someone else, someone specific cross that line.

While I don’t think that lack of spontaneous cheering from strangers diminished anyone who passed by at the culmination of such an incredible feat, I have to say, I much preferred the atmosphere of the admittedly smaller crowd back at mile 22. I bet there may have been a few runners who didn’t even  make it to or beyond that point of the race.  But mile 22 wasn’t the only spot where people line up in support of the marathoners. I saw crowds down the route as far as the eye could see. And regardless where the final stopping point of any runner was, I still think their effort was worthy and admire their fortitude.

It made me think about the artists we present here at the Center. We see groups and performers and creators at many and varied points on the creative marathon that is the life and career path of an artist. We cheer for them at the start, at multiple other convergences on their journey, sometimes stretches wherein there aren’t as many familiar faces lining the sides as others.  We celebrate their milestones.

And we’re proud to do so. Two weeks ago we celebrated the 40th anniversary of one of the most iconic groups in the art of contemporary performance—Kronos Quartet. We reminisced with them, we reveled in a showcase of their talent as individuals, we honored their collective vision and we enjoyed their collaborative spirit. It’s not a finish line, per se, because we hope there are many decades of music to come from this seminal cadre of performers, but it was a thrilling moment of connection to share that huge milestone with them.

Just this past weekend, we had the equally profoundly moving opportunity to intersect with four groups  who have followed in the footsteps of Kronos—new music ensembles Imani Winds, ETHEL, yMusic and eighth  blackbird—each of which is on its own distinctive mile in its unique artistic evolution. And all of which are traversing this path with grace, joy, abundant creativity, eclecticism, and persistent vision.

There was a palpable sense of warmth,  generosity and energy from the audiences who joined us to experience these talented ensembles as part of the first-ever Tune-In Festival L.A. It took me back to mile 22. And for that. I thank you.

If you missed any of these groups this month and you are a lover of music, I would encourage you to find that point on their performance marathon where you can lend them your applause. They’re worth it.

TuneIn

eighth blackbird, yMusic and several UCLA student musicians performed the finale of Tune-In Festival L.A. with “Worker’s Union.”

Diving Deep in 13-14

Did you hear we added another performance to our 2013-2014 season? We did. And it’s a doozy. We’re bringing back our current Artist Fellow Laurie Anderson and hanging on to the fabulous Kronos Quartet for an extra day in spring 2014. On March 15, the evening following our 40th anniversary program with Kronos, the ensemble will perform with Laurie in their first-ever collaboration, Landfall, a technology-tinged new work created for the Kronos by Anderson. (Tickets go on sale tomorrow, don’t miss it).

COLLEGE PARK, MD – February 1, 2013 – The Kronos Quartet, in dress rehearsal, with Laurie Anderson at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.(Photo by Susan Biddle)

It’s incredible to think that these two massively important artists have never collaborated before this piece. They premiered the work in May at Montclair University’s Peak Performances series and it has been met with unsurprising acclaim.

Kronos and Laurie are both trailblazers in contemporary music. They are unceasing in their evolutionary approach to the form and have changed its face time and again over the course of decades.

Adding a night with Kronos and bringing Laurie back to campus (where she will also undoubtedly explore other projects her innovative mind is tackling in relation to her status as a CAP UCLA Artist Fellow) is indicative of a larger theme of the season.

These are not the only artists we are spending extra time with this season. We’re diving deep into some exceptional performers and their work in several multi-performance showcases.

Our other fellow Robert Wilson will perform his deeply introspective production of Lecture on Nothing, which goes beyond a theatrical adaptation of words on a page to become a living homage to Cage, lovingly and compellingly wrought by a fellow influential artist.

Meanwhile, Robert will also join with two of his most revered collaborators, Lucinda Childs and Philip Glass as they discuss their seminal 1975 work Einstein on the Beach. We are truly proud and thrilled to partner with LA Opera in their presentation of this incredibly ambitious and important work. Stay tuned for more details on events and activities that will help our audience intersect more closely with the themes and principle creators of Einstein.

And ahPhilip Glass. May 2014 cannot arrive quickly enough. We have so much Glass in store. We’ve carefully crafted three successive performances that will allow Glass acolytes and lovers of new music the opportunity to experience this legendary composer/performer’s work in multiple ways over the course of one weekend—from a highly personal peek at the artistic process revealed by his solo project The Etudes, to the epic marathon performance from Glass and his ensemble in the Los Angeles debut of Music in 12 Parts (it’s five hours long, but you’ll leave energized) and a more straightforward compositional perspective with Glass’s moving score to the Cocteau masterpiece La Belle et la Bete. If you’ve never experienced a music-and-film night in Royce Hall, this is a great opportunity, even if you’re not familiar with Glass’ oeuvre. The hall is glorious, well, always, but something about the marriage of music and film makes it even more so.

In dance, we’re proud to showcase two very different, and yet equally compelling perspectives of Jerome Bel. The French choreographer is very well known for shattering convention and even pushing buttons. We present his portrait of renowned Merce Cunningham company (among many others) dancer, Cédric Andrieux, who will be here performing the work himself in a thought-provoking evening that merges multiple forms of modern dance and a bit of spoken word, all in service of deciphering exactly what drives an artist. The performance is as much a question to Cedric from Jerome as it is an answer back, and as it is a query from Jerome to himself—and to us.

We will also present one of Bel’s most controversial works, The Show Must Go On, which essentially entails a group of movers (a mix of professional dancers and other performers) literally acting out the lyrics of popular music, as played by a live DJ.

We’ll be casting this work with local dancers and really look forward to giving the dance community the chance to work with Bel and his collaborators. We think it will be an experience of a lifetime for them.

As for the audience, we’ll get to see a whole ‘nother side of Bel and our perceptions of pop culture will be challenged, called in to question, maybe even clarified a bit here and there.

That’s a theme for another blog entry!

More to come. Join us and dive deep this season.