Message From The Center: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black MambazoOn March 26, 2020, CAP UCLA presented its first online program. Little did we know that this would become a “new normal” for us, not only during the pandemic, but for the foreseeable future.

In an effort to keep our commitment to present perennial favorites Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who were en route from South Africa to Los Angeles when the Safer at Home order was announced, the CAP UCLA production team conceived of an alternative to a live performance — a filmed version that would be broadcast online and on air in partnership with local public radio station KCRW.

The filming itself, in the cavernous and empty Royce Hall, was extremely poignant. The performance was dedicated to Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s founder Joseph Shabalala, who had recently passed away. It was also a tribute that prefigured the all-too-frequent tributes that would follow to those we would lose to the pandemic. And the clear absence of an audience underscored the fact that the performing arts were entering an entirely new chapter.

The resulting film, however, was also a gift in many ways. It brought a moment of joy to many audience members reeling from the threat of COVID-19 and relegated to hunkering down at home. For CAP UCLA it was an opportunity to rethink how we support artists, and in the ensuing months, we would go on to provide financial support to some 300 artists devastated by the loss of their livelihoods.

We are extremely grateful to all of you who have been with us on this journey through a period of tremendous disruption. As a way of saying thank you, we have decided to bring back the Ladysmith Black Mambazo concert – the one that started it all. We hope you will join us on Sunday, March 21 at 5PM PDT on CAP UCLA Online to experience again, or for the very first time, this historic moment in CAP UCLA’s history. It’s free and all are welcome! All you have to do is sign up here.

Interview With Israel Galván on Maestro de Barra

On Saturday, March 6th at 7PM PST CAP UCLA presents Maestro de Barra (Bar Master), a new work commissioned from flamenco master Israel Galván. Filmed just last week in Spain, Israel shares about the creative process and why he wanted to choreograph a piece about bar* culture.

I like to dance in places that are not meant for dance. Since I don’t usually use scenery, this changes my way of dancing. The place transforms into something else, and the place forces me to dance in a different way. Besides, I like the presence of the people in the bar. The noise of the machines, the objects and the waiters. I learn a lot from the gestures of the waiters, it is a whole choreography. For instance, the kitchen of a McDonald’s is one of the most frantic choreographies I know. Here in Sevilla for example there is a bar managed by a family of deaf-mute and it is a bar of quiet and silence. This is how culture enters in relation to bars.

A mi me gusta bailar en sitios que no están destinado para bailar. Ya que no tengo escenografía, me hace cambiar la forma de bailar. El sitio se convierte en otra cosa, y a mi el sitio me hace bailar de otra manera. A parte me gustan las presencias de las personas que están en el bar. El ruido de las maquinas, de los objetos y de los camareros, aprendo mucho de los gestos de los camareros, es toda una coreografía. Por ejemplo, la cocina del McDonald’s es una de las coreografías mas frenética que existe. Aquí en Sevilla por ejemplo esta un bar que es de una familia de sordomudos y es de quietud y silencio. Esto es como las culturas se relejan en los bares.

I spent a lot of time in Bar Rodriguez listening to music with headphones and feeling the energy of the bar and little by little I would lose consciousness and begin to dance. The people who work there call me the ‘bailaor (flamenco dancer).’ They are true waiters because they do their work as a liturgy in the way Pablo places the cups in the morning for the coffee or how Pedro sings the ‘tapas’ as if it were a Gregorian chant. I spent a lot of time watching them when I lived in this neighborhood. I also used to watch my soccer team, Betis, here and whenever they scored I was hit by the Stendhal syndrome (a psychosomatic condition involving rapid heartbeat occurring when individuals become exposed to objects, artworks, or phenomena of great beauty).”

Personalmente he pasado mucho tiempo en el Bar Rodriguez escuchando música con los auriculares y viendo la energía que tenia el bar y poco a poco perdía la consciencia y empezaba a bailar. Lo del barrio me llaman el bailaor. Los camareros del Rodriguez son muy de verdad porque se lo toman todo como una liturgia de cómo Pablo pone lo platitos del café por la mañana y Pedro como cantas las tapas con modulación gregoriana, y ver a mi equipo de futbol El Real Betis marcar me llevaba a la éctasis de Stendhal.

[Cafés and bars are] like one’s second home. The bar feels like one’s living room. It is a moment for people to reflect. Although there is a lot of noise, one can encounter silence. It is for me like the continuation of a rehearsal room. In the bars in the morning the neurons are awakened and it is a good start to the day, the birth of many ideas. In the bars one sings better, one plays the guitar better and one ‘baila’ better. A more real and intimate flamenco. The bars are where flamenco (‘bailan’) is for ourselves. Curiously, in the bars of Sevilla, in the past there were signs that said ‘se prohibe terminatamente el cante’ – Singing is strictly forbidden.

Es como la segunda casa de uno. El bar es tu sitio, tu salón. Es un momento para las personas de reflexión. Aun que haya el ruido que hay puede encontrar silencio. Es como una sala de ensayo continua. En los bares por las mañanas están las neuronas muy despiertas y es como un buen comienzo del día y nacimiento de muchas ideas. Y en los bares se canta mejor, se toca mejor la guitara y se baila mejor. Un flamenco mas intimo y mas real. Es donde los flamencos bailamos para nosotros. Curiosamente en los bares de Sevilla antiguamente estaban carteles que decían ‘se prohíbe terminantemente el cante’.

*In Spain, like most Mediterranean cultures, there is no difference between bars and cafés. They are open from early morning until night and serve coffees, breakfasts, snacks, meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

This free performance was commissioned by CAP UCLA and is presented in association with UCSB’s Arts & Lectures, The Joyce Theater and Teatro della Pergola, Firenze, Italy.

In Memoriam: Ed Pearl and Chick Corea

The music world lost two icons in the last week. CAP UCLA joins our music community in mourning the death of Ed Pearl. A legend in the music scene, and a beloved mentor and friend to many, he was truly one of a kind.

The Ash Grove of the ’60s was more than a venue, it was a visionary home for artists in the truest sense of the word. The spirit he captured and fostered carries on to this day, and we are honored to have had the chance to work with him and many of the poets and players of the Ash Grove community.

We offer our condolences to Ed’s family and friends, and celebrate his incredible life and legacy that has given so much to so many.

CAP UCLA also mourns the passing of Chick Corea, groundbreaking composer, bandleader, genre-defying pianist: a true icon in American music history.

We were honored to have Chick as a frequent guest here at UCLA, and has left an indelible legacy that lives in our hall and our hearts.

Rest In Peace, Chick Corea and Ed Pearl.

CAP UCLA Announces Free Spring Programs

Dear CAP UCLA family,

I wanted to write you as we continue to muster our strength, double up on our masks and keep moving forward in this brave new world. While there remains a long stretch ahead, we are hearing that many of you are in line now for vaccinations (yay!). It does feel that 2021 has ushered in renewed hopefulness with much to be grateful for. At CAP UCLA, we are grateful that you have stayed with us through our mega-shift of producing online performances and for those who have joined us from around the country and worldwide. For a performing arts organization like CAP UCLA, the silver lining in this is we are still able to connect with people far and wide, including our family of Angelenos who remain at home, as does the CAP UCLA staff.

Your notes, letters and gifts have made their way to us and every word of encouragement has inspired us to press on. Many of you have gone further by making a financial contribution to CAP UCLA. Every donation, every membership, every check or stock transfer we receive supports CAP UCLA in upholding what we can continue to do as an organization. Most of our financial resources come from people like you. Your collective contributions are the single most vital resource we have to draw from and is how we support our future work. I imagine that you all know what it feels like to rummage through the sofa cushions in search of that joyous sensation of finding a few bucks. Truth be told, that is exactly what our financial management process is all about now and I thank you wholeheartedly for helping us keep the lights on and the flame alive by sending us your contributions whenever and however you can.

You will see that we have necessarily changed our remaining season schedule. Several artists are postponing into the future because the very nature of their project is elementally linked to the presence of an audience. After valiant efforts to explore alternatives, the honest fact is that there isn’t an alternative. I salute their decisions to wait for the return of live audiences and know how aching the wait will continue to be – but we’ll get there! Other projects remain on the calendar with date changes for live streams – we added time to make it soar. Some of the artists have replaced their originally planned (and luminous) projects with wholly new ideas that are exactly right for this moment – and they are so spot on it blows my mind. CAP UCLA has also added some surprises to the mixology ahead – small sublime works of art that make our hearts sing. There is no end to the innovation that is happening out there; no end to the fortitude needed to stay the course; and there are no words to describe the contour of everyone’s creative efforts.

Given the not so subtle changes we have endured together these past ten months, what we are about to announce may sound counter-intuitive, but announce it we will: CAP UCLA will continue to ensure that the remainder of our 2020-21 performance programs are free. As financially unorthodox as this may seem, people in our community are hurting – students and families, artists and cultural workers, the list goes on and on – and free access to the projects on the CAP UCLA Online channel has been a salve and a place of inspiration for many. We want to keep it that way. This is an equity issue and a compassion issue. And, sometimes marketplace issues can get in the way of what an arts community is seeking to share.

In the spirit of helping one another in every way that we can, we hope that you’ll embrace our decision. Hundreds of you have signed up to be $15 monthly renewing digital subscribers and I’m asking if you will instead convert your willing participation into a membership or a recurring gift. Those of you who are already members of CAP UCLA know that membership comes with perks – and while we can’t exactly offer discounts on “free,” we can offer the bespoke accelerant of sharing what your membership makes possible regularly, for which we are ever grateful.

Suffice it to say, the depth and impact of CAP UCLA’s efforts ahead will be in parallel with the resources we have to work with. Every contribution we receive will be given back to you as works of art that would not have been possible without you.

Hopefully the donate button will be pressed frequently as you enjoy the rest of our incredible season. It will come to us like an optimistic affirmation of recovery and we will use it towards ours. Invoking the artist Miranda July, it will be about “Me and You and Everyone We Know” – or don’t yet know but believe in and care about.

Thank you,

—Kristy Edmunds,
Executive and Artistic Director
UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance

P.S. All you have to do to keep enjoying our programs for free is create a login to CAP UCLA Online. Once you have signed in, you will have instant access to all CAP UCLA Online programs. No payment information is required.

Message from the Center: On Omar Offendum

Many years ago, in what now seems like another life, I was working on the creation of a theater piece, and it was rough going. There were times when the road was not visible, but we pressed on. On opening night, one of my collaborators gave me a hand-made memento, a mini comic strip that illustrated our journey. At the top were the words: “Work is love made visible.” I remember gasping, I had not read those words in so long, and here they were, when I needed them most. For 25 years, I’ve kept that comic strip taped above my desk.

Fast forward to just last year. I was watching a performance by Omar Offendum, and in the midst of a very complicated and fast-moving suite of lyrics, I heard those words, “Work is love made visible.” I gasped again, and hit rewind, to make sure I heard correctly. I did.

Those words are from a poem, by Kahlil Gibran, called “On Work” from his book, The Prophet. I first read this book in high school, I have no recollection how I came upon it, but I read and re-read it, all through college and beyond. At some point I stopped telling people I loved it because it had become unfashionable to like it, and my beloved copy had disappeared. But words have a way of finding you, of lighting the way, of making the murky visible.

Like Gibran, Omar Offendum is a poet. His gift with words is beyond technical. He channels the magic, he enters the zone. Anyone can speak a poem, not everyone can make it sing.

I first saw Omar perform at the Ford Theater in the fall of 2019. We were co-presenting the project My Rock Stars by Hassan Hajjaj. Omar was in the cast. The day before the official opening, we coordinated a special performance for middle and high school kids from LA’s public schools. It was a warm October morning in LA, and 1,000 kids filled the outdoor theater at the Ford, squirming, texting, laughing, waiting for the show to begin. I was standing in the back. Omar was first. He stood, decked out in a sharper-than-sharp suit, a fez on his head and a cane in his hand. He spoke for only a few seconds and as if on cue, 1,000 students sat up in unison and directed all their energy to his energy. They were immediately present. It was electric. I remember turning to my colleagues when it happened, and one of them mouthed, “Whoa.”

Work is love made visible. That is what those young people responded to – they could see. They were allowed to see, and in that exchange, they were seen. The road is not always visible, it is often foggy and uneven and pocked with holes. But we work, with love, to find the way.

—Meryl Friedman
Director of Education & Special Initiatives

We Have Some Spring Changes and Updates

As CAP UCLA adapts to what the new found realities of the arts ecosystem and economy look like, we will remain online and socially distanced for the spring.

We’re making changes all in the hopes of better serving you, our artists and the community, including a commitment to digital programming.

CAP UCLA will present 10 programs in the remainder of the 2020-21 season, two of which are additions. The two new programs for the spring season are Ellen Reid SOUNDWALK and Monica Bill Barnes & Co: Keep Moving.

Ellen Reid SOUNDWALK is a GPS-enabled work of public art that uses music to illuminate the natural environment. This work has been intricately mapped to the varied terrain of Los Angeles’s Griffith Park. Simply download the free app and explore!

Premiered by the American Dance Festival, Keep Moving is an online dance experience created by Monica Bill Barnes & Robbie Saenz de Viteri delivered in 10 chapters; some are videos, some are audio. All of them try to answer the question of how a dancer, a woman who works so hard to keep moving, finds a way forward while live performance is on pause.

While we were hopeful to gather and experience the performing arts together once again, our priority remains safety and well-being. Therefore, we’ve had to postpone the following programs to future dates when we can safely resume live programming:

  • Living Music with Nadia Sirota
  • Antonio Sanchez: Bad Hombre
  • Martin Hayes Quartet
  • Anthony de Mare: Liaisons 2020: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa and Terri Lyne Carrington: Fly Higher Charlie Parker at 100
  • MK Guth: Choreography for Reading Aloud
  • Jennifer Koh & Davóne Tines: Everything That Rises Must Converge
  • John Cameron Mitchell: The Origin of Love Tour
  • David Sedaris

Message from the Artist: Charles Lloyd

Charles Lloyd

My heart hastens with gladness to be with my compadres again to make music. This year of COVID has been a trial and a revelation. A time of reflection and resourcefulness. We hope that the offering we bring to you from this stage will help to console your losses, and fill the void of your loneliness. Above all, we hope to lift you up and inspire you to go forward in love and light. Yours in the music,

—Charles Lloyd

Message from the Center: On Philip Glass’s Piano Sonata

When Philip Glass mentioned to me a few years ago that he was working on a piano sonata (his first!), I instinctively sensed that this was going to be a big deal. Not because a new composition by Philip Glass generally is, but because of his exuberance for it: “Hey! Did I tell you I’m working on a piano sonata?!” For all I knew, he committed himself to the idea in that exact instant, or, more likely, he had been working away on it in his mind while we were talking about a range of other topics over our bowls of soup. Whichever the case, he was excited by the journey he was embarking upon.

Phil has written sonatas for other instruments before, but this would be his first for the piano. I imagined how much he would pour into it given that the piano is the instrument he has spent a lifetime playing (at home and on countless tours). However, Phil is not an artist to let the potential of a ‘first’ be tethered to what is known. His exuberance came from writing something that would far surpass what he could play, or be able to entirely hear on the instrument itself beyond imagining it as the composer. There would need to be someone who could bring the music to life and bridge the musical space between themselves, the audience and the composer.

Phil composed his Piano Sonata for Maki Namekawa and Maki collaborated on its shape and dimensionality by adding her tremendous capacity and insight as a pianist. They sent recordings and adjustments back and forth across the Atlantic, and Phil describes her contribution as much more than a facile pianist interpreting the material, but adding to it in order that it can be heard and embodied.

Many will recall an epic week in 2013 when CAP UCLA presented a survey of Philip Glass works at Royce Hall that included La Belle et La Bete, Music in Twelve Parts and his Complete Etudes. The week offered towering elevations, with an audience experiencing countless intakes of breath on so many levels and for me, experiencing Maki play Phil’s Etude #20 is forever lodged in my being. I have little doubt that I was not alone in my astonishment.

As you experience the concert as given by Maki – there is something undeniably present about the current moment we are living in, and an incredible point of connection to the future that arrives in the third movement. There is far more consonance in the music than dissonance, and Philip Glass has put a great deal of faith into our evolving capacity to listen and hear. We recognize the piano, the structure of the sounds and the notes in time – but the speed of change and harmony is almost unimaginable. Hearing what we perhaps could not have been able to until now, is the gift of their work.

We originally scheduled the concert to take place on the Royce Hall stage, which has served as one of Philip Glass’s many ‘creative homes’ over decades. Throughout this pandemic we have had to invent previously unconsidered approaches for fortifying our commitment to artists and audiences in supporting our continuity together. No small feat within a global pandemic, with our borders closed, and our stages dormant. As the US administration stopped all visas, as the devastating heave of the virus expanded, we had to find another way.

I want to thank Maki and my team at CAP UCLA, and especially also Gerfried Stocker, Artistic Director and CEO of Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria for the truly generous collaboration in filming the Piano Sonata just before the new COVID-19 restrictions took hold in Europe.

My gratitude to Philip Glass runs deep and long. For his immense humanity, perspective and music. For me, it is like light finding its way through all of the cracks in the seams and is forever arriving.

Thank you for joining us.

—Kristy Edmunds,
Executive and Artistic Director
UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance

This Was the Year that Was

While we will all be glad to bid farewell to 2020, there were several bright spots for CAP UCLA this season for which we are grateful.  Season highlights include:

Artist Commissions

CAP UCLA provided financial support for some 300 artists through commissions this season. Projects included:

  • Chris Doyle’s Memento Vivere, a 24-hour digital clock made with UCLA students and available for Apple watches
  • Constance Hockaday’s Artists-In-Presidents, a collection of “fireside chats” from artists released in the final two months of the 2020 campaign
  • Choreographers’ Scores, a collection of visual scores by 27 contemporary choreographers that will become available as limited edition prints and tour nationally
  • Notes on Napkins, a collection of more than 100 musicians’ doodles on napkins that will become an affordable boxed set of commemorative napkins
  • Meshell Ndgeocello’s Chapter & Verse: The Gospel of James Baldwin, a multi-media tribute to James Baldwin co-commissioned by a consortia of national and international performing and visual arts partners
  • A filmed version of Robyn Frohardt’s Plastic Bag Store installation in Times Square that was set to open just prior to the COVID-19 shutdown

Constance Hockaday

Digital Programs

CAP UCLA also brought back new online versions of several programs we had presented in the past, including:

  • Forced Entertainment’s Complete Table Top Shakespeare: At Home Edition filmed by the company at their kitchen tables in Sheffield, England and Berlin. Available online through December 31, 2020
  • The online version of Kid Koala’s Music To Draw To, two hours of curated music designed to get your creative juices flowing which we presented live as a follow-up to his 2016 performance of Nufonia Must Fall
  • A three-day celebration of Grace@20, a seminal work by choreographer Ronald K. Brown, that included a filmed performance of the work, an online class and a talk with the artists

Ronald K Brown EVIDENCE


We also filmed all of our fall performances this season and streamed them online on our new channel. We will continue this practice in 2021 and hope you will join us.  Fall highlights included:

  • The Tune In Festival – a four day celebration of music for change filmed in Los Angeles and elsewhere, bringing together musicians and poets from the U.S., Canada and Latin America. Excerpts from the performances and interviews with the artists are available online.
  • The acclaimed Quinteto Astor Piazzolla filmed in Buenos Aires and seen by an international audience of more than 1200. Available on demand.

Quinteto Astor Piazzolla

L.A. Omnibus

We also created a new literary series, L.A. Omnibus, featuring conversations with L.A. writers and artists. This fall featured artists Constance Hockaday, Daniel Alexander Jones and Kristina Wong and discussions with authors Donna Rifkin and Lynell George. All Omnibus programs are available on demand.

Tue, Dec 8: L.A. Omnibus: Lynell George - Upcoming Programs - UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance

Taylor Mac Holiday Benefit Concert

We were delighted to be able to once again present Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce…Pandemic!, an online version of his holiday extravaganza that we presented for two days live last year at Royce Hall. This event was a benefit for CAP UCLA that was seen by some 600 households and raised $23,000. Thank you to everyone who donated and attended the event. If you missed it, it is still available on demand through January 2, 2021.

Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce… Pandemic!

Art in Action

For these past 10 months, we’ve re-imagined how our public programs continue to provide opportunities to take part, learn and engage.  We’re still learning, but there have been definite bright spots:

Design for Sharing, our K-12 arts education program migrated to a virtual platform, providing filmed performances, remote art-making, virtual arts residencies and Art Kits that we made available to over 100 elementary school students.

Our student committee, Student Committee for the Arts (SCA) partnered with our colleagues in Residential Life Arts Engagement to pilot a Pen-Pal program, over 200 UCLA students spanning 7 countries and 13 states participated during Fall quarter, making connections and sharing art work.

Our CAP Poetry Bureau went online for Poetry Month, and we wrote and distributed over 100 poems that were mailed or emailed to members of our LA and UCLA communities.

Along the way we wrote Odes to Ordinary Things, established a virtual gallery, and engaged in some proactive thinking about the City of Angels. Thanks for staying connected, and stay tuned for more.

Happy Holidays

We would like to give a shout out to the artists who are facing the largest cataclysm of their professional lives, yet who remain steadfast in their determination, resourcefulness and commitment to expressing universal truths and helping us get through this year.

We also want to give special thanks to you, our audiences and supporters, for hanging tight with us as we reinvent ourselves in the digital universe so we can continue to share the work of contemporary artists around the world and provide them with an income stream until they can return to our stages.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from all of us at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance.


Happy Holidays from all of us at CAP UCLA

Dear CAP UCLA family,

At the tail end of a year unlike any other, where we have experienced so much of our work in the arts thrown against the rocks, we can still celebrate the incredible care that enabled us to keep steering and stitching the seams together with vigilance and creative problem-solving. I’m not going to dwell on the grief because there is not enough room to adequately do so, but I acknowledge the word in scale while also being inspired by how we continue to make, find and share beauty at every turn. I want to recognize the contribution of all who work here at CAP UCLA and our Executive Producer Council. In a period of constant change, everyone gave their unwavering support through each calamity large or small.

The well-spring of inspiration has come from the artists and their creative teams who continue to engage with us, no matter the strain, to invent new ways for bringing their work to life – and it is safe to say that the reason behind all of our collective effort is our audiences. You are the community that makes what we do uplifted and possible. While the adage that “If you are standing still you are falling behind” is something all of us have viscerally lived at high velocity this year, the motivation for sprinting ahead has been to ensure we are connected to our audiences and communities as we cope in our different lives and realities – and to offer something joyously and very much alive in the performing arts.

For CAP UCLA we were able to create a financial lifeline this season for more than 300 artists and their work through our newly invented online channel, collaborations with colleagues in film production and those with empty stages, here and around the country and world, who hosted numerous performances without live audiences.

Thousands of you have shown up for our events and we cannot thank you enough. For us it was a profound sign of your belief in our continuation and of our shared possibilities together.

Although we are truly proud of what we have held together and created this year, we know there is much still to do as we head into 2021. There will continue to be heightened needs in the arts community as we ride out the pandemic (while wearing our masks and staying safer at home).

I know that you have been asked to support the many causes and needs there are across the country and world, and I know that everyone has been affected in ways that we could not have comprehended less than a year ago. CAP UCLA and the artists and communities we touch and work with also need your support in any way it can come. Please give what you can. We can’t carry the future from here without you.

There is so much more to dance and sing and play and make together and to support and stand with. For now, on behalf of all of us at the Center, may you have love and peace, respite, friendship and neighborliness over the holiday season.

We look forward to seeing you in the new year ahead and thank you again in advance for all you do and give and extend in all of the ways that you do so.

With gratitude and love,

—Kristy Edmunds,
Executive and Artistic Director
UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance

Thoughts from the staff of CAP UCLA