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.
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.
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.
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
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
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,
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.
Executive and Artistic Director
UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance
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
CAP UCLA Online
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
Executive and Artistic Director
UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance
Cities reveal themselves in multiple ways. There is the Los Angeles that we know from behind the wheel of a car, the Los Angeles that we know from walking the neighborhoods and the Los Angeles that we see from the large, high windows of a city bus.
Before the pandemic, more than 1.6 million people rode LA Metro every day, and most of them on the bus. That’s more than the entire population of Rhode Island. A number of years ago I rode the 720 from Westwood to DTLA. I had assigned my students a special project downtown, most did not have cars and I suggested the 720 bus as an option. I wanted to know what they would experience, so we could talk about it, but none of them saw the bus as a viable option. “Why not?” I asked. “Too long…too boring…I don’t know how.”
Lynell George, in her new book, A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky, uncovers the hidden gems buried in the 300+ boxes of the Octavia E. Butler archive. The stories behind the story — the small notebooks, receipts, clippings, scraps of paper, marginalia, bus passes, bus schedules, bus maps and bus routes of the greater metro area. In a city of cars, Octavia Butler chose not to drive. Lynell writes:
A long vivid stretch of inspiration, the bus is a moving theater. Even the waiting provides an opening act. Anticipation: there’s a noisy expanse to get lost in, to be transfixed or puzzled by. Los Angeles is the world, the world comes to Los Angeles, to dip into a little bit of everything, to try a new self on for size… [Octavia] watches it flicker by from the bus window, seated high, as she passes through her day.
Like Butler, Lynell George is a collector of stories. Her reporting, her essays, her three books (each illuminating a different aspect of Los Angeles); all are filled with the stories of our city. These stories are our support system, they help us to make sense of where we live and how we live. Here, in this place.
In the introduction to her second book, After/Image, Lynell writes: “What is Los Angeles when you pull the image of the city away? What are you left with? What is the Los Angeles that lives inside of us?”
Los Angeles is more than the known images, more than one view. When’s the last time you rode the bus? Or walked the neighborhoods; or the boulevards, streets, alleys and secret stairs that connect the neighborhoods? There is so much to see.
Like Butler, the poet Marisela Norte uses her time on the bus to write, to compose, to imagine. And like Lynell George, she is searching for the stories of our city.
snow covers man on pavement/polka dot shoes run by/no clean getaways
waiting/for languages/as drivers become green
follow the curve of a building/trace your curve next to mine
building blue/violent pink/unread books on shelf/our stories inside
The stories are there to be read, we only need to look.
—Meryl Friedman, Director of Education & Special Initiatives
Thank you so much for calling in and making this performance with us. Without you, the performance is just a series of empty instructions and unanswered questions. While the inspiration for this project came long before COVID was a word any of us knew, it is this inability to be physically close that has fueled our curiosity for how to find our way together again. It is not hyperbole to say that we cannot do this project without you. And because of that, we are very grateful that you have contributed to its life.
This phone call is the first of a three-part project. We hope you will return to experience the second and third installments, which will occur in the year ahead. The second and third parts (‘An Encounter’ and ‘An Assembly”) exist in shared (and safe) physical space, and will continue the trajectory as we collectively travel the course of this unexpected year.