Something very special happened on the fourth of July this year. It didn’t really have anything to do with rockets red glaring, fireworks, BBQ festivities. It didn’t even happen in America. And yet, if you ponder on it, it did a lot to do with freedom of expression and unity.
After months of being urged to boycott the country, R&B superstar Alicia Keys presented her first concert in Israel, performing in Tel Aviv to an enthusiastic and packed audience. In a statement to the New York Times, she reiterated her plans to perform in Israel, despite public pleas against it from American public figures like poet/activist Alice Walker and Pink Floyd member Roger Waters.
“I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show,” Keys said.
And by all accounts, her appearance in Tel Aviv became a great moment of peace, love and unity, especially as she invited Idan Raichel to join her on stage. One of Israel’s biggest stars and a renowned ambassador of global music worldwide, the crowd responded with wild enthusiasm to Raichel’s appearance, as he took a seat at the piano alongside one of America’s undisputed music superstars. The crowd sang along to every word of Raichel’s popular song “Mima’amakim” (“From the Depths”), much as they did shortly before he entered the stage, while singing emphatically along with Keys massive hit “Fallin.’”
It was a big moment for world music and a big moment for Idan Raichel to be so recognized in his homeland, where he works so tirelessly to bring cultures together through music. We are incredibly proud to be presenting the Idan Raichel Project this October in Royce Hall and hope you will join us.
We’ve been trying to get him back here for almost three seasons now, and with a new album out, titled Quarter to Six, we know he will light up this hall.
We also have a little background scoop from Idan’s camp, on that beautiful moment earlier this month. Apparently, Alicia Keys, who has often been reported to be an incredibly thoughtful artist, went into her first appearance in Israel with the idea that she needed to meet and interact with Israeli artists. She asked around and was introduced to Idan. They hit it off and spent several hours jamming at her hotel in the days before her show. Idan had a gig in Jerusalem the same night as Keys’ Tel Aviv performance, but was able to get a friend to high-tail him across cities on a motorcycle in order to make that unforgettable live-performance cameohappen.
Now please help us make Idan Raichel feel as welcome here in Royce Hall as that entranced Tel Aviv audience did for Alicia Keys.
Hope to see you this fall for some mind-expanding moments of unity through music.
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).
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 what music legend Lou Reed says in this delightfully gushy testimonial about the incredible New York theater artist we are proud to be bringing to Los Angeles for the first time this November.
Reed’s not the only Young Jean Lee lover in the artistic world. On August 6, Young Jean Lee and Future Wife release their first album WE’RE GONNA DIE, with original tracks from the theatrical production performed by Young Jean and featuring a truly eclectic mix of modern recording artists including Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld and Colin Stetson, Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt of experimental electronic duo Matmos and Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and The Julie Ruin.
Just this past Monday, Young Jean and Future Wife performed tracks from the forthcoming album at New York City’s Chez Andre at The Standard for a special Annie-O Music Series Performance.
Check out the album single at Soundcloud and get a taste of what’s in store when Young Jean Lee Theater Company hits LA in November (Single tickets for all five performances at the Actor’s Gang Theater in Culver City go on sale July 11, by the way).
We’re eagerly anticipating Young Jean Lee and Future Wife’s Los Angeles invasion. Until then you’re most welcome to join us in keeping tabs on this truly unique artist who is changing the theater landscape in very exciting ways. Checking out the album when it hits. Get a dose of the Young Jean style by reading a few of her plays in print.
Join us for WE’RE GONNA DIE. Let’s get exhilarated and depressed together.
We celebrated the solstice last night with our friends at the Fowler Museum in a special summer bash.
It was a lovely setting on the Fowler’s treetop terrace, watching the sun make a kaleidoscope out of the foliage and shadows that enclosed us in a setting of wonderful food from some of our favorite Westwood eateries (MANY thanks to the Glendon,Palomino and West) and great companionship. The turning of the season (such as it is in our gloriously temperate climate) allowed us to collectively to count some of our many blessings–namely the art and artists that we and the Fowler Museum are so proud to support and perpetuate and the generous donors who allow us to do so.
The evening was set to the lively gypsy-like sounds of Portland’s 3 Leg Torso. If you’ve never heard of this group, I encourage you to check them out. The pure joy and celebratory nature of their instrumental tunes would make a perfect backdrop for many a summer bash.
We spend a lot of time over the course of the season with the most passionate members of our audience, those individuals who choose to support our programming through not just monetary giving but the giving of their time and energy, both in the sense that they pound the pavement to being even more resources to bear for our endeavors and as they attend performances, leaning forward to make the artists we believe in feel welcomed and understood.
During the summer, when our performances are on hiatus, and as we eagerly prepare for the coming season, we miss those in-person moments with our donors and audience members. We love hearing their thoughts, reactions and yes even critiques to the programming on the stage.
Art should instigate dialogue, connection, communion and reflection that lives on beyond a moment on the stage or a thoughtful pass through an inspiring installation. Live performance especially always instigates a shared moment, a shared experience. And then, as Kristy Edmunds so often reminds us, we as the audience, the promoter, the supporter, we get to walk away with that experience, whatever it may have wrought inside, and we become the permanent collection of an ephemeral piece of art.
We’re all walking galleries with a beautiful responsibility to share things that have inspired us with one another. It was great to take a moment last night to remember that.
I was reminiscing with one of our board members about the Trisha Brown Retrospective and the impact that massive production had on both my personal life as an art lover (not to mention my sleeping patterns as a worker here).
She shook her head thoughtfully and said: “That week. You know, that week changed my life.”
Yeah, I know. And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?
Here’s to a summer chock-full of life-changing moments. This city is so vibrant in the summer. There are so many ways to experience music and live performance, from free concerts at Grand Performances or Leavitt Pavilion, or right here in our neighborhood at the Hammer Museum.
We hope you seek them out. We will be.
And we hope you seek us out in September when our new batch of programming begins.
What does the existence of art and artists within a geographic landscape mean for a community? How important is it? What might happen if empty spaces could be converted into energetically abundant vortexes of creativity?
We’re very glad to be part of an upcoming attempt to answer those questions in direct relation to our immediate surroundings. The Hammer Museum was recently awarded a grant from the Goldhirsh Foundation for its Arts ReSTORE LA: Westwood urban renewal project. Check out the proposal video below and see if you just might also be able to visualize what our friends at the Hammer have planned to boost the presence of the arts in Westwood Village this fall.
If you’ve spent any time in Westwood Village over the last several years, you’ve probably witness first-hand phenomenon this video illustrates. There are a lot of storefronts left fallow. A lot of “For Lease” signs emblazoned with the labels of just a handful of real-estate or management companies.
But those empty store windows tell a false story. It’s not that there is a lack of creativity or energy in Westwood Village or among the people who live and work nearby. The Hammer itself is a tireless hub of creative energy and artistic innovation. The people who live, work and attend school in the area are greatly interested in experiencing the arts and in participating in a thriving local community.
One example is a particular cadre of UCLA students, who in looking for an outlet to perform and enjoy live music, have taken it upon themselves to create their own nightlife in an area that admittedly doesn’t support one. These young artists and arts lovers have found creative places to experience live music and these are the kinds of people who will we can serve and who will also hopefully help out in the upcoming efforts of Arts ReSTORE LA.
Creativity is not lacking. Situated so close to a University populated by tens of thousands of people devoted to betterment, to knowledge and to new experiences, Westwood Village can and should be a culturally relevant place not only for its immediate neighbors, but for anyone visiting this part of Los Angeles.
Westwood is in a precarious situation. Understandably, property owners and landlords can’t be expected to function from a purely altruistic state…there are investments to be returned upon and potential profits to pursue. But until the economic realities of potential business renters in the area match up with the economic aspirations of the landholders, it’s exciting to at least consider the opportunities and possibilities of what these spaces might become.
Most people would likely agree that arts and artists provide valuable ideological, emotional, cultural and even spiritual capital to a community. But it’s a proven fact that the arts also play an integral role in the economic well being of our society.
Nonprofit advocacy group Americans for the Arts’ most recent Arts & Economic Prosperity report demonstrates that the arts are an industry—one that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is a cornerstone of tourism. Business and elected leaders need not feel that a choice must be made between arts funding and economic prosperity. This study proves that they can choose both.
According to this study, nationally the arts industry generated $135.2 billion of economic activity in 2010. Nonprofit arts and culture organizations pumped an estimated $61.1 billion into the economy even in the middle of the “Great Recession” in addition to $74.1 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This economic activity supports 4.13 million full-time jobs and generates $86.68 billion in resident household income. Our industry also generates $22.3 billion in revenue to local, state, and federal governments every year—a yield well beyond the collective $4 billion that these entities contributed to the arts in 2010.
We believe this model can play out on a micro level in our immediate community; that the arts can play a major role in not only the cultural vibrancy of Westwood, but also in its universally desired economic revitalization.
We’ll be collaborating with the Hammer, campus groups and artists to contribute a performing arts perspective to the Arts ReSTORE LA: Westwood project.
Stay tuned for updates and get ready to be part of it this fall.
We do lots of cool stuff. Often with UCLA students and campus groups. Regularly with artists who change our lives as they pass through.
And through our K-12 Design for Sharing (DFS) program (which began in 1969) every year we have incredibly rewarding moments with younger students from all over this city. DFS events and initiatives ensure that experiencing art, making art and learning about art is a part of the lives of school kids from all over Los Angeles.
In the current economic climate, the existence of art in our public schools is not a given. It takes organizations like us to do what we can to fill in the gaping holes of arts education. (By the way, if this is something near and dear to your heart and you’d like to get involved or donate, we would love to hear from you.)
We’re proud to say more than 14,500 public school students from across Los Angeles participated in DFS programs and activities this year.
CAP UCLA’s DFS presented 11 Demonstration Performances, bringing public school students to UCLA to experience a diverse slate of art forms and artists in a live-performance setting.
Some inspirational highlights includeBajofondo’s modern mix of electronic beats and acoustic tango from Argentina, which had our High School audience dancing in the aisles. Post-show, backstage, these amazingly generous and energetic performers were definitely feeling the love and effusive in their appreciation of the engaged student audience. It was one of those truly uplifting moments that just made everyone in the band and everyone who works here smile for the rest of the day.
Israel’s Yemen Blues took us from Bedouin rhythms to New Orleans brass with their unique blend of American, African and Arabic sounds and made a powerful connection with an audience of kids who may never have heard such a fusion of sounds before. The group uses music to perpetuate the powerful idea that “it doesn’t matter where you come from, your language is my language.”
At one point, lead singer Ravid Kahalani brought out a lap-top and Skyped in his young daughter to be part of a performance for her peers. He panned the screen toward the audience who greeted her with applause and cheers.
The cheeky Australian Circus Ozwas a spectacle of unrelenting energy, humor, grace and strength. These performers, by virtue of their circus antics are naturally inclined to bring out childlike glee from audiences young and old, but their pre-show interactions with the students in the hall were pure joy to witness. Nothing reverberates in Royce Hall like the sound of a thousand children laughing together.
And this group dedicated their performances to the concepts of compassion, community and celebrating diversity, something that completely resonated with the student audience.
Back To Back Theater shared provocative, moving theater featuring actors with intellectual disabilities. The high-schoolers who attended this performance were incredibly gracious and fearlessly inquisitive during a post-performance Q&A with the artists.
California-based AXIS Dance challenged our expectations of contemporary dance with their beautiful collaboration between dancers with and without disabilities.
DFS also annually presents small-group workshops for the youngest elementary school students through the “My Special World” program. From Project Trio’s urban update of Peter and the Wolf to Dr. Craig Woodson’s global instrument-making program A World Orchestra You Can Build, nearly 1,000 students in second through fourth grades experienced the arts in an intimate, interactive setting.
This year, we expanded that format to create intimate workshop opportunities for older students as well. At three of these new Performance Workshops, 240 Middle and High School students saw how professional artists create and rehearse new works, and had the opportunity to ask questions, learn new movements, and share some of their own work with dancers from CONTRA-TIEMPO andAkram Khan Company.
We were also proud to partner with composer and music educator John Zeretzke to bring his Flutes Across the World project to three 6th grade classrooms. In a three-part series of activities at UCLA and in their classrooms, students learned about flutes used in various cultures worldwide and throughout history. Each student made a pair of twin flutes—one to keep and play, and one to send overseas with a Flutes Across the World Ambassador on humanitarian music missions for children in need in Africa, Haiti or Central America.
Design for Sharing also continued our successful Residency Program at UCLA Community School. A collaboration between UCLA and Los Angeles Unified School District, the UCLA Community School is an urban education partnership that brings the university’s world-class resources to one of central Los Angeles’ most underserved neighborhoods. The goal of the DFS Community School Arts Residency Program is to give students an opportunity to go beyond the one-time experience of observing an arts event and become active participants in the creative process. Residencies are structured over a 22-week period and are taught by professional teaching artists who work in collaboration with classroom teachers. Teaching artists from Design for Sharing and CONTRA-TIEMPO worked with 200 fourth, fifth and sixth grade students.
Through a series of dance, movement, theater, visual arts and creative writing activities, students explored the theme “We Stand Up.”
Students, teachers and teaching artists learned to respect and value each others’ unique creative voices. Participants wrote honestly and beautifully about what they believe in, what they stand for, and what they want, need and strive for. This was the program’s fourth year, and we’ve been thrilled to watch this group of kids blossom into creative, thoughtful and empowered young scholars and creators. The final presentation of their dance and spoken word performance pieces warmed our hearts and brought a few tears to our eyes.
Students took their writings and distilled the ideas into a few simple words and phrases that became these amazing and inspirational mobiles.
Design for Sharing’s demonstration performances, workshops, residency program and bus transportation is only made possible through the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations. CAP UCLA is supremely grateful to our stalwart supporters who have helped to make the 2012-2013 season happen.
Part of making all this happen is making sure the students can get to the UCLA campus, a feat that’s harder than you might imagine! Thanks to continued contributions to DFS’ Perloff Memorial Bus Fund we were able to subsidize 132 buses for Demonstration Performances and 16 buses for My Special World/performance workshops, which helped more than 9,600 public school students get to campus.
We’re incredibly grateful to the artists and donors who continue to support this program. We know firsthand it has an impact. This past season we were also thrilled to have an intern in our office who, during his elementary school years, attended DFS performances here at UCLA. Now he’s a student in the World Arts and Cultures department!
Complete List of 2012-2013 Design for Sharing Events:
This weekend marks the final performance of the 2012-2013, with LACO’s Concerto Finale. It’s been a great year and now is a great time for us to settle down and reflect a bit, before the joyous frenzy of bringing you the amazing array of 2013-2014 artists begins in earnest.
I thought I’d take some time to acknowledge and sincerely thank the many students and other members of our vibrant campus community who generously applied considerable heart and talent toward enhancing and contextualizing performances of our past season. There’s a whole wonderful lot of them!
Our on-campus group, Student Committee for the Arts (SCA) this year launched a new programming track for the Royce Hall terrace. Aptly dubbed “The Terrace Series,” SCA sought out performers (most of them also UCLA students) to create free concerts open to all UCLA students prior to our main stage presentations. A happy (and not entirely unexpected) byproduct of having these talented young performers sharing their work outside the hall before the artists on our season took the stage, was the energetic tone they set as audiences arrived.
The first Terrace Series concert featured hip-hop and experimental DJ Co. Fee and experimental soul/jazz singer and UCLA student Moses Sumney who set the stage for an evening of boundary-defying jazz and soul artists with the Robert Glasper Experiment plus special guests José James, Taylor McFerrin and Austin Peralta, a program CAP UCLA co-presented with SCA.
The second Terrace Series got groovy inside the Royce Hall west lobby (thanks to rain). UCLA student acts Ace Mack and Free Food started things off just right as later that night Charles Bradley and Menahan Street Band brought the Royce Hall crowd to its feet in a truly soul-stirring performance.
Most recently, SCA teamed up with noted UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival to create a head-to-head competition between two student groups—The Wes Coast and The Street Hearts— who battled it out on the Royce Terrace before our presentation of avant-groove jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood. Winners The Street Hearts will be the opening act at Jazz-Reggae Fest on campus next weekend—an amazing opportunity for young musicians. We’re proud to say we knew them when!
Our student advocates at SCA also helped us perpetuate poetry this past season, presenting an incredibly inspiring open-mic poetry slam, hosted by author and poet Carl Hancock Rux, as part of his appearance on our season.
Speaking of poetry, in conjunction with SCA, we created a live poetry bureau on the steps and terrace of Royce Hall the evening of David Sedaris’ performance. Audience-goers from the literarily inclined crowd made great use of a dozen waiting student writers by filling out a small questionnaire and in return, getting an on-the-spot personalized poem.
Student writers Megan Lent, Denise Lin, Meagan Hogan, Wendy Du, Katie Neipris, Brendan Hornbostel, Catherine Kang, Anthony Cerrato, Lena Muratova, Ashley Simmone, Eric Lim, Jeanette Zhu, Makayla Bailey dutifully (and gleefully) clacked away on old-school typewriters and created a very special sense of occasion for our final spoken word event. Check out our full photo gallery and some poetry samples on Flickr.
The winners of our annual humor-writing competition, UCLA students Ida Cutler, Jenna Westover and Patrick Nolan, not only poured their hearts into some truly poignant pieces of writing, but also bravely faced a sold-out Royce Hall audience to do an impromptu live introduction of David Sedaris. They took on the task of informing the rapt crowd that Sedaris’ most recent book had just hit No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. “I’m so embarrassed they mentioned the bestseller,” Sedaris teased when he took the podium a moment later. “I was afraid I was going to have to do it myself.”
There’s something automatically energizing about having UCLA student performers and artists on site. The extremely talented young instrumentalists of We the Folk joined us several times this year—leading audience-goers (who arrived, string instruments in tow) in a “Pick Your Brains Out” jam session on the terrace prior to David Grisman Sextet plus special guest David Lindley and also providing live music in the Freud Playhouse courtyard before several performances of Cheek by Jowl’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Fellow student musicians Los Tres Compadres also greeted theatergoers during Cheek by Jowl’s run with a the trio’s classical music approach to modern tunes.
Prior to our presentation of fiery Argentinian group Bajofondo, we invited WAC/Dance grad student Sharna Fabiano and partner Isaac Oboka to host a lively mini-milonga and tango lesson on the Royce Terrace, which the audience participated in to full effect.
And, while they’re not technically UCLA students or teachers, we must thank the dance activists of CONTRA-TIEMPO and Latin percussionists from Son of the Drum for a glorious salsa-dancing sunset as part of our “Carmageddon Tailgate Party,” which kicked off the first of 2012-2013 music performances in Latin style on the evening of Bebel Gilberto plus Forro in the Dark.
Our major April program, Trisha Brown Dance Company: The Retrospective Project, would not have happened without the support and efforts of many campus entities, but we were particularly delighted to witness first-hand the transfer of knowledge from Trisha Brown Dance Company to the student performers of Floor of the Forest, which ran in the Hammer Museum Courtyard from April 1-21.
The work was performed by: Courtney Ryan, Rachel Getman, Sarah Jacobs, Elena Yu, Emily Nelson, Ahilya Kaul, Anna Eliza Pastor, Eydie McConnell, Gwyneth Shanks, Myrrhia Rodriguez, Hana Cohn, Cyndi Huang, Samantha Goodman, Alexis Wilkinson, Brynn Shiovitz and Katherine Ann Kaemmerling.
Not only did these talented young artists volunteer for a rigorous rehearsal period and performance schedule, but several of them also made a point to dive into every element of the Trisha Brown programming, attending talks and other Company performances throughout the week.
Here are a couple Floor of the Forest dancers getting into the moment during the Company’s performance of Roof Piece at The Getty Museum.
Earlier in the year another amazing group of students (and a few non-students) leaped at the chance to work with Meredith Monk as she returned to CAP UCLA in January to complete her artist residency and debut her new work, On Behalf of Nature. Monk collaborated with this group of artists to create a very unique installation piece that they performed in the Freud Playhouse courtyard before each evening of On Behalf of Nature. The subtle and individualized movement of each artist happened among the foliage and gathered crowd. The performers came together several times to sing a gentle wordless refrain reminiscent of Monk’s newest composition. It set a delightfully pensive tone for the audience as they entered the space to enjoy Monk’s elegiac and meditative work.
The Meredith Monk installation performances featured: Sonya Chávez, Chankethya Chey, Meryl Friedman, Jean Garcia-Gathright, Kaitlyn Huwe, Sarah Jacobs, Mary Neely, Odeya Nini, Hap Palmer, Courtney Ryan, Tommy Schulz, Gwyneth Shanks, Alexandra Shilling, Brynn Shiovitz, Elaine E. Sullivan, Kanwal Sumnani and Laurel Jenkins Tentindo.
Our collaboration with UCLA Library Special Collections and the wealth of cultural history and passion that resides in the documents, images and curators of that department yielded a wealth of events related to our presentation of Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish. Two exhibits on Beat writers and the history of Beat culture in Los Angeles continue through June. Special Collections also graciously welcomed both our Artist Fellows–Laurie Anderson and Robert Wilson–to explore the treasure trove of cultural archives on this campus. Inspiration ensued! (Stay tuned)
This season we also launched a new informal discussion series for our donor audience—“Tonight in the Lounge.” Supporters of our organization at the Sustainer level and above are invited to the private Royce Hall lounge before performances. For “Tonight in the Lounge” we often mined the deep expertise of this campus to create significant moments of insight and inspiration around the artists on our season. These casual talks made an indelible impression on our generous supporters thanks to the great enthusiasm and generosity of many UCLA students and faculty members.
Michael Hackett, Professor and Chair of the Department of theater in UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television helped us welcome international theater back to the 2012-2013 season and gave our donor audience a primer on Eugene Ionesco before performances of the acclaimed playwright’s Rhinoceros from Theatre de la Ville-Paris.
Sahba Shayani, fifth-year graduate student in UCLA’s Program of Iranian Studies/Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, provided thoughtful context around the work of Rumi to performances of Akram Khan Company’s Vertical Road, a compelling dance work inspired in part by words from the beloved Persian poet.
Alex W. Rodriguez, UCLA PhD Student in Ethnomusicology joined us for a lounge talk prior to performance from jazz legend Ron Carter, celebrating the enduring bassist’s stature, legacy and influence in jazz.
James Newton, Distinguished Professor, Ethnomusicology and director of UCLA Charles Mingus Ensemble shared his distinct expertise to set the stage for jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, who performed in several combo configurations and was joined by a personal mentor, saxophonist Steve Coleman.
Oded Erez, second-year doctoral student in the Department of Musicology helped contextualize the passionate music of Israeli band Yemen Blues.
Eric Schmidt, second-year MA/PhD student in the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology joined us to celebrate the work of Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré and share thoughts on the legacy of his legendary father Ali Farka Touré. (Eric also did a wonderful interview with Vieux in preparation for his talk with our donors–scroll down to the January 31 issue of our blog.)
Cheryl L. Keyes Professor of Ethnomusicology & Director of Undergraduate Studies, HASOM came out for our Mardi Gras party, talking to our supporters about the colorful culture that surrounds New Orleans music, as we presented Allen Toussaint Band and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band in Royce Hall.
At every turn, we discover how fortunate we are to be surrounded by the students, staff and professors who populate this campus. The exchange of ideas, the energy created by embracing an atmosphere that is dedicated to new ideas and experiences is an important part of who we are. And we thank them all.
Many thanks to everyone who joined us last night in Royce Hall before David Sedaris took the stage as Kristy Edmunds unveiled our upcoming season.
It’s a doozy, with plenty of theater and dance, the launch of Tune-In Festival L.A.– a weekend of amazing contemporary music– plus so much more. We welcome you to dive in and discover it all.
Check out our teaser video and peruse our online program guide. And, we sincerely thank you for all the energy you brought to our artists and programs over the last season. Here’s to more amazing times ahead.
We count ourselves extremely lucky that Carl is able to join us early and participate in some student engagement activities this week, including a classroom session Wednesday afternoon. And he will generously host “Free Form,” a very special open mic night for students on <Thursday night, an event organized by our awesome student arm, Student Committee for the Arts.
Carl has definitely become one of the poets in our lives this season as we have prepared to present him at UCLA for the first time.
“There are thousands of poets in my life,” he said. “But three that I can think I cannot live without (and whose work I find myself constantly returning to) are Li Young Lee, Breyten Breytenbach, and Derek Walcott–particularly because of their ability to illustrate the conceptual and pictorial realms of poetry as biography, as memoir, as theater, as historical narrative…and political essay.”
Because Carl is infinitely cooler than me (a fact I admit have long suspected), I had to do a bit of research on these artists.
But hey, I’m open to bringing a few more poets into my life, so a bit of exploring served me well, perhaps you will feel the same way? I’ll get you started.
Li Young Lee—A child of Chinese political exiles, his collections of poetry traverse stories of his family’s life, gentle and profound tales of humanity and humility…and so much more.
Breyten Breytenbach—Also a visual artist, he is known as South Africa’s most important poet of the 1960s. A staunch anti-apartheid activist, he spent seven years in jail for treason and wrote “True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist” about it.
Derek Walcott—Nobel Prize winner and playwright, known for his epic Homeric poem “Omeros” set in the Carribbean. You can read an excerpt of it at The Poetry Foundation website.
I feel cooler already.
There are a very few seats left for Carl’s performance in the intimate Glorya Kaufman Dance Theater just down the way from Royce in Kaufman Hall.
Come join us, we can be cool together.
P.S. I find it incredibly heartening to know that in the dog-eat-dog modern media climate that a Magazine and foundation dedicated to all things poetry continues to survive. Viva La Poetry Foundation!
We were incredibly blessed this past weekend to spend some quality time with one of the poets in our lives. Mary Ruefle visited us from Vermont and joined us for a reading of her acclaimed work at the Powell Library on Friday and for a discussion and hands-on workshop of erasure poetry at the Clark Library on Saturday.
Erasure poetry is created when an artist or writer takes the pages of a book (pretty much any book) and eliminates, strips away, covers up or erases most of the words on the page to unearth something entirely new. Whether the result becomes a recognizable narrative of its own or simply exists in stream of consciousness imagery doesn’t matter. (You can try your hand at erasure online at Mary’s publisher site.)
The process is equal parts unearthing and burying, Ruefle said, pointing out that if you were to dig a hole in the ground you would be doing both of those things simultaneously. Building a pile of dirt by digging a hole next to it….unearthing a new story, by burying pieces of the original.
Ruefle has erased more than 60 books. Some became gifts, some were bought by collectors, one was published as a book of its own. She’s even working on erasing the Bible.
“I hope to be working on one when I die,” she said.
She talked about how much this work has affected her life as an artist; how her physical space is replete with potential books to erase, alongside myriad books and supplies that will be used for “fodder,” to illustrate and re-articulate the emerging new text on the pages, the words of which she erases with carbon, graphite, Liquid Paper (which is better than White Out, she proclaimed authoritatively); the strange spiritual conversation she has come to have with one particular authoress named Laura Richards whose books, Mary discovered, she was quite coincidentally gravitating to erase.
“I love her so much, I want to erase every word she ever wrote,” Mary said, eliciting laughter from the rapt artists and poetry lovers in attendance.
It became clear quickly that there is a great deal of love in the process of erasure. Love of language. Love of exploration. Love of art.
The process is meditative and cathartic. She told us this and then she showed us this. Intrigued and compelled we gravitated to our own pages of text, our own fodder, heads bent and intent as she walked through an erasure exercise. Mary read resulting texts aloud, offered encouragement and exclaimed delights.
She often reminded us that there is always more to erase, and to fearlessly continue stripping away to the most minimal essence.
With soft, serene rays of sunlight caressing the glorious architecture of the Clark Library lecture room, Mary likened erasure art to the process of living and dying.
Life is an erasure. We say goodbye people we love, we lose things, our memories fade, we let go of innocence, and yet, somehow we can still manage to become something more of ourselves in the process.
And when we die, if even just one word, one memory, one kind face remains of what once was a lengthily written life, that is a gift.
We’re so grateful for the gift of Mary Ruefle. We’re grateful she came among us and planted seeds of poetic action as part of our ongoing Who is the Poet in Your Life initiative.
Here’s a gallery of some of the work we shared in our erasure workshop, and some scenes from the gorgeous Clark Library.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for a few special moments of erasure.