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.
There’s much more to come.