Oct, 2020 TBD
One of the highlights of CAP UCLA’s 2020-21 Season is The Tune in Festival; a convergence of music and poetry in the time of change, a five-day convening of artists from across the U.S., Canada and Latin America,who are coming together in cross-cultural solidarity to honor the time honored tradition of music and poetry as a source of resilience, protest and inspiration. Every major change in every society has an anthem or verse and this festival is chalk-full!
I started the Tune-In concept in New York in 2008. The great recession was a panic-inducing descent into every form of hoarding – except where artists were concerned. I was experiencing all of these music ensembles who saw an opportunity to be out front against all of the craziness. They were determined to reach audiences that had been turned-off by New Music AND the classical music institutions that seemed elusive to new composers. Musicians at the top of their game, fostering a revolution of access by defying high-brow and sonic experimentalism in one stroke.
Vibrant, brilliant and gob-smacking in their musicianship, they had been relegated to the back seat of classical orchestral music, while stereotyped as wildly disinteresting by music afficionados that had never heard them — or, only in the small spaces where the acoustics were counter-productive to what they were playing.
I brought Tune In to LA when I arrived, and for those who remember it — which could not be many — it was a festival that audience here didn’t really need – music in L.A. is a life blood and its forms and genres don’t split into camps of distinction in quite the same way.
Revolution, however, is fair game and this Tune In is the voice of THAT — of right now and of what has been fought against by the black and brown community of our American reality since FOREVER. Tune In is being revived and re-approached for similar reasons in terms of sharing music that is vital and not yet in our households in the way it could be. What these music-makers and poets address through their lives and experience are the anthems of ENOUGH and the heritage of finding ways to move us into the change we have always known to be urgent. It is now our collective responsibility to embrace our interdependent human reality together to construct long-needed change.
We invite you to join us in this effort through the words and music of these extraordinary artists.
The Tune In Festival was made possible by a generous gift from composer Rachel Fuller (Animal Requiem) and her husband, Peter Townshend (The Who) Additional funds provided by the Ginny Mancini Endowment for Vocal Performance, the Royce Center Circle Endowment Fund and the Royce Gala Endowment.
Kronos Quartet and Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger
With special guests Lee Knight, Meklit and Tonality
Online tickets on sale September 1st.
"When the work of Pete Seeger is examined in its entirety, I find that he has pointed a way forward for musicians and the community around us.”
—David Harrington, Kronos artistic director, founder, and violinist
Over the course of its 47-year history, San Francisco’s Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet has frequently explored social justice issues in its work. The group has always been inspired by legendary folk icon and activist Pete Seeger, who spent his life singing about change and inspiring others to do the same. To mark Seeger’s 100th birthday in 2019, Kronos created a multi-artist exploration of Seeger’s musical legacy, collaborating with composer Jacob Garchik and a host of guest vocalists and fellow musicians, including folk artist and storyteller Lee Knight, and Ethiopian-born, SF-based singer and songwriter Meklit, both of whom will join Kronos. For this concert, L.A.’s Tonality chorus also performs. Kronos' Seeger project, commissioned by the FreshGrass Foundation, has been recorded for Smithsonian Folkways, and will be released in October, 2020.
Since 1973, San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet—David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello)—has combined a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to continually reimagine the string quartet experience. In the process, Kronos has become one of the world’s most celebrated and influential ensembles, performing thousands of concerts, releasing more than 60 recordings, collaborating with an eclectic mix of composers and performers, and commissioning over 1000 works and arrangements for string quartet. The group has won over 40 awards, including two Grammys, the prestigious Polar Music and Avery Fisher Prizes and Edison Klassiek Oeuvreprijs. The nonprofit Kronos Performing Arts Association manages all aspects of Kronos’ work, including the commissioning of new works, concert tours and home season performances, education programs, and the annual Kronos Festival.
In 2015, Kronos launched 50 for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, an education and legacy project that is commissioning—and distributing online for free—50 new works for string quartet composed by 25 women and 25 men.
Cambalache (a Spanish word for “exchange”) is a group of musicians from East L.A. who focus on building community and awareness through son jarocho, the traditional music of Veracruz, Mexico, which is a blend of indigenous, African and Spanish influences. Through their performances, Cambalache invites audiences to participate in the fandango, a traditional celebration of music and dance, to erase cross-cultural barriers and come together in the spirit of unity.
Words Ignite fuses classic and spoken word poetry to increase teen literacy, cultivating enthusiastic learners emboldened to inspire social consciousness in diverse communities. The Get Lit Players and Poetic Ambassadors are an award-winning poetry troupe and the most watched poets on the internet. They have performed at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, opened for John Legend at the Hollywood Bowl, have performed at the White House 3 times, and 27 Get Lit Poets recently penned and star in the feature film Summertime, directed by Carlos López Estrada, which premiered opening night at Sundance and will be seen in theaters spring 2021.
Hear Her Song
Hear Her Song is a musical celebration of distinguished female leaders from around the world, that commissions new songs inspired by their words from female composers and songwriters. By inviting female leaders, poets, songwriters and performers to gather and share, Hear Her Song reveals the unlimited power of women’s voices from a variety of diverse experiences and backgrounds. Past participants and honorees include former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Chief Theresa Kachindamoto, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Activist Malala Yousafzai and composers Sheila Atim, Emily Estefan, Shaina Taub and Georgia Stitt. Conceived, produced, and performed by Carla Canales, Hear Her song hopes to build a catalogue of 50 songs before the end of 2020.
Singer/songwriter, producer and educator Magos Herrera presents an offering of songs from her 20 years discography to celebrate life, joy and hope after months of isolation. Regarded as one of the most expressive and active vocalists in the contemporary Latin American jazz scene, she is best known for her eloquent vocal improvisation and her singular, bold style which embraces elements of contemporary jazz with Latin American melodies and rhythms. She is also known for championing women’s causes and currently serves as a spokesperson for UN Women, and has contributed to important causes including UNITE, a campaign to end violence against women, and He For She, a promoter of gender equality. She currently serves as an artistic advisor for the National Sawdust.
Perla Batalla was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised by a family immersed in music; her father, a Mexican singer and D.J., her uncle in the renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán,and an Argentine mother who ran a bustling record store called Discoteca Batalla. At the family record shop Perla was exposed to an education of non-stop music that cut across genre and language. After recording and touring with the legendary Leonard Cohen for over a decade on multiple world tours, Perla launched her solo career with Cohen’s encouragement. Perla’s mission of honoring her roots and exposing young audiences to the beauty of poetry and music is ongoing in her outreach endeavors throughout some of the poorest communities in the U.S. She is the recipient of the United Nations’ Earth Charter Award for “extraordinary devotion to social and economic justice”.
The Small Glories
Roots powerhouse duo The Small Glories (Cara Luft & JD Edwards) is a musical tour-de-force partnership born from the Canadian Prairies. With a stage banter striking a unique balance between slapstick and sermon, these veteran singer-songwriters have a way of making rooms shrink, time disappear and audiences feel as they are right there on the stage with the band writing the songs, living the songs, performing the songs. The Small Glories repertoire features songs of love, loss, and the environment, delivered with soaring, interwoven vocals with various combinations of stomping clawhammer banjo, guitar and harmonica. However, a Small Glories performance is also about what happens in-between the songs. Luft, an original member of The Wailin’ Jennys whose parents were folksingers influenced by the great activist Pete Seeger, knows that sometimes a song is all you need to bring people together.
Political, outspoken and passionate, Chilean singer-songwriter and activist Nano Stern has created his own musical language — an otherworldly sound that blends the youthful exuberance of folk music mixed with years of classical and jazz training against the powerful force of traditional Chilean revolutionary songs. What has emerged is a brilliantly layered confluence of indigenous African, European and North and South American musical influences that reverberate with a soulfulness and originality unlike any other South American artist performing today.
Dan + Claudia Zanes
Grammy award-winning children’s performer Dan Zanes and Haitian-American music therapist/jazz vocalist Claudia Zanes have been making music with each other since the day they met in the fall of 2016. Inspired by their artful modern-day all-ages folk music and their commitment to accessibility, the Kennedy Center commissioned Claudia and Dan to create a theater piece for young audiences. Night Train 57: A Sensory Friendly Comic Folk Opera premiered in October 2017 and has been performed numerous times since. Their songbook, Dan Zanes’ House Party: A Family Roots Music Treasury, released in late 2018, has inspired conversations with parents, educators, music therapists and fellow musicians about how to work together to create a healthier, more musical (and ultimately) more festive society. While taking on these projects, Claudia and Dan have continued to bring their music to family shows, school workshops, community singalongs, and folk festivals throughout the U.S. and into Canada. They take their commitment to accessibility and inclusion with them wherever they go.
Quetzal is an ensemble of LA musicians joined by the common goal of creating music that tells the social, cultural and political stories of people in struggle. The band’s music is rooted in the complex cultural currents of life in the barrio — its social activism and strong feminist stance as well as the East L.A. musical soundscape of musica ranchera, salsa, Chicano Rock, R&B, and international pop music. The group emerged from a particularly contentious time that included the 1992 Los Angeles uprising and the 1994 Proposition 187 campaign to deny medical and public services to undocumented immigrants and public education to undocumented children. These events spurred a powerful energy in which music and public art became platforms from which to voice marginalized people’s desires, opinions, and resistance to the conditions in which they found themselves.
Claudia Lennear, one of the stars of the Oscar-winning film 20 Feet From Stardom, was a musical pioneer who sang background vocals on stage and on recordings with Ike and Tina Turner, Allen Toussaint, the Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, George Harrison, Elton John, Steven Stills, Taj Mahal, and many others. She worked professionally with many of the original producers and sidemen musicians who developed the foundation of the pop music sound in both the United States and England. Today she sings with musician friends to keep alive many well-known and well-loved Americana songs from the archives of Leadbelly, the front porch of Maybelle Carter, the stage of Bill Monroe and the backdoor kitchen of Big Mama Thornton.
Ash Grove Alumni
It has been over 47 years since Ed Pearl's legendary Ash Grove club closed after its third fire. This legendary club brought roots music out West and poured it into the culture, forever changing our musical landscape. Countless musicians who performed there and future musicians who learned their craft watching the masters work are still paying this musical heritage forward. Wendy Waldman, a critically acclaimed recording artist and songwriter in nearly every musical genre, is also one of the first distinguished female record producers. Joe Chambers, fabled American singer and songwriter for The Chambers Brothers, co-wrote and sang the legendary “Time Has Come Today.” Together, with multi-instrumentalist Steven Moos, they comprise the Ash Grove Alumni, banding together to look back to our roots and craft a set of songs to help us all Tune In.
Joe Chambers photo by Gary Leonard; Wendy Waldman photo by Michał Ozdoba
Urban Voices Project
Urban Voices Project's outreach choir is comprised of performers from the Skid Row neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles, many of whom have experienced or are experiencing the condition of homelessness. Throughout the year, they bring the healing power of music to audiences inside and outside the Skid Row neighborhood, sharing their stories and successes of integrating music and community singing into a holistic approach to combat the homelessness crisis. These performances in turn help to shift the narrative and perception of homelessness in today’s society. Beyond the performance ensemble, Urban Voices Project partners with social, civic and healthcare organizations to engage individuals and families across the greater Los Angeles area in music education and music for healing workshops.
Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely
Toshi Reagon is a one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive and uplifting in American music. Since first taking to the stage at 17, the versatile singer-songwriter-guitarist has moved audiences with her big-hearted, hold-nothing-back approach to rock, blues, R&B, country, folk, spirituals and funk. The final live performance of CAP UCLA’s 19-20 season was Reagon’s highly acclaimed and sold-out musical theater interpretation of Octavia Butler’s prescient novel Parable of the Sower. Reagon will be joined by her band, BIGLovely.
Sweet Honey In The Rock
Grammy Award-nominated and globally renowned a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock has stayed true to their mission to educate, entertain and empower their audience and community through the dynamic vehicles of a cappella singing and American Sign Language interpretation. The magnificent beauty and power of their voices and inspired messages engage the ear, lift the soul and stimulate the mind in a positive journey you will not soon forget. Touching on the culturally complex relevance of our times — social justice, human and civil rights — their work integrates many complex sounds of the African American musical tradition such as blues, spirituals, gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, hip-hop, ancient lullabies and jazz improvisation, all of which have contributed to Sweet Honey’s core and patented style.
Kronos Quartet, Vijay Gupta & Friends: Weaving: Over/Under/Around/Through
How does music create belonging and start conversations in the digital age? In Weaving: Over/Under/Around/Through Kronos and Vijay Gupta craft an interactive experience through personal testimony and music. Performance and dialogue shape the lens of a virtual audience to consider how each of us has a story worth telling; that each of our neighbors — the precious tiles on the screens of our lives — has a story worth hearing. Weaving: Over/Under/Around/Through creates an instance of communal music in which stories of loss, community and belonging are shared by the participants of Street Symphony, an organization founded by Gupta which serves Angelenos affected by homelessness and incarceration.
An esteemed violinist and speaker, Vijay Gupta is a leading advocate for the power of music to foster social connection and create spaces of belonging. Gupta serves as the founder and artistic Director of Street Symphony, a non-profit organization providing musical engagement, dialogue and teaching artistry for homeless and incarcerated communities in Los Angeles. Vijay Gupta joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic at age 19, and served as a member of the first violin section through 2018. He has appeared as a guest concertmaster with the Los Angeles Opera and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, and is an active recitalist, soloist and chamber musician. A gifted communicator, Gupta speaks nationally at universities and conferences on the intersection of music and community engagement, mental health, and social justice. Gupta is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including a 2018 MacArthur Fellowship.
Established in 2016, Tonality is an award-winning ensemble led by founder and artistic director Alexander Lloyd Blake, Tonality is an ensemble that represents the diverse cultures and ethnicities found throughout Los Angeles and is best known for creating choral concerts that focus on issues rarely presented in choral music. Their mission is to use their collective voices to present concerts on themes of social justice to encourage empathy and community activism. Concert themes have included gun violence, homelessness, refugees, climate change, mental health, women's rights and exercising democratic rights. The group premiered its first album in 2019 titled Sing About It and received the Chorus America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming in 2020. In addition to performing with Kronos Quartet, Tonality will present a separate program of three choral works — America the Beautiful (their own rendition and reimagining of the work; defining its meaning in today’s world)’ Can You See (an observation of values in today’s society); and Sing About it (a song about empathy and reaching out).
Meklit is an Ethio-American vocalist, singer/songwriter and composer, making music that sways between cultures and continents. Know for her electric stage presence, innovative talk on Ethio-Jazz and her fiery, emotive live shows, Meklit has rocked stages from Addis Ababa (where she is a household name) to San Francisco (her beloved home base). She is a National Geographic Explorer, a 2019 Artist-in-Residence at Harvard University, a TED Senior Fellow, a cultural instigator and an in-demand performer and speaker. Her TED Talk has been watched by more than 1.2 million viewers. She previously appeared on the Royce Hall stage with The Nile Project in 2015, a musical tour of the cultures along the Nile River.
Folk singer, storyteller and outdoor enthusiast Lee Knight was a Saranac Lake high school student in the 1960s considering becoming a Methodist minister when he first heard the music of Pete Seeger. The rest, as they say, is history. During college, he became familiar with the music and stories of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, as well as those of the Adirondacks. He learned the music and stories from the people who had known them as part of their culture and community for generations and also collected songs and stories from other parts of the world, including England, Scotland, Central Asia, Columbia and the Amazon region of Peru. He plays various instruments, including the five-string banjo, various guitars, the Appalachian dulcimer, the mouth bow, the Cherokee flute and the Cherokee rattle, as well as the Native American drum. Knight currently performs at concerts, workshops, Elderhostels, festivals, camps and schools and outdoor activities including hikes, canoe trips and whitewater rafting.