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Around the world in a weekend: CalArts World Music and Dance Festival 2014

CLICK HERE for video of S.K. Kakraba, renowned virtuoso of the Kogiri Gyil instrument from West Africa, performing at CalArts World Music and Dance Festival 2013.

Three days of West African performance, Persian, Middle Eastern and Hindustani concerts, Balinese and Javanese gamelans, and cross cultural collaborations—at The Wild Beast, CalArts’ outdoor concert venue, May 2-4 2014.

Valencia, CA, April 7—CalArts World Music and Dance Festival 2014 transports musical traditions from around the globe to Southern California. Since the early 1970s, this exuberant annual festival has brought celebrated international artists to perform with CalArts’ stellar World Music faculty and students. Over one spectacular weekend, May 2-4 2014, audiences will experience seven free outdoor concerts at the Wild Beast music pavilion on the campus of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia. Presented by The Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts, The World Music and Dance Festival is part of the school’s Wild Beast Concert Series.

The year’s program features acclaimed guest performers drummer and dancer Sulley Imoro and kogiri virtuoso S.K. Kakraba, both from Ghana, and Javanese dancer Baghawan Ciptoning. Drawing on the full resources of CalArts’ renowned world music programs, the festival’s eclectic lineup features West African drumming, song and dance, Persian, Middle Eastern and Hindustani performances, Balinese and Javanese gamelans, and crossover works linking global music traditions. 

“In our global age, world music is essential to all music,” said David Rosenboom, dean of the Herb Alpert School of Music. “For many years, the CalArts World Music and Dance Festival has been a treasured cultural jewel, lighting our way forward towards a borderless culture. It is our honor to continue offering this all-important perspective on the shared traditions we respect, and from which we draw inspiration to fuel the life of music to come." 

One of the first schools in the country to offer degree programs in World Music for performance, CalArts has a history of nurturing traditional and new forms of music from a variety of cultures. The faculty comprises internationally renowned artists. Honoring a revered teacher, the festival will conclude on a rousing note with the farewell CalArts performance of Ghanaian dancer Beatrice Lawluvi, a member of the faculty for the past 42 years.  

Acclaimed faculty musicians including India’s Aashish Khan and Swapan Chaudhuri, and Indonesia’s I Nyoman Wenten, Nanik Wenten, and Djoko Walujo will also perform at the festival.  

Following is a festival schedule, description of programs and calendar information.

Friday, May 2, 4 p.m.
CalArts Persian Ensemble
The group directed by percussion faculty Houman Pourmehdi performs Persian masterworks on a mix of Eastern and Western instruments. A second set featuring tar player Pirayeh Pourafar—a CalArts alumna—and vocalist Alireza Shahmohammadi adds eloquent improvisation to small-ensemble explorations of Eastern musical traditions.

Friday, May 2, 8:30 p.m.
Balinese Music & Dance
Outfitted with modern bronze instruments as a Gong Kebyar orchestra, the CalArts Gamelan Burat Wangi (“Fragrant Offering”) revels in the famously refined music and dance practices, both classical and contemporary, originating from the Indonesian island of Bali. The centerpiece of the program is Legong Supraba Duta—an exquisite new iteration of the popular Legong Balinese dance style. The concert is directed by I Nyoman Wenten and Nanik Wenten.

Saturday, May 3, noon
CalArts World Percussion Ensemble
Featuring artists from CalArts’ percussion, drumming and world music programs, this experimental group draws on a rich, globe-spanning variety of music cultures and ideas to develop ambitious new works for percussion, ranging from intricately notated compositions to extended, free-flowing improvisations. Founded by the late, great John Bergamo—one of CalArts’ most influential musicmakers over the years—the ensemble is now led by Randy Gloss and Houman Pourmehdi.

Saturday, May 3, 4:30 p.m.
CalArts Student North Indian Ensemble
Top instrumentalists in the CalArts North Indian Music Program play a selection of virtuosic compositions and arrangements—either drawn from Hindustani Classical repertoire, or building on its traditions. This ensemble will be directed by Ustad Aashish Khan

Saturday, May 3, 8 p.m.
North Indian Classical Music
An opening set by the CalArts Tabla Ensemble is followed by a program of scintillating duets by two world-renowned titans of Hindustani Classical music: tabla master Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri and sarod virtuoso Ustad Aashish Khan. During the performance—sure to be one of the most riveting sets of the festival—Pandit Chaudhuri and Ustad Khan will announce the raag (melodic mode) and taal (rhythmic cycle) of each work from the stage.

Sunday, May 4, 1 p.m.
Javanese Music & Dance
Performing under the direction of Djoko Walujo and Nanik Wenten, the CalArts Gamelan Kyai Doroh Dasih (“The Honorable Dream Come True”) is joined by special guest dancer Baghawan Ciptoning for the premiere of a spectacular new dance drama based on the Javanese “Prince Panji” epic cycle. The program also showcases music-and-dance works from both the classical and contemporary repertoires of Java.

Sunday, May 4, 7 p.m.
West African Music & Dance
Much-loved faculty member Beatrice Lawluvi concludes her 42-year CalArts tenure by leading the CalArts African Music & Dance Ensemble for the last time as the group performs favorites from the traditional repertoire of the Ewe and Dagomba people of Ghana. Many of the CalArts icon’s former students will be on hand to join the performance, as will a pair of distinguished guest artists: drummer and dancer Sulley Imoro and kogiri player SK Kakraba. The concert is co-directed by the outgoing Lawluvi and Andrew Grueschow.

Calendar Editors Please Note:

CalArts World Music and Dance Festival 2014

May 2–4, 2014 

Friday, May 2
4 p.m.
CalArts Persian Ensemble
8:30 p.m.
Balinese Music & Dance, with CalArts Gamelan Burat Wangi

Saturday, May 3
12 noon
CalArts World Percussion Ensemble
4:30 p.m.
CalArts Student North Indian Ensemble
8 p.m.
Classical North Indian Music, featuring Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri and Ustad Aashish Khan

Sunday, May 4
1 p.m.
Javanese Music & Dance, with CalArts Gamelan
7 p.m.
West African Music & Dance, featuring Sulley Imoro and SK Kakraba

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) 
24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia, CA 91355-2340
Open lawn seating in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Courtyard
Click here for directions

Concerts at the Wild Beast concert pavilion are FREE with lawn seating. Reservations are available through Eventbrite.

Last edited by mcrane on Apr 09, 2014
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