Presented by the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Pioneering World Music Program, Festival Features Indonesian, Persian, Indian, and African Music, Dance, and More
Highlight: Duet between Didik Nini Thowok, Indonesia’s most renowned cross-gender dancer and acclaimed classical Javanese dancer Maria Darmaningsih
Performers Include World Music Legends India’s Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri and Aashish Khan, and Persian masters Houman Pourmehdi and Pirayeh Pourafar
Valencia, Calif. (March 21, 2017) – On Friday, April 28, through Sunday, April 30, the CalArts World Music and Dance Festival 2017 will transport musical traditions from around the globe to Southern California.
Over one spectacular weekend, audiences will experience 9 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 CalArts, the World Music and Dance Festival is part of the school’s Wild Beast Concert Series.
Since the early 1970s, this one-of-a-kind annual festival has brought celebrated international artists to perform with CalArts’ renowned World Music faculty. One of the first schools in the United States to offer degree programs in World Music performance, CalArts has a long history of nurturing traditional and new forms of music from a variety of cultures.
“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.”
Kicking off the festival on Friday will be Didik Nini Thowok, Indonesia’s most renowned cross-gender dancer, performing a duet with acclaimed classical Javanese dancer Maria Darmaningsih. A master of Indonesian mask and cross gender dance with more than 40 years of experience in pop, traditional, and contemporary music, Thowok’s performance will launch his two-week residency at the Institute, during which he will lead an exploratory lab workshop with CalArts artists, host a discussion with CalArts’ Queer Artists Community, conduct class visits, and present his work at venues throughout Los Angeles.
Later on Friday night, Los Angeles-based troupe Gamelan Kyai Doro Dasih (“Honorable Dream Come True”) will present two Javanese classical court dances and wayang kulit purwa -- an ancient form of shadow puppet play performed and directed by B.R.M. Bambang Irawan, guest artist and musical director from the Court of Surakarta, Central Java, and dance director Nanik Wenten.
On Saturday afternoon, guests will enjoy the World Music Student Showcase Concert before a performance by the CalArts Balinese Gamelan Gong Kebyar Burat Wangi (“Fragrant Offering”), directed by faculty members Nyoman Wenten and Nanik Wenten, fusing ancient traditions with contemporary music and dance.
Indian musical traditions take center stage Saturday night as the CalArts Tabla Ensemble presents a performance of both traditional and contemporary North India tabla music. Afterwards, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri and Ustad Aashish Khan – two legendary international artists and CalArts faculty members – perform a set of exquisite Hindustani classical music duos, during which they will announce the raag and taal (the melodic modes and rhythmic cycles) of the music from the stage.
On Sunday afternoon, the Student Indian Ensemble draws from a repertoire of compositions of vocal and instrumental music dating back to the 16th century. Then, the Student Persian Ensemble presents a mystical performance setting the powerful verse of Rumi and Hafiz to the music of composer Khalil Alinejad and featuring special guest Pirayeh Pourafar.
On Saturday night, the CalArts World Percussion Ensemble – directed by faculty members Randy Gloss, Houman Pourmehdi, and Andrew Grueschow – presents its ongoing experimental work bridging the percussion, drumming, and world music traditions explored at CalArts. Conceived in the early days of the Institute by founding faculty and percussion vanguard, the late John Bergamo, the World Percusion Ensemble remains a vital and integral platform for percussionists and world music students to explore the possibilities within the world of drumming.
Closing out the incredible weekend, on Sunday night, the Aza West African Ensemble presents instrumental music, songs, and dancing from the Ewe, Ga, and Dagomba traditions of West Africa (Ghana) alongside special guests Volta Drum Dance, and Aza director/performer Nani Agbeli and Andrew Grueschow, both CalArts faculty members in the African Music and Dance Program.
Founded in the early 1970s by pioneering World Music educator Nicholas England, CalArts’ program launched with such renowned faculty members as sitar great Ravi Shankar. Over the years, students from a wide variety of musical disciplines have studied in the program and its influence can be heard in bands featuring CalArt alumni, including Ozomatli and Fitz and the Tantrums.
All CalArts World Music and Dance Festival events are free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended.
The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts places a high priority on providing professional training that gives its students the abilities and means to become effective practitioners in diverse musical styles—to become culturally informed, artistically versatile citizens of an expansive musical world. Students in the World Music Program closely study music and dance practices from a variety of musical cultures, while simultaneously acquiring solid grounding in music theory, musicianship skills, and music history and literature. This unique course of study allows students to acquire high-level performance skills in both solo and ensemble situations; facility with both notated and oral methods of learning music; and awareness of the cultural, theoretical and social aspects of multiple musical traditions.
Ranked as America’s top college for students in the arts by Newsweek/The Daily Beast, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools – Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater – CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines and cultural traditions.