Press Releases

Circle the Globe in Three Days: CalArts World Music and Dance Festival 2015

CalArts presents seven free outdoor concerts: West African performance; Persian, Middle Eastern and Hindustani concerts; Balinese and Javanese gamelans; and cross-cultural collaborations—May 1–3, 2015.

Valencia, CA, March 8—The CalArts World Music and Dance Festival 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 faculty and students of CalArts’ exceptional World Music programs. Over one bustling, artistically eclectic weekend, May 1—3 2015, 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 CalArts, the World Music and Dance Festival is part of CalArts’ Wild Beast Concert Series.

The 2015 program features faculty members and revered classical Hindustani music maestros Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri and Ustad Aashish Khan, who will perform in the traditional North Indian Ensemble. This year’s festival also introduces acclaimed Ghanaian drummer, dancer and singer Victor Nani Agbeli, the new director of CalArts’ iconic African Music and Dance Program. Under his direction, the CalArts Aza African Ensemble will offer a spectacular display of Ghanaian music and dance. In addition, celebrated music and dance artists Nanik Wenten andI Nyoman Wenten, longtime members of the CalArts faculty, will direct performances by the CalArts Balinese Gamelan Burat Wangi (“Fragrant Offering”) and a large modern bronze gamelan orchestra. The festival will also include feature ethnic clothing and crafts vendors.

“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 United States to offer degree programs in World Music performance, CalArts has a history of nurturing traditional and new forms of music from a variety of cultures. The faculty comprises internationally renowned artists.

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

Friday, May 1, 8:00 pm
Balinese Music and Dance
The Island of Bali, known as the “island of thousand temples,” is renowned for its rich traditions and astonishing array of vibrant art forms, an amazing diversity of music ensembles and dance genres. The program will feature the CalArts Balinese Gamelan Burat Wangi (“Fragrant Offering”), a large modern bronze gamelan orchestra, and the Gamelan Gong KebyarKebyar, means sudden blaze or flare-up. The repertoire blends old and new within a complex musical structure known as kreasi baru (“new creation”). Concert highlight: a new dance performance, Legong Raja China (“The King of China”), will demonstrate the popular Legong style of Balinese dance. The concert is directed by Nyoman Wenten and Nanik Wenten.

Saturday, May 2, 2:00 pm
Student Indian Ensemble
The CalArts Student Indian Ensemble under the direction of Ustad Aashish Khan delves into the melody and rhythms of traditional Hindustani music, featuring a wide variety of instruments and singing, followed by the divinely deep meditative sound of Surbahar by John Stephens, and ending with a stunning solo by Raginder Momi on violin.

Saturday, May 2, 5:00 pm
Aza African Ensemble
This new CalArts Ensemble will present instrumental music, songs, and dancing from the Ewe, Ga and Dagomba traditions of West Africa—and feature special guest S.K. Kakraba, renowned virtuoso of the West African Kogiri Gyil instrument. The program features the CalArts premiere of Akpese, an idiom of Ewe music and dance that blends Christian singing with traditional musical style. Aza Ensemble also is proud to share the stage with their new director Victor Nani Agbeli.

Saturday, May 2, 8:00 pm
Maestros of Indian Music
Promising a transformative experience, this concert of Hindustani classical music showcases two legendary artists of the international stage: tabla master Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri andsarode virtuoso Ustad Aashish Khan. The distinguished CalArts faculty members will perform a selection of exquisite duos, during which they announce the raag and taal—the melodic modes and rhythmic cycles—of the music from the stage. The maestros are preceded by the CalArts Tabla Ensemble, playing under the direction of Pandit Chaudhuri and Randy Gloss. Consisting of students, alumni and faculty, the ensemble draws from a vast repertoire of traditional and contemporary North Indian tabla music.

Sunday, May 3, 2:00 pm
Javanese Music and Dance
Gamelan music has been admired by such western composers as Lou Harrison, John Cage, Pierre Boulez, and Benjamin Britten—andhas been one of the cornerstones of CalArts World Music Program since its inception. The performance will include several gamelan ensembles that comprise instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums, flutes, and bowed and plucked instruments. The concert features CalArts Javanese Gamelan Kyai Doro Dasih (“The Honorable Dream Come True”), performing traditional and contemporary pieces with accompanying dance, and introduces a new choreographed dance drama. Performances are directed by Djoko WalujoNanik Wenten, and special guest dancer/choreographer Baghawan Ciptoning.

Sunday, May 3, 5:30pm
Persian Ensemble
The Persian Ensemble will perform original compositions by Houman Pourmehdi. The works contain a message of loving kindness and peace to the world based on the work of Rumi whose poems have crossed boundaries of time and culture to become timeless intercultural treasures. The ensemble combines ancient and Western instruments—and encompasses a wealth of musical traditions as it travels from Iran on a cross-cultural exploration of Eastern and Western musical styles.

Sunday, May 3, 8:00pm
World Percussion Ensemble
The CalArts World Percussion Ensemble is an ongoing experimental forum for bringing together percussion, drumming and world music. The ensemble’s mission is to bridge cultures and musical ideas in order to create an entirely new body of work for percussion, consisting of fixed compositions and extended improvisations. Founded by the late John Bergamo, it is currently led by CalArts faculty Randy GlossHouman Pourmehdi and Andrew Grueschow. The evening’s program will feature performances by CalArts faculty, students and alumni.

Calendar Editors Please Note:

CalArts World Music and Dance Festival 2015

May 1–3, 2015

Friday, May 1
8 pm
Balinese Music and Dance

Saturday, May 2
2 pm
Student Indian Ensemble
5 pm
Aza African Ensemble
8 pm
Maestros of Indian Music

Sunday, May 3
2 pm
Javanese Music & Dance
5:30 pm
Persian Ensemble
8 pm
World Percussion Ensemble

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 suggested.