FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 15, 2012
Skirball Cultural Center announces line-up for sixteenth annual
FREE community concert series presenting music from around the globe
Thursday evenings, July 26–August 30, at 8:00 p.m
2012 season features spirited music from all corners of the globe—from irresistible Congolese soukous infused with Kenyan beats, to Arabic and taraab-inflected Cuban/Jewish jazz, to an up-tempo Latin American fusion from the heart of L.A.
LOS ANGELES, CA—In keeping with its mission to bridge cultures through the arts, the Skirball Cultural Center announces the line-up for its sixteenth annual free Sunset Concerts. The 2012 season features an eclectic mix of traditions and styles, from the Americas to Central Asia to Central and East Africa, and offers a chance to discover some of the greatest talents in world music today. The schedule is as follows: Samba Mapangala & Orchestra Virunga (July 26); West Coast premiere of The Alaev Family (August 2); West Coast premiere of Orquesta Sarabia under the direction of Roberto Rodriguez (August 9); West Coast premiere of De Temps Antan (August 16); La Santa Cecilia (August 23); and world premiere of Eric Bibb’s String Band (August 30).
The six Thursday night community concerts are presented free of charge in the Skirball’s scenic central courtyard. For each live performance, the expansive outdoor space is transformed into an intimate, celebratory gathering. Concertgoers arrive early to dine under the stars, visit the museum galleries, and explore the Skirball’s spectacular architecture and hillside setting. Then, as the performers take the stage, festivities spill out into the aisles and music lovers of all ages sing along and take to the dance floor. “The energy is palpable and infectious,” says Jordan Peimer, Skirball Vice President of Programs.
Peimer continues, “Now celebrating its ‘Sweet Sixteen,’ the Skirball Cultural Center regards our yearly Sunset Concerts as a perfect summertime happening—a chance to connect with loved ones, to uplift the spirit, and to celebrate our diverse cultural traditions and personal journeys. We are proud to showcase the virtuosity of artists from distant shores, but also the best in North American roots music and homegrown L.A. talent.”
About the Artists
Thursday, July 26: Samba Mapangala & Orchestra Virunga
In 1975, twenty-year-old Congolese singer Samba Mapangala boarded a riverboat for Kisangani along with his band mates and headed for a tour of Eastern Zaire. Soukous was all the rage then, and Congolese dance bands were in great demand. The band was very well received and was soon given a chance to record its first record, Lokoki, in Nairobi's best-equipped studios. Rechristened L'Orchestre Les Kinois, the band quickly became popular in Nairobi with Mapangala’s beautiful high tenor voice, sweet group harmonies, and exciting dance routines. When Les Kinois parted in 1981, Samba formed Orchestra Virunga (named after a volcanic mountain range in Central Africa). It quickly became the region's most popular band, performing for more than twelve years at Nairobi’s leading nightclubs. International acclaim for the hit “Malako” led to the band’s first U.K. tour in 1991, followed by many more tours of North America and Europe. Since leaving Kenya to settle in the United States in 1997, Mapangala and the ensemble have continued to perform internationally at festivals and concert halls throughout Africa, Europe, and North America. Composing and singing in both Lingala and Kiswahili, Samba Mapangala & Orchestra Virunga blend rumba and soukous from Congo with earthier Kenyan and Tanzanian styles. Following a recent appearance at the prestigious WOMAD festival, The Independent (UK) proclaimed, “[Samba] makes you wonder why African music still awaits its Marley moment of global breakthrough.”
Thursday, August 2: The Alaev Family (West Coast premiere)
Currently residing in Israel, The Alaev Family represents three generations of an immensely talented musical family. Eighty-year-old patriarch Allo Alaev took up the doyra (a frame drum with metal rings inside) at an early age in his native Tajikistan. He made rapid progress and was soon appointed the first percussionist of the Folk Opera Company of Dushanbe for which he toured and performed for fifty years. Alaev passed on his dancing and percussion virtuosity to his children and grandchildren, who joined him on stage almost from infancy. The eight-member troupe performs an ancient, rhythmic, and highly percussive musical blend of Central Asian, Turkish, Persian, Russian, and Jewish traditions on instruments such as the doyra, darbuka, alofon (all percussion instruments), drums, cajon, Turkish clarinet, accordion, kanun (plucked zither), violin, Bukharan and Armenian clarinets, and bass guitar. One of the most joyful, energetic musical outfits on the world stage, The Alaev Family is beloved for creating an atmosphere of festivity wherever they perform.
Thursday, August 9: Orquesta Sarabia under the direction of Roberto Rodriguez (West Coast premiere)
Born in East Havana, Cuba, and raised in Miami, percussionist and composer Roberto Juan Rodriguez delivers groundbreaking new music through his cross-cultural roots. Drawing from a broad range of influences—from traditional Cuban roots music to contemporary genres of world music, pop, jazz and improvisation, electronica, and classical—he is one of the most well-versed performers and intriguing composers working today. Rodriguez learned to play trumpet and drums from his father, trumpeter and arranger Roberto Luis Rodriguez, as well as from the Caturla Conservatory of Music. Rodriguez began playing drums professionally at the tender age of thirteen with his father’s ensembles as well as with legendary bassist Israel “Cachao” Lopez. He received a full scholarship to the music program at the University of Miami and has spent his adult life touring worldwide and recording his signature blend of Cuban roots music, Eastern European, Sephardic and Cuban Jazz, and electronic dance beats. The Grammy nominee and American Music Award recipient has collaborated with Rufus Wainwright, Celia Cruz, Joe Jackson, Julio Iglesias, Miami Sound Machine, Paul Simon, Ruben Blades, and T. Bone Burnett, among many others. Commissioned by the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Rodriguez’s new project, the ten-piece band Orquesta Sarabia, features Cuban, Jewish, and Arabic musicians performing new arrangements of Rodriguez’s original compositions, as well as new taraab (Arabic-rooted music that originated in East Africa). All Music Guide raves, “Roberto Juan Rodriguez is a bona fide innovator, that rare musician whose creative vision …breathes joy and melancholy with tremendous emotional clarity.”
ORQUESTA SARABIA UNDER THE DIRECTION OF ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ IS PRESENTED AS PART OF “VIVA!” AN ONGOING SKIRBALL INITIATIVE THAT EXPLORES THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN JEWISH AND LATIN AMERICAN CULTURES THROUGH LECTURES, CONVERSATIONS, AND PERFORMING, VISUAL, AND MEDIA ARTS.
Thursday, August 16: De Temps Antan (West Coast premiere)
Since 2003, Éric Beaudry, André Brunet, and Pierre-Luc Dupuis have been exploring and performing time-honored melodies from the stomping grounds of Quebec’s musical past. Even their band name, De Temps Antan, is a play on words, a nod to their ancient heritage (“de temps en temps” in French means “from time to time” while the similar-sounding “antan” means “yesteryears”). Using fiddle, accordion, harmonica, guitar, bouzouki, and many more instruments, the three virtuosi blend boundless energy with the unmistakable joie de vivre of traditional Quebecois music. Beaudry’s rich vocal range and unquestionable talent on stringed instruments—guitar, mandolin, and bouzouki—guarantee a rousing performance for all. Brunet’s unwavering energy and refined style on the violin have won him countless accolades, including top honors at the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition in 2008. Dupuis wins over audiences not only with his skills on the accordion, but with his unique humor and warmhearted charisma. Together, the trio has a special flair for invigorating songs of yesteryear with innovative sounds—spontaneous laughter, deep-rooted couplets, dynamic foot percussion, and sudden, impromptu shifts—that speak to familiar rhythms of the past while remaining fresh and novel.
Thursday, August 23: La Santa Cecilia
Named after the patron saint of music, Los Angeles–based band La Santa Cecilia exemplifies the modern-day creative hybrid. When its six members—guitarist Gloria Estrada, accordion player Jose Carlos, bassist Alex Bendana, percussionist Miguel Ramirez, drummer Hugo Vargas, and lead singer La Marisoul—founded La Santa Cecilia, they had already known each other from playing in the same bands, attending the same schools, and showing up at one another’s events. Together they creatively combine up-tempo South American rhythms like cumbia and bossa nova, the unmistakable sounds of bolero and tango, Afro-Cuban percussion, and rock with jazz inflections. The band's sound is accentuated by La Marisoul's hauntingly strong and sensual voice, delivering messages of love, loss, and heartbreak in singular fashion. La Santa Cecilia’s latest EP, Noche y Citas, garnered a 2011 Latin Grammy nomination for the track “La Negra,” produced by four-time Grammy and eight-time Latin Grammy-winning producer and engineer Sebastian Krys.
Thursday, August 30: Eric Bibb’s String Band featuring Dirk Powell and Cedric Watson (World premiere)
Eric Bibb was born In New York into a musical family. Bibb’s father, Leon Bibb, made a name for himself as part of the 1960s New York folk scene. His uncle was the world famous jazz pianist and composer John Lewis. Family friends included iconic folk singer Pete Seeger and actor/singer/activist Paul Robeson, who was also Eric's godfather. Eric Bibb was given his first steel-string guitar at age seven. By junior high, he was consumed by it. At nineteen, Bibb left Columbia University (where he was studying psychology and Russian) for Paris, where a meeting with guitarist Mickey Baker focused his interest in blues guitar. When he later moved to Sweden, Bibb found a creative environment that took him back to Greenwich Village during the heyday of the folk revival. Settling in Stockholm, Bibb immersed himself in pre-war blues and continued to write and perform. He has toured all over the world and collaborated with the likes of Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Odetta, Charlie Musselwhite, Guy Davis, Mamadou Diabate, and Djelimady Toukara. His talent for both performing and songwriting has been recognized with a Grammy nomination and 4 W.C. Handy nominations. At the Skirball, Bibb will perform with his brand new String Band, featuring pre-eminent Appalachian fiddler and banjoist Dirk Powell, whose creative energy crosses many boundaries while remaining grounded in the rural traditions of his heritage; and four-time Grammy-nominated virtuoso fiddler, accordionist, and multi-instrumentalist Cedric Watson, known for spearheading the emerging generation of Cajun and Creole musicians. They will be joined on stage with renowned harmonica player, singer, songwriter, and teacher Grant Dermody.
Editors, please note:
2012 SUNSET CONCERTS
Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-4500 ⋅ www.skirball.org
FREE ADMISSION; no reservations
Limited seating on a first-come, first-served basis
Sunset Concerts parking: $10 per car (cash only). Carpooling is encouraged.
Street parking is strictly prohibited.
Or take Metro Rapid 761.
Samba Mapangala & Orchestra Virunga
Thursday, July 26, 8:00 p.m. (Doors open at 7:00 p.m.)
The Alaev Family
Thursday, August 2, 8:00 p.m. (Doors open at 7:00 p.m.)
Orquesta Sarabia under the direction of Roberto Rodriguez
Thursday, August 9, 8:00 p.m. (Doors open at 7:00 p.m.)
De Temps Antan
Thursday, August 16, 8:00 p.m. (Doors open at 7:00 p.m.)
La Santa Cecilia
Thursday, August 23, 8:00 p.m. (Doors open at 7:00 p.m.)
Eric Bibb’s String Band featuring Dirk Powell and Cedric Watson
Thursday, August 30, 8:00 p.m. (Doors open at 7:00 p.m.)
All Skirball exhibitions (except Noah’s Ark) are free and open until 10:00 p.m. during Sunset Concerts, including Project Mah Jongg, Jewish Homegrown History, and Visions and Values.
Zeidler’s Café’s dinner buffet starts at 6:00 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made starting two weeks prior to the Thursday evening concert by calling (310) 440-4575. Lighter fare can be purchased at Zeidler’s Cart.
Guests may bring their own food. Note: No outside alcoholic beverages or chairs are permitted.
THE 2012 SUNSET CONCERTS SERIES IS MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY:
Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles
Los Angeles County Arts Commission
National Endowment for the Arts
KCRW 89.9 FM
KPFK 90.7 FM
About the Skirball
The Skirball Cultural Center is dedicated to exploring the connections between 4,000 years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. It welcomes and seeks to inspire people of every ethnic and cultural identity. Guided by our respective memories and experiences, together we aspire to build a society in which all of us can feel at home. The Skirball Cultural Center achieves its mission through educational programs that explore literary, visual, and performing arts from around the world; through the display and interpretation of its permanent collections and changing exhibitions; through an interactive family destination inspired by the Noah’s Ark story; and through outreach to the community.
Visiting the Skirball
The Skirball Cultural Center is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049. Free on-site parking is available; street parking is strictly prohibited. The Skirball is also accessible by Metro Rapid Bus 761. Museum hours: Tuesday–Friday 12:00–5:00 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.; closed Mondays and holidays. Museum admission: $10 General; $7 Seniors, Full-Time Students, and Children over 12; $5 Children 2–12. Exhibitions are always free to Skirball Members and Children under 2. Exhibitions are free to all visitors on Thursdays. For general information, the public may call (310) 440-4500 or visit www.skirball.org. The Skirball is also home to Zeidler’s Café, which serves innovative California cuisine in an elegant setting, and Audrey’s Museum Store, which sells books, contemporary art, music, jewelry, and more.
About the Museum of Jewish Heritage
The Museum’s exhibitions educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the rich tapestry of Jewish life over the past century—before, during, and after the Holocaust. Current special exhibitions include Emma Lazarus: Poet of Exiles, on view through December 2012; Let My People Go!: The Soviet Jewry Movement, 1967–1989, on view through August 5, 2012; and Filming the Camps: John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens: From Hollywood to Nuremberg, on view through October 14, 2012. It is also home to the award-winning Keeping History Center, an interactive visitor experience, and Andy Goldsworthy’s memorial Garden of Stones. The Museum offers visitors a vibrant public program schedule in its Edmond J. Safra Hall and receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.