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Meet the Art Makers

I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky

July 30

Leave it to the adventurous tastes of the Long Beach Opera and our own Ford programming staff to at last bring a work that is so LA to LA. After multiple renditions around the world, John Adams’ song play of 1995, I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky, has its Los Angeles premiere on August 23 as the second offering in this year’s Zev Yaroslavsky Signature Series.

Adams’s librettist, the late poet and activist June Jordan, said she set the story in LA because “it’s the most heterogeneous city in the US” and took the title from a survivor quoted in an LA Times story about the Northridge earthquake.  The plot follows the lives of seven people in their 20s from distinct ethnic backgrounds, set against that cataclysmic backdrop. If you are expecting heavy melodrama, don’t. Even though Adams is most well known for his operas Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer, this intimate work, to be semi-staged by Long Beach Opera, is more like a musical.

In an interview just days after he completed Ceiling/Sky<, Adams said his use of American popular music has “never been so brazenly out front” as it is in this piece. Musical theatre singers, accompanied in this performance by three keyboards and a rock band ensemble, explore the issue of race, gender and immigration to the sounds and rhythms of urban life.

Adams, Jordan and director of the original production Peter Sellars knew they were breaking new ground. So it’s fitting that 20 years later, the piece should finally be performed for LA audiences in a venue so genuinely LA.

-Linda Chiavarolli, former Director of Communications at the LA County Arts Commission

 


OPM at the Ford  

July 23

With more than 7,000 islands and 170 different languages, the history of the Filipino people is just as varied and distinct as its geography.  Despite these differences, Filipinos unite over a sense of pride for their diversity and their love for OPM or Original Pilipino Music.

OPM emerged in the late 1970s as a way to get local songwriters on Filipino radio stations dominated by American Top 40. This era ushered in a number of prolific songwriters from a vast array of musical genres spanning rock, pop and R&B to jazz and folk.  Today, any song written by a Filipino, whether in English or Tagalog, is considered OPM. 

Music Arts Events brings to Los Angeles both the nostalgic and contemporary OPM in Serenata Filipina on August 17.  The event features such Filipino American artists as award winning jazz vocalist Mon David, premiering songs from his upcoming fourth album, and the all-male vocal ensemble Harana Men’s Chorus.  Joining them on stage is vocal specialist Annie Nepomuceno, soprano Louise Marie Cornillez, musical theatre actress Lara Avengoza and emerging stars Josie Gonzales and Amin Baghallian.

In honor of the ingenuity and adaptability of Filipinos residing all over the globe, proceeds from the concert benefit those recovering from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyon/Yolanda.  This solidarity through music celebrates the best of the human spirit.  What better place to do that than at the Ford?

-Brittany Gash


“Curiouser and curiouser!”  

July 16

A show at the Ford is always an escape. But on Friday, August 1, the truly fantastical takes place at one of the more unusual and appealing shows of the summer: a belly dancing revision of Alice in Wonderland.

Combining the spectacle of belly dance with a beloved British children’s fable may seem unexpected, to say the least. But unlike other Middle Eastern dance companies, Bellydance Evolution (led by belly dance sensation, and Queen of Hearts, Jillina) presents theatrical dance shows with a storyline, similar to ballet.

Much like Lewis Carroll’s imaginative novel, this exhilarating production breaks with tradition, fusing classical Middle Eastern dance with hip hop, contemporary, tribal and fusion dance in surprising ways. Bellydance Evolution pulls out all the stops in this refreshing retelling of one of the world’s favorite tales.

A cast of 20 will entrance with mesmerizing gestures, inventive choreography and elaborate costumes, all set to an original score composed by Paul Dinletir, the creative force behind the trailer music for such films as The Hobbit, Life of Pi, Hunger Games and more. Taken all together, it’s a production like no other and a night that’s an escape from the expected.

Molly Kodros handles Marketing & PR at The Satellite, a live music venue in Hollywood.