Grand Performances 2014 Summer Concert Series Kicks Off Today
Grand Performances announces its 28th annual season with a line-up full of fan favorites, new musical obsessions, and events at the gorgeous California Plaza under the spectacular Downtown Los Angeles skyline. Starting Friday, June 13, 2014 and running through Saturday, September 13, 2014, the Grand Performances 2014 Summer Concert Series brings artists and audiences together for an array of music, dance, film, and spoken word featuring performers from around the globe and the streets of Los Angeles. Every show is free; no advanced reservations are required. Grand Performances at California Plaza is located at 350 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90071 (213-687-2159). For a complete overview of Grand Performances' upcoming season, hailed as the "best free outdoor summer concert series" by Los Angeles Magazine, please see the schedule here http://www.grandperformances.org/calendar/2014-season-overview.
"Grand Performances gives Angelenos both a quintessential L.A. experience as well as a genuinely global one," says Leigh Ann Hahn, Grand Performances' Director of Programming, "Our stage connects audiences to high quality artists, as well as to other cultures and the local community."
The slate of 2014 programming reflects Grand Performances' thoughtful curation of art and artists, and speaks to the organization's tradition and reputation as world music presenters, while reinforcing its commitment to Los Angeles-based artists. This season includes performances by international artists - legends and legends to be - from Benin, France, Tijuana, Argentina, Cape Verde, and Guinea. Grand Performances actively supports the growth and development of artists, and its curatorial voice seeks to address important issues, most evident in the National Endowment for the Arts-supported series L.A., Civil Rights, and the 60s, the first cycle in a two-year series that explores the enduring legacy of Watts, fifty years later.
Says Grand Performances' Executive Director Michael Alexander: "A combination of commissioned and existing works, these shows are meant to help Angelenos gain a deeper understanding of Los Angeles at the time when civil rights became a truly national issue." The events that make up the series include Roger Guenveur Smith's one man-play Rodney King, Double G's daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra, Michael Twitty's ethnography of soul food, and People Get Ready: A Soundtrack of the Civil Rights Movement.
Alexander continues: "We want our community to look at themselves and our collective history - blemishes and all - and start a discussion. This series is meant to plant seeds from which substantial discussions can take root and grow; it's about the formal and informal post-performance conversations that happen when people reflect on the art and listen to the messages in the work."
2014 Highlights -
Kicking off the summer series, on Friday, June 13, will be the silent Buster Keaton comedy Sherlock Jr., with a live improvised soundtrack from The Magnetix. It will be preceded by Keaton's classic short film Cops. The following night, on Saturday, June 14, in keeping with the cinema week theme in conjunction with the Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF), Grand Performances will present I Am Big Bird, an in-depth portrait of Caroll Spinney, the man behind Sesame Street's indelible character since 1969. This is the 10th year Grand Performances has collaborated with LAFF.
Grand Performances' second week focuses on world music with Angélique Kidjo, the Benin-born, Grammy Award-winning legend who will ignite the audience with an infectious, high energy show on Friday, June 20. The next night, on Saturday, June 21, the Grand Performances stage will feature Panoptica, the Tijuana-based band featuring Roberto A. Mendoza, a founding member of Nortec Collective. Also performing is Federico Aubele, an Argentinian Thievery Corporation protégé with a minimalist tango and a digital edge.??
Additional highlights for the season include:
Fan favorites daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra, bringing MCs, singers, turntablists, big brass, and strong strings to California Plaza's WaterCourt Stage with classic hits and new work on Saturday, June 28. The performance will include a piece commissioned by Grand Performances that pays homage to Chicano low-rider music. Led by Geoff "Double G" Gallegos, who composes most of the orchestra's music, daKAH features between 50 and 80 musicians and has appeared on the Grand Performances stage five times since its inception in 1999. The orchestra, which could only have been birthed in a city like Los Angeles, has taken its genre-bending, culture-blending mix of hip hop, funk, big band jazz, and symphonic music to venues across the U.S. to great acclaim and huge audiences.
Chop and Quench (pictured below), the band moniker for the performers from the Tony-nominated Fela! Broadway cast, making history on Friday, July 18, when they perform live, for the first time, Fela Kuti's 1969 Los Angeles sessions. These historic sessions were a turning point in the Nigerian legend's musical and political evolution. Informed by the knowledge of black struggle in America, the music Fela created in these L.A. sessions impacted his increasingly politicized views about Africa. When he returned, he brought back James Brown funk and bass line as well as a more political edge to his music.??
Quetzal 20th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, July 19, featuring members of La Santa Cecilia, Maya Jupiter, andMarisa Ronstadt & the Know-It-Alls. The Grammy Award-winning band celebrates two decades of Mexican-folk influenced community-minded rock. Grand Performances previously hosted Quetzal in 1998, 2001, 2003, and 2004.??
Roger Guenveur Smith's Rodney King, a one-man play, using the controversial figure as a lens through which to examine political inequities in Los Angeles, each evening from Thursday, July 24, to Saturday, July 26.
Traditional and modern Southeast Asian dance with NEA National Heritage Fellowship recipient Pandit Chitresh Das, pushing traditional Northern Indian khatak dance in new directions, on Friday, September 12, and Los Angeles-based Sheetal Gandhi, who explores shifting gender roles and the South Asian experience in both India and America through the vocabulary of modern dance, on Saturday, September 13.
Please see the Grand Performances site here for details on all the amazing events scheduled for the summer.
Listening Room Series -
In addition to inviting audiences to explore larger societal issues through the scope of performing arts, another new 2014 series, The Listening Room, aims to provide them with more meaningful connections to summer artists. This six-show series is a new addition in 2014 and, while it is curated with the same inclusive, adventurous spirit as the signature WaterCourt shows, these events focus on creating a more personal art experience between the music maker and the audience. Listening Room events are noted in the schedule below.
"Small is the new big," says Grand Performances' Programming Director Leigh Ann Hahn, "The Listening Room is about the quality of the work and the opportunity that we're giving these artists to be seen by our audience. It gives our audiences the opportunity to see and hear the work in a lovely, intimate setting - and experience a more personal connection to the artists and their music through the use of our smaller Marina Pavilion stage."
California Plaza -
All are welcome to enjoy the lunch hour and evening performances at the breathtaking California Plaza, the hosting site of Grand Performances. California Plaza is part of the Grand Avenue Cultural Corridor, home to Walt Disney Concert Hall and MOCA, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Surrounded by water and nestled under the spectacular Downtown L.A. skyline, seating in the awe-inspiring California Plaza is open for Grand Performances events beginning two hours prior to performance on a first-come first-served basis. Individuals are allowed to reserve up to 6 seats as long as they are present the entire time. Guests are also free to bring their own folding chairs as long as they don't block areas designated for walking, dancing, or wheelchairs. Many also bring blankets, pillows, cushions, jackets, or even Snuggies. After sunset, Southern California nights vacillate between stifling hot and teeth-chatteringly chilly, so please check the evening's forecast and come prepared! Many Grand Performances veterans come early with elaborate picnic baskets, and stakeout optimal seats to pass time with friends over great food and drink.
Complimentary bike valet is available on the Upper Plaza for select events. Event parking is $7.50 (cash only) and is available 90 minutes prior to showtime. The California Plaza parking garage is accessible on Olive Street, between 1st and 4th streets (351 S. Olive Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90013).
Grand Performances at California Plaza
350 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Map/Directions - http://www.grandperformances.org/en/gp/visit/directions.html
213-687-2090 (Administration Line)
Michael Alexander, Executive Director -
In 1990, following a 22-year career as a performer, manager and curator of cultural programs, Michael Alexander became the first Artistic Director for the free public concert series presented by Grand Performances in Downtown Los Angeles at California Plaza. From the organization's very beginning, he set the tone for Grand Performances' approach to programming, with an eye to serving the entire community and to developing supportive relationships with the local arts community. In 2004, then-California State Assembly Speaker Herb J. Wesson appointed Alexander to serve on the California Arts Council. In January, 2007, his colleagues elected him Chair of the Arts Council and re-elected him to a second term in 2008. He was subsequently reappointed in 2008 and 2012 by Speakers Karen Bass and John Perez, respectively. He continues to serve as Past Chair. He also serves on numerous non-profit arts and community service boards where his skills in policy development, government affairs and community relations are regularly put to use. His strong belief that the arts play a vital role in building healthier communities is evident in the direction that Grand Performances takes in programming, marketing, and community relations. A native Angeleno, he started his professional performing career as a teenager, working as a clown in the Los Angeles City Circus and as a dancer in the Aman Folk Ensemble. He can still ride his unicycle forward!
Leigh Ann Hahn, Director of Programming -
Leigh Ann Hahn joined the Grand Performances team in 1992 after 15 years of for-profit business marketing in several different industries including banking, real estate, and entertainment. She has served as panelist for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Arts Partners program, Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, Los Angeles Dance Kaleidoscope, The Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and the Long Beach Public Corporation for the Arts. Hahn is currently a member of the board of directors for Khmer Arts, a Cambodian arts and culture organization based in Los Angeles County.
Grand Performances -
Hailed as the "Best Free Outdoor Summer Concert Series" by Los Angeles Magazine and called "a grand gift to the public [...] democracy in musical action" by the Los Angeles Times' Mark Swed, Grand Performances, Los Angeles' premier free outdoor summer performing arts series, presents high-quality music, dance, theater, and more at the breathtaking California Plaza in the heart of Downtown. Grand Performances delivers the best of global culture to inspire community among the diverse peoples of Los Angeles, reflective of the many cultural interests across the region. Over the course of 28 seasons, Grand Performances has set the local and national standard for free outdoor performing arts in terms of artistic caliber, production quality, and audience experience. Grand Performances has been called "too good to be free" and "the urban experiment that works." Established in 1987, Grand Performances is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation located on Bunker Hill. http://www.grandperformances.org
2014 Sponsors -
Grand Performances 2014 Summer Concert Series sponsors include Reliance Steel & Aluminum Company, Metabolic Studio, Taxi Magic, FLAX - France Los Angeles Exchange, Council Member Jose Huizar 14th District, Curacao, Sony Pictures, United Airlines, NEA, DCA, Irvine Foundation, KPCC, KCRW, KPFK, KMOZART, and KJAZZ.