Category: Spring Arts Preview

Spring architecture preview: Barnes Foundation's new home, CicLAvia

March 2, 2012 |  2:56 pm


When it comes to architecture, the season ahead is a mixture of anticipation, uncertainty and controversy. Philadelphia is home to the controversy, in the form of a new home for the Barnes Foundation, while in Los Angeles we look forward to a new light-rail line (the precise opening date is where the uncertainty comes in), an expanding CicLAvia and a third building at the Pacific Design Center.

Here is what's ahead in the spring:

A new home for the Barnes Foundation

No architectural commission has been more controversial in recent years than the job of building a new facility for the Barnes Foundation in central Philadelphia. In taking it on, the New York architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, best known for their now-shuttered Museum of American Folk Art down the block from the Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan, grabbed a chance to produce the biggest and highest-profile building of their careers. But the new 93,000-square-foot facility on Benjamin Franklin Parkway will face legions of doubters who wonder if the remarkable group of paintings assembled by Albert C. Barnes in the first half of the 20th century should ever have been removed from its quirky, poetic home in suburban Merion.

May 19,

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Spring jazz preview: Esperanza Spalding, Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau

March 2, 2012 | 12:59 pm

Esperanza Spalding

A three-night run with local favorites Kneebody, in-the-moment solo piano alchemy from Keith Jarrett and the latest from 2011 Grammy favorite Esperanza Spalding are among the most anticipated jazz concerts this spring.

Here's a rundown of some highlights over the coming months.


A fixture at Santa Monica’s genre-hopping Temple Bar in the early '00s, the members of Kneebody have evolved into attention-grabbing sidemen and bandleaders in their own right.  Trumpeter Shane Endsley’s album "Then the Other" was one of the highlights of 2011, and saxophonist Ben Wendel just released a splendid recording of his own, "Frame." But when the group finds time to come back together it delivers a raucous take on jazz colored by bent diversions into funk and propulsive indie rock. (Wendel returns in May for a duet with New York pianist Dan Tepfer.)

The Blue Whale, 23 Astronaut E S. Onizuka St., Suite 301. 9 p.m. March 15-17, $10

Keith Jarrett

The ever-mercurial Jarrett can be a combative figure from the stage -- if you're, say, getting over a case of strep throat or are plagued by an itchy shutter-finger -- but there's no quarreling with what he does once he sits at the piano. With his gifts for improvisation in full bloom on last year's gorgeous live set "Rio," Jarrett's of-the-moment solo performances dip into blues, gospel, ragtime and something uniquely his own that sounds unlike anything else yet remains strangely familiar, as if the song had been with us all along.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., L.A. 8 p.m. March 27, $43-$150.

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Spring dance preview: Ballet Preljocaj, Savion Glover

March 2, 2012 | 12:15 pm

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève performs “Les Sylphides"

The dance season picks up steam with some tantalizing "firsts": Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève makes its debut appearance and introduces Los Angeles to works by Benjamin Millepied of "Black Swan" fame, who is artistic director at L.A. Dance Project. In addition, American Ballet Theatre premieres a new production of "The Firebird" by one of the world's most exciting choreographers, Alexei Ratmansky. 

Here's a look ahead at these and other notable dance engagements this spring:

Ballet Preljocaj

 French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj answers to an eclectic -- some might even say fickle -- muse. Since establishing Ballet Preljocaj in 1984, he has given audiences a dystopian “Romeo and Juliet” on the one hand, and an abstract “Helikopter,” with Karlheinz Stockhausen’s noisy quartet for helicopters as a score, on the other hand. The company’s upcoming Los Angeles performances highlight a well-known story in “Snow White” (2008). But this being Preljocaj, and with costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier and a score culled from Mahler, don’t expect Disney. (For ages 12 and older.)

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. 7:30 p.m. March 23-24, 2 p.m. March 25. $28-$110.

Savion Glover

The boy wonder of Broadway’s “The Tap Dance Kid” and “Black and Blue” has matured into Savion the inscrutable artist, often dancing with head bowed. His unquenchable thirst to explore tap dancing as percussive sound goes on. In “Bare Soundz,” he explores flamenco rhythms. Glover is always mindful of tap dancing’s roots and the hoofers who came before him, and he pays tribute in this show to the late Gregory Hines.

Valley Performing Arts Center, California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. 8 p.m. March 24. $25-$70.

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Spring classical music preview: John Cage, John Adams anniversaries

March 2, 2012 |  9:42 am

John Cage, left, and John Adams
Big John Cage and John Adams anniversaries -- festivals for the former, major premieres in San Francisco and Los Angeles by the latter -- will make this a spring of Johns. Meanwhile the big opera news this spring is not with the major companies but outliers -- especially Gustavo Dudamel conducting "Don Giovanni" with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the premiere of Olga Neuwirth's Moby-Dick-based "The Outcast" in Mannheim, Germany.

Here is what is coming up in classical music this spring.

John Cage concerts

This year the world is busy celebrating the 100th anniversary of John Cage’s birth at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, Sept. 5, 1912. There is more action on the East Coast than the West, and bigger events in Europe than here this spring, but Southwest Chamber Music is in the midst of a two-year Cage festival. March also brings several concerts of the composer's works to Pasadena and downtown L.A. The Los Angeles Philharmonic gets in the act with Cage’s Concerto for Prepared Piano with Gloria Cheng as soloist and John Adams conducting. The San Francisco Symphony has excerpts from Cage’s “Song Books” as part of Michael Tilson Thomas’ American Mavericks festival. The big stuff this spring, though will be in Berlin where the Berlin Festival will devote a week in March to Cage concerts and international Cage symposium.

Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, 5 p.m. March 4, as well as other locations, dates and times. $10-$38.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. April 10. $43-$63.

Davies Sympyhony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. 8 p.m. March 10 and 14. $35-$145.

Berlin Festival, Berlin, Germany, various times, locations and prices, March 17-22.

John Adams(es)

This is an anniversary year for John Adams as well, with his 65th birthday having been in January and two major new works by the composer forthcoming this spring. The San Francisco Symphony premieres “Absolute Jest” for string quartet and orchestra and the L.A. Phil mounts “The Gospel According to the Other Mary,” a follow-up to Adam’s opera/oratorio “El Niño” with Gustavo Dudamel conducting. Adams also will be a presence on the Disney podium: In addition to the Cage concerto, he will lead the West Coast premiere of Philip Glass' Ninth Symphony on a program with Adams' own Violin Concerto. Meanwhile the Ojai Festival kicks off at the Libbey Bowl with the other John Adams, John Luther Adams, and his "Inuksuit" for 48 percussion and piccolo players.

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Spring theater preview: 'Waiting for Godot,' 'Hands on a Hardbody'

March 2, 2012 |  9:00 am

'The Scottsboro Boys'

Trucks have never really been my thing, but of the upcoming new musicals this season, I’m most curious about “Hands on a Hardbody,” the Doug Wright-Trey Anastasio-Amanda Green collaboration at La Jolla Playhouse. As for drama (or tragicomedy, to be more precise) I am champing at the bit for “Waiting for Godot,” with Alan Mandell and Barry McGovern sure to put on a Beckettian master class at the Mark Taper Forum.

Here’s a shortlist of the spring season's most promising theatrical offerings.

'Waiting for Godot'

Samuel Beckett’s play is more than just an ingenious work of theater — it’s a modern myth. Two tramps pass their time together while waiting for the appearance of a gentleman who will supposedly redeem their patience and relieve their confounded suffering. A tragicomic mix of vaudeville antics and philosophical badminton, this genre-busting work was magnificently characterized by playwright Jean Anouilh as “the music-hall sketch of Pascal’s 'Pensées' as played by Fratellini clowns.” Two highly regarded Beckett interpreters, Alan Mandell and Barry McGovern, take on the roles of Estragon and Vladimir in a production directed by Michael Arabian and featuring James Cromwell as Pozzo that will have an extraordinary wealth of experience to draw on in reanimating this modern classic.
Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles Music Center. March 21 – April 22. Tickets start at $20.

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Spring art preview: Robert Adams at LACMA, Aphrodite at Getty Villa

March 2, 2012 |  8:15 am

Robert Smithson, "The Spiral Jetty"

After six months of Southern California museum shows dominated by Pacific Standard Time, the Getty-sponsored studies of L.A.'s post-World War II emergence as a major international production center for new art, the spring season turns in several other directions.

Aphrodite meets Quetzalcoatal, to name just two:

Natalie Bookchin: Now he's out in public and everyone can see

The stark and evolving differences between corporate-owned commercial television and personally created online video should get thrown into high relief in an 18-channel installation by Natalie Bookchin, provocatively titled "Now he's out in public and everyone can see." The subject of the work, developed over the course of more than two years, is publicly reported scandal involving African American men.

Bookchin, who teaches in the photography and media program at CalArts, has designed a montage of independently produced online video diaries to scrutinize similarities, distinctions and relationships among individual interpretations of those news events. Social media is creating a new public platform for documentary television. The installation, especially timely during a presidential election year, aims to add another dimension to the mix.

LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), 6522 Hollywood Blvd., (323) 957-1777. March 8-April 15. Closed Mon. and Tue. Free.

Robert Adams: The Place We Live, A Retrospective Selection of Photographs

Forty years of pictures by Robert Adams, a former English literature professor in Colorado who didn't devote his primary energies to photography until he was 30, will survey his long-term engagement with the radically changing Western landscape. Between 1968 and 1971, Adams photographed suburban housing and shopping developments being newly built in the region where the Great Plains rise up into the Rockies, which he published as a book titled "The New West."

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