CalArts Alumni and Family Weekend 2015 Wrap-up

Almost 400 visitors came to campus for CalArts’ first Alumni and Family Weekend, held on Oct. 16 and 17. An informative and engaging slate of events kicked off on Friday afternoon when a barbeque lunch was followed by a keynote address titled, “The 21st Century Creative Graduate and the Changing Nature of Work.” It was delivered by Steven J. Tepper, Dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. Attendees were then invited to sit in on their choice of 10 classes, several workshops, School Open Houses, or to go on campus tours. CalArts President Steven Lavine hosted a late afternoon wine and cheese reception in the Main Gallery, and Friday’s evening options included a dance performance choreographed by students of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, a lecture on “Re-Assembling Tijuana” held at the West Hollywood Public Library–part of a School of Critical Studies’ Program in Aesthetics & Politics lecture series–or a performance of Samita Sinha’s theatricalized music work, Cipher at the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in downtown L.A.

Saturday’s offerings included a CAP Family Arts Workshop and a range of stimulating forums featuring guest moderators and panelists, including faculty, all of whom are prominent representatives of their professional fields, companies, and individual studios. The forums’ content ranged over subjects such as women in Hollywood, recent changes in the music industry, creative careers in the realm of digital technology, the social impact of art, the choreographic process, and artists as entrepreneurs. The career of CalArts Board Trustee, film and television director Rodrigo Garcia, was surveyed in a dialogue between Garcia and an alumnus from the School of Film/Video. A CAP @ 25 panel and Q & A featured former participants and instructors in the program, as well as CAP students who later matriculated at CalArts.

After dinner on Saturday, the weekend events concluded with a rousing jazz concert honoring the legacy of Charlie Haden at the campus’ outdoor music pavilion, the Wild Beast. The innovative and influential jazz bassist, who passed away in July 2014, both founded and taught in CalArts’ Herb Alpert School of Music’s storied Jazz Program for more than 30 years. The heartfelt tribute concert, organized by Haden’s wife Ruth Cameron Haden featured performances by many alumni of the Program including saxophonist Ravi Coltrane (Music MFA 99), trumpeter Ralph Alessi (Music BFA 87, MFA 90), bassist Nedra Wheeler (Music BFA 87, MFA 89)–as well as faculty–pianist Roitstein (faculty 1983-present), bassist Darek Oles (Music BFA 91, faculty 1994-present), drummer Joe LaBarbera (faculty 1994-present), guitarist Miraslav Tadic (faculty 1985-present) and Vinny Golia, who conducted the Liberation Music Orchestra. Other players included saxophonist Peter Epstein (Music BFA 92), pianist Michael Caine(Music MFA 90), drummer Willie Jones III (Music 93), and tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts who played with Haden’s Quartet West for more than 25 years.

During a brief interlude between sets, Haden was made a CalArts posthumous Institute Fellow by Steven Lavine and CalArts Board of trustees Chairman Tim Disney. The concert concluded with a delightful change of pace provided by Haden’s daughters, the Haden Triplets, Petra (Music 93), Tanya (Film/Video BFA 98) and Rachel, who performed a short set of traditional songs in the country western genre. Lastly, members of Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra and former students of Haden’s who were present at the concert, closed with a rendition of We Shall Overcome.

For a full review of the concert, see Josef Woodard’s blogpost for Downbeat.

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