World Music Festival comes to La Jolla on May 11
If you go
■ What: World Music Festival, presented by the Center for World Music
■ When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 11
■ Where: Ellen Browning Scripps Park, 1133 Coast Blvd, La Jolla
■ Admission: Free
■ Info: John Gabriel (760) 845-9480 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt
On May 11, the Center for World Music will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a multi-cultural performing arts festival in Ellen Browning Scripps Park, overlooking La Jolla Cove.
The daylong event will feature 25 master artists performing traditional music and dance from countries as diverse as India, Australia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, and the Philippines, and will give music-lovers a chance to learn Peruvian dance and try their skill on instruments like the Indonesian gamelan, the Aussie dijeridu, and the Kenyan drums.
The Center for World Music (CWM) had its beginnings in San Francisco in 1963, as a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing traditional artists from Asia to the United States for workshops and performances.
Originally called the American Society for Eastern Arts, its co-founders were ethnomusicologist Robert E. Brown, a specialist in Indonesian music, and performing arts patrons Samuel and Luise Scripps.
Sam Scripps, a grandson of E.W. Scripps, was a major supporter of dance and theater companies around the country; his wife was devoted to classical Indian dance. Bob Brown, who first coined the term “world music,” broadened the organization’s name and moved its base to San Diego in 1979, when he became chair of the music department at San Diego State University.
What the center is known for is bringing gifted performers from around the world into K-12 classrooms, making traditional instruments accessible to local students, presenting public concerts and offering opportunities for music-lovers of all ages to study abroad.
Its mission — to foster awareness and understanding of global performing arts and cultures — has given thousands of San Diegans an opportunity to interact with master artists and learn from them.
Since Brown’s death in 2005, SDSU music professor Lewis “Pete” Peterman has been president of CWM, and for the past four years, his former student, John Gabriel, has been executive director.
“I started out by going along on a workshop/tour of Ghana, and ended up buying and shipping instruments — drums made from single pieces of wood — from there to San Diego,” Gabriel said. “Now I oversee the program, and I still see these instruments kicking around.”
The festival will be a fitting tribute to the CWM’s half-century of encouraging appreciation of world music.
“It’s our gift to the public,” Gabriel said. “We hope to give as many people as possible a taste of high-quality performances and a chance to interact with the performers. We also hope to generate a broad base of support for our organization and get others to join us in pursuing our mission.”
Last week, Gabriel announced that the CWM had just received a grant of $50,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts.
“We’re thrilled that they recognize our uniqueness, in getting master artists who are authentic culture-bearers to work with public school students, and allowing them to present their art and their culture on their own terms,” he said. “And we’re hoping to secure a matching grant by September 15, so we can start working with San Diego Unified School District to plan our next year.”
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