UCSD compiles an eclectic ArtPower season lineup

Trumpeter Sean Jones and vocalist-dancer Brinae Ali
Trumpeter Sean Jones and vocalist-dancer Brinae Ali will perform in April as part of ArtPower’s 2021-22 season.
(Conrad Louis-Charles Photography)

After pivoting to an all-virtual format last year, ArtPower organizers welcome a return to in-person performances. The season starts Sunday, Oct. 10.


After pandemic-related concerns resulted in a pivot to all-virtual events last year, ArtPower’s executive director, Jordan Peimer, is pragmatically looking forward to the 2021-22 season.

“Every year, I have the little kid in me jumping up and down about the coming season,” Peimer said from his ArtPower office at UC San Diego in La Jolla. “It’s true this season, too, but maybe I’m just a little more cautious.”

With that in mind, ArtPower’s 2021-22 season begins Sunday, Oct. 10, with two virtual dance events and then will start in-person events with Malian guitarist-vocalist Vieux Farka Touré playing Nov. 2 at The Loft.

Over the next seven months, ArtPower will bring a varied array of artists here, including dance troupe Ronald K. Brown\Evidence, chamber-music ensemble Ariel Quartet, Latin Gramm nominee Gina Chavez and bluegrass multi-instrumentalist Sierra Hull.

In May, author Neil Gaiman and humorist David Sedaris will appear in two separate events at the Balboa Theatre.

Looking back, Peimer acknowledged the difficulty of adjusting to the ever-changing pandemic restrictions. But he said being online last season demonstrated the ways virtual experiences can be used in the future.

“It’s going to affect what we do, bringing artists virtually prior to them appearing live here,” Peimer said. “If somebody had suggested that two years ago, I would have laughed. But I think it worked.

“On Oct. 10, we’re presenting the virtual San Diego debut of CoisCéim Dance Theatre, a Dublin dance company. Their piece, ‘Uncle Ray,’ is about dancer Ray Bolger. ... It’s an opportunity for students to learn from choreographer David Bolger and for the audience to get to know the company. We’ll be bringing them in person in for our 2022-23 season. This is our first experiment in a virtual/live format. I’m certain it won’t be our last.”

Musician Gina Chavez
Musician Gina Chavez will play in March as part of ArtPower’s 2021-22 season.
(Spencer Selvidge)

Another virtual event this month will celebrate UCSD’s first Latinx History Month. Los Angeles-based Dance Camera West, in a collaboration with Mexico City’s Movimiento en Movimiento festival, will present a program featuring contemporary dance films from Latin American artists.

Because UCSD will not begin in-person events until November, a concert by Austin-based Gina Chavez has been rescheduled to March 10.

Departure and rebookings

In addition to pandemic-related changes, ArtPower had a personnel shift. In July, its associate director of artistic planning and education, Molly Clark, left UCSD to become director at Cal Poly Arts, a department of California Polytechnic State University.

The search for her replacement is ongoing.

Peimer credits Clark for about half the bookings for the 2021-22 season.

“She did much of the jazz and the American Routes series. I booked the chamber-music series, but she introduced the artists to me. Molly is very much a part of this season,” Peimer said.

Of the 21 upcoming events scheduled, nine were rebooked after being postponed from the previous two pandemic-plagued seasons. Among those is Gaiman, author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels and films.

Joanna Christian, ArtPower’s marketing and communications associate director, had Gaiman on her wish list.

“For six years, Joanna has been asking to have Neil here,” Peimer said. “I finally had him booked last season — and COVID happened.”

Eight make San Diego debuts

Viano String Quartet
The Viano String Quartet makes its ArtPower debut in February.
(Courtesy of ArtPower)

Eight artists in ArtPower’s lineup this season are making their San Diego debuts, including koto player Yumi Kurosawa, accompanied by percussionist Eric Phinney.

Another local debut performance will be by Les Filles de Illighadad, a New York-based, female-led guitar band from the Tuareg region of western Niger. Still another is the Viano String Quartet, the Curtis Institute of Music’s string quartet in residence.

Other ensembles coming to ArtPower this year include the St. Lawrence String Quartet and the Ariel Quartet.

All concerts will comply with health and safety protocols.

“UCSD is one of the safer places you can be,” Peimer said. “You’ll run into more inoculated people than anywhere else. To work or go to school here, you have to be vaccinated. You can’t say that about a grocery store or about flying in a plane.”

UCSD ArtPower 2021-22 season

When: Oct. 10 through May 13
Where: Various venues
Phone: (858) 534-8497

Oct. 10: CoisCéim Dance Theatre, “Uncle Ray,” virtual event, noon, $5

Oct. 28: Dance Camera West, “Movimiento en Movimiento: An Evening of Latin American Dance for Film,” virtual event, 8 p.m., $5

Nov. 2: Vieux Farka Touré, The Loft, 8 p.m., $20-$30

Nov. 9: Sierra Hull with Dead Horses, The Loft, 8 p.m., $23–$35

Jan. 21-22: Rosanna Gamson World Wide, “Sugar Houses,” Mandeville Stage, 8 p.m., $25

Feb. 2: A.I.M by Kyle Abraham, “An Untitled Love,” Balboa Theatre, 8 p.m., $30–$50

A.I.M by Karl Abraham
A.I.M by Karl Abraham will perform “An Untitled Love” in February as part of ArtPower’s new season.
(Carrie Schneider)

Feb. 9: Kandace Springs, The Loft, 8 p.m., $28–$40

Feb. 16: Marc Ribot, The Loft, 8 p.m., $28–$40

Feb. 18: Viano String Quartet, Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, 8 p.m., $45–$54

Feb. 23: Makaya McCraven, The Loft, 8 p.m., $28–$40

March 2: Ronald K. Brown\Evidence, Balboa Theatre, 8 p.m., $30–$50

March 10: Gina Chavez, The Loft, 8 p.m., $23–$35

April 1: Ariel Quartet, Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, 8 p.m., $45–$54

April 13: Aoife O’Donovan, The Loft, 8 p.m., $23–$35

April 14: Sean Jones “Dizzy Spellz” featuring Brinae Ali, The Loft, 8 p.m, $28–$40

April 20: Les Filles de Illighadad, The Loft, 8 p.m., $20–$30

April 22: Canellakis-Brown Duo, Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, 8 p.m., $45–$54

April 26: Yumi Kurosawa with Eric Phinney, The Loft, 8 p.m., $20–$30

May 5: Neil Gaiman, Balboa Theatre, 8 p.m., $60–$75

May 7: David Sedaris, Balboa Theatre, 8 p.m., $40–$55

May 13: St. Lawrence String Quartet, Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, 8 p.m., $45–$54 ◆