By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Among the three free events on offer Saturday night, "Sacred Music of the Labor Movement" can be heard at United University Church on the campus of USC. "Our program is being presented by Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, which was originally formed to encourage the religious community to get involved with the living-wage campaign," says CLUE representative Linda Lotz. "One of our primary goals is to restore the relationship between faith and the labor community that flourished for decades, but unraveled in the '60s. The AFL-CIO will be meeting in L.A. at the same time this festival takes place, and a conference sponsored by the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice will happen here then, too; the festival seemed like the ideal context to try and reintroduce those communities."
CLUE's performances will be under the directorship of the Rev. Joe Frazier, a former member of the Chad Mitchell Trio who's also an Episcopal priest. "We'll be doing Woody Guthrie songs, and tunes Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers used to do," says Frazier. "I'd like to add that the Episcopal Church [as part of a consortium of churches] has proclaimed the millennium a jubilee year, which means it's a year when debt is forgiven and land is returned to its rightful owners. This includes the debt of IMF loans to poor countries. Our church is doing what it can to encourage the U.S. government to forgive loans to countries that can't even pay the interest, much less repay the loan."
ON SUNDAY, THE FESTIVAL PRESENTS ONE SPEC-
tacular event at the Hollywood Bowl, which opens with an address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (who'll also give teachings at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on October 12, 13 and 14. For information call 626-915-7008). Included on the Bowl program is Balinese music performed by Gamelan Sekar Jaya; Native American a cappella trio Ulali; sacred sutras chanted by Tibetan monks; and Ali Jihad Racy & Ahmed El-Asmer, who perform Sufi music. The cherry on top of Sunday's sundae is Esa-Pekka Salonen and the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra's performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 ("Choral").
"I'd never have had the courage to ask the Philharmonic to volunteer their services, but one of their representatives attended one of our community meetings, took the information back to the Philharmonic and to Esa-Pekka Salonen, and they offered to participate," says
Mitoma. "Needless to say, we were thrilled."
In explaining his choice of Beethoven's Ninth for the Bowl concert, Salonen notes, "It's hard to find sacred music in the classical world that isn't tied to a specific religion, but this piece is perfect, because it addresses themes of global brotherhood, universal understanding and sympathy between human beings. Technically it's not a difficult piece, but it is difficult in that it's one of the pinnacles of the repertoire, and the weight of the previous interpretations is enormous. So mentally it's always a challenge. We haven't performed it in L.A. since 1997, so it seemed time to warm it up again."
On Monday the festival is dark, then things gear up again with events happening throughout the city. Tuesday's menu includes Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra at the Agape International Center of Truth; pioneering avant-garde multimedia artist Meredith Monk at the Getty; and vocalists Perla Batalla and Marlui Miranda at Cal State Northridge. Batalla is an L.A. vocalist whose music combines Latin rhythms with elements of blues and jazz; Miranda is a Brazilian artist who's devoted years of research to preserving and learning native songs of the Amazon.
Some of L.A.'s indigenous music can be heard at 6 p.m. Wednesday, when Mariachi Sol de America performs under the directorship of Juan Jose Almaguer in a free concert at Plaza de la Raza. On the other side of town, Adam del Monte and Cantor Eva Robbins bring the sounds of Jewish mysticism to the United Methodist Church in Westwood.
"In Judaism, everything is sung or chanted, and the human voice is considered an integral part of transmitting information," Robbins explains. "The cantor is the spiritual voice and the messenger of the people, and is responsible for inspiring a sense of spirituality in the people. Most of the music is in Hebrew and has been handed down for centuries, but people write contemporary cantor music as well. For this performance I'll attempt to take people on a musical journey. I'll begin with the Torah, which began to be recited publicly in the fifth century, then I'll show how it developed through the addition of other melodies, and I'll conclude with some of the music being written for cantors today."
Thursday's lineup includes a 7 p.m. performance at the Lutheran University Chapel in Westwood by Pasha
Ninateen, a local trio made up of Stephanie Payne, Sharon Berman and vocalist Anna Homler. "I sing in a primal style that resembles the Navajo language and is related to niggunin, which is a Jewish form of wordless chanting," says Homler. "My singing style is a bit like speaking in tongues and is basically an idiolect, which is a language nobody knows but everybody understands because of the communicative properties of sound."