• Pamela Froman

Pepperdine University Q&A

Pepperdine University is offering amazing selections during its 2018–2019 season. The University recently hosted a Q & A session with the creatives behind the creativity: Rebecca Carson, Managing Director of the Lisa Smith Wengler for the Arts, and Michael Zakian, Museum Director of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art. As well the panel included two of the performers that are scheduled to appear this season: Ashli Christoval of Jazzy Ash and The Leaping Lizards and Adriana Astorga-Gainey, the Artistic Director of Pacífico Dance Company.

Rebecca has been Managing Director for 10 years and enjoys working with singer-songwriters. “This season artists like Grammy-winning songwriter Jimmy Webb and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee JD Souther will tell a great story.”

Other musicians coming to Pepperdine are jazz band Sammy Miller and the Congregation; Americana country group The Lone Bellow; acoustic folk trio I’m With Her; Celtic bluegrass quartet We Banjo 3; jazz singer Nicole Henry; the Lovin’ Spoonful founder John Sebastian; dynamic string duo Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas; and a collaboration between roots and folk groups The Dustbowl Revival and Hot Club of Cowtown.

Pepperdine strives to forge a connection with LA-based artists as well as performers from all across the world. Ashli Christoval of Jazzy Ash and The Leaping Lizards is one such local artist. She started out as an early childhood music teacher. Then she began to think about her own history and how it relates to jazz – and Jazzy Ash was born.

Pacífico Dance Company is dedicated to the preservation and reconstruction of Mexican dance, as well as developing original and innovative choreographies. Adriana Astorga-Gainey of Pacífico Dance says she loves the intimacy of the Smothers theatre. It gives the company a way to connect to the audience.

Michael Zakian is looking forward to this year's art displays. The Pop! 50 Years of Pop Art exhibition starts August 28 and it is going to have vintage examples of pop art from the 60s and 70s as well as current artists. One of my Michael's favorites is an Oreo manhole cover made of cast iron and weighing close to 500 lbs.

In January there is a special exhibition of California abstract art by Richard Diebenkorn called Beginnings featuring work that has never been seen by the public. In April there is a show of student work with the Senior Art Thesis Exhibition. Finally, next summer's show is Squeak Carnwath, who does abstract paintings using a personal iconography of charts, symbols, texts and images.

This season also offers the Parkening International Guitar Competition where Pepperdine brings talented classical guitarists together from all over the world. 15 musicians come to the campus for the chance at the Final Round and Awards Ceremony to compete with a full orchestra for a $30,000 cash prize and the Jack Marshall Gold Medal. What advice would the panel give?

Ashli says people need to find their voice – whatever that is and to keep looking. “There is so many ways you can engage yourself in art, everyone can find that on their own,” she says.

Michael adds “How can you get more involved with the arts? Show up, go, participate, go to exhibitions and just enjoy it.”

Rebecca also has an opinion: “I think it's always about taking a chance. Try an artist that you haven't heard of. Go see it, it could end up as your new favorite.”

The season will also feature: Michael Feinstein, ukulele virtuosi Jake Shimabukuro, Grammy Award winner Sheena Easton, and acrobatic troupe Cirque Mechanics. Chinese Warriors of Peking kicks off the season's dance offerings, which includes Ailey II, Jessica Lang Dance, and of course, Pacífico Dance Company. The Gregg G. Juarez Stars of Stage and Screen series includes guitarist Bill Frisell, On Broadway, and Vitaly: An Evening of Wonders. The Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts will once again present Family Arts Fest, a day of face painting, food trucks, backstage and museum tours, art projects, and performances by Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards. Other family shows include Childsplay's Tomás and the Library Lady, and musicians Dan Zanes and Claudia Eliaza. The Recital Series, featuring young classical musicians, includes performances by the pianist Fei-Fei, harpist Cristina Montes Mateo with flutist Susan Greenberg Norman, pianist Kenny Broberg, and violinist YooJin Jang.

The Pepperdine Fine Arts Division presents operetta Die Fledermaus; Deanna Jent’s Falling; the Tony-nominated murder mystery Curtains; Lisa Kron’s drama Well; a gender-flipped version of The Taming of the Shrew; and performances by Pepperdine student music ensembles. Additionally, Pepperdine Student Activities presents its popular Dance in Flight and Songfest. The Center for the Arts is located on the Pepperdine University campus at 24255 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

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