Latin Jazz and Music Fest Returns to Sycamore Park

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Now in its fourth consecutive year, the annual Latin Jazz and Music Festival returns to Sycamore Grove Park in Northeast Los Angeles this weekend for two days of music that fuse the artistry of jazz with the warmth and vitality of Latin rhythms and soul.

Afro-Latin Jazz master Arturo O’ Farrill comes to Highland Park this weekend.

Afro-Latin Jazz master Arturo O’ Farrill comes to Highland Park this weekend.

The festival, hosted by L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo, opens at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23rd with a showcase performance by the Plaza de la Raza Youth Ensemble and concludes on Sunday, the 24th with a highly anticipated performance by Los Coyotes Blues Band, featuring members of the legendary, multiple Grammy Award-winning Los Lobos.

According to Fredy Cejas, Cedillo’s communications director, the festival is an opportunity for the community to enjoy great local musical acts in a relaxed outdoor setting.

“We want to continue the tradition of bringing diverse bands and our diverse constituents together,” says Cejas, who adds that including community-based youth performances helps ensure the festival is “being inclusive of our own local talent and giving them exposure.”

 Los Coyotes - (led by Cesar Rosas and David Hidlago of Los Lobos) will close out the festival, Sunday, Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m.

Los Coyotes – (led by Cesar Rosas and David Hidlago of Los Lobos) will close out the festival, Sunday, Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m.

On top of two days of free, live performances, an onsite community resource fair will bring city departments and non-profit groups together for the community to explore, Cejas adds.

Festivalgoers will be treated to a range of nationally and internationally prominent acts, from the Susie Hansen Latin Band, led by the renowned electric violinist and Saturday headliner Joe Bataan, a legendary New York salsero whose distinctive “salsoul” blend of salsa and R & B has packed dance and concert halls on both coasts and in Europe for decades.

On Sunday, Cold Duck, an eight-piece Southern California orchestra with a sterling reputation for versatility and musical showmanship will take the stage at 2:50 p.m. They are followed by the Arturo O’Farrill Quartet, fronted by the pianist, composer and director of the acclaimed Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. The son of famed Latin jazz musician, arranger and bandleader Chico O’Farrill, Arturo is a leading exponent of Latin Jazz worldwide.

Introduced by Cedillo in 2014 as a festival designed to reflect Highland Park’s “authentic character and vibe,” the celebration was also intended to appeal to the area’s young people and the local area’s large Latino population.

Event sponsors include Paramount Pictures, Coca-Cola, nonprofit El Centro del Pueblo, Big Belly Smart City Solutions, Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

The festival is accessible to mobility challenged guests and attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, umbrellas, and picnic blankets to sit on.

Off-street parking is available, but guests are strongly encouraged to take the Metro Gold Line to the Southwest Museum Station with access directly across the street from the park.

Sycamore Grove Park is located at 4702 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park 90042. For a complete list of performers and the two-day schedule, visit www.GilCedillo.com.

Megan Razzetti contributed to this story.

New Parking Lot Opened at Plaza de la Raza

May 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A new parking lot at the Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center was officially opened Saturday, in time for summer programming at the Lincoln Park community arts venue, city officials said.

The 30 parking spaces replace a dirt lot, adding to existing street and overflow parking near the performing arts and cultural center, and features fencing decorated with panels by artist Sonia Romero.

Councilman Gil Cedillo joined recreation and parks officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The facility hosts hundreds of art classes and workshops each season, as well as art shows, cultural events and performances, according to Recreation and Parks officials. It was also the site of a fan gathering for pop artist Selena last month.

This month, Plaza de la Raza is running an original youth theater production, Y.E.L.L. (Your Electronic Lifeline’s Lifeline), a play about a dystopian future co-written by CalArts grad Sarah Louise Wilson and youth participants, with music composed and performed with former The Airborne Toxic Event band-member Noah Harmon.

Plaza de la Raza Celebrates Parking Re-Opening

May 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A new parking lot at the Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center will official open this weekend, in time for summer programming at the Lincoln Park community arts venue, city officials said Friday.

The 30 parking spaces replace a dirt lot, adding to existing street and overflow parking near the performing arts and cultural center, and features fencing decorated with panels by artist Sonia Romero.

Councilman Gil Cedillo will join recreation and parks officials on Saturday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m.

The facility hosts hundreds of art classes and workshops each season, as well as art shows, cultural events and performances, according to Recreation and Parks officials. It was also the site of a fan gathering for pop artist Selena last month.

This month, Plaza de la Raza is running an original youth theater production, Y.E.L.L. (Your Electronic Lifeline’s Lifeline), a play about a
dystopian future co-written by CalArts grad Sarah Louise Wilson and youth participants, with music composed and performed with former The Airborne Toxic Event band-member Noah Harmon.

‘Shelter’ Story of Survival Comes to Outdoor Stage

March 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Seven teenagers hold tight to their dreams of a better life as they travel on “la bestia,” a notorious cargo train that runs from Southern to Northern Mexico carrying thousands of unofficial passengers on a dangerous and sometimes deadly journey in search of the “promised land.”

“I will not sleep the whole night so I don’t fall from the train,” says one youngster bravely.

“I’ll tie myself to the train with my belt” to not fall off, boasts another.

These scenes are from “Shelter,” an original theater production from the CalArts Center for New Performance making its world premier with free performances at Plaza de La Raza in Lincoln Heights starting on April 8.

Lea este artículo en Español: ‘Shelter’ Una Historia de Sobrevivencia

Written and conceived by author, performer and CalArts faculty member Marissa Chibas, Shelter depicts the human crisis of immigration as seen through the eyes of young Central Americans so desperate to flee extreme poverty and violence they will risk life and limb atop la bestia or other dangerous routes.

Shelter is based on real life. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, in 2014 about 69,000 unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras “flooded the U.S.-Mexico border, traveling alone at great personal peril.”

As the human crisis grew, so did Chibas’ interest. She interviewed several minors attending a Northeast Los Angeles area school and was inspired to tell their stories through the “lens of theater”—which “inspires conversation in ways that traditional news can’t.”

“I did not know the extent of the crisis” when I first started researching, Chibas told EGP. It’s an uncomfortable but important issue people need to be made aware of, she said, explaining her desire to bring the tragedy to public attention.

A talented ensemble of young actors brings life and suspense to Chibas’ words about a group of 14- to 17-year-old unaccompanied minors crossing from Central America to Mexico and into the U.S. seeking asylum. The small cast, four males and three females, bring reality to their roles as immigrant youths riding la bestia, politicians, U.S. border vigilantes and teachers dealing with the problems that come from being an undocumented minor trying to navigate the immigration system and avoid deportation back to the country they fought so hard to escape.

Originally, the plan was to perform Shelter in a real railcar on real train tracks, but that proved too difficult to pull off. Scenic designer and East Los Angeles native Efren Delagadillo Jr. told EGP the production company decided to instead use a 20-foot shipping container as their outdoor stage at Plaza de la Raza in Lincoln Park.

“All of us thought this would be a good fit,” he told EGP.

“Sherlter” premieres April 8 at Plaza de La Raza in Lincoln Heights. (CalArts)

“Sherlter” premieres April 8 at Plaza de La Raza in Lincoln Heights. (CalArts)

CalArts and Plaza de la Raza have a long history of collaboration and there has always been a strong connection with the Eastside community, Chibas told EGP.

According to Plaza’s website, its Community Arts Partnership with CalArts has been offering free programs for youth in the cultural art center for the past 25 years.

“We’re very excited for the local community and people working directly with refugees to see the play, creating a space for conversation,” Chibas said.

“The more people who know about it, the more intolerable it’ll be,” she said about the life endangering trek made by children to this country and the voices calling to expel them from the country.

“I want this to be a piece the community is proud of,” admits Chibas. She hopes people who can relate to the issue through personal experience will go see one of the free performances taking place over two consecutive weekends.

Delgadillo, who was born and raised in City Terrace, said he’s very proud to have a part in creating such a touching story.

Many voices go unheard, he said. It’s so scary how people try to find a better life, yet no one talks about all the people that die during the journey, he told EGP incredulously.

While his role in the production may be confined to set design, for Delgadillo, the production is personal, reminding him of his own father’s journey to cross the border.

“This is the story of many immigrants, it’s a story about people escaping in search of a better life,” he said.

A separate, more populist, “mobile version” of the play has also been produced to accommodate more audiences in theaters, community centers, conference rooms and parks. Instead of the rail container, actors use cardboard boxes to simulate la bestia.

Shelter’s Mexico City-based director, Martin Acosta, told EGP he was moved he learned of the plight of minors traveling alone. “Even though I’m Mexican, I hadn’t seen the magnitude of this problem,” he said in Spanish. “I was ashamed of myself for being unaware…I considered migration only from the economic aspect.”

It is an atrocity to see thousands of minors crossing Mexico, said Acosta, adding that directing the play has been eye-opening experience. “This is a great opportunity to speak about this issue,” he said.

Chibas agrees and says that everyone involved in the production has in some way become an advocate on the issue.

When you work on something you feel is important, you believe in the importance of sharing, Chibas told EGP, explaining cast members have been personally handing out show flyers in Lincoln Heights.  “A young actor told me, ‘I had never had direct contact with the community I’m performing for,’ and for an actor it is important to have contact with the public,” she said.

We have received positive support from the groups that have already previewed Shelter, but we have also seen people whose assumptions about the issue make them very uncomfortable with our production, Chibas said.

“Even if I read some hurtful comments, I believe it is important to put it out there, to show how they feel—both sides,” she said.

Audiences who attend performances at Plaza de La Raza will hear the sound of a real train passing about half a mile away, bringing an additional level of realism to the play, Delgadillo pointed out.

“Sometimes plays are for art’s sake, this one has cultural, personal value,” he said.

A schedule of performances can be found in EGP’s Community Calendar or at   http://centerfornewperformance.org/project/shelter/ .

Updated: 2:17pm

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Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

‘Shelter’ Una Historia de Sobrevivencia

March 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Siete adolescentes se aferran a sus sueños de una vida mejor mientras viajan en “la bestia”, un tren de carga que se extiende del sur al norte de México llevando miles de pasajeros no oficiales en un viaje peligroso y a veces mortal en busca de la “tierra prometida”.

“No voy a dormir toda la noche para no caerme del tren”, dice valientemente un joven.

“Me voy a atar del tren con mi cinturón” para no caer, añade otro.

Estas son escenas de “Shelter” (Refugio) una producción original de CalArts Center for New Performance que hará su estreno mundial con presentaciones gratuitas en Plaza de La Raza en Lincoln Heights comenzando el 8 de abril.

Read this article in English: ‘Shelter’ Story of Survival Comes to Outdoor Stage

Escrito y concebido por la autora, intérprete y miembro de la facultad CalArts Marissa Chibas, Shelter representa la crisis humana de la inmigración a través de los ojos de jóvenes centroamericanos desesperados por huir de la pobreza extrema y la violencia arriesgando su vida encima de la bestia u otras rutas peligrosas.

Shelter esta basado en la vida real. De acuerdo con el Pew Charitable Trust, en el año 2014 alrededor de 69.000 menores no acompañados procedentes de El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras “inundaron la frontera de EE.UU.-México, viajando solos”.

A medida que la crisis humana creció, también creció el interés de Chibas. Ella entrevistó a algunos de los menores de edad, todos adolescentes en una escuela del Noreste de Los Ángeles y se inspiró para contar sus historias a través del “lente del teatro”, que “inspira a una conversación de manera que las noticias tradicionales no lo pueden hacer”.

“No sabía la magnitud de la crisis”, cuando empecé a investigar, Chibas le dijo a EGP. Es un tema incómodo, pero importante, del cual la gente tiene que estar conciente, dijo al explicar su deseo de traer esta tragedia a la atención pública.

Un grupo de talentosos jóvenes actores da vida y suspenso a las palabras de Chibas interpretando a un grupo de menores, de 14 a 17 años de edad, no acompañados que cruzan de Centroamérica a México y al llegar a EE.UU. solicitan asilo.

 

“Shelter” es una producción original de CalArts Center for New Performance con presentaciones gratuitas en Plaza de La Raza. (CalArts)

“Shelter” es una producción original de CalArts Center for New Performance con presentaciones gratuitas en Plaza de La Raza. (CalArts)

El pequeño reparto, cuatro hombres y tres mujeres, dan vida a papeles de jóvenes indocumentados que viajan en la bestia, así como a políticos, a vigilantes fronterizos estadounidenses y a maestros que tienen que lidiar con los problemas que vienen de un menor indocumentado tratando de navegar por el sistema de inmigración y evitar la deportación al país de donde luchó tanto para escapar.

Originalmente, el plan era realizar la obra en un vagón real sobre vías del tren reales, pero esta idea fue anulada después de verificar que sería demasiado difícil. El escenógrafo y nativo del Este de Los Ángeles Efrén Delgadillo Jr. le dijo a EGP que en su lugar la producción decidió utilizar un contenedor de 20 pies como su escenario al aire libre en Plaza de la Raza en Lincoln Park.

“Todos pensamos que esto sería una buena opción”, le dijo a EGP.

CalArts y Plaza de la Raza tienen una larga historia de colaboración y siempre han tenido una fuerte conexión con la comunidad del lado este, Chibas le dijo a EGP.

De acuerdo con la página Web de Plaza de la Raza, su Sociedad Comunitaria de Artes con CalArts ayuda a sostener los modestos programas de bajo costo de la organización no lucrativa que a su vez genera ingresos para el centro.

“Estamos muy emocionados por la comunidad local y las personas que trabajan directamente con los refugiados para que vean la obra, creando un espacio para conversación”, dijo Chibas.

“Cuantas más personas sepan acerca de esto, será más intolerable”, aseveró sobre la peligrosa travesía que hacen miles de niños a este país y las voces que piden expulsarlos del mismo.

“Quiero que esta sea una pieza de la cual la comunidad este orgullosa”, admite Chibas. Ella espera que personas que puedan relacionarse con el tema a través de una experiencia personal vayan a ver uno de los espectáculos gratuitos que tendrán lugar durante dos fines de semana consecutivos.

Delgadillo, quien nació y creció en City Terrace, dijo que está muy orgulloso de participar en la creación de una historia tan conmovedora.

Un contenedor de 20 pies será utilizado para la versión de Shelter al aire libre. (CalArts)

Un contenedor de 20 pies será utilizado para la versión de Shelter al aire libre. (CalArts)

Muchas voces no son escuchadas, dijo. Nos asusta ver como las personas tratan de encontrar una vida mejor, sin embargo, nadie habla de todas las personas que mueren durante el viaje, le dijo a EGP con incredulidad.

Mientras que su papel en la producción es establecer el diseño, para Delgadillo, la producción también es personal, pues le recuerda el viaje que su propio padre hizo al cruzar la frontera.

“Esta es la historia de muchos inmigrantes, es una historia acerca de las personas que huyen en busca de una vida mejor”, dijo.

Una “versión móvil” más populista de la obra también se ha producido para dar cabida a más audiencias en teatros, centros comunitarios, salas de conferencias y parques. En lugar del contenedor ferroviario, los actores utilizan cajas de cartón para simular la bestia.

El director mexicano de Shelter, Martín Acosta, le dijo a EGP que quedo impresionado cuando se enteró de la difícil situación de los menores de edad que viajan solos. “Aun siendo mexicano, no me había dado cuenta de la magnitud del problema” dijo. “Me avergonzó por ser ignorante de este asunto… desde hace muchos años consideré [la inmigración] solamente desde el aspecto económico”.

Es una atrocidad ver miles de menores que cruzan México, dijo Acosta, quien agregó que la dirección de la obra ha sido una experiencia reveladora. “Es una gran oportunidad la de poder hablar de este tema.”, dijo.

Chibas está de acuerdo y dice que todos los involucrados en la producción de alguna manera se han convertido en defensores del tema.

Cuando se trabaja en algo que uno siente que es importante, se cree en el valor de compartir, Chibas le dijo a EGP, explicando que el reparto ha salido personalmente a entregar volantes de la obra en Lincoln Heights.

“Un joven actor me dijo, ‘yo nunca había tenido contacto directo con la comunidad para la que me estoy presentando’ y para un actor es importante tener contacto con el público”, dijo.

Hemos recibido apoyo positivo de los grupos que ya han visto previamente Shelter, pero también hemos visto a personas a quienes el tema de nuestra producción los pone muy incómodos, dijo Chibas.

“Incluso he leído algunos comentarios hirientes, pero creo que es importante ponerlo ahí, para mostrar cómo se sienten—ambas partes”, aseveró

El público que asista a las actuaciones en Plaza de la Raza posiblemente escuchará también el sonido de un tren de verdad que pasa alrededor de media milla de distancia, trayendo un nivel adicional de realismo a la obra,  señaló Delgadillo.

“A veces las obras de teatro son por el bien del arte, éste tiene un valor cultural, personal”, dijo.

El Calendario de la Comunidad de EGP tiene el calendario de actuaciones o puede visitar http://centerfornewperformance.org/project/shelter/.

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Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Community Calendar: Jan. 22, 2015 – Jan. 28, 2015

January 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Friday, Jan. 23

8-10pm—Jazz Up Your Night at Union Station! Metro Presents free performance by Kamasi Washington & The Next Step. The musicians will be performing new jazz, soul, classical, and hip-hop. Doors open at 7:45 p.m. & there will be two 45-minute sets. DJ Carlos Niño will be spinning before and in between sets. Admission will be on a first come, first served basis. Union Station is accessible via Metro Rail, Metro Bus and several municipal bus lines. Use the Trip Planner at metro.net for routes and connections. Bicycle parking is also available on site.

 

Saturday, Jan. 24

9am-2pm–Montebello Unified School District and The Children’s Partnership host Covered CA Enrollment event at Montebello Teacher’s Association Conference Center. English and Spanish-speaking certified enrollment counselors and representatives from health insurance plans will be available to families and individuals. The event is free and open to the public. Free childcare will be provided and refreshments will be available. MTA conference center is located at 920 Whittier Blvd.

10am-2pm–Grand Re-Opening of Rosewood Library. Celebrate the opening of the renovated Commerce library. Enjoy performances, children’s activities and more. Library is located at 5655 Jillson St. For info, call (323) 722-6660.

12pm-4pm–Commerce 55th Birthday Celebration at Rosewood Park. Event will feature free shuttle buses, kiddie trains, interactive games, live entertainment, obstacle courses, free food and refreshments. Park is located at 5600 Harbor St. For info, call (323) 887-4434.

 10am-3pm—Glassell Park Farmers’ Market in the Goodwill Parking Lot (San Fernando & Fletcher). Local honey, great tamales, and more.

 2pm—Rosy Simas Presents We Wait in the Darkness at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park. Contemporary dancer/choreographer Rosy Simas (Seneca) combines music, dance, film, and narration to explore her family’s heritage and themes of loss and resilience. Included with Museum Admission / Free for Autry Members. No reservations necessary. For more information, visit theautry.org.

 

Upcoming

Volunteers needed for Cypress Park Community Clean Up on Jan. 31 from 8:30 to 11:30 am. Wear comfortable work clothes. Meet at Nightingale Middle School: 3311 N. Figueroa St., LA 90065. Continental breakfast & lunch served to volunteers. For more information, call Jose Rodriguez at (3213) 550-1538.

Night on Broadway Jan. 31 Celebrating the 7th Anniversary of the Bringing Back Broadway Initiative. Celebration will feature booths, art exhibits, a vintage car show, food trucks and programming in six of Broadway’s historic and often closed-to-the-public theatres including the Million Dollar, Los Angeles, Palace, Tower, Orpheum, and the Theatre at Ace Hotel. The Event is free, open to all ages. Time: 5pm-10pm. For info, visit nightonbroadway.la

VITA Income Tax Preparation Assistance Begins Feb. 2nd at Plaza de La Raza in Lincoln Heights. Plaza provides FREE income tax preparation to qualified individuals. Plaza is located at 3540 N. Mission Rd, LA 90031. Contact Mayra, Francis or Carolyn to schedule an appointment (323) 223-2475.

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