April, 2008

Grant Writing Workshop

Funding is the most challenging fact of life for most of the smaller – and a number of the larger – arts organizations represented on this site. Though it beats working in a factory or – egad – a corporation, a career in the arts must still pay for little luxuries like food, clothes, and a place to live.

The task of Getting The Money often falls to the organization’s executive director, or a volunteer from the board of directors. These hapless individuals are charged with soliciting dollars from virtually everyone, virtually all the time, to cover costs of bringing professional arts to an audience.

The good news is that, frequently, large wads of cash are available from foundation, corporate, and government sources in the form of grants. The bad news: the fundraising person has to write a grant application. A tax return is a day at the beach, compared with one of these babies.

Help is here. Professional Education Development Group offers a two-day grant writing workshop in Los Angeles on May 1 and 2. “Successful grant writing involves the coordination of several specific activities,” says DJ Bonner, who heads the nationally-recognized program. “We take our participants step-by-step through the process, and they become competent, professional grant writers during two very intensive days.”

Bonner’s instructors are all proven grant writing experts, with impressive grant award track records. Classes are small, to provide individual, hands-on assistance with proposals. A limited number of seats remain for this workshop. Partial scholarships are available to 501-c-3 arts organizations and individual artists.

Go to www.pedgrants.com for more info/registration.

Professional Education Development is the only company of its kind to also offer workshops in Spanish.

- Penny Orloff

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Katia’s Wild Violin

“It was like wrestling a wild animal,” says Bulgarian-born Katia Popov, of the first time she attempted to play her historic violin. “It took months – in the end, I did not master the instrument. Instead, it taught me to play better.”

Audiences can hear the collaborative result of Katia Popov and her wild violin when the California String Quartet plays a free concert of works by Haydn and Dohnanyi on April 27 at 3 pm at the First Christian Church, at 4390 Colfax Avenue, corner of Moorpark, in Studio City.

The ensemble, founded and led by Popov, performs chamber music throughout the Southland. A meet-the-artists reception follows.

Having left Bulgaria to study music at the Paris Conservatory, Popov became concertmaster of the European Symphonic Orchestra in Paris, where a mysterious benefactor appeared, offering her the use of the instrument she loves to tussle with. “He admired my work,” she says, “and told me this violin must be played. It is on loan to me for life.”

Along with the violin, Popov is in possession of a faded, yellowed document attesting to the violin’s authenticity and describing its unusual ‘voice,’ hand-written in 1901 by a London firm, famous for certifying the authenticity of Stradivari and Guarnari instruments.

The instrument had belonged to one Wilhelmij, a celebrated German violinist of the 19th century. A major soloist, his close friendship with the mystically inclined Wagner led to Wilhelmij’s playing this particular violin as concertmaster for the premieres of every opera in the Wagner Ring Cycle.

On Saturday, June 14 at 8 pm, Popov again unleashes the beast when she plays Michael Doherty’s violin concerto, “Fire and Blood,” with the Long Beach Symphony at the Terrace Theatre in downtown Long Beach. Information is available at www.lbso.org.

Active in the Hollywood studios, Katia has worked on more than 400 movie soundtracks and countless recordings. She maintains a packed concert schedule, performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Long Beach Symphony. She plays at music festivals around the world from Malibu to Salzburg. In addition to the California String Quartet, she is the founder of the Lyric Arts Chamber Players, with whom she plays an annual season.

“Performing is an addiction for me,” she says. “The feeling is extraordinary. I am possessed.”

— Penny Orloff

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Forty Unders Special Bonus: LA Phil!

In addition to this week’s ticket giveaway (see right column), we also have one pair of seats for this Saturday’s Mozart and Bruckner concert at Disney Hall. The first reader to e-mail us gets ‘em.

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LA Ballet Commences Summer Season

summer08pic“It is everything I know about classical ballet, in 13 minutes,” said George Balanchine of his “Allegro Brillante,” set to music of Tchaikovsky.

The tour de force for five couples enters the repertory of The Los Angeles Ballet as part of the LAB Summer Repertoire 2008, for five performances from April 25 through May 24, in various venues around greater Los Angeles.

The program also marks the LAB premiere of “The Evangelist” to music by Charles Ives. The dramatic pas de deux, choreographed in 1992 for LAB artistic directors Colleen Neary and Thordal Christensen by visionary American choreographer Lar Lubovitch, was inspired by the three-ring media circus that was Aimee Semple McPherson. Between founding the Foursquare Church and preaching to millions of devoted followers on the radio, McPherson rose to notoriety in 1920’s Los Angeles through sex scandals and power struggles, at one point staging her own bogus ‘kidnapping’ which provoked a month-long, nation-wide hysteria.

A pair of dances from Bournonville’s Napoli, “Pas de Six” and “Tarantella” return from last year. “I grew up in the Bournonville repertory in Denmark,” Christensen tells FineArtsLA. “The company danced these two excerpts very well last year, and the work has really become theirs, now.”

In keeping with the company’s ongoing project of presenting new works from local artists, Summer Rep 2008 offers a world premiere by Jennifer Backhaus, of Backhaus Dance. “Jennifer is a very dynamic choreographer,” Christensen says. “She uses a different dance vocabulary, which allows our dancers to broaden their horizons.” The dance, utilizing the entire company, is LAB’s second commissioned work to premiere this season.

LAB performs on April 25 and 26 at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse; May 3 at Glendales’s Alex Theatre; May 17 at Irvine’s Barclay Theatre; and May 24 at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. On the May 17 program, Balanchine’s Gershwin tribute, “Who Cares?” replaces “Pas de Six” and “Tarantella.”

For more information, visit www.losangelesballet.org, or call 310-998-7782.

- Penny Orloff

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LA Weekly Cuts Alan Rich

“Music critics are not only a dying breed,” Alan Rich told FineArtsLA in our first story a year ago, “we’re an endangered species.”

How prophetic that statement was, now that the owners of the LA Weekly have decided to ax Rich’s column.

LA Observed reports:

Another local music critic down, not many left to go. Alan Rich, who is at least 83, was let go as classical music critic over lunch with LA Weekly editor Laurie Ochoa, reports Laura Stegman at PRLosAngelesMediaMoves.

After getting the news earlier today, I spoke with Alan late tonight, and he said, “It’s open season on critics. We are an endangered species. I was surprised, but I wasn’t surprised.” He says the decision was made “by the corporate people in Phoenix,” and that when Editor Laurie Ochoa gave him the news over lunch, “she was as sorry as can be.”

The good news is that Alan will be putting up a web site by the time his last review appears in the Weekly two weeks hence. “I don’t know anything else but how to write about music,” he says, “so that’s what I’ll continue to do.”

Also from Stegman: Los Angeles radio veteran Gail Eichenthal was promoted to program director at KUSC and Brian Lauritzen became producer, with day to day responsibility for “Arts Alive.”

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Urban Renewal

In the wake of ABT’s migrating swans last week, a small inner-city dance academy in the heart of Compton won honors and recognition of excellence.

Compton is more known for gangster rap than for ballet.

Carol Bristol-Henry and Compton Dance Theatre received the Addie Patterson Award for Outstanding Service in Community Development from the City of Compton. The U.S. House of Representatives bestowed a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition, and the California legistlature presented a Certificate of Recognition.

With a BA in Psychology from Howard University and an MA in Dance and Dance Education from NYU, Bristol-Henry trained at Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. “I reluctantly started teaching dance at Compton High School to earn money between gigs,” she says. “Making a difference was unintentional.”

Most days after school, she noticed that idle students would fight just to entertain one another. The more studious sought refuge in the few available after-school activities. “I offered to teach dances to three students after school,” Bristol-Henry remembers. “They invited their friends and relatives. It started getting pretty crowded.”

Rapidly running out of room, Bristol-Henry scrambled for space in which to hold classes. “I had to,” she says. “Several kids confided in me that dance was their only reason for showing up to school every day.”

In 2002, Bristol-Henry founded the 501-c-3 nonprofit Compton Dance Theatre Foundation in order to meet eligibility for financial support. Since then, the organization has won numerous grants to stay afloat. “Funding remains the biggest challenge we face,” said Bristol-Henry. “Our ability to survive is tested all too frequently.”

Evidence of the quality of CDT’s dance training is apparent in student dancers’ discipline and technique. One of them, 11-year-old Victoria Portor, auditioned and was accepted to American Ballet Theatre’s 2008 summer intensive program, during ABT’s recent residency at the Music Center.

Contributions are tax-deductible. Compton Dance Theatre can be reached at (310) 669-9908, or www.comptondancetheatre.org. — Penny Orloff

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