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Cal State Arts Fest Heads South

June 23, 1996|Daniel Cariaga | Daniel Cariaga is The Times' music writer

'We don't expect to compete with Hollywood Bowl--at least not this year," says John Laughton, artistic director of the Cal State Summer Arts Festival, which has moved after eight warm-weather seasons in Arcata to Long Beach.

This summer, beginning July 1, the festival will present, in a format emphasizing hands-on conservatory experience for 500 students, 35 live performances and numerous public contacts between arts practitioners and consumers. The idea is to contribute to the education of budding artists in dance, opera, instrumental performance, visual arts and "media arts"--including film, television and other electronic media.

The total program of arts-training seminars, master classes and live performances formerly given at Cal State Humboldt--Humboldt is the county, Arcata the town--has made the transition southward, Laughton says. The move was always part of a master traveling plan, from campus to campus. It originated in Long Beach (as a dance festival only), moved to San Luis Obispo for two years, then went to Humboldt County for eight summers. Laughton expects it to remain in Long Beach for at least three summers.

"Now we have to create in Long Beach that sense of community we had in Northern California, where they loved us and actually wept when we left."

Toward that end, Laughton wants to bring the festival into the community rather than have it happen "just alongside it."

It will take some artists right into the city, for instance, as when Asian artist Ping Chong, in residence at the festival in 1997, moves into the huge Long Beach Asian community and plans to meet the public, or when the annual festival benefit concert donates its proceeds to a local hospital. Laughton says he is cooking up other outreach events as well.

"We don't want to say to the city, 'Here we are, come see us.' We say, 'Here we are, we're coming to you.' We need to make the connection with the community quickly."

Still, the primary focus is students. "All this interaction is going to give the students' careers a boost," Laughton says. "That's what they expect. Our students are driven."

An arts administrator who began as a clarinetist, Laughton, 49, will play the clarinet in one of the festival's public performances, a July 8 chamber concert, with proceeds going to benefit breast cancer research at Memorial Medical Center of Long Beach. The program is also part of the poetry series, with American author-poet Lucille Clifton reading work she wrote as a cancer patient.

Other highlights open to the public include the New York-based contemporary chamber specialists Speculum Musicae, which will give three performances during the festival's music series, presenting new music by students as well as other compositions, July 6, 10 and 13. A guitar-lute series will feature 19 performers starting July 15.

Opera singers Delores Ziegler and Earle Patriarco will appear in a three-week opera program; each will give a solo recital during that time.

Headlining the dance series is the Garth Fagan Dance Company; in visual arts look for public lectures by Wayne Thiebaud, Alexis Smith and Peter Alexander; film director Martha Coolidge will be on hand for the Summer Arts Film/Video Festival, which opens the summer's events July 1-3.


ALSO THIS SUMMER: Meanwhile, at Cal State L.A. a 10th summer season of the List-Glenn Institute offers nine more concerts through July 7 (the series began Saturday night). Saturday night at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Turkish musician Saim Akcil conducts the festival orchestra in music by Pancho Vladigerov, Chun-Ping Hsu and Mozart.

In Santa Barbara, a 49th summer season at the Music Academy of the West, now headed by international opera luminary and academy alumna Marilyn Horne, promises a busy schedule of concerts, master classes and related events. Catherine Comet conducts the Academy Festival Orchestra at the opening concert Saturday night in the historic Lobero Theatre downtown. Subsequently, more guest conductors--Christof Perick, Michael Stern, Jeffrey Tate--lead the ensemble. Randall Behr conducts student vocalists and orchestra in "An Evening of Opera" July 26. And members of the institution's distinguished faculty give chamber music concerts on seven consecutive Tuesday nights.

Information: (805) 969-4726.


QUARTET CONTEST: California composers are eligible to submit works for string quartet--five to 15 minutes in length, and as yet unpublished, unperformed and un-awarded--for a composition award to be given jointly by the Pacific Composers Forum and the Armadillo String Quartet. First prize is $500 and a public performance at a concert in early 1997. A panel of judges includes members of the Armadillo Quartet and the Composers Forum.

Armen Ksajikian, cellist of the Armadillo ensemble, says that the competition came about when a joint effort of the quartet and the Composers Forum, the Armadillo's annual Peter Schickele concert in February, "showed a profit," and the sponsors decided to use the proceeds to expand the group's repertory.

Other than the length of the piece and that it must be for string quartet, "no other restrictions are put on the new work," Ksajikian said. Composers of any age are encouraged to enter, he said. The deadline to submit scores is Dec. 1. For information, write Pacific Composers Forum, 2054 Midvale Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90025.

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