Skirball’s Free Concert Series Circles the Globe
Photo: Timothy Norris
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For the last 18 summers, you could head up Sepulvada and reach a gem of a musical oasis called the Sunset Concert series at the Skirball Center. This summer is no different. We sat down with Jordan Peimer, Vice President & Director of Programs to get the scoop on this summer’s lineup.
Encore: What was the motivation behind the Sunset Concerts?
Jordan: Since its inception, the spirit of Sunset Concerts has been to open our doors wide to the public and invite audiences to experience the broad range of the Skirball’s offerings, from performing arts to galleries to good food and spectacular architecture. We’ve been fortunate to have the support of the LA County Arts Commission, which not only underwrites the series but also enables us to keep the museum open and free each Sunset Concerts event. Each night becomes a pretty magical opportunity to listen, to see, and to dance.
Did I mention dance? The series is geared towards artists who create music that will get you on your feet and moving!
Can you give us an overview of the sunset concerts?
We’re very excited for our eighteenth season of Sunset Concerts, which are always a wonderful opportunity to share the best of the Skirball with the public: our inclusive mission, our welcoming staff, and our spectacular facilities. This season, as always, we present some of the most exciting musicians performing culturally rooted music from around the world. I am very excited about our two California premieres—Noura Mint Seymali, a young Mauritanian singer who effortlessly melds North African and West African traditional music with electronic beats; and Conjunto Chappottin y Sus Estrellas, a Cuban “son” group that dates back to before World War II and has been led by the same two families for generations. Another old-time but ever-innovative and absolute favorite is Flaco Jimenez, who will be celebrating his seventy-fifth birthday on tour with fellow Tejano music stars Max Baca y Los Texmaniacs. Our summer is rounded out with two beloved Southern styles—zydeco from Louisiana’s Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys, and tango fusion from the Buenos Aires-born Yiddish Tango Club, who mix classic tango with Yiddish songs as heard in Argentina’s Jewish neighborhoods a century ago. Last but not least, is the Haden Triplets. The daughters of the late Jazz bass legend, Charlie Haden.
How does this fit into the overall concept behind Skirball?
The Skirball is rooted in Jewish and American democratic ideals, and among those ideals is recognition and appreciation of heritage. All of us have a cultural history to share, and the artists we present inspire our audiences to celebrate that. I especially love to see audiences who share the same background as the artists come out to support their compatriots and enjoy their musical traditions in our courtyard with people of all backgrounds.
Why world and American roots genre?
The concerts where we present American roots music look at all we share as a nation, celebrating the multiplicity of origins that make up the people of the U.S. World music surveys the international scene and illuminates where cultures have rich shared traditions. For us, it’s another way to celebrate the community, both local and global.
Who are you trying to reach with this series?
Quite simply…. we want everyone to come! One of the great things about being at Sunset Concerts is the diversity of the audiences. It is wonderful to see two, three, and sometimes even four generations of a family out dancing together. Incidentally, at each concert we offer a family lounge within earshot of the stage where families with young children can listen to the music while playing together. Overall, we want to reach people who are adventurous and want to learn and explore as well as have a great time under the stars.
And if you’re wondering about dining, Skirball has that covered as well. Check out Zeidler’s Café. They offer an amazing buffet, starting at 6:00 p.m. Reservations are required and start two weeks prior to the Thursday evening the patron is planning to attend. Or, patrons can pick up grab-and-go light fare at Zeidler’s Cart. Guests may bring their own food, but cannot bring alcohol or their own chairs.