A ‘grand’ summer in store with Grand Performances

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Grand Performances is that because of it, I find myself not planning to go away on the weekends. I stumbled upon this free music series blocks from my home the first summer after I moved downtown nine years ago. It’s staged in a gorgeous outdoor arena sandwiched between a cluster of office towers. It almost doesn’t even matter what’s on the bill; the idea of being able to walk to California Plaza with a picnic and friends and sit outside with several thousand of our fellow Angelenos–well, who isn’t a sucker for that?

Last night, founder Michael Alexander and crew unveiled this year’s schedule at a small gathering of friends of the series, now in its 26th year.  A multi-ethnic reading of the controversial The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is on the bill, as is a concert by a long-standing favorite of mine, Nitin Sawnhey, in his first US appearance.  (That one just happens to be sponsored by KCRW.)

Then there are all the great acts you’ve never heard of, for discovery has long been the mainstay of Grand Performances, like a sub-series of events celebrating the music and cultures of San Pedro.

“This is a project that started during the Bradley administration,” Alexander said about the series he created. “We have the most diverse audience in the country–diversity of economics, diversity of education, diversity of ethnic and geographic backgrounds.  One of our missions has been to show Angelenos that countries we often associate only with folkloric traditions have brilliant and active contemporary art communities.”

Films, spoken word, and even a gourmet salt tasting by Chicks with Knives add to the summer’s mix.

Starting Friday June 22, with a screening of Dirty Dancing and pre-show dance-a-long