The arrival of autumn signals the start of an all-new performing arts season. With so many wonderful shows coming into town, there is lots to highlight. Here are Rhythm Planet’s picks for October—from a celebration of Mexico City’s vibrant music scene to Chinese and Afro-Brazilian dance, a Malian kora and French cello collaboration and more. There’s sure to be something for everyone!
Saturday, October 14 | CMDX: Now! (Downtown L.A.)
Get ready to rock out at this south-of-the-border bash this month. Organilleros—or organ grinders—will treat guests to a pre-concert performance in the Walt Disney Concert Hall foyer before Mexican salsa band La Sonora Santanera takes to the stage. The group recorded a favorite song of mine, called, “De México a la Habana” (From Mexico to Havana). Also on the night’s bill are Mexrrissey, who are known for their renditions of U.K. crooner Morrissey and The Smiths’ greatest hits, which have found a wide audience in Mexico. Latin alternative bands Little Jesus, Oaxacan electronica group N.A.A.F.I. and Ampersan will also perform. The show is part of the “CDMX: Music from Mexico City“ festival, which takes place from October 9 through 17, as part of the city-wide “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA“ initiative this year. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to UNICEF’s relief efforts to aid the recent earthquake victims in Mexico. For tickets and info, click here.
Here is La Sonora Santanera performing “De México a la Habana.”
Saturday, October 14 | The Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company (Pasadena)
Founded in 1988, Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company is an all-female ensemble specializing in both ancient and traditional dance, as well as modern styles. Founder and artistic director Lily Cai creates contemporary choreography by weaving Chinese folk and classical dance forms together with Western ballet and modern dance. The company brings their innovative artistry to Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium on Saturday, October 14. For tickets and more info, click here.
Thursday and Friday, October 19 & 20 | Ludovico Einaudi (Westwood)
I have been a fan of Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi since long before he gained international acclaim for his music, whether on wax, in commercials, or in films. His first CD, Diario Mali, issued in 2003 on the small Ponderosa label, featured Einaudi’s piano with Malian kora player Ballaké Sissoko playing the traditional 21-string harp lute of West Africa. Since then, Einaudi, the scion of a famous Tuscan wine maker, has released many successful recordings with his signature blend of classical, rock, jazz, and world music elements. His music, like the work of Philip Glass, is particularly moving when it’s featured in film. Lucky for us, he’ll be here for a two-night stand at Royce Hall at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, so there should be enough tickets to go around. Of course, the shows may still sell out, so snap them up while you can. For tickets and info, click here.
“Fly,” a composition by Ludovico Einaudi.
Saturday, October 21 | Perla Batalla’s House of Cohen (Santa Monica)
Perla Batalla is an accomplished Mexican-American singer who is well-known for her own albums, as well as her work as a backup singer for the late Leonard Cohen. Together with Julie Christensen, these two archangels lifted Cohen’s drone-like, spoken word-style of singing to loftier musical heights. Don’t miss Batalla’s tribute to the prolific singer and songwriter, presented at The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica. For tickets and info, click here.
Sunday, October 29 | The Art of Capoeira (Westwood)
The Afro-Brazilian martial arts form known as capoeira started in the 16th century as a form of self-defense disguised as dance. The term comes from the indigenous Tupi word for “jungle,” referring to the low-lying forests where escaped slaves hid from colonialists. The Portuguese relied heavily upon African slaves to build the Brazilian economy for Portugal’s benefit. Slaves who were sometimes lucky enough to escape formed their own small primitive settlements known as quilombos. Lacking guns and ammunition, they devised a form of self-defense that evolved post-slavery into a stylized dance that remains popular today, not only in Brazil but throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Capoeira has influenced break dancing, ju-jitsu and many other disciplines.
On Sunday, October 29, the Fowler Museum at UCLA will host a live capoeira demonstration in conjunction with the exhibition, “Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis,” which is now on view at the Fowler Museum through April 15, 2018, as part of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative. The exhibition explores the cultural identity of L.A.’s sister city, the Bahian capital city of Salvador, through sculpture, painting, photography, video, and installation art. “Axé Bahia” is the most comprehensive presentation of Afro-Brazilian art ever shown in the U.S. For tickets and info, click here.
Wednesday, November 1 | Ballaké Sissoko & Vicent Segal (Hollywood)
Malian kora virtuoso Ballaké Sissoko blends the beautiful sounds of traditional West African music with classical European instruments, as on Ludovico Einaudi’s aforementioned debut album. For this show, the kora melds not with the piano but rather the cello, played by French cellist Vincent Segal. It proves once again the universality of music, and how different cultures and people can come together because of it. The duo begin their west coast tour on October 22 in Seattle before moving on to Portland, Berkeley, Davis, and Santa Cruz, with a stop in Los Angeles for a concert at the Temple Israel of Hollywood on Wednesday, November 1, co-presented by Grand Performances. For more information about tour dates and tickets, click here.