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Getty Gets in Swing of Things With Performing Arts Series

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Breathing easier now that opening festivities are behind them, Getty Center staffers are mapping out the rest of the year.

One of the new ventures is a weekly performing arts series called Friday Nights at the Getty in which an eclectic mix of dance, music and theater will be presented. Performances will be free, but reservations will be required. The focus will be on local artists. The target audience: 18- to 30-year-olds who don’t see themselves as museum-goers.

“We want to get the message out that, with galleries and cafes open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Friday nights, the Getty is a place to head for after classes or work--a ‘destination,’ so to speak,” says Diane Brigham, manager of the Education Department of the Getty Museum, which has hired a local firm, Jezebel Productions, to program the series.

A new work by Los Angeles-based, Pilobolus-influenced dance group Diavolo kicks off the program on Feb. 6, followed by a performance of Indian music, featuring vocalist Lakshmi Shankar (Ravi’s sister-in law) on Feb. 13.

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Week 3 will offer a concert by the Illustrious Theater Orchestra, a postmodern urban-oriented chamber ensemble blending popular, classical and minimalist music.

Award-winning actress-comedian Amy Hill (“All-American Girl”) caps off the month, combing the art world for images reflecting her Japanese Finnish roots in a new theatrical piece.

Programs will be announced monthly to start. When things get rolling, a quarterly calendar is planned. “Events will be only an hour or so long, enabling people to get a taste of the galleries before they leave,” said Brigham. “And, like the art collection, the performing arts series will try to present the best in genres that generally don’t get much exposure.”

A concert series, “Sounds of L.A.,” also debuts in February, scheduled as a part of the Friday evening events and repeated on the following Saturday afternoon each month through June.

It also will feature local talent, but instead of targeting younger people, its thrust is multicultural.

The Shankar performance will be the first offering. First publicized in the Indian community to reach the desired demographic group, the event is already sold out.

Jazz lovers will be the focus of a concert by bassist Charlie Haden, undertaken in collaboration with CalArts, scheduled for March 20 and 21.

Eighty-five-year-old composer-guitarist Lalo Guerrero, “the father of Chicano music” who recorded with Los Lobos and won a 1993 National Medal of the Arts, is set for May 22 and 23.

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Also planned is a world premiere of a John Adams (“Nixon in China”) piece for two pianos, written for and performed by Gloria Cheng-Cochran and Grant Gershon, on April 3 and 4.

“While we’d like the European American art music tradition to be part of our offerings, we also want the material to be as contemporary and accessible as possible,” said Guy Wheatley, a research associate in the Getty director’s office who worked on the series. Julia Carnahan, a music consultant who worked on the L.A. Festival in 1990 and 1993, has been brought on as artistic director.

As part of the Friday night program, the Getty will also bring in California artists for lectures and gallery talks, starting in March.

“This is another effort to connect with the city--and to interpret our collection in diverse ways,” Brigham says. "[All] these plans have been in the works for two years. It’s exciting to finally start testing them.”

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* Friday Nights at the Getty events and “Sounds of L.A.” concerts will be held Fridays, 7 p.m., and Saturdays, 2 p.m., in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium, Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive. For February calendar and parking and event reservations: (310) 440-7300.


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