'Sacred Music' around Glendale

The fifth World Festival of Sacred Music is coming to Los Angeles, and Glendale is hosting part of the celebration of life-affirming performances.

Held every three years, the World Festival of Sacred Music was born 14 years ago, when founder Judy Mitorna was inspired by a statement issued by the Dalai Lama encouraging the creation of music festivals to honor the millennium.

Her first festival was in 1999, and this year’s festival has grown to include 32 performances featuring 52 artists and groups, stretched out over the first 16 days of October.

Glendale will host three performances, and one will be held in Eagle Rock.

Classical Persian singer Mamak Khadem, a Tehran native who grew up in Los Angeles, will perform with her ensemble at the First Baptist Church of Glendale on Sunday, Oct. 9. Tickets are $25.

Khadem said that she was honored to participate in the festival.

“I’ve had the pleasure to know the director and people who are in involved, and I see how much dedication goes in there,” said Khadem. “This [performance] has a lot of meaning for me, given that a part of my music does have some spiritual messages, and it comes from the poetry of ancient poets of Iran, like Hafez and Rumi.”

At a vacant lot at 175 Brand Blvd. in Glendale, the Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre will perform their work “Expulsion,” a modern interpretation of the universal story of Cain and Abel. Set atop a tower of scaffolding, the dance piece makes the environment part of its context.

Duckler, who has led her company for 26 years, said that she was happy the festival found a way to incorporate her work into its line-up of sacred music.

“I love the way that they sort of expand the definition of what is sacred, because our performance was kind an unusual fit,” said Duckler. “The kind of dance that we do, we animate public spaces, wherever we go the location becomes the context for the dance, it’s very fresh and inspiring.”

A performance of the South Indian classical music-jazz fusion group Sapurna at Glendale’s Brand Library has already filled up its RSVP list, as has a Tibetan, Song, Dance and Opera performance at the Eagle Rock Center for the Performing Arts.

Ultimately, these performances are more special than any normal concert, said Khadem.

“This one is really about reaching out to the community and bringing the message of peace and togetherness,” said Khadem. “It’s like being part of being a family.”

For more information on show times, tickets or RSVPs, and directions, go to www.festivalofsacredmusic.org

DANIEL SIEGAL is a staff writer for Times Community News.

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