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The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music offers a diverse 2023-2024 season that traverses musical worlds

From the stirring rhythms of Freedom First to the harmonious echoes of Antonio Lysy and The Spikes, The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music invites audiences to spaces where music and modern culture intertwine. Artists and programs hosted and curated by the School of Music reinvent modern symphonic styles, enlighten with discussions of the craft, and celebrate traditions from around the globe.

“This year will bring some of the greatest talent to UCLA,” said Eileen Strempel, inaugural dean of the school of music. “We are thrilled to have amazing guest artists, a world-class faculty, and students—the stars of tomorrow—on our stages.”

The school will present works through three branded programming tracks, the Statement Series, Signature Series and Amplify. All are designed to highlight both the school’s most high-profile events and its regular, annual programming of hundreds of concerts and recitals throughout the school year. All events are free and open to the public.

 The Statement Series features both invited guests and members of the school’s world-class faculty, and represents the most ambitious, high-profile events that the school has to offer. The offerings are global in scope and seek to elevate compelling voices in music.

 On Friday, October 6, Schoenberg Hall will witness Freedom First, a concert featuring jazz artist and political activist Keith LaMar, currently on death row in Ohio. This special performance will feature a new symphonic work by Ethnomusicology student Dexter Story, as well as the Freedom First Ensemble featuring Albert Marquès and Salim Washington, the latter a recent addition to the faculty at the School of Music.  

 On Sunday, October 15, the New Delhi based Anirudh Varma Collective will perform in Lani Hall. A consortium of over 150 artists, the group has recorded groundbreaking albums aimed at making South Asian classical music accessible the world over.

 The second-annual Judith L. Smith recital will bring opera legend Issachah Savage to Schoenberg Hall on Sunday, October 29. Noted for his powerful and commanding voice, Savage regularly performs with the top concert halls as a soloist and with the world’s greatest opera companies.

 Also featured will be Antonio Lysy and The Spikes, a concert on November 10. The performance will feature a rare sight—a large cello choir consisting of up to 40 current and former students of Lysy who will play inspiring and fun works by Bach, Debussy, Villa Lobos, and Morricone, alongside surprise performers. They come together to celebrate Lysy’s lasting legacy at UCLA. Under his leadership, the cello and string program have blossomed over the last 20 years.

“The grand finale will make the foundations of the hall shake,” Lysy said. “It will involve a commissioned original arrangement of the Theme and Variations from the HBO TV hit series Succession.”

The Signature Series comprises highlights of the school’s diverse offerings, the very best of its annual programming including curated selections from the symphonic orchestras, bands, choirs, jazz combos, and distinguished speakers.

Signature Series offerings include annual events like the All-Star Concert, which features a showcase of competition winners on a range of instruments, from voice to woodwinds to brass to strings. Past winners have gone on to become acclaimed performers in the world of classical music. Tomorrow’s stars will be on stage on January 4, 2024.

Also emblematic of the rich diversity of practice and performers is the annual Spring Festival of World Music, which features the school’s full range of storied world music ensembles. Audiences will discover the music of China, Thailand, Bali, the African American tradition, Persia, Turkey, Appalachia and beyond in this popular festival.

Among the engaging discussions the School of Music will host this year is the Oct. 5 appearance from Steinway Recording Artist Ric’key Pageot known for his touring days with Diana Ross, Cher, Madonna, and Christina Aguilara. Pageot will share details his documentary project “Classic Black,” which celebrates the contributions of Black composers to classical music.

Shifting continents, on May 22, 2024, the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive will convene a group of art historians, researchers and experts on the music of the South Asian subcontinent to discuss the repatriation of original audio recordings.

Events like these are part of the Amplify Series, which underscores new and clarion artistic voices from our communities near and far, with a special emphasis on highlighting the work of artists from diverse backgrounds.

“Part of our mission as a public institution is not only to continually uplift the excellence found in our practice halls and ensemble spaces, but to create multiple points of access for our campus community and music lovers from across Los Angeles to experience arts and culture,” Strempel said. “Many events on the season are part of multiple programming tracks, and all represent the very best thinkers, curators and performers the School of Music has to offer.”

For a full lineup of events offered by The Herb Alpert School of Music, visit the school’s calendar page.