Aki Kumar photo
Aki Kumar returns for a second year as part of Musco Center's Mostly Blues Festival. (Photo/Aaron Blumenshine)

Musco Center Champions the Art of Connection and Cultural Equity in Virtual Fall Season 'Living room' concerts bring new and traditional Musco offerings to audiences.

As communities continue to face the effects of social unrest in response to injustice and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Chapman University’s Musco Center for the Arts prioritizes cultural equity in a fall season of online events that spotlight diverse artists, and creative and academic perspectives championing the art of connection.

The fall season of free online talks, performances, and happenings will take place on select Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. PDT under the program @THEMUSCO Online, which brings together past and new audiences in a virtual setting.

Answering calls for action and change from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color – the Musco Center team took immediate action with a 90-day period to learn, identify, and create a plan to address long-term institutional and systemic racism and unconscious bias in the arts venue and within the arts producing and presenting economy it is part of. The Chapman University BSU Action Plan and the BIPOC Demands for White American Theatre are examples of a long list of materials the team utilized as springboards for education, policy review, and change. A key initiative of this ongoing process is an immediate increase in culturally inclusive and social justice inspired curation.

“Unifying real people, in real-time around artists as they engage in the topics of our time is at the core of the virtual offerings,” says Richard T. Bryant, Musco Center executive director.

The free virtual programming of @THEMUSCO’s fall season will also include collaborations and co-presented events with Chapman University’s College of Performing Arts, Hilbert Museum, and Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and the LA Opera. In addition to the Heartbeat of Mexico, topic-based series offerings include blues music roots and diaspora with Mostly Blues, conversations about the past and current state of movement arts with Ever A Dancer, and opera’s past, present and future with Voices of Our Time.

At-home-style concerts will include Aki Kumar Trio: Live from Home on Thursday, Oct. 15 under the Mostly Blues series and a living room concert in collaboration with LA Opera under the Voices of Our Time series featuring a Chapman alumnus.

How To View Musco Events

All @THEMUSCO Online events will be free to experience on both Musco Center YouTube and Facebook platforms on select Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. PDT starting on Sept. 17. Additional events and online offerings will be added throughout the fall season. For more information about each of the series offerings, schedule, and to sign up for event reminders visit www.muscocenter.org.

Heartbeat of Mexico

Heartbeat of Mexico honors Mexican culture, traditions and family, and encourages everyone, from all ethnic backgrounds, to share in the beauty of Mexico’s rich history, music, and art.

“We view this moment as an opportunity to expand the important Heartbeat of Mexico programming to year-round,” says Bryant, “in addition to the annual festival that has taken place around Memorial Day over the last several years.” Spanning the fall season, the second Heartbeat of Mexico series event will take place on Dec 3 with a conversation about the play with music, American Mariachi, between playwright José Cruz González, music director Cynthia Reifler Flores, and dramaturg Shirley Fishman.

Mostly Blues

The singing sensation Aki Kumar returns for a second year as part of the Mostly Blues Festival to perform live from home with his unique blend of Bollywood-pop and blues. Viewers are invited to join Kumar for a real-time conversation before the concert. Expanding on the celebration of blues music from past to present, Blues Roots and Diaspora on Thursday, Oct. 29 brings together band-mates and Chapman professors Dr. Paul Apodaca and Sean Heim in a conversation about blues music history and the genre’s multi-cultural reach around the world.

Ever A Dancer

Dance is highlighted with the unique series, Ever A Dancer. The in-depth series puts long-lived and emerging dance practitioners in direct conversation about topics of cultural equity, social justice, representation, and creative pursuits.

Theatrical Dance and Equity on Sept. 24 convenes a line-up of seasoned Broadway performers including Wilson Mendieta, Rommy Sandhu, Lainie Sakakura, and Tommar Wilson whom have collectively been part of over 28 iconic Broadway and touring musical productions including Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, Hair, Chicago, Mary Poppins, Oklahoma!, The King and I, and Fosse.

The intersection of diversity and inclusion will be examined in Representation in Ballet and Beyond on Oct. 22 as the co-creators of Final Bow for Yellow Face Georgina Pazcoguin (NYC Ballet) and Phil Chan are joined by Chapman professors Brynn Shiovitz and Dr. Stephanie Takaragawa in conversation about Asian portrayals in dance.

Spotlighting another influential dance style, Tap Dancing Diaspora on Nov. 19 brings together Broadway legend and original cast member of A Chorus Line Ron Dennis, nationally recognized local tap educator and performance veteran Brandee Lara, and viral sensation and Syncopated Ladies founder Chloe Arnold.

About @THEMUSCO Online

@THEMUSCO Online is the latest Musco Center program, which was quickly implemented in late April 2020. The interactive online events were created to address audience development and community engagement challenges due to the closure of Musco Center and Chapman University due to COVID-19.

Musco Center has since presented six @THEMUSCO online events. The program shift demonstrates the highest levels of achievement in performance, production, and arts education at Chapman University.

For more information about Musco Center and its upcoming events, visit www.muscocenter.org.

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