Posted by lemonjelly on:
On Friday, 25 March, I experienced two new things.
The first was a visit to the Music Academy of the West. This Santa Barbara native had never been there before. I've even played music from grade school through college! With mediocre talent, mind you, but *still*.
Anyway, I finally made it there and it's like a Lotusland campus. Very lush and green, rooms to get lost in. Ponds and sculpture. Most everyone there for the evening performance lingered near Hahn Hall but I took a walk through the grounds at dusk and the only other people I encountered turned out to be friends.
The Music Academy was host to a special evening, and my second new experience, the Panzumo Spring Concert, a fundraiser to benefit Rhythm, Song, and Dance Programs at local schools. The line-up went far beyond the performers of Panzumo, though, and included an eclectic array of musicians and dancers.
There are far too many artists to mention all by name, you'll just have to trust me that I was treated to a variety show beyond my expectations.
The evening started with a blessing from Venessa Kay and Emiliano Campobello, and an invocation with Campobello, Budhi Harlow (Panzumo) and celebrated violist, Ray Tischer who was once himself a student of the Music Academy.
Tischer then performed his Triptic, three songs dedicated to spring: Bach's "Birds and Butterflies," Henri Viextemps' "Play," and "Fare Thee Well / Good Bye Pork Pie Hat" by Charlie Mingus.
The stage then lit up with vibrant color and energetic movement when Lisa Beck and her crew of women performed a series of Bollywood fusion dance. Hahn Hall was ALIVE with the dance, perhaps the first time the hall had Bollywood dancers gracing the stage since its remodel.
After a break of Budhi Harlow and Paul Forrester's musical piece of Medicine Dog, the audience was treated once again to a stage full of lovely women, as part of an all-female African drumming group, the Djun Djun Mamas.
I was so proud to see my friends up there, completely energized by the beats and rhythm. As it turns out, a close friend and I had made a small tradition of meeting up for walk or tea on Sunday evenings, because she would be in my neighborhood after her "drum group practice." Now I finally made the connection that this was what she'd been working towards these past few months, and it was truly impressive.
The artists tonight wove together each group's individual pieces by collaborating on smaller transitional songs, and the dancers filled the aisles with enthusiastic bumping and swirling to the upbeat rhythms when Panzumo finally took the stage in the last half of the show.
Members of the Santa Barbara High School Jazz Band - recipients the night's fundraiser - joined with Panzumo, along with many other special guests, for the remainder of the concert. And afterwards, all guests and performers were invited outside to join in a generous feast of delicious food. Much more than cheese, crackers and a pile of tart strawberries. There was hearty soups, salads, massive bowls of rice pudding, African tea, sliced vegetables from the farmers market, cookies and cake. It you were hungry, you could consume the value of the ticket price and there was an abundance still to share with others.
It may have cost just $16 to attend the Panzumo Spring Concert, but the energy of the show, the surroundings, and seeing my friends on stage blossom as dancers and musicians was priceless.
Panzumo Spring Concert, with Ray Tischer
Friday, 25 March, 7:30 PM
Music Academy of the West, Hahn Hall
1070 Fairway Road (near the Bird Refuge)