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Festivities include double bills of Corey Harris and Paula Fuga; Francisco Aguabella and John Santos; Maria de Barros and Ricardo Lemvo; and performances by Build an Ark featuring Dwight Trible

January 14, 2008

LOS ANGELES—What comes to mind when you think of the Getty Center? Van Gogh’s Irises? Richard Meier’s stunning architecture? Robert Irwin’s inspirational Central Garden? While the answer, of course, is “all of the above,” thousands of Angelenos will also attest to the moving experience of the Getty’s “Sounds of L.A.” concert series.

Launched in 1998 as a way to explore and celebrate the cultural landscape of Los Angeles through the music of its many communities, the free world music series has brought a cornucopia of international and local artists to the Getty Center. Now, to help celebrate the Center’s 10th anniversary, “Sounds of L.A.” digs into its own past and looks to the future to present double bills of revered favorites and new voices.

The 2008 season opens on January 19 and 20 with acoustic performances by MacArthur Fellowship recipient Corey Harris, and Hawaii native, Paula Fuga. Different in approach, they share a passion for reggae. The series continues February 9 and 10 with the return of two visionary Afro-Latin musicians, renowned elder statesman Francisco Aguabella, sharing the stage with musical heir apparent, John Santos. Next up on March 1 and 2, the diverse sounds of Lusophone Africa come alive as Cape Verdean Maria de Barros and Angolan Ricardo Lemvo make another visit to the Getty Center. Fittingly, the season ends on April 5 and 6 with the full-bodied, jazz-saturated music of  Build an Ark featuring Dwight Trible. This multigenerational, multiethnic, boundary blurring ensemble illustrates the endless wealth of local talent that contribute to the always surprising “Sounds of L.A.”

The series has presented artists ranging from renowned Indian classical vocalist Lakshmi Shankar to East L.A.’s alternative Chicano rockers Quetzal, to a trio of Okinawan musical and dance masters. Recent performers have included Mexican virtuoso harpist and vocalist Graciana “La Negra” Silva, Portuguese fado singer Ana Moura, and the jazz-infused Persian music of the L.A.-based Liän Ensemble.

“Because we present only four artists each year, we are very thoughtful about our choices,” says Laurel Kishi, performing arts manager for the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The good news is that there are so many traditions and music genres out there that the series could go on forever.”

Always on the lookout for different genres to bring to the series is Sabrina Motley, the Tuesday host of KPFK’s world music series “Global Village” and series consultant for “Sounds of LA.” As the musical curator for the series, Motley spends a great deal of time exploring Los Angeles’ various communities, listening to every conceivable genre of music, and asking lots of questions.

“I end up talking with many different people, whether it’s A.J. Racy, professor of ethnomusicology at UCLA [whose ensemble performed as part of “Sounds of L.A”. in 1999], or strangers on the streets of Little Armenia,” says Motley. I’ll hear something brand new and ask, ‘What’s that?’ which then sparks a whole other conversation.”

On many occasions,”Sounds of L.A.” has touched people in ways that organizers couldn’t anticipate. In 2005, legendary Afghani singer Ustad Farida Mahwash performed as part of the series. A tireless champion of traditional Afghan music, Mahwash is unanimously acknowledged as the greatest female singer of Afghanistan. Decades of wars and oppressive regimes made her the victim of censorship and death threats, which led to her eventual exile in the U.S. and effectively deprived generations of Afghanis of a powerful voice and role model.

“After her performance was finished, many members of the audience members were in tears,” recalls Kishi. “They were telling us, ‘This is the music from our childhood.’ Her performance hit upon something they had lost. In that moment, we realized that this was much more than a concert.”

There are countless other Los Angeles communities eager to hear their cultural heritage reflected in “Sounds of L.A.,” says Kishi.  “I feel like we could do this for another decade. There are so many more stories for us to tell.”

To help celebrate the Getty Center’s tenth anniversary, the Getty has invited previous “Sounds of L.A.” artists to return, pairing them with newcomers to the series. The 2008 season also features an evening with Virginia-based Corey Harris and Hawai'i native Paula Fuga, two artists performing a genre never before featured as part of the series: reggae. “It’s something we’ve always wanted to do,” says Motley. “They’re both doing acoustic sets, so it’ll be stripped-down and a little more direct. It’s a nice opportunity to showcase a genre that has a huge following around the world, but in a way that is quite different.”


All concerts take place in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium at the Getty Center. The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049. Admission is free; reservations required. For reservations call 310-440-7300 or visit

Corey Harris and Paula Fuga
Hailing from different parts of the country, Virgina-based Corey Harris and Oahu-born Paula Fuga kick off “Sounds of  L.A.” 2008 with a reggae-drenched concert highlighting the genre's enduring legacy. Harris, a recent MacArthur Fellowship recipient, gives a rare acoustic performance that beautifully connects America to its African roots. Fuga opens with her critically-acclaimed sound, weaving the spirit of Hawaii with the soul of reggae. Together, they demonstrate reggae's endless ability to inspire musicians—and audiences—from all walks of life.
Saturday, January 19, 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, January 20, 3:00 p.m.

Francisco Aguabella Afro Cuban Ensemble and John Santos Quintet
Master conguero Francisco Aguabella, has worked with everyone from Peggy Lee to Carlos Santana. His deep knowledge of Afro-Cuban traditions combined with an ever present willingness to explore new realms continues to make him an inspiration to artists around the world. John Santos, a four-time Grammy nominee, has been called a “spark plug of musical invention” whose passion for this music is both impressive and infectious. These powerhouse percussionists join forces for an unforgettable addition to the Getty Center’s 10th Anniversary festivities.
Reservations available beginning January 22 at 9:00 a.m.
Saturday, February 9, 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 10, 3:00 p.m.

Maria de Barros, Ricardo Lemvo and Waldemar Bastos
“Sounds of L.A.” continues with the diverse melodies and rhythms of Lusophone Africa. The concert opens with a return visit by Cape Verdean singer, Maria de Barros, who brings her irresistible joie de vivre back to the Getty Center. She shares the stage with Congo-born Angolan, Ricardo Lemvo, and his band Makina Loca. Both de Barros and Lemvo are truly multicultural polyglots, equally at home singing in everything from Portuguese and Spanish to English and French. De Barros and Lemvo will be joined by the "great voice of contemporary Angola," Waldemar Bastos.  Bastos belongs to a new generation of African artists—urbane, cosmopolitan, and able to draw from a wealth of influences, local and not so near, to create indelible music.
Reservations available beginning February 21 at 9:00 a.m.
Saturday, March 1, 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 2, 3:00 p.m.

Build an Ark featuring Dwight Trible
Stunning vocalist Dwight Trible graces the Getty stage once more; however, this time he offers a meditation on our times with bandmates Build an Ark. Founded as a post-9/11 peace project, Build an Ark is a unique local ensemble featuring some of the Southland’s most revered veteran jazz musicians as well as not-to-be-missed emerging talent. Bridging generations and genres, their timeless message of hope anchored by impassioned music-making makes this concert a perfect close to “Sounds of L.A.” 2008.
Reservations available beginning March 20 at 9:00 a.m.
Saturday, April 5, 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 6, 3:00 p.m.

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Beth Laski
Getty Communications

Julie Jaskol
Getty Communications

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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