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Engage with performing artists at the Green Music Center

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
February 7, 2020

Every year, the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University hosts dozens of free engagement activities for the community that are facilitated by the artists performing at the center. This spring, four of those educational engagement workshops are being funded by the Rohnert Park Foundation small grants program. The workshops are special opportunities for both local students and members of the community to engage with performing artists and also act as a community relations tool to introduce the public to everything the Green Music Center has to offer.

“We are deeply committed to serving our region and particularly Rohnert Park – we’re proud to be a part of Rohnert Park,” says Jacob Yarrow, Executive Director of the Green Music Center at SSU. “We’ve been working with other Rohnert Park establishments to try to further the impact we have locally in the city and also getting people to be more aware of it as well.”

The four activities funded by the $5,000 grant will be led by three different artist groups. The first is an award-winning tap dance group based in New York City, called Dorrance Dance. According to a review in the LA Times, “the company is praised for their ability to reflect racial, physical and stylistic diversity yet deliver complex unison footwork with a precision matching any cookie-cutter tap corps of the past.” Their program “SOUNDspace,” was originally meant specifically for the acoustics of New York City’s St. Mark’s Church but has been adapted to the unique acoustics of Weill Hall.  

The second group is Fly Higher: Charlie Parker @ 100, with co-musical directors Rudresh Mahanthappa and Terri Lyne Carrington. This jazz project celebrates jazz master Charlie Parker, one of the most innovative and influential artists in modern musical history and examines his impact in pop, hip-hop, rap, rock, and jazz.

Lastly, Bollywood Boulevard, “A Journey through Hindi Cinema Live” combines dance, live music, storytelling, and stunning visuals to create a non-stop journey through over 100 years of Bollywood. From the era of black and while films to today, the music, costumes, choreography, and artwork reflect each time period.

“Each one of those, through support from the Rohnert Park Foundation, will have free engagement activities that those artists will do,” says Yarrow. “There will be a couple of dance classes by the dancers and also an open rehearsal and Q&A session with the musicians that are part of the Charlie Parker project who are some of the leading and most fascinating jazz musicians of our time.”

The activities, appropriate for a wide range of ages and experience levels, will complement the performances from these groups, and will occur on, or close to, the date that they perform at the Green Music Center. All three groups will be performing in March and April. For more details and exact dates, visit gmc.sonoma.edu. 

“We’re working hard to engage people in artistic experiences,” says Yarrow. “Whether those happen in a formal performance environment, in a classroom or community center, in a class, or in a discussion with an artist – we think they’re all equally powerful and impactful and we’re really grateful for the support to help us make that happen…There’s a magic that happens when people are in space together trying to create things, or learning about a creative process. All of these artists are digging into some big questions about our world, big questions about how you build community and live together and, these three in particular, are also coming out of three really fascinating cultural traditions.”