VOLUME 9, NO. 7
November 28, 2011 
In This Issue:

Playing for the Orishas 

About Us:
The Alliance for California Traditional Arts promotes and supports ways for cultural traditions to thrive now and into the future by providing advocacy, resources, and connections for folk and traditional artists and their communities.

Recent Blog Posts

Chris Low
November 1, 2011 

Funding Opportunities and Other Support

Deadline: December 1
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Upcoming Events

Through November 30
Los Angeles

December 10, 2011
San Francisco

December 17-18, 2011

December 17, 2011

December 24, 2011
Los Angeles


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Current Exhibits
Through December 31 

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onePlaying for the Orishas
Itótele carved by master artist Harold Muñiz.  Photo: Russell C. Rodríguez


By Russell C. Rodríguez, Interim Apprenticeship Program Manager


The 1970s salsa scene of New York headed up by the great bands of Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barreto, and the Fania Allstars were in direct dialogue with the Latin Rock scene in the San Francisco Bay Area that featured groups like Malo, Azteca, and of course Santana.  Together these groups contributed to an incredible soundtrack that characterized the social movements of the Black, Chicano, and Puerto Rican communities throughout our nation.  Songs such as Black Magic WomanJusticia, Pablo Pueblo, and Peace Everybody illuminated the sentiments from below that communities of color were feeling.  The polycultural nature of the groups in both the West and East coast not only provided new styles of music to be heard but also brought old musical traditions to the forefront.  Rumba, plena, bomba, son, boleros, blues, gospel, and religious drumming again became part of people's everyday acts.  This exposure to new and old music informed a new generation of musicians in a very special manner.


ACTA's Apprenticeship Program master artist Harold Muñiz is one of these musicians.




twoChoegyal Norsang: The United States' First Full-Length Tibetan Opera

By Lily Kharrazi, Living Cultures Grants Program Manager


Alliance for California Traditional Arts
Actor Sonam Tashi in Chaksam-pa Tibetan Dance & Opera Company's Choegyal Norsang.   Photo: ACTA

On October 16, 2011, a full seven-hour Tibetan folk opera, or Lhamo, was mounted in Richmond, California -- the first of its kind in the United States.  The tale Choegyal Norsang (translated The Religious King Norsang) draws from Tibetan history and Buddhist teachings.  This complex story involves kingdoms that inhabit both earth and heaven, the sojourn of a king to retrieve his queen who had been whisked to safety in order to escape the wrath of his 500 other wives, water spirits who flee their sacred lakes, demons, and hilarious imps.  This allegory is brought to life by skilled artists whose training includes acting, dance, recitation, singing, martial arts, and physical comedy, complete with exquisite and richly textured costumes.  While the narrative may be fantastical it also proved to be fully relevant to the present as the story reminded the audience to safeguard the sanctity of water, as twists and turns in the plot revealed the social and environmental hazards of neglecting resources.  Tibet is the water shed of the majority of Asia's greatest rivers.


The artists assembled to create the epic opera are all masters of the form who now live scattered throughout the United States and California.  Under the artistic direction of Ms. Tsering Wangmo, the Bay Area-based performing arts company Chaksam-pa Tibetan Dance & Opera Company is considered the most successful professional performance group outside of Tibet.


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   The Alliance for California Traditional Arts is the California Arts
   Council's official partner in serving the state's folk & traditional
   arts field.