A Brief History
From its very first teaching programs in San Francisco
in 1963, the Center for World Music was inspired to high
standards in music and dance by its first two artist/teachers,
Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and the legendary Indian dancer, Balasaraswati.
For sixteen years the Center sponsored hundreds of concerts, introduced
many prominent Asian artists and companies through national tours,
and was instrumental in creating the rich mix of world performing
arts activities in the Bay Area by training hundreds of American
students. Many of them are now leaders in their fields. At its
height in the mid-1970s, the Center had no fewer than forty-five
artists in residence, many from India and Indonesia, two areas
of specialty that have remained through the years.
The Center moved its headquarters to San Diego in 1979, and continued
on a smaller scale its long tradition of sponsoring leading performers
in concert. It continued to provide instruction by accomplished
teachers in music, dance and theater, mainly from Asia, but also
including--as its name indicates--a range encompassing Africa,
Latin America, Europe and North America. In San Diego, the Center
funded projects with the local Indian, Persian, Hmong, Chicano,
and Filipino communities.
Beginning in 1971, the Center began to organize summer study
abroad for American students. Over the years programs have
been held at Flower Mountain
in Payangan, Bali, using facilities built for that purpose by
the Center's founder and former president, the late Dr. Robert E. Brown. These performance
study programs are sometimes given in cooperation with an Indonesian
foundation, the Center for Traditional
Arts of the World (SenDuTra), whose officers consist largely
of artists who have taught in the past for the Center for World
Music in the United States.
The year 1973 was a pivotal one for the Center, due to its monumental Asian and African performing arts workshop at the University of Washington in Seattle--one that inspired many influencial directors, performers, artists, composers, and teachers in their own right: Steve Reich, Julie Taymor, Philip Yampolsky, Marc Hoffman, Kathy Foley, Alex Dea, Larry Reed, Alan Feinstein, Nancy Florida, Kristina Melcher, John Pemberton, Andy Toth, John Suter, David Rocshe, Daniel Schmidt, Eva Soltes, Beth Gilbert, Judith Caporale, Tom Ross, Jody Cormack, Deena Burton, Karen Elliott, Marjie Suando, Lauren Paul, Nancy Karp, Carol Brown, Richard Brown, Peggie Dey, Kristin Womack, John Badanes, and Garit Imhoff. Some of the distinguished master artist-teachers from Asia and Africa included, K.R.T. Wasitodipuro, Dalang Oemartopo, S. Maridi, Pak Kanto, Bu Bei Mardusari, Nyi Supadmi, Irawati Durban Ardjo, Pak Rutjita, Nyoman Wenten, Nanik Wenten, Nyoman Sumandhi, Goro Yamaguchi, Hi-Ah Park, Dumisani Maraire, T. Viswanathan, and T. Balasaraswati, the patron saint of the Center for World Music.
Since 1976, yearly cultural tours
to Indonesia have been offered, with emphasis on the performing
arts. Cultural tours have also been offered in India and Turkey.
In the year 2000, the Center hosted at Flower Mountain a group
of students of the performing arts from the University of Illinois,
led by Dr. Charles Capwell. They were followed by a group of experienced
gamelan players from UCLA and the California Institute of the Arts,
together with the professional tap dance group, Rhapsody in Taps,
all led by SenDuTra president Dr. Nyoman Wenten. Also participating
in Center-sponsored events at Flower Mountain were a group of
teachers from the Center's World Music in the Schools program
in San Diego and an undergraduate drama group from Hartwick College
in upstate New York.
The Center for World Music's Distinguished Artist in Residence for 2002 was again I Nyoman Sumandhi, who first
taught for the Center in 1972, and who two years ago taught Balinese
music, dance, and theater here for the Center with his wife, Ni
Putu Sutiati. Sumandhi returned for concerts and workshops, and
to continue work with World Music in
the Schools, a program that is attempting to develop new ways
of presenting world arts and culture to children, mainly at the
elementary and middle school levels.
In November of 2005, we were saddened by the passing away of
Dr. Robert E. Brown, our longtime president. Bob's presence and
inspiration are sorely missed by the Center and the world
music community. An obituary may be found here;
see also the Wikipedia
article on Bob's contribution.
In 2008-09, the Center experienced dramatic growth in all four
of its programs: Concert Series (40 concerts), World Music in the Schools (4,000+ students), Special
Events (festivals), and Cultural Tours Abroad (Asia and Latin America).
In 2009-10 and in 2010-11, the Center continued to experience impressive growth in all four
of its programs: Concert Series (30+ concerts each year), World Music in the Schools (4,500+ students each year), Special
Events (6 world music festivals each year), Local Workshops (son jarocho, Balinese gamelan, and Odissi dance), and study abroad workshops (Indonesia, China, India, Turkey, Mexico, and Peru (Machu Picchu).
In 2012 the Center sponsored 70+ concerts, reached 10,000 K-12 students through its World Music in the Schools Program (with 30 artist-teachers and 20 ensembles-in-residence), produced a 17-day Zimbabwe Music and Dance Celebration, produced the 2nd Annual San Diego Gamelan Festival, produced and hosted a College Music Society world music workshop for American university music professors, organized a 10-city national Odissi Dance tour, and continued offering its local workshops (son jarocho, Balinese gamelan, Odissi dance) and its study abroad workshops in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
During 2013 the Center will conduct a yearlong series of special events, both in Southern California and around the globe, as part of its 50th Year Celebration: concerts, festivals, and cultural tours.
Note on the Center's History
Robert E. Brown
May 14, 2013