This is my final post on Ring Festival LA, which concluded on June 30. Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed proclaimed that "LA Opera's Ring had become an LA Opera's Ring instant LA legend." And Donna Perlemutter commented in the Huffington Post that the"momentous production" was "a one-of-a-kind for the history books." We at LA Opera can justly celebrate the success of this enormous effort, while regretting the ephemeral nature of the performing arts. Ring Festival LA, and its 1,000 events that preceded and surrounded the Ring cycles, has come and gone, also. It, too, leaves memories and a kind of legend as a great city-wide arts festival. But the Festival leaves something more that will impact the future. The Festival gave birth to a spirit of community collaboration that will continue for years to enliven Los Angeles' cultural scene.
Ring Festival LA forged a model for community collaboration between cultural and educational institutions. With all the Festival partners doing their own events, at their own expense (and for their own profit), around a central theme, a synergy developed where the whole became greater than the sum of the parts. Surveys done during and after the Festival confirm that partners experienced more exposure and bigger attendance for their events than if they had not been part of Ring Festival LA. We showed that coordinated programming and co-promotion work. A spirit of participation and celebration developed throughout the city that would not have occurred if we were doing business as usual. Collaboration is not a zero-sum game.
The new partnerships that LA Opera cultivated will continue to pay dividends for Angelenos to enjoy for many seasons to come. Watch for interesting and engaging collaborations between LA Opera and the California Art Club, Goethe Institute, Griffith Observatory, Hammer Museum, HeArt Project, LACMA,
The Latino Museum, Los Angeles Conservancy, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Occidental College, University of California, University of LaVerne,
and many more Ring Festival organizations that the Opera had not previously partnered with.
Ring Festival LA also acted as a catalyst for completely new undertakings that will continue into the future:
Local think-tank for arts and new media goes global
In June, c3: Center for Creative Consciousness presented a day-long "State of the Arts" symposium discussing future trends in Arts, Media and Entertainment with leading-edge panelists from Ovation TV, Arts for LA, Lionsgate (Digital), Producers Guild of America, Sony Picture Entertainment, The Millennium Project, the Entertainment Technology Center at USC, USC Annenberg's Center for the Digital Future, and the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment, among others. The thought-provoking discussions focused on the conscious use of creativity and its power to drive global change. This Symposium was inspired by the LA Opera Ring. As an important outgrowth c3: Vision LAB is in the process of creating a Global Arts and Media Node dedicated to the goal of addressing creative solutions for The Millennium Project's "15 Global Challenges," as a contribution to the Millennium Project annual report called "The State of the Future."
Coming soon to an iPod near you: Gangsta Wagner
About 5,000 attendees on June 19 enjoyed the free concert featuring the daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra at the California Plaza. Commissioned by Grand Performances presenting a hip hop take on Wagner's Ring, Geoff (Double G) Gallegos intended Gangsta Wagner to be a marriage between the adrenaline-pumping and gut-wrenching aggression of West Coast Gangsta Rap and the intensity of Wagner's Ring Cycle." I attended that performance and can personally attest that Double G succeeded in knocking the socks off the audience that night. If you missed that performance, keep an eye out for an upcoming CD. In the near future, Double G is planning to finish a song-cycle of 12 or 13 pieces, and then track it in the studio.
Meet the Jacaranda Youth Chamber Orchestra
Last May Jacaranda, Santa Monica's intrepid new music presenter, brought together gifted young high school musicians to participate in the organization's two Ring Festival events. In "The Young Siegfried" workshop, 26 students were coached to perform Wagner's Siegfried Idyll for a free concert discussion. Involving students with Jacaranda's professional musicians provided an educational experience that dovetails perfectly with Jacaranda's mission. A week later the students attended "Prussian Blues," a program shaped by the Ring Festival context, that included the original 13-piece Siegfried Idyll. Watch later this season for the newly minted Jacaranda Youth Chamber Orchestra in a side-by-side performance of Carlos Chavez's Sinfonia India in the full orchestra version with Jacaranda musicians.
The Getty Carries On
On June 30 Ring Festival LA passed the "event baton" to the J. Paul Getty Trust, which will be commandeering a region-wide festival in 2011 entitled "Pacific Standard Time: Art in Los Angeles, 1945-1980." About 200 leaders from the 122 partners of Ring Festival LA celebrated and committed to the continuation of a new tradition in Los Angeles of doing things together. The festive evening was another of the many opportunities Ring Festival LA provided for the partners to meet and get to know each other. The cross-pollination that occurred between partners is leading to new and exciting collaborations between organizations that had never before worked together. That is the principal legacy: a new and better way to serve the public and the arts collaboratively.
Ring Festival LA will live on digitally at RingFestivalLA.com. Over the summer, video, still images, and multimedia that have been collected from Festival partner events will be posted on the website so the Festival can continue as an online resource and model for future citywide arts festivals in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
Follow Barry A. Sanders on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RingFestivalLA