The team at MUSE/IQUE created three concerts inspired by the American sound and maps at the The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens which show how roads were built to connect people.
“What if we made an American map out of music?” said Rachel Worby, co-founder and artistic director of the musical group, which moved its series of summer concerts to The Huntington this year. “It would be a fluid map, full of connections and without borders. It would distinguish us and hold us together, while at the same time telling others who and where we are—and it would welcome everyone. Based on this idea, we created three events which map our “STATES/UNITED.”
The first two concerts featured the music of Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin. The final concert—taking place this Saturday, Aug.25 will feature pianist Lara Downes performing the music of Duke Ellington and Leonard Bernstein (NewYork), singer Chester “Chess” Gregory performing Pearl Bailey, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Lloyd Price, Jackie Wilson, and Elvis Presley (from the South to Detroit), and Twyla Tharp’s choreography, as interpreted by Herman Cornejo and Sarah Lane of the American Ballet Theatre, to the sound of Frank Sinatra (Vegas).
“MUSE/IQUE brings exceptionally talented musicians to our Botanical Gardens in perfect harmony with nature to the delight of 1,400 attendees drawn from the San Marino and Pasadena area,” said Randy Shulman, vice-president for advancement at The Huntington.
“This summer’s concerts beautifully complement our art and library collections and provide meaningful experience like no other. We’ve enjoyed the concerts immensely and we are proud of our partnership with MUSE/IQUE.”
Worby said the response from the local community has been overwhelmingly positive. “This summer has sparked more conversations than previous events,” she said. “The concerts not only energize the community after each performance but also, what’s even more exciting is to hear them take the ideas even further than were originally presented.”
Worby is gratified that people attending the concerts are also discovering The Huntington for the first time.
“Many friends have shared how welcome they feel in the space and have expressed great interest in becoming part of The Huntington family,” she said.
MUSE/IQUE will perform the first of its 2018-19 series, CAR/TUNES, on Sunday, Oct. 28 at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
“We have an undeniably strong car culture here in Los Angeles, so the possibilities are endless!” said Worby. “Our musical wizards will help us re-discover the hopes and dreams that our beloved cars inspire, from Mustangs to Mercedes Benz.”
On Sunday, Dec. 2, SINGING/STORIES will be presented at the Pasadena Central Library, featuring songs by diverse performers, from Paul Simon to Elvis Presley.
Worby joined a group of community leaders who “identified a strong need for an interactive live music experience that would go way beyond the concert hall and become ingrained in the community in deeply relevant ways,” she said. Together, in 2011, they founded MUSE/IQUE, a nonprofit organization that consists of an acclaimed orchestra and top musicians from the worlds of jazz, rock, blues, gospel, among others.
After along stint at Caltech, MUSE/IQUE relocated to The Huntington this summer and is expected to stay “probably for several years,” according to Shulman.