On Oct. 8, The Dairy Arts Center will present a concert titled “World Beat,” but that enticing title could easily be applied to most of The Dairy calendar this fall.
“World Beat” features music from Turkey, Japan and Venezuela. Before that (Sept. 21), “A Place for Us” will have music from Bosnia, Palestine, Romania, Russia and Mexico. Less than a week before that (Sept. 15), cabaret singer Lannie Garrett will present “Under Paris Skies,” which comes just after the season-opening “Flamenco Fantastic!” (Sept. 9; sold out). And that all happens before a concert of music from Japan and India (“YO,” Oct. 29).
It is no accident that musical wanderlust characterizes the wide-ranging concert series at The Dairy. “If you look at the various types of music that appear over this fall series, the design is to be very eclectic,” says James Bailey, The Dairy’s music curator.
The events Bailey organizes are grouped into three series: One Night Only, Jazz at The Dairy and Soundscape, midday performances for people that prefer not to go out at night. Concerts in these series are presented in The Dairy’s Gordon Gamm Theater, an intimate space that is ideal for small ensemble performances.
Across those three series, Bailey has several specific goals. Presenting music from around the world is one, although Bailey admits that the amount of world music this fall was partly good fortune.
“I wish I could tell you that there was an overlying plan, but it just happened,” he says. Nevertheless, “it was planned to do world music on the Soundscape series, and that will continue in the spring.
“I try to pick countries [where] the music is not related. So we’re doing Japan, Venezuela and Turkey for [‘World Beat’]. If you do three countries per concert and three concerts per season, you’re going to have nine countries at the end of the year. That’s a lot of musicians and a lot of kinds of music.”
Another goal is to present music that makes a social statement. This year, one concert takes place on the U.N. International Day of Peace, Sept. 21. Dedicated to “displaced humans around the world,” the performance will feature music from many troubled areas including Bosnia, Romania, Russia and Mexico, as well as the music of European Jews, Native Americans and African slaves.
“As it turns out, a number of the musicians that are performing are in fact displaced people themselves,” Bailey says.
He did not so much pick the musicians as they picked themselves. “What happens on a concert like that, I will have a theme and I will put the word out to a lot of musicians that I know in the region,” he says. “Then I just wait for them to come back.”
New music forms another theme in The Dairy concerts. “Alive! New Music at the Dairy” (Oct. 9) will offer eight pieces by local composers, including Daniel Kellogg from the University of Colorado Boulder, as well as composers from around the country and the world. Of the eight, four will be world premieres.
Once again, Bailey contacted local musicians and waited for them to respond. And respond they did: “In this case I could do a concert every week for the next two years,” he says, adding that the eight pieces on the program were selected from about 40 that were offered.
Several performances this fall feature music with other art forms. Three of the pieces on “Alive!” will join music and film. The next program, “The Music of Art and the Art of Music” with pianist Jennifer Hayghe, combines music and visual art (Oct. 20). And later, pianist David Korevaar will perform music by John Cage together with Helander Dance Theater (Nov. 9).
“We have a stage that works for these things, and I think it’s important to use it,” Bailey says. “Performances where you’ve got a combination of art genres don’t happen very often.”
He adds one more thought about his goals as a musical curator. “A lot of these concerts will never be presented again, in the format in which they appear,” he says. “But more important, I think, does the program add to our eclectic nature as a venue? And is it something that people will come to?”
The answer to the first question is clear: Bailey’s series are unquestionably eclectic and make a valuable contribution to concert music in Boulder. And those of us who love musical variety and adventure hope the answer to the second question is yes as well.
On the Bill: The Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826. For a full schedule of events, check out thedairy.org.