Musco Center Presents ‘Artists in Response to Incarceration’ Online

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Kishi Bashi and David Garza

ORANGE — Chapman University’s Musco Center for the Arts continues to prioritize cultural equity in the spring season of online events spotlighting diverse artists, creatives, and academic perspectives championing the art of connection. 

The free spring season of online talks, performances, and happenings takes place on select Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. Pacific Time under the program @THEMUSCO-Online, which brings together past and new audiences in a virtual setting.

“Unifying our community in real time with artists engaged in the topics of our time is the core of @THEMUSCO-Online’s mission,” says Richard T. Bryant, Musco Center executive director. 

The spring season that opened with Native American blues guitarist Tracy Lee Nelson continues March 3 with the return of acclaimed Japanese American violinist and arts activist Kishi Bashi alongside Mexican American singer-songwriter Davíd Garza in a roundtable and select performances focused on the topic of incarceration in the United States — both currently and historically.

“Artists in Response to Incarceration” is the 17th @THEMUSCO-Online event since Musco Center launched the series to remain engaged with audiences in the face of COVID-19 theater closures. The online series expands on the topic of cultural equity, previously advanced pre-COVID through Musco Center’s live programming.  

According to Bryant, “His livestreamed virtual event is a continuation of the relationship Musco Center and Kishi Bashi  have built over the past three years, including workshops with music students in the College of Performing Arts, and engagement in Chapman University’s proposed WWII Japanese American Incarceration Memory Project in collaboration with Chapman’s Leatherby Libraries; Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; and Fish Interfaith Center.” 

In order to advance the conversation in preparation for his return next year, Kishi Bashi was invited to propose a topic to be included in this cultural equity series. Rooted in the uncompromising musical statement of his album “Omoiyari,” which channels the unconstitutional incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent,  Kishi Bashi expressed alarm over the turbulent sociopolitical atmosphere of present-day America and the wide-spread incarceration both on the border and throughout the country. 

At Musco Center’s request, he invited fellow musician and arts activist Garza to join him @THEMUSCO to expand on the past and present of this vital issue.

Garza, a third-generation Mexican American Texas native, is known for his extensive work as a producer, session musician, composer, and visual artist. His use of songs from the 1970s Chicano civil rights movement in protest of family detention and separation in El Paso brought to light the impact music has in fighting injustice. His subsequent recording on the border with Chamanas native Paulina Reza singing on the Mexican side, and American-native Garza’s singing in the U.S., brought a more modern meaning to the decade-old bolero ballad about family separation entitled “Beseme Mucho.”  

Additional @THEMUSCO-Online events for the spring ’21 series will be announced at a later date.

All @THEMUSCO Online events will be free to experience on both Musco Center’s YouTube and Facebook platforms. For more information about each of the series offerings, schedule, and to sign up for event reminders, visit www.muscocenter.org.

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