Photo of The Scene Logo

Photo of The Scene Logo

California State University Northridge


The evening was windy, a bit chilly as we entered the beautiful lobby of the Performing Arts Center. A colorful buffet was set up so my friend and I joined the line and appreciated the array of delicious cheese, fruits, bread, crackers and various dips and spreads. It was all delicious. The signal was given to enter the theater. It is one of my favorite theaters in the entire L.A. area because it feels so cozy and warm with its wood cladding everywhere. The sound is so good here, no matter who is performing on stage.

In a short time the seats were filled and the large orchestra, The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony was ready, conducted by Dr. Noreen Green. A musical prodigy, 15-year old Emily Bear went to the grand piano and began a thrilling trio of compositions she wrote. The orchestra was magnificent, Bear was also magnificent as they performed two classical themed compositions. Her last tune, “Bumble Bear Boogie” was a delight, with Bear showing true jazz swing, which was made even more interesting with the orchestra. This young lady has a powerful ability to express ideas and emotions with her music. What a great start to a very eventful evening! Vocalist Liel Kolet was accompanied by Barry Gold on cello and the Keshet Chaim Dance Ensemble brought a lot of color and excitement to the stage with one song, “Tishmor Al Ha Olam.” After this Save A Child’s Heart International Award was presented to Morris Khan and the SACH Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Chaya Museri, to great applause. Museri is the head operating room nurse who devotes so much time to help the children undergoing major surgery. She has been the Head Nurse since 1991 and has traveled to China, Ethiopa, and other countries to help children.

Ali Paris is a vocalist who plays an intriguing stringed instrument called a qanun. He wrote the music and lyrics to “Love Is All We Need.” Adrian Rosen accompanied on bass. A video was shown, in Memory of Kim Clement. The video showed many children who needed surgery, from all over the world. It gave a good sense of the work that was done and still needed to be done to rescue children with severe heart problems. Liel Kolet and George Komsky sang with the MUSYA Children’s Choir on a stirring song, “Ray of Hope” with music by Kolet and lyrics by Shimon Peres, orchestral arrangement by Sharon Ferber.

After an intermission Melissa Manchester was introduced. She sang “Through the Eyes of Love” and “Whenever I Call You Friend,” accompanied herself on the piano. According to the program, Manchester teaches music at USC. She also backed Bette Midler as one of the Harlettes. Manchester’s most recent recording is You Gotta Love the Life, which was funded by a fan-based campaign through Indiegogo. The singer Rita is well known around he world and has sold millions of albums to her international fans. She performed five tunes, including one with the MUSYCA Children’s Choir.Meshi Kleinstein, sang Sarah McLachlan/s famous tune, “Angel.” The program ended with the stage filled with performers for John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Actress Moran Atias was the Master of Ceremonies.

It was a long program, but well produced and very interesting to learn about the organization and the work it does for children. The event was produced by Teev Events, Inc. See

Myrna Daniels

Photo of Maria Schneider Orchestra

Wednesday, February 22 at 8pm

Los Angeles, CA, January 27, 2017 – Five-time Grammy Award-winning Maria Schneider Orchestra will bring their big-band sound to Valley Performing Arts Center stage for one-night only on Wednesday, February 22 at 8pm.

Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and beyond categorization.” She and her orchestra became widely known in 1994 when they released their first recording, Evanescence. Schneider and her orchestra have a distinguished recording career with 12 Grammy nominations and 5 Grammy Awards including the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, The Thompson Fields. In 2016, The Thompson Fields was awarded Jazz Album of the Year by Downbeat Magazine.

Photo of  Maria Schneider CD cover

“We can’t wait to experience Maria Schneider and her 18-member orchestra play live on our stage,” said VPAC’s Executive Director, Thor Steingraber. “Schneider is one of the few musical artists who compose for large-scale jazz ensembles. It will be a privilege to hear her unique artistry in our venue, especially pieces from her exceptional new album, The Thompson Fields.

Schneider’s music blurs the lines between genres, making her long list of commissioners quite varied, stretching from Jazz at Lincoln Center, to The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, to collaborating with David Bowie. She is among a small few to have received GRAMMYS in multiple genres, have received the award in both jazz and classical categories. Her recent collaboration with her orchestra and David Bowie resulted in his single called, "Sue (Or In A Season of Crime),” which brought her a second 2016 GRAMMY (Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals).

The Guardian said of Maria Schneider’s album, The Thompson Fields: ★★★★★ “The music echoes that quality of both huge and intimate…Everything connects and comes full circle, which is not the least of the pleasures of this fascinating and moving album.”

The New York Times calls Maria Schneider, “a composer and orchestrator of extravagant insight. Ms. Schneider has her own trademark way of using timbre and harmony to bring a tactile presence to the dimensions of sound-and more impressively, of applying the same tools to illuminate emotional terrain.”

In an interview with the New York Times, Maria Schneider herself said, “Like dreams are a way to process your psyche, music is a way to process and share memory.”

Photo of  Maria Schneider CD cover

Maria Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and beyond categorization.” She and her orchestra became widely known starting in 1994 when they released their first recording, Evanescence. There, Schneider began to develop her personal way of writing for what would become her 18-member collective, made up of many of the finest musicians in jazz today, tailoring her compositions to distinctly highlight the uniquely creative voices of the group. The Maria Schneider Orchestra has performed at festivals and concert halls worldwide. She herself has received numerous commissions and guest-conducting invites, working with over 85 groups from over 30 countries.

Unique funding of projects has become a hallmark for Schneider through the trend-setting company, ArtistShare. Her album, Concert in the Garden (2004) became historic as the first recording to win a GRAMMY with Internet-only sales, even more significantly, it blazed the "crowd-funding" trail as ArtistShare’s first release. She’s been awarded many honors by the Jazz Journalists Association and DOWNBEAT and JAZZTIMES Critics and Readers Polls. In 2012, her alma mater, the University of Minnesota, presented Schneider with an honorary doctorate, and in 2014, ASCAP awarded her their esteemed Concert Music Award.

Schneider has become a strong voice for music advocacy and in 2014, testified before the US Congressional Subcommittee on Intellectual Property about digital rights. She has also appeared in CNN, and has been quoted in numerous publications for her views on Spotify, Pandora, digital rights and music piracy. Most recently, she and concerned colleagues in New York have launched a widespread campaign on behalf of music-makers,

Photo of  ticket stub

Valley Performing Arts Center
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330

Date: Wednesday, February 22 at 8:00pm

Tickets: Price: Starting at $33
In Person: VPAC Ticket Office, located in the VPAC Courtyard
By Phone: (818) 677-3000

Photo of Kneebody and band

"It's probably safe to assume at this point that no other band working today can offer what Kneebody deliver." - Los Angeles Times

Kneebody is keyboardist Adam Benjamin, trumpeter Shane Endsley, electric bassist Kaveh Rastegar, saxophonist Ben Wendel and drummer Nate Wood. The band has no leader or rather, each member is the leader; they’ve developed their own musical language, inventing a unique cueing system that allows them each to change the tempo, key, style, and more in an instant.

The New York Times said of Kneebody, “There isn’t a handy term of genre for the music that Kneebody creates. It’s a band thoroughly acquainted with 1960s free-bop, 1970s jazz rock, 1990s hip-hop and postmillennial indie rock; along with classical postminimalism. (I’m leaving something out, I’m sure.) Whatever the terminology, this group has an audience.”

Kneebody bassist Kaveh Rastegar thinks of their sound this way, “Personally, I think calling Kneebody ‘jazz’ or ‘electric jazz’ is fantastic because then we can move on from that hang up and play our music -- and alter expectations of what ‘jazz’ is.”

Photo of Musical notes art work

The quintet met in their late teens while at The Eastman School of Music and Cal Arts, became fast friends, and converged together as Kneebody amid the vibrant and eclectic music scene of Los Angeles in 2001. Since then, each band member has amassed an impressive list of credits and accomplishments over the years all while the band has continued to thrive and grow in reputation, solidifying a fan base around the world.

“We are a democratic, equally owned-and-operated band with shared leadership,” says Shane Endsley. “Everyone brings in music and everyone votes on everything. And it’s always been just the five of us.”

Kneebody draws upon influences spanning D’Angelo’s Voodoo to music by Elliot Smith, Bill Frisell, and Miles Davis. Their live shows are known for intense sonic landscapes of the Radiohead ilk, for the rhythmic bombast of a Squarepusher or Queens of the Stone Age show, and the harmonic depth and improvisational freedom experienced at a Brad Mehldau concert.

In 2005, Kneebody released their debut self-titled album Kneebody on Dave Douglas’ Greenleaf Music Label. Low Electrical Worker followed in 2007 on the Colortone Label. A collection of 13 original songs, Low Electrical Worker was hailed by saxophonist Joshua Redman as one of his “favorite albums of 2007.” In the spring of 2009, Kneebody and vocalist Theo Bleckmann released 12 Songs of Charles Ives on the Winter & Winter label and received a GRAMMY nomination in the “classical crossover” category. 2013 saw the release of The Line for Concord Records. In 2015, Kneebody's groundbreaking collaboration with electronic musician Daedelus on Kneedelus was released on Flying Lotus’ imprint Brainfeeder records to praise from critics and audiences alike. Kneebody looks forward to their debut release Anti-Hero on Motéma Records in 2017.

Photo of  Maria Schneider CD cover

The Eli & Edythe Broad Stage
1310 11th St. Santa Monica CA 90401. Limited free parking is available.
Saturday, February 11 at 7:30pm

Start at $45. Prices subject to change.
Phone: Patron Services at 310.434.3200
In Person: Box office at 1310 11th St. Santa Monica CA 90401
beginning three hours prior to performance.