Statewide Apprenticeship Program Supports California’s Cultural Traditions Through 18 Artist Teams


ACTA - Posted on 26 January 2017

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Since 1999, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts’ (ACTA) Apprenticeship Program has supported California’s cultural traditions with 314 contracts to outstanding folk and traditional artists and practitioners. Now entering its seventeenth cycle, ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program encourages the continuity of the state’s living cultural heritage by contracting exemplary master artists to offer intensive training and mentorship to qualified apprentices. Contracts of $3,000 are made with California-based master artists to cover master artist’s fees, supplies and travel. Participants work closely with ACTA staff to develop and document the apprenticeships, culminating in opportunities to publicly share results of their work.

The 2017 Apprenticeship Program cohort of 36 artists (18 pairs) reflects California’s breadth of cultural diversity and intergenerational learning, ranging from master artists in their 70s to a 13-year old apprentice, spanning from Tuolumne to San Diego Counties. Thriving traditions supported through these apprenticeships reflect indigenous California cultural practices that include Quechan and Kumeyaay song cycles and Mewuk Basketry; and traditions that have taken root in California hailing from cultural communities from Africa, Puerto Rico, India, Syria, Iran, China, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, Croatia and Hungary. 

The Alliance for California Traditional Arts' Apprenticeship Program is supported with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; plus individual contributors supporting one or more apprenticeships - Artivist Entertainment and the many individual donors to the 2016 Apprenticeship giving campaign.

Additional support is provided by the California Arts Council, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and The San Francisco Foundation. ACTA is the California Arts Council’s statewide partner in serving the folk & traditional arts field.

The 18 statewide artist pairs contracted in the 2017 Apprenticeship Program are:

A previous master artist to ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program, Preston J. Arrow-weed (Imperial) will share with his apprentice Stanley Rodríguez (San Diego) the cultural knowledge, language and repertoire of Quechan and Kumeyaay tribal song cycles.

Returning to the Apprenticeship Program is master artist Jennifer Bates (Tuolumne) (2011), who will mentor Daveen Williams (San Joaquin) in the practice of basketry of the Central Sierra Mewuk.

Master artist Shriram Brahmanandam (Santa Clara) will work with his apprentice Anivartin Anand (Santa Clara) in the Tanjore tradition of mridangam, the two headed drum central to South Indian Classical Carnatic music.

Master artist Titania Buchholdt (Contra Costa), previously an apprentice to the late Danongan Kalanduyan, returns to the Apprenticeship Program this year to mentor Lauren Benetua (Alameda) in the indigenous Filipino musical practice of Kulintang.

Ryan Rithea Boun (Santa Clara) will deepen his understanding of Cambodian Classical Dance through a mentorship with master artist Charya Burt (Sonoma).

Apprentice Catherine Anne Scott (Los Angeles) will be mentored by master artist and Alashe, Ysamur Flores Peña (Los Angeles) to deepen her knowledge in the traditional preparation and presenting of meals to the Lucumi Orishas.

Master artist Roy Hirabayashi (Santa Clara) will provide knowledge and expertise to his apprentice Yurika Chiba (Santa Clara) to enrich her understanding of taiko drumming and Kumidaiko, Japanese ensemble drumming.

Master drummer Aboubakar Koyate (Los Angeles) will bestow upon his apprentice Nikeiltha Campbell (Los Angeles) a deeper knowledge that illuminates the connection between rhythmic forms and songs to specific ritual and celebration.

South Indian Carnatic master artist Dr. Rohan Krishnamurthy (San Francisco) will mentor his apprentice Shreyassriram Garimella (Santa Clara) in the intricacies of the Carnatic percussion instrument, the mridangam.

Master artist Kyoungil Ong (Alameda) will mentor her apprentice Ryeon Hwa (San Francisco) in the traditional Korean dance form, Seungmu.

Melody González (Orange) will apprentice with master artist Shefali Shah (Alameda) to deepen her technique and cultural understanding of the Puerto Rican bomba dance tradition.

Master artist Arash Shirirnbab (Alameda) will share with his apprentice Nabeela Sajjad (Alameda) the knowledge and artistry embedded in Thuluth Arabic calligraphy script.

Apprentice Apurvaa Anand (Santa Clara) will study with master artist Anuradha Sridhar (Santa Clara) to develop her skills on the violin, in the classical Carnatic Lalgudi style.

Master artist Ferenc Tobak (Mendocino) will mentor his long time apprentice Lilla Serlegi (Mendocino) to further develop her ability on the gajde, bagpipe of the Hungarian and Croatian music tradition.

Master Carnatic vocalist Jayanthi Umesh (Santa Clara) will mentor her apprentice Kaushik Hariharan (Santa Clara) in the South Indian Classical music tradition.

Returning master artist Van-Anh “Vanessa” Vo (Alameda) will work with her apprentice Christopher Lam (San Francisco) to further his skills and technique on the Vietnamese dan bau.

Master artist Mariko Watabe (Ventura) returns to the Apprenticeship Program to prepare her apprentice Carlos Coronado (Alameda) in the deep tradition of Japanese hiyashi percussion ensemble playing.

Focusing on the derbekki hand drum, apprentice Sarah Rosenkrantz (Alameda) will deepen her skills and cultural understanding of the Middle Eastern percussion tradition with master artist Faisal Zedan (Alameda).

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Ritual food preparation in the Lucumí tradition will be taught by culture-bearer Ysamur Flores-Peña.

2

Master artist, Shefali Shah (right) teaching a student bomba dance moves from the Afro-Puerto Rican tradition.

3

Thuluth calligraphy by Persian master artist, Arash Shirinbab.

4

Master artist Aboubakar Kouyate (in white) performing with apprentice Nikeiltha Campbell (center) and other musicians.