Published: January 30, 2013

Research Tower of the Centro Nacional
de las Artes (CENART), Mexico City,
Mexico. Photo by Helen Rees, 2012.

Twenty-five students and faculty members from the Department of Ethnomusicology traveled to Mexico City, Mexico, during the week of November 26 to December 2, 2012, to participate in “Encounter of World Music and Dance.” This series of lectures and workshops took place at the Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART), which is part of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA).

Organized by UCLA Professor Steve Loza and Mexican musicologist/scholar Jose Antonio Robles-Cahero, “Encounter of World Music and Dance” gave students of CENART an opportunity to learn about the musical cultures of China, India, West Africa, and jazz from UCLA faculty and students, via lectures, hand-on workshops, and performances. Professor Loza recently discussed the program with Donna Armstrong.

Armstrong: What was the original premise of this program?

Loza: We did a project similar to this one twelve years ago.  It was a big project that took two months. Eight groups of professors and students from UCLA made four trips down to Mexico every other week. Jose Antonio Robles-Cahero was director of CENIDIM at that time [the music division of INBA, which stands for “National Center for Music Research, Documentation and Information”]. When he became the director again, he and I talked about doing another project. So, we wrote up a proposal last year. We submitted it for funding to HASOM, the Latino Museum of History, Art, and Culture, OIP [the UCLA Office of Instructional Programs], and CENIDIM. They all gave us funding.

Armstrong: What were the main features of the program?

Loza: The agreement was to send six groups to Mexico to give presentations on the music of China, India, Africa, and jazz. Twenty-five people went. Professors gave lectures and workshops. There were eight workshops; each area gave two. There were also four concerts. So, for the music of China, Professor Helen Rees gave a lecture, Professor Chi Li led a workshop, and graduate student Morit Gaifman participated in the workshop. For the music of India, Professors Rahul Neuman and Abhiman Kaushal both gave lectures and led workshops. For the music of Africa, Professor Cheryl Keyes gave a lecture and Professor Kobla Ladzekpo led a workshop with three students. Professor James Newton gave a lecture on jazz and led a workshop with eleven UCLA students from the Charles Mingus Ensemble.

Jose Antonio Robles-Cahero and Steve Loza.
Photo by Helen Rees, 2012.

Armstrong: How did the program go?

Loza: Everything was incredible. There were excellent questions and responses. After two workshops, the Mexican students were able to perform in the concert.  They have a jazz studies program there; there were seventy-four students at Newton’s workshop. The next day, there were fifty jazz students. All workshops were well attended. The lectures averaged about twenty-five people apiece.  Students [from the CENART jazz studies program] brought their own arrangements to the jazz workshop and played them at the concert.  It was beautiful. The students (from here and there) were blown away.

Armstrong: Tell me more about the Centro Nacional de las Artes.

Loza: In English, it is the “National Center for the Arts,” with schools of music, visual art, dance, theater, and film. There is a research tower that has nine floors, where the respective arts research components are housed.  CENIDIM is the division concerned with music research.

Armstrong: Does the Centro Nacional de las Artes offer degrees?

Loza: Yes, in all five schools of the arts. The music school, which is called the “Escuela Superior de Música,” has a jazz studies program and also offers professional degrees.

Armstrong: Is there anything else you would like to say about the program that took place over November 26–December 2?

Loza: The program attracted all kinds of people – scholars, students.  We’re taking down there something that they’re hungry for. The program was successful because it integrated performance and scholarship, which is what the ethnomusicology program at UCLA has done since its inception.

Armstrong: Thank you, Professor Loza.



November 26-30, 2012
Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes
Mexico City, Mexico

Coordinators – Steven Loza, UCLA, and Jose Antonio Robles Cahero, CENIDIM


1. Music and Dance from China (November 26-28)

Lecture by Helen Rees – “Traditional Chinese Music in the Early 21st Century.”
Workshop by Chi Li: erhu, ban’gu and dance (Helen Rees, xiao and dizi, and Morit Gaifman, soprano).

2. Music from India (November 26-28)

Lecture by Rahul Neuman and Abhiman Kaushal – “Ragas and rhythms from India.”
Workshop by Rahul Neuman, sitar, and Abhiman Kaushal, tabla.

Concert: Music from China and India.

3. Music and dance from West Africa (November 28-30)

Lecture by Cheryl Keyes – “The African Diaspora through America: The Case of Professor Longhair of New Orleans.”
Workshop by Kobla Ladzekpo, Karen Liu, Justin Bardales, and Jun Reichl (dance and percussion).

4. Jazz Music (November 28-30)

Lecture by James Newton – “Reflections on Jazz and Composition.”
Workshop by James Newton, Steve Loza, and the UCLA Charles Mingus Ensemble.

Concert: Music from West Africa and Jazz.


Photo Essay by Helen Rees
Copyright 2012

  1mexico_program_china_erhu_1     1mexico_program_china_dance_2    
  Music of China. Chi Li teaches a student to play the erhu.     Music of China. Chi Li teaches students the fan dance.    
  1mexico_program_china_percussion_1     1mexico_program_india_tabla_1    
  Music of China. Chi Li teaches students to play Chinese percussion.     Music of India. Abhiman Kaushal teaches students to play tabla.    
  1mexico_program_india_sitar_2     1mexico_program_india_performance    
  Music of India. Rahul Neuman teaches a student to play the sitar.     Music of India. Abhiman Kaushal and Rahul Neuman in
  1mexico_program_ghana_drum_3     1mexico_program_ghana_dance_5    
  Music of West Africa. Kobla Ladzekpo teaches a student to play the agbogba drum.     Music of West Africa. UCLA alumna Karen Liu dances to
West African rhythms.
  1mexico_program_ghana_performance_1     1mexico_program_jazz_lecture_1    
  Music of West Africa. CENART students perform with
Kobla Ladzekpo and UCLA alumni Karen Liu and Jun

Jazz. James Newton gives a lecture on jazz and

  1mexico_program_jazz_rehearsal_2     1mexico_program_jazz_performance_2    
  Jazz. James Newton directs the UCLA Charles Mingus
Ensemble and CENART students.
    Jazz. CENART student performs with the UCLA
Charles Mingus Ensemble.
  1mexico_program_cheryl_piano     1mexico_program_organizers_3    
  Cheryl Keyes plays the piano during her lecture on New
Orleans music; photographed by Alejandra Flores Tamayo.
    Helen Rees and Cheryl Keyes with ethnomusicologist and
professor Máster Gonzalo Camacho Díaz, and Alejandra
Flores Tamayo, full-time researcher in CENIDIM.



HASOM – UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology
OIP – Office of Instructional Programs
The Latino Museum of History, Art and Culture, Los Angeles


CONACULTA – Consejo Nacional para la Cultural y las Artes (National Council for Culture and Arts)
INBA – Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Institute of Fine Arts)
CENART– Centro Nacional de las Artes (National Center for the Arts)
CENIDIM – Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación e Información Musical (National Center for Music Research, Documentation and Information)
CENIDID – Centro Nacional del Investigación, Documentación e Información de la Danza (National Center for Dance Research, Documentation and Information)
ESM – Escuela Superior de Música (Professional School of Music)
CNM – Conservatorio Nacional de Música (National Conservatory of Music)