To the viewer, being “safer at home” and watching online, nothing would seem out of the ordinary. Ladysmith Black Mambazo took the stage at UCLA’s Royce Hall on March 16, and the South African choral group delivered gorgeous harmonies in a traditional Zulu style, with carefree stage banter that belied the dramatic news unfolding in real time.
The only hint that something was different came in between the songs. Rather than the typical roar of applause one might hear in an 1,800-seat auditorium, there was just a smattering of claps and whoops, as though only a dozen people were in the audience.
That’s because there were only a dozen people in the audience. The concert occurred just as performance venues across the country were shutting their doors to slow the spread of COVID-19. Kristy Edmunds, the executive and artistic director of UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, decided that the show must go on.
Rather than cancel the concert outright, Edmunds arranged for a small crew to capture it for later distribution.
On this episode of the “Works In Progress” podcast by UCLA Arts, we hear from Albert Mazibuko, founding member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Tom Schnabel, the host of KCRW’s Rhythm Planet; and Kristy Edmunds, the executive and artistic director of UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance.
Read the full story on the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture website.