Claremont’s 2016 arts and entertainment scene continues to thrive

Claremont is an anomaly in a lot of ways, but one of our most wonderful quirks is of great benefit to us all: We’re a small town with a big-city art scene.

Where else in the world would a town of 35,000 have a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer giving a fascinating lecture while a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is electrifying the crowd at a small theater just down the street?

And while the City of Trees certainly owes a great debt to the Claremont Colleges’ largesse and cache in bringing in top tier entertainment and brainpower, which we all enjoy, we also have a thriving music, art, poetry and literary scene happening independent of the Colleges. This year really drove that point home, with several major artists making appearances in town.

All flavors of local and international music are always throbbing at local music venues and even out on the street at Friday Nights Live. Art galleries and working collectives dot the Village. Live theater is available at the Candlelight Pavilion and Bridges Auditorium and other venues at the Colleges.

The point is we’ve an embarrassment of riches, in per-capita terms. The following is a sampling of 2016’s best, most interesting, arts and entertainment events in and around Claremont.

The eighth annual Claremont Film Festival kicked off in May with Buster Keaton’s The General, followed by the acclaimed musical documentary The Wrecking Crew.

On May 22 Claremont was lucky to have one of America’s great journalists, Bill Moyers, give an electrifying free talk at United Church of Christ. Mr. Moyers sat down with the COURIER after the talk and made the year for two of its reporters. If one needs any more proof of the city’s charmed existence, on that same day Claremont’s own David Lindley headlined the 33rd annual Claremont Folk Festival at Pomona College’s Sontag Greek Theater. It was quite a day.

Senator Barbara Boxer visited Claremont in June to give a free talk at Scripps College. In July, Ophelia’s Jump’s Midsummer Shakespeare Festival kicked off with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Othello. Later in July, long-running Los Angeles psychedelic cowboys I See Hawks in LA and legendary guitarist Tony Gilkyson played a wonderful show at the Folk Music Center.

A tribute to the late Claremont artist John Svenson was shown in August at the Square I Gallery. Journalist Melissa Harris-Perry came to the Garrison Theater. Acclaimed genre-benders Marley’s Ghost played a packed house concert in Claremont on August 21.

In September, Melanie (“Brand New Key”) played an intimate house concert in Claremont. Pitzer College’s fascinating ISLAM: Beyond Ideological Narratives series kicked off September 6 with a talk on Yemeni women’s rights.

The first Claremont Authors’ Book Faire took place at the Claremont Library on September 24. The event featured several local authors, including Allen Callaci reading his recently-published memoir Heart Like a Starfish.

October saw concert activity that was off the charts, even by Claremont standards, with Jackson Browne playing a sold out show at Bridges to benefit the Folk Music Center, followed up by Neil Young and the Promise of the Real at the Fox in Pomona.

As November dawned, Bridges hosted Pomona-born comedian, writer, producer, television host and actor Larry Wilmore, who offered a post-election discussion. On November 14, Pulitzer winner Michael A. Hiltzik discussed “What’s Happened to America’s Middle Class?” at the Athenaeum at Claremont McKenna College. And, on November 20, the Claremont Museum of Art officially opened its doors at the Claremont Depot with (re)Generation: Six Decades of Claremont Artists.

More Pulitzers were on display December 9 when three-time winning New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman spoke at Claremont Graduate University’s Albrecht Auditorium.

Other highlights this year include a gamelan concert, choirs, West African ensembles, fortepiano and symphony orchestra concerts at the Colleges, Friday Nights Live, the library’s poetry readings, the University Club of Claremont discussions and several fascinating programs at Pilgrim Place.

We’re truly blessed to have such a varied palette of music, art, film, literature and theater available to us virtually seven days a week, a great deal of it free of charge. Now that you have an idea of what you missed, be sure to check the COURIER’s Calendar section every Friday to be sure you won’t miss anything in 2017.

—Mick Rhodes


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