The 5 Best Highbrow Cultural Events in Los Angeles

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to get some culture in your lives. While Los Angeles certainly is home to a robust concert scene, innovative gallery showings, and top-notch museums with permanent collections worth devoting days to, we are taking a look at some special events, performances, and engagements coming up this year that can help you up your cultural game and go a little highbrow.


EVENT: Printed Matter's LA Art Book Fair

A companion event to the annual New York Art Book Fair in the fall, Printed Matter is presenting the first annual LA Art Book Fair from February 1 to 3 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. This free event is open to the public, and will showcase the work of over 220 international presses, including artists’ books, art catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines. In fact, zines get their own sub-section event, called Zine World, that will include not only the zine creators, but three zine exhibitions, including one focused on the work of Los Angeles-based artist Christopher Russell. (Speaking of Zines, Zine Week runs February 3-9 this year, making it a great follow-up to the Art Book Fair.) The LA Art Book Fair will include an homage to Mike Kelley, a new installation by John Armleder with Three Star Books, and a pop-up shop. An opening reception will take place Thursday, January 31, from 6-9 p.m.

MUSIC + DANCE + ART: LA's Rite: Stravinsky, Innovation and Dance

LA's Rite is a multi-disciplinary set of events curated to honor composer Igor Stravinsky. The festival will bring together three international dance companies, an exhibition and symposium and the American premiere of "RE-RITE", an innovative digital installation produced by London's Philharmonia Orchestra under the direction of onetime Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.

The Joffrey Ballet will be in L.A. to perform "The Rite of Spring," in early February, and ahead of each performance there will be a series of student performances dedicated to Stravinsky and the vibrancy of the arts in Los Angeles by students from the Colburn School of Performing Arts and California Dance Institute. Then, after the student performances, there will be special talks to precede the Joffrey shows. The LA's Rite Symposium on February 2 will give attendees the chance to gather for an intimate afternoon of discussion on "The Rite of Spring."

Also kicking off February 1 is "LA's Rite Exhibition: Stravinsky and L.A. Dance," an art exhibition that "celebrates Stravinsky’s creative influence on dance-makers in Los Angeles, including rarely seen photographs by Otto Rothschild." The show will be open to the public on Music Center show days (February 1-3, 8-10, 15-17).

The L.A.'s Rite fest takes some time off before resuming in the summer, with American Ballet Theatre's performance of "Apollo" on July 11. Then, in early August, Salonen and London's Philharmonia Orchestra will perform "RE-RITE" in its American debut. Lastly, in October, the Music Center welcomes Nederlands Dans Theater for their performance of "Chamber," which is a work inspired by The Rite of Spring with a score by Joby Talbot and choreography by Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) dancer Medhi Walerski.

The Joffrey Ballet: The Rite of Spring (February 1-3)
Student Performances and DanceTalks (February 1-3)
LA's Rite Symposium (February 2)
LA's Rite Exhibition: Stravinsky and L.A. Dance (February 1-3, 8-10, 15-17)
American Ballet Theatre: Apollo (July 11)
RE-RITE: Philharmonia Orchestra's Digital Residency (August 1-11)
Nederlands Dans Theater: Chamber (October 18-20)

BONUS: Though not affiliated with the LA Rite festival of events, the Los Angeles Philharmonic will be showcasing Stravinsky when they play his complete "Firebird Suite," February 28 through March 2 under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel at Walt Disney Hall. Having seen the LA Phil do "Firebird" several years back under Salonen, this should be an exciting opportunity to see our premiere orchestra take on the vibrant Stravinsky piece.

ARCHITECTURE: "Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990" Part of Pacific Standard Time at The Getty Museum

Last year's phenomenal Pacific Standard Time makes a re-appearance in the form of The Getty Museum's exhibition on post-war architecture in Los Angeles. Open from April 9 to July 21, the exhibit will offer "a comprehensive analysis of the diverse architectural innovations of Southern California through drawings, photographs, models, full-scale reconstructions of building components, films and oral histories," explains The Getty Foundation.

THEATRE: David Mamet's "American Buffalo" at the Geffen Playhouse

It is a great time for great revivals in L.A. this season, and this spring in the spirit of revisiting definitive works of years gone by the Geffen Playhouse will have Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet's "American Buffalo" on their stage. The play was deemed an American classic when it opened on Broadway in 1975. Though a 2008 NY revival with some major stars didn't fare well, "American Buffalo" is getting a fresh interpretation in L.A. for the first time in over a decade. The story is centered on a group of con artists plotting the theft of a rare coin collection. Featuring Mamet's hallmark fast-paced, overlapping, and tense dialogue, be warned those who abhor foul language will be very uncomfortable hearing the characters exchange words. "American Buffalo" runs April 2 to May 12.

OPERA: LA Opera's Revival of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass' "Einstein on the Beach"

"Einstein on the Beach," the groundbreaking collaboration between Robert Wilson and Philip Glass, dates back to 1976, and will be performed in a rare revival as a special bonus to the LA Opera's season. The LA Opera elaborates on this highly unconventional work: "Non-narrative in form, the work uses a series of powerful recurrent images as its main dramatic device shown in juxtaposition with abstract dance sequences created by Lucinda Childs." Tickets to Einstein on the Beach are currently available only to Full Season Subscribers. Individual tickets will go on sale to the general public on June 16, 2013. Performances are Friday October 11, Saturday October 12, and Sunday October 13.

A FEW MORE EVENTS TO CHECK OUT/LOOK FORWARD TO: No matter how highbrow you aim to be, timing is everything. There are a few events taking place worth a little mention. Right now is the L.A. Art Show (January 23 to 27) in Downtown at the Convention Center; the Edwardian Ball is happening February 23 at the Fonda; and while details are not yet available, LACMA's Muse Ball (Fall 2013) is always a colorful celebration to remember.

Compiled with the assistance of LAist A&E Editor Christine N. Ziemba and For Your Art's Sarah Williams.