By Camille Gavin
When I first learned that "Zawadi" was the title of the Bakersfield High School choirs' winter concert, I wondered about its origin. So I checked with Christopher Borges , director of the choirs, who was able to fill me in on the details.
It's a Swahili word, he said, and it involves a link between a Bakersfield family and an educational foundation based in the East African country of Kenya.
Open Mic Poetry
When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Russo's Books, 9000 Stockdale Highway
Open House Christmas Party
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: Art Center, 1817 Eye St.
Holiday Craft Show
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Empty Space, 706 Oak St.
BHS Choirs "Zawadi" concert
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Harvey Auditorium, 1401 G St.
Information: 324-9841, ext. 71
New York City Ballet 'The Nutcracker'
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Edwards Bakersfield Stadium 13, 9000 Ming Ave.
Admission: $20; $18 seniors; $16 children
GO & DO
Borges explained that local resident Anne Lweny, whom he met through her daughter, Tamara Lweny, a former student, started the Deborah Amoi Foundation in 2009 in memory of her mother, Deborah Amoi, who taught elementary school in her native Kenya for most of her life.
"They (the Lwenys) have been trying to get me to visit there for some time," the director said. "Last summer a friend of mine was going there to do some work, and I went with him."
Borges was impressed with the work of the organization and has incorporated some elements of the DAF choral program into the concert on Tuesday at Harvey Auditorium. In fact, "Zawadi," which means "gift," is one of the songs he brought back. It was written by one of the teachers at the Kenyan school.
"I visited many of the DAF kids and saw their schools and the homes they come from," he said. "It was a wonderful experience, and I hope to translate that into monetary support for DAF."
All five BHS choirs -- a total of 200 students -- are including a song in Swahili. Also, videos of Borges' trip to Kenya will be shown during the evening.
Admission to the concert is free, but members of a BHS parents group will pass the hat through the audience at some point, collecting donations for the foundation.
Borges said he hopes to raise $2,000, which would pay for about four (Kenyan) kids to go to school. The target group is impoverished eighth-graders, some of whom are orphans, who have been accepted into high school but lack the fees to attend.
Tiler Peck in NYCB 'Nutcracker'
Local fans have a chance to see Bakersfield native Tiler Peck, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, in a performance of "The Nutcracker."
One of the largest groups attending the show on Tuesday evening at Edwards Bakersfield Stadium 14 is bound to be students of Tiler's mother, Georgia Peck, owner of Bakersfield Academy of Dance.
"I'm hoping to get a block of tickets and maybe we'll have a pizza party before the show," Georgia said. "There should be about 30 of my students going and some of their parents, too -- so about 40 in all or maybe even 50."
Tiler will perform the solo role of Marzipan to the music of "Dance of the Reed Pipes," a part of the suite by Tchaikovsky.The ballet was choreographed by George Balanchine.
Television personality Kelly Ripa will interview some of the dancers backstage during intermission. Since it is a live performance, it's not known whether Tiler will be one of those interviewed.
BAA open house
Gratitude is the central theme of an open house Christmas party the Bakersfield Art Association is holding on Saturday at its gallery in the downtown arts district.
"It's a year-end party to say thank you and we love you to all the volunteers and everyone who has supported us over the past year," said Kathy Schilling. "It's also a way of giving the Art Center a boost for the New Year."
Although admission to the event is free, it's also intended as a fundraiser. The BAA hopes to raise money by holding a silent auction during the party. Among the items being offered are art supplies, men's and women's watches, a porcelain mermaid doll made by Patti Doolittle, and a silk scarf and tie hand-painted by Schilling. Proceeds will be used to improve the Art Center's lighting.
In addition, much of the artwork for sale in the gallery has been marked down in price for the month of December. The sale includes original paintings as well as prints.
"Each artist has put a little red bow on what's being discounted," Schilling said. "It's up to the individual artist how much it will be."
The party will include refreshments and musical entertainment by guitarist Ron Johnson.
Poetry reading at Russo's
Poet Roger Nduku is being featured Thursday evening at the monthly open mic program at Russo's Books. A native of Congo in Central Africa, Nduku has lived in the United States for 24 years.
Kevin Shah, series coordinator, said Nduku started writing poetry as a teenager and believes that poems are messages sent to the poet on subjects affecting his life.
Following Nduku's approximately 20-minute presentation, other poets are invited to share their work, particularly poems that reflect the Christmas season.
Holiday gifts event
I've always found The Empty Space's annual holiday craft show a good place to find inexpensive stocking stuffers.
And judging from what Michelle Guerrero Tolley tells me, the selection should be even larger this year. Due to a change in policy, the event will include offerings from a bakery and several merchants, as well as individuals.
"In an effort to help promote more local artists and businesses, we have waived the usual split between the gallery and the artist," she said. "Instead we have asked the participants to pay a very small booth fee."
Various kinds of entertainment will be provided during the four-hour event on Saturday. A story time for children will be held every hour, and at noon local comedian Morgan Roy perform on the theater's stage.