People stood outside of the Walt Disney Concert Hall admiring the large and curvaceous stainless steel complex before entering it. Others were inside, browsing the products brought by various vendors for Imagine Grapefruit, a pre-concert marketplace of ideas featuring Diana Diaz Label, Feminist Library on Wheels and many more. Guests were guided through the maze-like entrances to the concert hall by the employees and greeted by the sound of birds chirping in the beautiful, wood-paneled room.
Shortly after 8 pm, various members of the house band, all dressed in black, and choir, all dressed in white, walked in to take their place on the stage. The vast majority of the talent were women, including the incredible musical director and conductor Shruti Kumar. The beautiful and intimate tribute to the legendary Yoko Ono was kicked off by up and coming artist Miya Folick with “Toyboat” from the 1981 album Season of Glass. She followed and ended her set with “Soul Got Out of the Box” from Blueprint for a Sunrise.
La Marisoul, the lead singer from the band Santa Cecilia, took the stage next to perform “Born in a Prison” and “Let Me Count The Ways” with an unmatched passion. A beautiful dance was performed by Nina McNeely, inspired by “Dance Piece IX: A” from Yoko Ono’s book Acorn, consisting of the dancer carrying a heavy piece upon her back that made a particular and loud sound, which the choir repeatedly hushed.
The dance was followed by a reading of Ono’s “Life Piece V” and “Life Piece VI,” as well as an interactive “Voice Piece for Soprano” led by Madame Gandhi, where the audience was instructed to scream in three specific directions. The American-Chilean artist Francisca Valenzuela was the last performer before the intermission. She sang “Give Me Something” and “Sister, O Sisters” from duet albums (with John Lennon) Double Fantasy and Some Time in New York City respectively.
The tribute resumed with the duo and twin sisters from We Are KING, who performed “Yes, I’m Your Angel” and “Don’t Be Scared.” Amber Coffman followed with “Run Run Run” from album Feeling the Space and “Listen, The Snow Is Falling,” When Sudan Archives took the stage to perform only “Dogtown,” the audience cheered, hoping for more. Instead of a second track, they received Kamil Oshundara, who challenged the audience with spoken word and “Touch Poem for a Group of People.” After another dance piece, the incredibly talented St. Vincent took the stage. Though most were expecting a musical performance from her, she quickly announced that she would be reading “Cleaning Piece I-V” juxtaposed with “Grindr Posts by Yoko,” written by composer Nico Muhly. Laughter followed every single piece.
Shirley Manson, the lead singer of Garbage from Edinburg, was left to close the show with tracks “What a Bastard the World Is” and “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do.” She emotionally prefaced the final song, which was to be sung by the choir, the audience and herself, by giving thanks to the woman everyone was there to celebrate. She turned to address Yoko Ono directly, who was sitting in the front section of the crowd, and the entire auditorium stood to give her a standing ovation. Manson walked back to stand with the choir and sang along with the audience to “Imagine,” which Yoko Ono had recently been given credit for.
“Soul Got Out of the Box”
“Born in a Prison”
“Let Me Count The Ways”
“Dance Piece IX: A” (from Acorn)
“Life Piece V”
“Life Piece VI”
“Voice Piece For Soprano”
“Give Me Something”
“Sister, O Sister”
We Are KING
“Yes, I’m Your Angel”
“Don’t Be Scared”
“Run Run Run”
“Listen, The Snow is Falling”
“Touch Poem for a Group of People”
“Dance Piece IX: B”
“Cleaning Piece I-V” (from Acorn)
“Grindr Posts by Yoko” (Nico Muhly)
“What A Bastard The World Is”
“Nobody Sees Me Like You Do”
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna