It’s a small world … music series

Upcoming concerts put CSUS on the map

George Brooks and his subcontinental sax.

George Brooks and his subcontinental sax.

The CSUS World Music Series, weekends through October 9, $15, CSUS Music Recital Hall

You say you like world music—sounds from India, China and the eastern Mediterranean? You’re probably aware of the well-publicized world-music concerts at the Mondavi Center. But you may not be aware of the smaller series at California State University, Sacramento, which brings several intriguing performers to town over the course of the coming weeks.

You’ll be forgiven for not having heard of the CSUS series. It doesn’t have a Web site, or a phone. It’s run by longtime CSUS faculty member and ethnomusicologist Jim Chopyak, who has been producing world-music concerts for more than a decade and who organizes and promotes this series himself, with only a shoestring budget. But even though Chopyak gets by on a few fliers and word of mouth (and the occasional story in the newspaper or on public radio) to publicize his concerts, the series has picked up a loyal local following.

It’s partly because, as compared with the 1,800-seat Mondavi Center at UC Davis, Chopyak said, “our concerts have a more intimate environment.” Namely, the 337-seat CSUS Music Recital Hall. “Our hall works very well for world-music events. People have a very strong identification with the performers,” he added. “And we manage to keep our ticket prices relatively low.” General admission costs $15, and students get in for $8 to $10, depending on the event.

The following is the lineup for Chopyak’s fall series.

• Saturday, September 10, 8 p.m.—North Indian Kathak dance with live music, featuring two dancers, a tabla player, a vocalist and a sitar player—plus, in a departure from tradition, a saxophonist. George Brooks trained in jazz but also has been involved with Indian music for more than 20 years. This event is sponsored by the Vivek Wagle Memorial Foundation, a small nonprofit group named in honor of a late CSUS faculty member who loved Indian music. Find additional information at

• Sunday, September 11, 3 p.m.—Turkish classical music, featuring the Ahenk Duo on kemençe, a three-stringed Turkish fiddle, and tanbur, a long-necked lute. This aptly named duo (“ahenk” means “harmony” in Turkish) is touring California, with stops in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and the Bay Area. “We’ve never done anything with Turkish music before,” Chopyak said. “Turkish music is related to other Middle Eastern music and also Indian music, but the compositions are a lot shorter than those in Indian classical performances. The instruments that the musicians use are found in various places, from Greece through the Middle East. Andy Luchansky, our cello instructor at CSUS, heard this duo in the Bay Area, and he was blown away by them.” Visit, and search for Ahenk, for more.

• Sunday, September 18, 3 p.m.—A Chinese Moon Festival concert, featuring classical, folk and contemporary music by a Bay Area group known as the Melody of China. “They’ve performed here before, and they are wonderfully accomplished musicians,” said Chopyak. “They’re so versatile, and they’ve also got a huge repertoire, so they’re doing music that they haven’t performed here before.” Learn more at

• Saturday, October 8, 8 p.m.—Cretan traditional music, and music in the Cretan style, performed by Ross Daly on lyra and saz, with other musicians. “This is another kind of music we have not done in the past,” Chopyak said. Daly, originally from the United Kingdom, has lived in Crete and Greece for 30 years. His music has been featured on Crossing Continents, the popular world-music program on KDVS, 90.3 FM. (The day before his CSUS appearance, Daly also will give a free lecture and demonstration: Friday, October 7, at 12:05 p.m. in the UC Davis Main Theatre. Related information is available at

• Sunday, October 9, 5 p.m.—South Indian classical music, featuring the violin duo of Ganesh and Kumaresh. These two brothers have performed together for more than 30 years, adapting vocal ragas to their instruments. Here they’ll be accompanied by mridangam (a two-headed barrel drum) and ghatam (clay pot).