a Walk on the Wild Side
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consistently surprises, excites and infuriates in roughly equal
measure," is how Time Out London describes the annual summer fest,
with its lineup of guest artist/curators that have included Elvis
Costello, Laurie Anderson and Nick Cave. That description seems
fitting of Sefton, as well.
went from being a plucky outsider to being - a bit like myself,
I suppose -absolutely the mainstream festival. It's the biggest
thing, the busiest time for South Bank," says Sefton. Despite the
bad timing, he managed to land the plum position at UCLA - once
he became convinced the university truly was looking for someone
with his daring alternative artistic vision to head up the program.
He was, in fact, the only candidate asked to return for a second
Sefton, the "plucky outsider," is leaning a bit more mainstream
as head of a conventional university department. "At Festival Hall,
I had a chief executive and I was the outsider. Here, I am the one,"
he says with mock horror. And then, with resignation, "The alternative
has to reside in my program now, and not in my attitude."
exuberance for the job makes Sefton sound at times like a kid let
loose in a candy store. But unlike a child with only instant, indiscriminate
gratification in mind, he has a clear vision of where he wants to
take UCLA's program: out into uncharted waters that expand, push,
break, blur, cross and redefine boundaries.
you stick to rigid lines," Sefton says, "eventually you run dry
and get boring."
desire to stretch beyond traditional bounds, however, doesn't mean
Sefton intends to trash the center's vaunted classical music program
and replace it with rock concerts in Royce Hall, as a "very funny
rumor" suggested. Rather, he will keep most of Performing Arts'
usual lineup, but will add to the program.
way in which I relate to the rock world, for example, is to treat
musical artists like other people treat composers and see what they
want to do that isn't a rock gig," Sefton says. "I'm not interested
in just doing rock gigs; I want to engage that world in a different
way, but also engage all of the worlds that are here in different
ways - to cross art forms."