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Bonnie has the Wright stuff

“Bonnie Wright has given new artists and different genres of music, including ‘contemporary’ classical, not only a home, but an audience.”

Diane Salisbury, Executive Director of the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus emails to tell me that Wright will be honored as an Arts Angel Saturday at their annual gala.

Wright may indeed be the best friend the musically avant-garde have ever had in San Diego. In 2009, I asked her to define herself for the Reader. "A curator and devotee of experimental, classical, electronic, and improvised music," is what she came back with.

Since 1995, when Wright opened the doors to the Spruce Street Forum she has in fact made the avant-garde her daily work, I wrote back then, by selecting and inviting experimental music to San Diego. The Forum gained an international reputation during the next seven years as a venue for the free-spirited expression of anything resembling music.

She is still in the game today.

"My mission," Wright tells me by email after learning of the coming honor, "continues to be to bring a variety of contemporary music to San Diegans who wouldn't get to hear it otherwise, both with my Fresh Sound music series and my Henceforth Records label."

"We created the Arts Angel award two years ago," writes Salisbury, "as a way of recognizing people in the San Diego community who have broadened and enriched our cultural landscape. Bonnie is our second honoree. She was selected as our Arts Angel 2012 because she is a visionary – someone with a specific point of view and someone who is willing to guide artistically rather than to follow. Her point of view is expressed through her concert presentations, her innovative record label, and her support of local artists and audiences."

The first such honoree was Charlene Baldridge, a former music and theater critic.

Wright now curates Fresh Sound at Space 4 Art in San Diego's East Village. The venues may have changed over the years, but her mission has always remained the same: to avoid the mainstream.

She told the Reader that her transformation into a promoter of the art-music scene came as part of a midlife epiphany — something of a musical awakening, decades ago — when her daughter took her to a show by the experimental art rocker Laurie Anderson.

“Then, in 1989 I asked myself an important question: what do you do when nobody’s looking? A light bulb went off in my head,” she says. Recently retired from corporate sales, she knew the answer was music.

She enrolled at UCSD, where she mingled with avant-garde musicians like George Lewis. She later became his road manager and then went on to grad school.

Wright’s first concert at the 140-seat Spruce Street Forum in Banker's Hill, which also served as an art gallery and meeting hall, was a duo percussion event with Steve Schick and Vanessa Tomlinson. In the following years, by her estimate, Wright’s Fresh Sounds Concert Series produced 150 concerts.

And counting.

But critics might point out that the kind of performers Wright has featured — artists such as Peter Brötzman, Jackson Krall, or Derek Bailey — are not very musical. She laughed softly when I said this.

“That’s very interesting. What is the definition of music anyway? Is it sound? Is it one-four-five and a four-four beat? Not necessarily.”

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“Bonnie Wright has given new artists and different genres of music, including ‘contemporary’ classical, not only a home, but an audience.”

Diane Salisbury, Executive Director of the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus emails to tell me that Wright will be honored as an Arts Angel Saturday at their annual gala.

Wright may indeed be the best friend the musically avant-garde have ever had in San Diego. In 2009, I asked her to define herself for the Reader. "A curator and devotee of experimental, classical, electronic, and improvised music," is what she came back with.

Since 1995, when Wright opened the doors to the Spruce Street Forum she has in fact made the avant-garde her daily work, I wrote back then, by selecting and inviting experimental music to San Diego. The Forum gained an international reputation during the next seven years as a venue for the free-spirited expression of anything resembling music.

She is still in the game today.

"My mission," Wright tells me by email after learning of the coming honor, "continues to be to bring a variety of contemporary music to San Diegans who wouldn't get to hear it otherwise, both with my Fresh Sound music series and my Henceforth Records label."

"We created the Arts Angel award two years ago," writes Salisbury, "as a way of recognizing people in the San Diego community who have broadened and enriched our cultural landscape. Bonnie is our second honoree. She was selected as our Arts Angel 2012 because she is a visionary – someone with a specific point of view and someone who is willing to guide artistically rather than to follow. Her point of view is expressed through her concert presentations, her innovative record label, and her support of local artists and audiences."

The first such honoree was Charlene Baldridge, a former music and theater critic.

Wright now curates Fresh Sound at Space 4 Art in San Diego's East Village. The venues may have changed over the years, but her mission has always remained the same: to avoid the mainstream.

She told the Reader that her transformation into a promoter of the art-music scene came as part of a midlife epiphany — something of a musical awakening, decades ago — when her daughter took her to a show by the experimental art rocker Laurie Anderson.

“Then, in 1989 I asked myself an important question: what do you do when nobody’s looking? A light bulb went off in my head,” she says. Recently retired from corporate sales, she knew the answer was music.

She enrolled at UCSD, where she mingled with avant-garde musicians like George Lewis. She later became his road manager and then went on to grad school.

Wright’s first concert at the 140-seat Spruce Street Forum in Banker's Hill, which also served as an art gallery and meeting hall, was a duo percussion event with Steve Schick and Vanessa Tomlinson. In the following years, by her estimate, Wright’s Fresh Sounds Concert Series produced 150 concerts.

And counting.

But critics might point out that the kind of performers Wright has featured — artists such as Peter Brötzman, Jackson Krall, or Derek Bailey — are not very musical. She laughed softly when I said this.

“That’s very interesting. What is the definition of music anyway? Is it sound? Is it one-four-five and a four-four beat? Not necessarily.”

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