(Revised) Five-Spot: What caught my eye on May 19, 2011

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

______________________

 

Each Thursday morning,
I list five events for the weekend that peak my interest, including (ideally)
at least one with free admission (or, at a minimum, inexpensive tickets).

 

Here’s today’s grouping:

______________________

 

Today, Tomorrow and
Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles
Philharmonic; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor

This continuation of the Phil’s “Brahms Unbound” series
features Dudamel conducting the U.S. premiere of Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina‘s
Glorious Percussion and Brahms’
Symphony No. 2. Dudamel conducted the concerto’s world premiere in 2008
with his Gothenberg Symphony in Sweden. The percussion ensemble formed for that
concert stayed together and adopted the title as their name. David Mermelstein
has a profile of Gubaidulina in the L.A. Times’ Culture Monster section online HERE.

A couple of notes: (1) The original program called for Brahms’s Tragic Overture. That has been cancelled due to what the Phil says is “the the stage setup requirements for the percussion ensemble in Glorious Percussion.” (2) Tomorrow is a “Casual Friday” concert, so the concerto will not be performed. However, Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture will be played, along with the symphony. Info: www.laphil.com

Saturday at 4 p.m.,
First United Methodist Church of Pasadena

Chorale Bel Canto,
Chancel Choir, Rio Hondo College Chamber Singers, solists and orchestra;
Stephen Gothold, conductor

Verdi’s Requiem is one of the monuments of choral literature
and Chorale Bel Canto closes its season by joining forces with the FUMC Chancel
Choir and Rio Hondo Chamber Singers for this performance. KUSC’s Kimberlea
Daggy will give a preconcert lecture at 3:15 p.m. Information: www.choralebelcanto.org

 

Sunday at 4 p.m.,
Thorne Hall (Occidental College)

Santa Cecilia
Orchestra, Sonia Maria de Len de Vega, conductor

The final concert of the orchestra’s 18th season,
“Mxico Sinfnico,” was originally scheduled as a celebration of music from
south of the border. It will still include that element, but it’s also tinged with
sadness because it also will be a remembrance of the life and music of Daniel
Catn (composer of the opera Il Postino,
among other things). The 80-piece orchestra — which includes harpist Andrea Puente Catn, the
composer’s wife –
will play four of Catn’s pieces along with
Silvestre Revueltas’ La Noche de Los Mayas
(with an additional dozen or so percussionists on hand for that swashbuckling
piece). Info: www.scorchestra.org

 

Sunday at 7 p.m.,
Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles Master
Chorale; Grant Gershon and James Newton, co-conductors

Gershon and Newton lead the Master Chorale, jazz orchestra,
soloists and tap dancer Channing Cook Holmes in selections from Duke
Ellington’s three Sacred Concerts.
The first of the three concerts took place in 1965 at Grace Cathedral in San
Francisco. The second occurred three years later at the Cathedral of St. John
the Divine in New York City and the third premiered in 1973 at Westminster
Abbey in London. Ellington called them “the most important thing I have
ever done.” Info: www.lamc.org

 

And the weekend’s “free admission” program …

 

Saturday at 2 p.m.,
Altadena Senior City; Sunday at 2 p.m., First Baptist Church, Pasadena

Crown City Symphony, Marvin
Neumann, conductor

Overtures by Rossini (La
Gazza Ladra — The Thieving Magpie)
and Dvorak (Husitska) bookend these concerts. In between, Armenian-born
Ophelia Nanagyulyan as soloist in A
Rhapsody for Violin
by Bagdasarian and tubist Stephen Wood will be soloist
in Alexander Arutiunian’s Tuba Concerto. Info: www.crowncitysymphony.org

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Finales

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

This article was first published today in the above papers.

 

Four Southern California groups wrap up their 2010-2012
seasons during the next few weeks with major programs.

 

Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra
concludes its season tonight at 7 p.m. in UCLA’s Royce Hall.
Music Director Jeffrey Kahane conducts and also joins Concertmaster Margaret Batjer
as soloists in Mendelssohn’s Concerto in D minor for Violin and Piano. The
program also includes the world premiere of Derek Bermel’s Mar del Setembro (September Sea) and Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 (Prague). Information: 
www.laco.org

 

Chorale Bel Canto
joins forces with the Chancel Choir of First United Methodist Church of
Pasadena, the Rio Hondo College Chamber Singers, soloists and orchestra in a
performance of Verdi’s Requiem on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Pasadena’s FUMC.
Stephen Gothold, who directs both Chorale Bel Canto and the Chancel Choir, will
lead his combined forces. KUSC’s Kimberlea Daggy will give a preconcert lecture
at 3:15 p.m. Information: www.choralebelcanto.org

 

Gustavo Dudamel and
the Los Angeles Philharmonic
will wrap their season with the final three
weeks of “Brahms Unbound” at Walt Disney Concert Hall. On Thursday, Friday and
Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2, the program will be Brahms’ Tragic Overture and Symphony No. 2 along
with the U.S. premiere of Glorious
Percussion
by Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina. The soloists in the
concerto will be the ensemble “Glorious Percussion;” the musicians performed the
world premiere in September 2008 and stayed together while appropriating the
concerto’s title for their name.

 

On May 26-29, Dudamel pairs Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 with
Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3. The Gorecki work replaces the world premiere
of Peter Lieberson’s Percussion Concerto; Lieberson died before he could
complete the concerto.

 

The season concludes June 2-5 with Brahms’ Symphony No. 4
and his Double Concerto, with violinist Renaud Capuon
and his brother, cellist Gautier Capuon,
as soloists. This concerto replaces Gorecki’s Symphony No. 4; the Polish
composer died last year before he could complete it.

 

The 2 p.m. June 5 program will also the last of the “LA Phil
LIVE” series of telecasts to more than 450 movie theaters around the United
States and Canada. John Lithgow will be the program host. Information: www.laphil.com

 

The Los Angeles
Master Chorale
concludes its season next Sunday at 7 p.m. in Disney Hall as
Grant Gershon and James Newton leads the Master Chorale, jazz orchestra,
soloists and tap dancer Channing Cook Holmes in selections from Duke
Ellington’s three Sacred Concerts.

 

The first of the three concerts took place in 1965 at Grace
Cathedral in San Francisco. The second occurred three years later at the
Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and the third premiered in
1973 at Westminster Abbey in London. Ellington called them “the most
important thing I have ever done.” 
Information: www.lamc.org

 

Other groups wrapping up include:

Camerata Pacifica,
Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino.
There’s a 50% discount offer for first-time ticket buyers. Information:
805-884-8410; www.cameratapacifica.org

 

La Mirada Symphony,
Saturday at 8 p.m. at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Hector
Salazar, the last of five conductors auditioning for the position of LMS Music
Director, will lead a program of American music, beginning with a work by
William Grant Still and concluding with Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2.
Information: www.lamiradasymphony.com

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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NEWS AND LINKS: LACO announces 2011-2012 season, extends Kahane’s contract as music director

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

 

On the eve of its final concerts in the 2010-2011 season Los
Angeles Chamber Orchestra has announced next season’s schedule and reported
that Music Director Jeffrey Kahane’s contract has been extended through the
2013-2014 season.

 

Next season — the orchestra’s 43rd and Kahane’s 15th as
musical leader — will feature one world premiere and four West Coast premieres
among the seven sets of orchestral concerts, each of which begin with a
Saturday performance in Glendale’s Alex Theatre and conclude the following
evening in UCLA’s Royce Hall.

 

The latest installment of LACO’s “Discover” series will be
Feb. 25, 2012 at Pasadena’s Ambassador Auditorium. Kahane will first discuss,
and then conduct the orchestra and the USC Thornton Chamber Singers in, Bach’s
Magnificat in D major, BWV 243. Kahane and LACO members will also appear March
8, 2012, on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Colburn Celebrity Recital” series
at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

 

Kahane will conduct five of the seven sets of orchestral
concerts and will also appear as soloist in the opening program Sept. 24 and 25
conducting Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 from the keyboard. That program
will also include two of the West Coast premieres: Osvaldo Golijov’s Sidereus (since it’s not a world
premiere one presumes it will be completed on time, unlike his unfinished
Violin Concerto that was supposed to be played last week by the Los Angeles
Philharmonic) and Composer-in-Residence Derek Bemel’s Ritornello for electric guitar and orchestra.

 

The world premiere by pianist Thomas Andres, the latest
installment in the orchestra’s “Sound Investment” commissioning series, will take
place March 24 and 25, 2012. Andres will also be the soloist in his “recomposition”
of Mozart’s Concerto No. 26 (Coronation).
In what the orchestra is calling a “classical mash-up,” Andres has replaced
Mozart’s incomplete sketches for the left hand with his own creations. Perhaps
to act as a leavening agent, the program will conclude with Mozart’s Symphony
No. 40, K. 550, presumably unaltered.

 

In one of the other anticipated programs of the upcoming
season, Kahane will conduct his son, Gabriel, for the first time (the program
is cutely titled “Kahane2) on April 21 and 22, 2012 in a work
inspired by the Kahane family history and co-commissioned by the American
Composers Orchestra.

 

In addition to Kahane, Concertmaster Margaret Batjer will
conduct LACO in the complete Bach Brandenburg Concerti on Nov. 5 and 6 and
principal cellist Andrew Shulman be on the podium Jan. 21 and 22, 2012.

 

The orchestra will again offer its three-concert “Westside
Connections” chamber music series at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, a
five-concert “Baroque Conversations” series at Zipper Hall in The Colburn
School in downtown Los Angeles and several concerts for families. LACO will
also be involved in the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, which is
being sponsored by the L.A. Phil and the USC Thornton School of Music next
spring. Cellist Ralph Kirshbaum, the festival’s curator, will be the soloist in
Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Roccoco Theme on Dec. 10 and 11.

 

For a complete list of the orchestra series concerts, download a file by clicking
HERE. For other information, click HERE.

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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(Revised) OVERNIGHT REVIEW: L.A. Philharmonic offers two Requiems at Disney Hall

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

______________________

 

Los Angeles
Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor

Leila Josefowicz,
violin; Christine Schffer, soprano, Matthias Goerne, baritone

Mackey: Beautiful
Passing;
Brahms: Ein Deutsche Requiem
(A German Requiem)

Thursday, May 12, 2011 Walt Disney Concert Hall

Next concerts: tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. Sunday at 2
p.m.

Info: www.laphil.com

NOTE: The revision is an additional hemidemisemiquaver at the end.

______________________

 

Sometimes it’s the big things you remember about a concert
performance. Other times it’s the little things. From last night’s performance
of Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem (A
German Requiem)
by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master
Chorale, soprano Christine Schffer and baritone Matthias Goerne — all under
the inspired leadership of Gustavo Dudamel — it’s the little things that remain
etched in my memory.

 

Part of my reaction is because I know this piece inside out;
I’ve sung it many times and even played first movement when I was a double
bassist in high school. Thus, last night it wasn’t that the big things — e.g.
the wonderfully expressive singing of the Master Chorale and the orchestra’s
top-notch playing — weren’t noteworthy; they were, to be sure. It wasn’t even
Dudamel’s exquisite control of this 75-minute, seven-movement work. It was the
little things.

 

It was Principal Timpanist Joseph Pereira setting up the
funeral-march dramatically at the opening 
of the second movement dramatically. It was way Goerne made eye contact
with the audience on three sides — terraces included — during his two solos
rather than singing just to those in front of him. It was Principal Oboist Ariana
Ghez slipping elegantly into the hushed choral singing midway through the final
movement. It was the graceful, understated way that Dudamel ended each of the
movements, even the three mighty fugues. It was the fact that, even though the
Brahms Requiem is a familiar piece, the audience held its collective breath for
15 seconds after the last note (a couple of sneezes notwithstanding) before
bursting into sustained applause.

 

The performance was part of the Phil’s “Brahms Unbound”
series that is concluding its 2010-2011 Disney Hall Season and, as was the case
last week with the first symphony, Dudamel offered a compelling account of A German Requiem. The orchestra, which
included three harps and the Disney Hall organ (which added impressive heft and
resonance) played beautifully. The Master Chorale sang the German texts with
great feeling, clean diction and burnished sound, sounding as fresh in the
final movement as it did in the first (not an easy task for a work where the
chorus sings in well over 90 percent of the time).

 

Dudamel, who conducted without a score, was in no hurry but almost
all of the tempos felt spot on; moreover, he never lost the work’s tension. He
took the fourth movement (How Lovely is
Thy Dwelling Place)
as a lyrical dance and the Master Chorale responded
with elegant grace. Dudamel began the sixth movement quite slowly but it was a
perfect lead-in to Goerne’s solo, in which we really felt he was, as the text
says, telling us a mystery. That led to the uplifting double fugue with its I
Corinthians text (the first place, as program annotator John Henken noted,
where the words “death” and “dead” appear in Brahms’ Requiem, and even then, as Henken writes, they
are “triumphantly reversed: the dead shall be raised and death swallowed up in
victory”).

 

Goerne sang his two solos powerfully and Schffer’s fifth
movement solo (You Who Are Sorrowful) was radiant. After the performance,
both turned and led the thunderous, and well-deserved, applause for the Master
Chorale (Dudamel stood to the side, allowing the soloists and LAMC Music
Director Grant Gershon to share the applause with the orchestra).

 

Dudamel elected to pair A
German Requiem
with a very different kind of requiem: Steven’s Mackey’s Beautiful Passing, which he wrote in
2008 following the death of his mother (the title refers to her final words:
“Please tell everyone I had a beautiful passing”). The work, a 22-minute violin
concerto with two movements connected by a cadenza, was written for violinist
Leila Josefowicz and she was hand last night as the stellar soloist.

 

In the preconcert lecture, Mackey explained that the piece
juxtaposes the violin’s serenity with the jangling, clattery world, as
represented by an orchestra that includes a large battery of percussion
instruments plus the piano. Josefowicz, playing without a score, did have some
serene moments, including the beginning and conclusion, but most of Mackey’s
writing required all of her formidable technique. Interspersed in the
orchestra’s “jangling” sections were moments of lush string beauty. Dudamel
conducted and the orchestra handled the jagged rhythms seemingly with ease.

_______________________

 

Hemidemisemiquavers:

The only time I looked at the projected supertitles was in
the sixth movement where I was perplexed by two translations of verses from I
Corinthians 15 : (a) victory instead of death — oops; (b) in Goerne’s solo, one
translation was, “I tell you a secret.” Several Biblical translations I own use
the word “mystery;” theologically, there’s a big difference.

In the preconcert lecture, Mackey — whose early background
included playing electric guitar in rock bands — said it took nine months to
write the concerto. He’s apparently a fastidious composer. “In a good year,” he
said, I write an average of one minute per week.”

In their reviews, Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times (LINK) and Timothy Mangan in the Orange County Register (LINK) both noted that one of the orchestral themes in Beautiful Passing came from the tones made
by New Jersey Transit ticket machine. Mackey mentioned this cute point in the
preconcert lecture; I wrote it down and forgot to look at the note. Good on
them; my bad.

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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Five-Spot: What caught my eye on May 12, 2011

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

______________________

 

Each Thursday morning, I list five events that
peak my interest, including (ideally) at least one with free admission (or, at
a minimum, inexpensive tickets).  Here’s today’s grouping:

______________________

 

Tonight, tomorrow
and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles
Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor; Lelia Josefowicz, violin

In the second installment of the Phil’s season-ending “Brahms
Unbound” series, Dudamel leads the orchestra and violinist Leila Josefowicz in Stephen Mackey’s Beautiful
Passing,
paired with Brahms’ Ein
Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem).
This is one of several performances
of Brahms’ choral masterpiece happening this spring. INFO: www.laphil.com

 

Tonight at 8 p.m.
at Zipper Hall, Los Angeles; Tuesday at 8 p.m. at The Huntington Library, San
Marino

Camerata Pacifica

A sextet of musicians from this group that performs from
Santa Barbara to San Marino will be on hand for the season’s final concert,
offering music by Nino Rota, Philippe Gaubert, Roussel and Brahms. The group is
offering half-price tickets for first-time buyers; call 805/884-8410 for
details. INFO: www.cameratapacifica.org

Saturday at 8 p.m.
at Alex Theater, Glendale; Sunday at 7 p.m. at Royce Hall, UCLA

Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra; Jeffrey Kahane, conductor, Margaret Batjer, violin

In its final concert of the season, LACO presents the world
premiere of Composer-in-Residence Derek Bemel’s Mar de Setembro (September Sea), performed by Brazilian vocalist
Luciana Souza. This is the latest installment in the orchestra’s “Sound
Investment” commissioning program. Kahane and Batjer are soloists in
Mendelssohn’s Concerto in D minor for Violin and Piano, and the program
concludes with Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 (Prague). INFO: www.laco.org

Sunday at 1 p.m. at
Noor Restaurant’s Sofia Ballroom, Pasadena

California
Philharmonic: “Music, Martinis and the Maestro”

Music Director Victor Vener joins several of his colleagues
in this program that will feature Beethoven’s Archduke Trio and original compositions by Bryan Pezzone and Greg Pore.
INFO: www.calphil.org

 

And the weekend’s “free admission” program …

 

Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
at Pasadena Presbyterian Church

Ron McKean, organist

Church organists are among the most prolific improvisers
(their job often requires it) but McKean — Director of Music Ministries at St.
Joseph’s Catholic Church/Old Mission San Jose in Fremont, Calif. — is in a
different category. For the second half of his program, he’ll use a submitted
theme to create a six-movement organ symphony  – now that’s improvising! In the first half, he’ll play
three of his own compositions along with music by Bach, Vierne and Hermann Schroeder.
INFO: www.ppc.net

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

 

 

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