By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
This article was first
published today in the above papers.
“I wonder as I wander …” John Jacob Niles’ poignant
Christmas carol is very much on my mind because by the time you read this
column my wife and I will be wandering around Northern California and wondering
about the following:
DOES PASADENA NEED
Obviously Rachael Worby and many of her supporters think so.
The ebullient maestra’s latest venture, Muse-ique, makes its debut Saturday
night at 7:30 p.m. on a lawn outside of Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium. Soprano
Jessye Norman will be the soloist in a program of music by Gershwin, Ellington
and Bernstein. As at all Worby concerts, she’ll engage the audience with her
unique raconteur style and there will be some unpredictable moments, as well.
In many ways, Worby has been preparing for this moment all
her professional life, including the 10 years that she served as music director
of the Pasadena Pops Orchestra. When Worby arrived in Pasadena from West
Virginia, she introduced her idea of making each program an “event,” rather
than merely a concert. “We got a lot accomplished,” says Worby looking back on
that decade. “The difference is that Muse-ique is starting from the ground up.
That’s why the words ‘symphony,’ ‘philharmonic’ or even ‘orchestra’ aren’t in
our name. We’re not just trying to move outside the box; we’re out to smash the
So, expect something quite different from the standard pops
concert. For one thing, the program will run 90 minutes without an
intermission. And, while this first concert — er, event — will feature an
ensemble approximating the size of a standard orchestra, programs in the future
will be much different in terms of ensemble size and location. Will the “Muse-ique”
concept catch on? Only time will tell.
IS THERE LIFE AFTER
There certainly is for associate conductors, as the first
week of August at Hollywood Bowl will demonstrate. On Aug. 2, Lionel Bringuier
on mount the Bowl the podium for his final concert after a four-year stint as
the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s associate conductor. The 24-year-old French
maestro will lead a somewhat ironic program of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto
No. 3 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. The irony? It was with Tchaikovsky’s
fifth that Gustavo Dudamel made his LAPO debut in 2005 at the Bowl. Yuja Wang,
a 24-year-old Chinese firebrand, will be the soloist in the famous “Rach 3.”
Two nights later, Joana Carneiro — who preceded Bringuier as
the Phil’s associate conductor — will lead her former orchestra in a program
that concludes with two clarinet concertos and Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite. Kari Krikku will be the soloist in the
Clarinet Concerto by his fellow Finn, Magnus Lindberg, Paul Meyer will take
solo honors for Copland’s better-known work in the genre. Since 2009, Carneiro
has been music director of the Berkeley (CA) Symphony, where she replaced Kent
DOES OPERA HAVE TO BE
GIGANTIC (AND EXPENSIVE)?
Not if you are Intimate Opera Pasadena, which concludes a
three-week summer workshop series by presenting Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in Pasadena’s
First Baptist Church.
Emerging artists from several local universities have been
working with IOP Artistic Director Stephanie Vlahos on both productions.
Tickets for the evening performances are $20 (cash or check only; no credit
There are also matinee performances of Trial by Jury on Saturday at noon and 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 each
with children ages 12 and younger getting in free, thanks to a subsidy from the
Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts.
(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.