AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Five orchestra to open 2011-2012 seasons … and more

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

A shorter version of this
article was first published today in the above papers.

 

Five of the Southland’s top orchestras — including the Los
Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra — open their 2011-2012
seasons within the next fortnight. In chronological order:

 

The Pacific Symphony
begins its 33rd season Thursday through Sunday at Segerstrom Concert
Hall in Costa Mesa. Carl St.Clair begins his 21st season as the
orchestra’s music program with a program of music by Berlioz, Respighi and
James Newton Howard. Sarah Chang will be the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Violin
Concerto. Information: 714/755-5799; www.pacificsymphony.org

 

* The Colburn
Orchestra,
flagship ensemble of one of the nation’s premiere music schools,
will play all five of its free concerts this season at Ambassador Auditorium in
Pasadena. Music Director Yehuda Gilad leads the opening program Saturday night
with music by Berlioz, Mussorgsky/Ravel (Pictures
at an Exhibition)
and Dvorak. Colburn School student Francesca dePasquale
will be the soloist in Dvorak’s Violin Concerto. More on this in Thursday’s “Pasadena
Scene” magazine and on my Blog. Information: 213/621-1050;
www.colburnschool.edu

* The L.A. Chamber
Orchestra’s
43rd season begins Saturday night in Glendale’s Alex
Theater and Sunday evening at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Jeffrey Kahane, celebrating
his 15th anniversary as LACO’s music director, opens with a
typically eclectic program that concludes with Kahane playing and conducting
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. There will also be two West Coast premieres,
including Wiek Hijmans as soloist in Ritornello
for electric guitar and orchestra
(yes, you read that correctly) by Derek
Bermel, who is LACO’s composer-in-residence. More on this in my Blog Tuesday.
Information: 213/622-7001; www.laco.org

 

* Music Director Gustavo Dudamel returns to Walt Disney
Concert Hall as the L.A. Philharmonic
opens its 93rd season with the now-traditional “gala concert” on
Sept. 27. The all-Gershwin program includes An
American in Paris
and features jazz legend Herbie Hancock as soloist in Rhapsody in Blue. Subscription concerts
begin Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and 2 when Dudamel conducts music by John Adams,
Argentine composer Esteban Benzecry, and Berlioz (Symphonie Fantastique). Information: 323/850-2000; www.laphil.com

 

The Long Beach
Symphony
opens its 2011-2012 season in Long Beach’s Terrace Theater as
Music Director Enrique Arturo Diemecke leads a program of Wagner, Tchaikovsky
and Mahler (Rckert Lieder, with mezzo-soprano Barbara Dever
as soloist). Information: 562/436-3203; www.lbso.org

 

There are also two other free orchestral concerts to
highlight, both next weekend.

 

The Pasadena
Symphony and Pops
play their annual “Music Under the Stars” concert
Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on the steps of the Pasadena City Hall’s newly
refurbished Centennial Square. Three-time Tony nominated conductor Larry Black
will lead the orchestra in a program of music from the Broadway stage. Lisa
Vroman, Christina Saffran and Norman Large are the soloists and the Donald
Brinegar Singers will also perform. The concert is free but patrons are
encouraged to bring their own chairs and/or blankets. Information:
626/793-7172; www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org

 

The Rio Hondo
Symphony
will open its 78th season of free concerts on Sept. 25 at 3 p.m.
in Whittier High School’s Vic Lopez Auditorium. Music Director Kimo Furumoto
leads Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (Eroica),
Rossini’s William Tell overture and
Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, with Alison Edwards as soloist.: 562/698-8626; www.riohondosymphony.org

______________________

 

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

NEWS AND LINKS: LA Opera offers 25% discount on all remaining “Cosi Fan Tutte” tickets, plus a “10 Questions” link

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

Los Angeles Opera opens its 26th season this
weekend and is offering 25 percent off all ticket prices for all performances
of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, which
opens Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Saturday night, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin kicks off the season at
7:30 p.m. Both productions will play at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Use the
promo coupon and code HERE for the discounted Cosi tickets.

 

As he did for Eugene
Onegin
(LINK), Brian of “Out West Arts” has posted a nice “10 Questions”
feature HERE for Cosi Fan Tutte, this time
with Aleksandra Kurzak, who sings the role of Fiordiligi in the LAO production.

_______________________

 

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

OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Montreal Symphony shows off new home with Messiaen’s “Turangalila Symphony”

Kent Nagano and Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal played a riveting performance of Messiaen’s Turangalla-Symphonie as the first subscription concert in the orchestra’s new home, La Maison Symphonique de Montral. Read my report on the new hall and review of the concert HERE.

SAME-DAY REVIEW: Pasadena Master Chorale’s 9/11 concert at La Crescenta Presbyterian Church

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

______________________

 

Pasadena Master
Chorale; Jeffrey Bernstein, conductor

Sunday, September 11, 2011 La Crescenta Presbyterian
Church

______________________

 

People looking for solace and hope in times of grief often
turn to music and Jeffrey Bernstein, artistic director of the Pasadena Master
Chorale capitalized on that longing on the 10th anniversary of the
9/11 terrorist attacks with a 70-minute concert this afternoon before a
nice-sized audience at La Crescenta Presbyterian Church.

 

The centerpiece of the afternoon was a performance of Faur’s
Requiem, which, as Bernstein noted in a brief talk, is one of the more
hope-filled pieces written in this genre based on the Roman Catholic funeral
liturgy.  However, Bernstein
negated much of the effect of the texts that Faur used by electing to not
provide either printed translations or projections of the Latin and Greek text.

 

Instead, Bernstein concentrated on the composer’s
often-graceful score and led a performance that was usually credible and
occasionally more than that, especially in the Sanctus and In Paradisum movements
where the sopranos sounded quite angelic in their floating lines. Bernstein
also built long arcs of sound in the broader sections, although moments of
intonation insecurity crept in occasionally.

 

The two soloists were exemplary. Soprano Krystle Casey poured
out a lusciously creamy tone in her thoughtful Pie Jesu, while baritone Cedric Berry delivered clear, clarion tone
in his solos during the Offertory and
Libera Me sections. Although the
balance of the program was a cappella, organist Edward Murray was a
disappointingly sloppy accompanist for the Requiem.

 

After opening the concert with the presentation of colors
and the Chorale singing Bernstein’s gentle arrangement of America the Beautiful, Bernstein led three pieces that, as he said,
covered different corners of the American spirit.

 

The simple setting of By
the Waters of Babylon
by Don McLean in his American Pie album was accompanied by 9/11 images assembled by
artist Alex Lopez. A muscular rendition of Virgil Thomson’s arrangement of My Shepherd Will Supply My Need was
notable especially for the Chorale’s diction. Unfortunately, the text was less
understandable in the performance of Ross Lee Finney’s canonic anthem Words to be Spoken. Following the
Requiem, Bernstein and the Chorale curiously elected to encore with Paul
Simon’s America. The performance was
affectionate but, once again, texts would have been helpful.

_______________________

 

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

LINKS: Two good reads on a Sunday

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

As the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra prepares to begin its
43rd season, Los Angeles Times
Music Critic Mark Swed delivers a nice article on LACO Music Director
Jeffrey Kahane HERE. Kahane, who celebrates his 55th birthday
tomorrow, is celebrating his 15th anniversary as LACO’s most recent music
director.

 

Next week, I’ll offer a profile of Holland native Wieck
Hijmans, who will be the soloist in Ritornello
for Electric Guitar and Orchestra
(yes, you read correctly, electric
guitar) by LACO’s composer-in-residence, Derek Bermel, which will be part of
the opening program on Sept. 24 at Glendale’s Alex Theatre and September 25 at
UCLA’s Royce Hall (LINK).

 

Meanwhile, in today’s Orange
County Register
and online, Timothy Mangan, the Register’s music critic, offers his retrospective HERE of the
Segerstrom Center for the Arts (originally called the Orange County Performing
Arts Center) in Costa Mesa as the Center celebrates its 25th
anniversary.

 

Among other performances to open the anniversary season will
be the Pacific Symphony’s opening concerts Sept. 22-25 (LINK) and a free
recital by organist Cameron Carpenter on Oct. 2 (LINK), both at Segerstrom
Concert Hall, which opened five years ago adjacent to the original OCPAC
building. Tim’s article touches on the many contributions of Henry Segerstrom
and his family in the Center’s quarter-century of growth.

_______________________

 

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

NEWS AND LINK: James Levine injured in fall, withdraws from fall Met assignments

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

Hard to tell whether this is, as one media outlet put it,
the end of an era but James Levine has withdrawn from his fall concerts at the
Metropolitan Opera and the company has elevated Principal Guest Conductor Fabio
Luisi to the title of Principal Conductor.

 

Levine, now 68, has headed the Met since 1986. He fell while
on vacation Vermont where he was recovering from a series of back operations.
Earlier this year he ended his tenure as music director of the Boston Symphony
due to his ongoing health issues.

 

Luisi will conduct most of Levine’s fall assignments,
including a new production of Mozart’s Don
Giovanni,
which is scheduled to open Oct. 13, and a new production of
Wagner’s Siegfried 0opening on Oct.
27. As a result of these changes, Luisi has withdrawn from assignments leading
orchestras in Rome, Vienna and San Francisco (he was supposed to lead
performances of Verdi’s Requiem in San Francisco beginning Oct. 13; the SFO has
not announced a replacement conductor as of this morning).

 

More from the New York Times HERE.

_______________________

 

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

AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Of 9/11 … and other things musical

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

A shorter version of
this column was published today in the above papers.

 

Normally this weekend is one of the two “transition zones”
in the classical-music year — in this case, from summer to fall-winter-spring.
However, this year also includes the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist
attacks and there are at least a couple of musical programs commemorating that
event that are worth noting.

 

Artistic Director Jeffrey Bernstein will lead his Pasadena
Master Chorale
next Sunday at 4 p.m. in La Crescenta Presbyterian Church with a
program highlighted by Faur’s Requiem. The afternoon will also contain three a
cappella works that accentuate the “remembrance” theme — a setting of Psalm
137, Virgil Thompson’s My Shepherd Will
Supply My Need,
and Ross Lee Finney’s Words
To Be Spoken
— along with Bernstein’s arrangement of America the Beautiful. Organist Edward Murray will accompany;
soloist will be soprano Krystle Casey and baritone Cedric Berry. Information:
626-208-0009; www.pasadenamasterchorale.org

 

The PMC will be doing double duty that day, shifting over
to the Pasadena Convention Center Plaza at 7 p.m. where it will join forces
with Muse-ique for a free hour-long concert of music ranging from Bach and
Tchaikovsky to Paul Simon and George Gershwin. Rachael Worby, Muse-ique’s
artistic director, will conduct. Information: 626/795-9311; www.muse-ique.com

 

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s concert at
Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 13 has Bramwell Tovey leading the Phil, Los Angeles
Master Chorale and soloists in Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Mozart’s Requiem. This is one of four
programs during the next fortnight that will be led by Tovey, who spent the past
three seasons as the Phil’s Principal Guest Conductor at the Bowl. Info: 323/850-2000;
www.hollywoodbowl.com

 

Los Angeles Opera opens its 2011-2012 season on Sept. 17
at 7:30 p.m. at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with the first of six
performances of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene
Onegin.
The following day at 2 p.m. comes Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, also the first of six performances. LAO Music
Director James Conlon will conduct both productions. Both opening performances
will be broadcast live on KUSC (91.5-FM) and kusc.org. Information: (213)
972-8001; www.laopera.com

 

Speaking of L.A. Opera, both it and the Long Beach
Symphony
(LINK) have unveiled new Web sites. The LBSO opens its 2011-2012
season on Oct. 1 when Music Director Enrique Arturo Diemecke (beginning his
11th season at the orchestra’s helm) will lead a program of Wagner’s Prelude and Liebstod from Tristan und
Isolde,
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, and Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder, with mezzo-soprano Barbara Dever as soloist. Info: www.lbso.org

 

The Rio Hondo Symphony will open its 78th season of free
concerts on Sept. 25 when Music Director Kimo Furumoto leads Beethoven’s Symphony
No. 3 (Eroica), Rossini’s William Tell overture and Liszt’s Piano
Concerto No. 1, with Alison Edwards as soloist. The other concerts are Oct. 30,
Feb. 5 and May 6. All concerts are at 3 p.m. in Whittier High School’s Vic
Lopez Auditorium. Information: 562/698-8626; www.riohondosymphony.org

 

E. Jason Armstrong has been named Artistic Director and
Conductor of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. Armstrong most recently
completed his doctoral class work at the University of Southern California
Thornton School of Music, where he served as the conductor for the USC Thornton
Apollo Men’s Chorus and as assistant conductor for the USC Thornton Concert
Choir. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, Armstrong spent 15 years as
director of choral activities at Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne, Florida.

_______________________

 

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

NEWS AND LINKS: Colburn Orchestra to perform five concerts at Ambassador Auditorium

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

After several seasons of “wandering in the wilderness,” The
Colburn Orchestra has settled on Pasadena’s Ambassador Auditorium as its home
for the five concerts of its 2011-2012 season. Moreover, in addition to hearing
one of the nation’s top conservatory orchestras, the price is right: free.

 

Although perhaps not as well known as its east coast
counterparts, The Colburn School is the west coast equivalent of institutions
such as The Juilliard School in New York City, Curtis Institute of Music in
Philadelphia and Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. The Colburn Orchestra is
the school’s flagship ensemble and many of its alumni have gone on to major
orchestras in the U.S. and beyond, as well as to solo and teaching careers. Its
concertmaster last season, Nigel Armstrong, won fourth prize in this summer’s
Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow (LINK).

 

Why Ambassador? In addition to being one of the nation’s
premiere concert halls, Ambassador is a logical choice because the school’s
main performing space, Zipper Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, is not big
enough — either in stage size or seating capacity — to handle major orchestra
concerts.

 

The 2011-2012 Colburn Orchestra season will open on Sept. 24
when Music Director Yehuda Gilad leads a program of Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, the
Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an
Exhibition
and Dvorak’s Violin Concerto with Francesca dePasquale, winner
of the 24th Irving M. Klein String Competition in 2010, as soloist.

 

Other concerts:

Oct. 22: Gilad
will conduct Brahms Symphony No. 3 and Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with
Colburn Conservatory cellist Estelle Choi as soloist.

Dec. 3: Gerard
Schwarz, who recently completed a 25-year tenure as music director of the
Seattle Symphony, returns to Ambassador to conduct The Colburn Orchestra in
Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Toru Takemitsu’s From Me Flows What You Call Time, which will feature the percussion
ensemble “Smoke and Mirrors.” When Schwarz was music director of the Los
Angeles Chamber Orchestra from 1978 to 1986, the orchestra’s home was
Ambassador Auditorium.

Feb. 4: One of
the nation’s top mezzo-sopranos, Sasha Cooke, joins Gilad and the orchestra in Am I In Your Light? from John Adams’
opera Dr. Atomic and Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder. The program concludes
with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7.

March 3:
Bramwell Tovey, music director of the Vancouver Symphony for the past nine
years and principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at
Hollywood Bowl for the past three years, leads The Colburn Orchestra in Richard
Strauss’ tone poem Ein Heldenleben and
Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2, with Conservatory pianist Sichen Ma as soloist.

 

More information HERE

_______________________

 

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