AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: L.A. Philharmonic world premiere among choral highlights

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.

 

Three major choral programs are among the highlights as the
winter-spring indoor season fades to black.

 

The Los Angeles
Philharmonic
will present the world premiere of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary
Thursday through next Sunday at Walt Disney Concert Hall. This performance is
an oratorio; Peter Sellars (who wrote the libretto) will direct a staged
version of the work next March in Los Angeles and then on tour in New York,
London, Lucerne and Paris.

 

Gustavo Dudamel will conduct the Philharmonic, Los Angeles
Master Chorale, six soloists including three narrators in this complex work, which is
a bookend to Adams’ nativity oratorio, El
Nio,
which had its premiere in December, 2000 in Paris and was later
performed in Los Angeles. The narrators are counter tenors Daniel Bubeck, Brian
Cummings and Nathan Medley (Bubeck and Cummings performed in the world premiere
of El Nino). Mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor
sings the role of Mary Magdalene.

 

The first half of The
Gospel According to the Other Mary
tells the Biblical stories of the family
of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus (including the raising of Lazarus
from the dead). The second half deals with Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion and
resurrection.

 

As they did with El
Nio,
Adams and librettist Sellars weave contemporary writings into the
Biblical stories for The Gospel According
to the Other Mary
, using material from American social activist Dorothy Day
and poet/essayist June Jordan, contemporary poet Louise Erdrich, Mexican poet
Rosario Castellanos, along with the 12th-century mystic and abbess
Hildegard of Bingen. Moreover, as was the case with El Nio, the orchestra plays a central role in the new work.

 

Reed Johnson has a profile of Adams in the Los Angeles Times
HERE. Video clips of Adams and Sellars discussing The Gospel According to the Other Mary are HERE and HERE.

Information:
323/850-2000; www.laphil.com

 

The Angeles Chorale
concludes its season on June 9 at 8 p.m. at First United Methodist Church,
Pasadena, with a program entitled “Stories of our Lives.”

 

The concert will feature the west coast premiere of Alzheimer Stories by Robert Cohen, using
a libretto by Herschel Garfein that incorporates words drawn from letters
written by Alzheimer’s patients, their families and their caregivers. “I found
it compelling and moving,” says Artistic Director John Sutton, who will conduct
the performance. “We often talk about Alzheimer’s over coffee and in our homes.
Why shouldn’t we be singing about it? It’s so beautiful, this setting, and it’s
so real.”

 

The program also includes Sing Me to Heaven by Daniel Gawthrop, a work Sutton explains is not
about dying but the importance of singing throughout our lives; and music by
Brahms, Paul Halley and Eric Whitacre.

 

A video clip with Sutton discussing the concert is
HERE.  Concert Information: 818/591-1735; www.angeleschorale.org

 

The Los Angeles
Master Chorale
finishes its 48th season on June 10 at Disney
Hall with a program of music by Polish composer Henryk Grecki and Brahms. The
concert includes Grecki’s Miserere, which
Music Grant Gershon programmed during his first season as LAMC music director
11 years ago. The concert will be recorded for a Decca CD release next fall.

 

Information:
213/972-7282; www.lamc.org

 

In other Master Chorale news, LAMC member Shawn Kircbner has
been appointed the ensemble’s Swan Family Composer in Residence, effective July
1. He’s just the second person to hold the position; Morten Lauridsen was Composer
in Residence from 1995-2001. The new position was funded by a gift from the
Swan family (Philip A. Swan was a former LAMC board member).

 

In his new role with the Chorale, Kirchner will compose a
new work in each year of his term; create new arrangements for Chorale
concerts; consult with Music Director Grant Gershon and Associate Conductor
Lesley Leighton regarding programming LAMC concerts; and partner with Gershon
and senior LAMC staff to create and implement an LAMC commissioning program.

 

The LAMC media release is HERE.

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.