By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
This article was first
published today in the above papers.
While local summer seasons get underway, a couple of
individual concerts are worth noting.
Albert McNeil Singers
perform this afternoon in Pasadena
McNeil Jubilee Singers of Los Angeles, one of the world’s great choral
ensembles specializing in the genre of what we used to call Negro spirituals,
will perform today at 4 p.m. at Pasadena Presbyterian Church in the Playhouse
District of downtown Pasadena. The concert is free of admission charge,
although an offering will be taken.
Although Spirituals have a history that is centuries old,
the arranged spiritual became known in the winter of 1870 when a group of 11
singers — seven women and four men — representing the newly-established Fisk
University in Nashville appeared at the Court of St. James in London. Queen
Victoria’s immediate acceptance helped this a cappella, four-part singing by an
ensemble of students to become known worldwide as a creative religious music
evoking a deep sense of personal spiritual fervor.
Since it was founded in 1968, the AMJS has performed 18
sold-out European tours, 12 tours of the United States and Canada, and tours of
the Middle and Far East, Africa and South America. Now an active 92, McNeil has
been the group’s leader since it was founded.
Carmen meets Glee
In a completely different vein, Opera Posse is setting
Bizet’s famous opera, Carmen, in an
American high school and calling it (what else) Carmen High. Think of it as Carmen
meets Glee. The production lands at
the Japan America Theatre in Little Tokyo on Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.
“With Carmen High,
we’ve taken Bizet’s opera and recast it as a high school drama rife with issues
that are current to the real high school experience,” explains Stephanie
Vlahos, founder and artistic director of Opera Posse. “Peer pressure, bullying,
teen pregnancy, violence and what happens to those who are marginalized — all
are incorporated into the opera. But, at the same time, we remain true to
Bizet’s music and concept.”
Vlahos — a mezzo-soprano who has sung in a number of
productions with LA Opera and is currently theater coach and stage director for
that company’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artists Program — will direct this
production, which will feature high school and college students in the cast.
Cal Phil to unveil
new home at Santa Anita Racetrack
In the summer season category, the flag is up for Victor
Vener and the California Philharmonic, which will open their inaugural outdoor
season at Santa Anita Racetrack on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and their indoor
season next Sunday at 2 p.m. in Walt Disney Concert Hall.
(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.