Cleaning out the inbox …

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

Marvin Hamlisch
has extended his contract as principal conductor of the Pasadena Pops Orchestra
for two more years. MORE

 

Diana Landis
has been appointed director of Los Angeles Children’s Chorus’ Apprentice Choir.
She returns to the chorus after a 10-year absence during which she taught music
in various capacities in Orange County. Landis replaces Larissa Donnelly, who
relocated with her family to Texas.

 

Landis directed LACC’s Apprentice Choir from 1993 to 1998
and the Intermediate Choir during the 2000-2001 season. The Apprentice
Choir includes children with some prior musical experience who audition
directly into the ensemble and choristers who have been promoted from the
Preparatory Choir. 

 

  Two San Marino
residents are among four people named to the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s
board of directors. The new San Marino appointees are Jean W. Horton, retired Senior Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers
LLP; and Agnes Lew, Senior Vice
President and Director of Wealth Management of Cathay Bank.

 

Also named were Gary Larsen (Rolling Hills Estates),
Director of Asset Management; and Peter Mandell (Brentwood), professional
bassoonist and established community philanthropist. Their three-year terms on
the LACO Board of Directors conclude June 30, 2015. Larsen served on the LACO
board from 2004 to 2009, which included chairmanship of the Audit Committee.

_______________________

 

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

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PREVIEW: Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra 2012-2013 season features premieres and Kahane

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

Although summer seasons are now in full swing, it’s not too
soon to be thinking about the upcoming indoor programs. The Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra’s 44th season offers a rich schedule that includes 28
performances in Glendale’s Alex Theatre, UCLA’s Royce Hall, The Colburn
School’s Zipper Hall, The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, and Pasadena’s
Ambassador Auditorium.

 

55422-Kahane.jpg

Music Director Jeffrey Kahane, now in his 16th
season as LACO’s musical chief, will conduct five of the seven orchestral
concerts beginning Oct. 6 at the Alex and Oct. 7 at Royce Hall. The program
will include Kahane soloing and conducting in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G
major; Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, with Augustin Hadelich (in his LACO debut) as soloist; and two
west coast premieres: The Great Swiftness
by Andrew Norman and James Matheson’s — True
South.

 

Kahane will also conduct and play on two other programs: the
original 1924 of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody
in Blue
on Dec. 8 and 9 and Bach’s fifth Brandenburg Concerto on March 23
and 24. He will also dissect and then play and conduct Beethoven’s fourth piano
concerto on Feb. 23 at Ambassador as LACO’s annual “Discover” program.

 

Norman, who begins a three-year stint as LACO’s
Composer-in-Residence, will have his commission played on the orchestra’s
“Sound Investment” program played on 20 and 21. The season also includes an
appearance by noted choral conductor Helmuth Rilling, who will lead the
orchestra and USC Thornton Chamber Singers in a performance of Mozart’s Requiem
on Jan. 26 and 27.

 

In addition to the orchestra series, LACO will also offer
its Westside Connections series at The Broad Theatre, Baroque Conversations
series at Zipper Hall, and its annual Silent Film Festival on June 8 at Royce
Hall, featuring Buster Keaton’s Our
Hospitality.

 

Information:
213/622-7001. Read the full media release HERE. The chronological schedule is
HERE.

_______________________

 

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

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OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Cal Phil, The Association at Walt Disney Concert Hall

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

______________________

 

California Philharmonic;
Victor Vener, conductor

Sunday, July 15, 2012 Walt Disney Concert Hall

Next performances: July 28 at Santa Anita Racetrack and 29
at Disney Hall

Information: www.calphil.org

______________________

 

Each of the three orchestras based in the San Gabriel Valley
has its own distinctive personality. In the case of the California
Philharmonic, at least two elements contribute to its identity.

Unlike the Pasadena Pops and Muse-ique, the Cal Phil
performs each of its five concerts in two locales. On alternating Saturdays
during July and August, the Cal Phil plays in its new home in the infield of
Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia. The following day, the group repeats the
programs in Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, making it the
only orchestra locally to regularly perform indoors during the summer months.

Moreover, Music Director Victor Vener continues to mix major
doses of classical music with pops fare in each program. It’s a formula that
has continued to draw loyal audiences, although Sunday’s attendance at Disney
Hall seemed sparser than what I recall from last summer.

The anchor of Sunday’s program was The Association, the
folk-rock band that began in 1965 at Pasadena’s Ice House and has produced
enough hits to sell more than 80 million records in its nearly half-century of
existence.

Some of the original members are still performing, while
others have been replaced, but the sextet offered a winsome reprise of their
distinctive music that featured most of their megahits, including Wendy, Never My Love and Cherish. Several of the songs’ composers
were in the audience.  The group
also paid tribute to the Mommas and the Poppas, with whom it performed 60
times, by singing California Dreamin’.
Vener and the Cal Phil provided discrete accompaniment on half of the numbers.

Vener surrounded the pop group with three classical numbers.
He and the orchestra opened with a solid rendition of Glinka’s Russlan and Ludmilla Overture taken at a
stately tempo and continued with Richard Strauss’ first tone poem, Don Juan. Overall, the orchestra played
well although Vener failed to find all of the glorious sweep of Strauss’ music.

The major work after intermission was three movements of
Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique.
Vener’s pattern is to limit any one classical selection to about 20 minutes,
although with his commentary that length stretches out considerably.

On Sunday, Vener took the time to explain the story behind
the piece and each of the selected movements (The Ball, March to the Scaffold and Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath). This was helpful for those in the
audience hearing for the first time a work that describes the composer’s
drug-induced fantasy. Moreover, considering that the piece is really five
distinct sections as opposed to one interconnected unit, the verbal interludes
did little damage to its overall effect.

Unfortunately this familiar work is played by many
orchestras locally and Vener’s ungainly conducting style looked particularly
lumbering when compared to other maestros. Nonetheless, a good time was had by
most.

_______________________

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

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OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Muse-ique opens summer season at Caltech

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

______________________

 

Muse-ique; Rachael
Worby, conductor

Saturday, July 14, 2012 Caltech’s Beckman Mall, Pasadena

Next performances: Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Information: www.muse-ique.com

______________________

One of the surprising Southern California classical music
discoveries last summer was Caltech’s Beckman Mall (aka The Olive Grove — the
lawn just south of Beckman Auditorium and between two multistory concrete
buildings) as an intimate outdoor music venue with a sound-chamber feel.
Muse-ique, the new ensemble formed by former Pasadena Pops music director
Rachael Worby, unveiled it last year and this summer they’re back for two
concerts, the first of which was last night.

Muse-que is unique because Worby is unique. From the quirky
printed program (8.75″ by 4″, loose-leaf, held together by a metal brad) to the
evening’s format (90 minutes without an intermission), to the casual feel (the
36 orchestral musicians dressed in casual clothes, many of them standing
throughout the concert), Muse-ique is a mash-up of musical genres and
performers with Worby weaving multiple threads throughout the hour and a half.
If something doesn’t turn out quite as she expected, she shrugs, chuckles and
moves on. Although well choreographed, the evening has the feel of an informal
jam session.

The main solo focus was Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo
Sandoval, whose contributions included a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie (Sandoval
has just released a new CD entitled Dear
Dizzy, Every Day I Think of You,
a tribute to the legendary trumpeter whom
Sandoval called one of his mentors). Sandoval recounted how he first met
Gillespie in Cuba and then sang wistfully and played with verve the title song
from his new CD. He also tossed off a 45-second bebop vocal riff (shades of
Bobby McFerrin), was less-than-sparkling as soloist in portions of Johann
Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto, and concluded with a solo rendition of God Bless America.

The evening wasn’t all music. Actress Zilah Mendoza
introduced the Gillespie set with her heart-felt rendition of the 1994 poem by
Joy Jones, They Called Him Dizzy, But the
Man Had Plenty Sense.
Brian Brophy,
head of Caltech’s Theater Arts, opened the evening with a rap offering that
fused science with art (“We’re the ones using academically eligible students,”
he joked of his department, a subtle dig at the school having incurred NCAA
sanctions for using students on sports teams that didn’t meet that
organization’s definition of eligibility). As is her wont, Worby held things
together with distinctive commentary that melded educational tidbits with
humor.

Although the amplification didn’t help the orchestra’s sound
much, Violinist Roger Wilkie, Violist Shawn Mann, Keyboardist Alan Steinberger
and Percussionist Jason Goodman delivered spiffy solo offerings throughout the
evening.

_______________________

 

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

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AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Hollywood Bowl, Southwest Chamber Music open classical summer seasons

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.

 

The last two Southern California major summer music
festivals — Hollywood Bowl and Southwest Chamber Music — open this week.

 

Actually, the Bowl has been up and running with its
pops-oriented programming for a few weeks but its 10-week classical music
season begins with Leonard Slatkin returning “home” to lead the Los Angeles
Philharmonic Tuesday and Thursday.

 

Tuesday’s program will conclude with Beethoven’s Symphony
No. 9, an almost perennial Bowl piece, but this year the performance will
feature a twist as the music for the Finale (Ode
to Joy)
section will be accompanied by video imagery created by Herman
Kolgen. The project is a co-commission of the Phil and the Getty Museum and was
created in honor of Gustav Klint’s Beethoven
Frieze.
July 14 is Klint’s 150th birthday and the Getty has an
exhibit of the Austrian painter running through Sept. 3. 

 

The Los Angeles Master Chorale and four soloists will join
the Philharmonic in the finale Tuesday night. The first half of the program
will feature works by three contemporary women composers: Anna Clyne’s Rewind, Anne LeBaron’s American Icons, and Cindy McTee’s Tempus Fugit.

 

On Thursday, violinist Daniel Hope will make his Bowl debut
as soloist in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2. The program will conclude with
Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3 (Organ).

 

Slatkin, now 67, might be considered a “Bowl baby.” His
father, Felix, played and conducted at the Bowl in the 1950s and his mother,
cellist Eleanor Aller, played with Felix in the Hollywood String Quartet.
Leonard has conducted the Phil for decades. In 2004, he was named principal
guest conductor at the Bowl and served for three years.

 

The Bowl programs on July 15 and 17 are duplicates. Ludovic
Morlot, music director of the Seattle Symphony, will conduct with violinist
Joshua Bell and double bass player Edgar Meyer as soloist. The program will
include the West Coast premiere of Meyer’s Double Concerto for Violin and
Double Bass and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

 

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

 

Southwest Chamber
Music
returns to the Huntington Library on Saturday and next Sunday for the
first of four programs that will pay tribute to chef Julia Child, who was born
in Pasadena on Aug. 15, 1912. Concert attendees can buy dinners in The
Huntington Tea Room that are being created by Huntington Executive Chef Jon
Dubrick and inspired by Child.

 

The weekend’s musical selections will have a French flair:
Debussy’s Danse sacre et profane and
String Quartet, Jolivet’s Chant du Linos,
and Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro.

 

Information:
800-726-7147; www.swmusic.org

_______________________

 

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

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