AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Four orchestras to begin their 2012-2013 seasons

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.

 

Four of the Southland’s orchestras kick off their seasons
this week:

 

The Rio Hondo
Symphony
opens its 80th season of free-admission concerts today
at 3 p.m. at the Vic Lopez Auditorium at Whittier High School. Music Director
Kimo Furumoto leads an Americana program with music by Copland, Leonard
Bernstein, Duke Ellington and noted local jazz master Bill Cunliffe.

 

Cunliffe, who won a Grammy Award in 2010 for “Best
Instrumental Arrangement” of Oscar Peterson‘s West Side Story Medley, will play an
orchestration of that arrangement, which was originally for big band. Cunliffe
will also play his own composition, To
Ruth,
and joins the orchestra in a medley from George Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm. A link to Cunliffe’s Web
site is HERE. Actor and director Alan Hunt will be the narrator in Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait. Information: www.riohondosymphony.org

 

Mei-Ann Chen returns to the Pasadena Symphony podium after a rousing debut last season to lead
the PSO on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Ambassador Auditorium. The program
is Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9, Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with
17-year-old George Li as soloist.

 

The Chinese-American pianist has won medals in a number of
competitions and in 2011 became the youngest winner of the prestigious Gilmore
Young Artist Award (previous winners include Yuja Wang and Jonathan Bliss). A
link to Li’s Web site is HERE.

Born in Taiwan and a U.S. resident since 1989, the
39-year-old Chen is beginning her third season as music director of the Memphis
Symphony and second as head of the Chicago Sinfionetta. She burst onto the
musical scene in 2005 when she won the prestigious Malko Competition for
conductors in Sweden. A link to the story I wrote prior her PSO debut last year
is HERE.

Information: www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org

The Los Angeles
Chamber Orchestra
opens its 44th season on Saturday at 8 p.m. at
the Alex Theatre in Glendale and at 7 p.m. in UCLA’s Royce Hall with a
quintessential LACO program.

 

Music Director Jeffrey Kahane will conduct two West-Coast
premieres: James Matheson’s True South along
with The Great Swiftness by Andrew
Norman, who begins a three-year tenure as LACO’s composer-in-residence.
Norman’s piece is his musical depiction of an Alexander Calder stabile in Grand
Rapids, Mich., where the composer was born. A link to Norman’s Web site is
HERE. Kevin Berger has a profile in the Los
Angeles Times
HERE.

 

The program begins with Kahane as conductor and soloist in
Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major, and concludes with Beethoven’s Violin
Concerto, with 28-year-old German violinist Augustin Hadelich making his LACO
debut as soloist. Information: www.laco.org

The second Los
Angeles Philharmonic
subscription concerts of the season begin a three-year
cycle where Norwegian pianist Leif Oves Andsnes will play all five of
Beethoven’s piano concertos. Thursday evening and Friday morning, Andsnes will
play the first concerto (really, the second since it was composed after the
second but was the first one published). Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon
will bring the third concerto. Gustavo Dudamel conducts. All four concerts conclude
with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (Eroica).
Information: www.laphil.com

 

The Long Beach
Symphony
opens its 77th season Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the
Terrace Theatre when Enrique Arturo Diemecke (beginning his 12 season as LBSO
music director) leads Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Prokofiev’s Piano
Concerto No. 3, with Haochen Zhang returning as soloist. The 22-year-old
Chinese pianist won the gold medal in the 2009 Van Cliburn Piano Competition. Information: www.lbso.org

_______________________

 

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

PREVIEW: Unearthing A Hidden Britten Gem

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

______________________

 

Kirk Choir and
Friends of Music Orchestra; Timothy Howard, conductor

Judith Siirila, soprano; Micheal Smith, tenor

Frances Nicholson and Ray Quiett, narrator

Saturday, September
29, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.; Preconcert lecture at 7 p.m.

Pasadena Presbyterian Church (MAP)

Free Admission (voluntary offering)

Information: www.ppcmusic.org

62410-Britten-Pears.jpg

Peter Pears (left) sings in a performance conducted by
Benjamin Britten. The cantata, The
Company of Heaven,
contains A
Thousand Thousand Gleaming Stars,
the first piece of music that the
composer wrote for the tenor who would become his life partner. Pasadena
Presbyterian Church will present The
Company of Heaven
on Saturday, which is the 75th anniversary to
the day of the work’s premiere on the BBC. Photo from the Britten-Pears
Foundation.

______________________

 

(Full disclosure: I’m
a member of Pasadena Presbyterian Church, sing in the Kirk Choir, and am giving
the preconcert lecture. Thus, as the late, great columnist Molly Ivins was wont
to say, you can take this post with a grain of salt or a pound of salt, if you
are so inclined.)

_____________________

 

Anniversaries are quite popular in the classical-music world
and the year 2013 shapes up as one of the biggest. The birth bicentennials of
Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner will receive the lion’s share of the focus
next year, but 2013 also marks 100 years since English composer Benjamin
Britten was born Lowesoft, Suffolk on Nov. 22, 1913.

 

Without discounting the stature of Wagner or Verdi, Britten
is at least equally as significant as those two because the Englishman’s
compositional genius stretched over many genres besides opera. In addition to Peter Grimes, Billy Budd and his other
operatic output, Britten also composed extraordinary song cycles, several
symphonies and other instrumental works, and a large body of exemplary choral
work, as well.

 

One of Britten’s earliest choral pieces was a cantata, The Company of Heaven, which was written
for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 1937 — when the composer was
just 23 years old — and debuted on September 29, 1937.

 

On Saturday, September 29, 2012 — 75 years to the date of
that inaugural broadcast performance — Pasadena Presbyterian Church will again
perform this superb choral work on the subject of angels. The concert will take
place at 7:30 p.m. in the church’s striking neogothic sanctuary, located at
Colorado Blvd. at Madison Ave. in the Playhouse District of downtown Pasadena.

 

The Sept. 29 performance will be preceded at 7 p.m. by a
preconcert lecture delivered by Pasadena Star-News Music Critic Robert D.
Thomas (that would be yours truly). Admission is free; a voluntary offering
will be taken. Free parking is available and the church is accessible to the
mobility-impaired.

 

The concert will open with Britten’s Simple Symphony, which was written in 1934 but uses themes from
piano works that Britten composed when he was a child.

 

The Company of Heaven is
scored for choir, two soloists, multiple narrators, organ and string orchestra.
Timothy Howard (pictured left) will conduct the church’s Kirk Choir, soprano
Judith Siirila, tenor Micheal Smith, narrators Frances Nicholson and Ray
Quiett, and the Friends of Music Orchestra in Saturday’s performance.

 

In the era before television, the BBC often commissioned
music, theater plays and other works to be broadcast over its network, and The Company of Heaven was one of those
commissions. The date of its premiere (Sept. 29) was Michelmas Day on the
liturgical calendar in honor of the archangel Michael, so the texts that R.
Ellis Roberts compiled were particularly appropriate for that feast day.

 

Despite its unusual subject, innovative framework and
beautiful music, the cantata fell into obscurity after its inaugural broadcast.
A suite from the cantata was performed in 1956 but the entire work wasn’t
performed again until June 10, 1989 at The Maltings, Snape as part of the 1989
Aldeburgh Festival.

 

Philip Brunelle, who led that performance, conducted the
U.S. premiere on Dec. 8, 1989 in Minnesota. The Kirk Choir presented what was
probably the West Coast premiere of The
Company of Heaven
on Nov. 18, 1990.

 

Several of us who sang in that 1990 performance at PPC have
always wanted to bring it back to our repertoire. When I realized that the 75th
anniversary of the work would be a Saturday, which is the night when we perform
most of our concerts, it seemed like a natural fit and, fortunately, Dr. Howard
agreed.

 

This concert is one of nine events on the church’s “Friends
of Music” concert series, which runs through June 2013. Additional information
on the series and the church’s music program can be found at www.ppcmusic.org.

_______________________

 

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

NEWS: L.A. Phil’s Mahler 8 telecast to be released tomorrow on DVD, Blu-Ray and iTunes

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

62421-Dudamel-Mahler.jpg

With the opening of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2012-2013
season upon us — the gala opening event is Thursday and the first subscription
seasons are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (LINK) — a final look at least season
has also popped up.

 

Last February’s concert telecast of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (Symphony of a Thousand) from Caracas,
Venezuela will be released tomorrow by Deutsche Grammophon on standard DVD and
Blu-Ray, as well as on iTunes.

 

The performance featured Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Phil
and the Simn Bolvar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, along with eight
soloists and a massive choir of young Venezuelan singers.  The concert was
the culmination of last season’s “Mahler Project,” and was recorded live at the
Teatro Teresa Carreo in Caracas, Venezuela on February 18, 2012.  The performance was broadcast live in
high definition in hundreds of movie theaters across North and South America. The
DVD and Blu-Ray feature bonus pre-taped footage used in the simulcast.

 

This LINK has reviews of the telecast (they’re at the bottom
of the post).

One other note: The vagaries of Dudamel’s schedule for the
upcoming season (he’s conducting just 10 subscription weeks at Disney Hall,
plus a concert leading The Colburn Orchestra and a Green Umbrella appearance)
means he’s leading the firs three weeks of the subscription season and then
doesn’t return until Feb. 19 when he leads The Colburn Orchestra. So, if you
need a “Dude” fix, you’d best make plans now.

_______________________

 

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

(Revised) AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: L.A. Philharmonic to begin season … also other upcoming concerts

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

A shorter version of this
article will run tomorrow in the above papers.

The revision is the addition of a link to David Ng’s story on Steven Stucky.

 

Seems like only yesterday when we were inaugurating Gustavo
Dudamel’s reign as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic but with
Thursday’s gala opener and this weekend’s first subscription weeks — both at
Walt Disney Concert Hall — the now-31-year-old Venezuelan begins his fourth
season at the Phil’s helm.

 

Thursday’s gala is unusual. It features Dudamel conducting
the orchestra as it accompanies various dance troupes in music by John Adams,
Stravinsky, Saint-Sans, Tchaikovsky and Leonard Bernstein. Among the
selections is The Chairman Dances
from Adams’ opera, Nixon in China,
with Los Angeles’ “BodyTraffic” company dancing new choreography by Barak
Marshall.

 

Information: www.laphil.com

 

The weekend’s LAPO concerts spotlight one of the most famous
dances in history, Stravinsky’s ballet Le
Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring),
eight months shy of the centennial
of its historic/infamous premiere on May 29, 1913 in Paris.

 

Legend has it that the avant-garde music and choreography
caused a near-riot in the audience at the Thtre des Champs-lyses. Pierre
Lalo in Le Temps wrote in his review
of the premiere: “The most essential characteristic of Le Sacre du Printemps is that is the most dissonant and the most
discordant composition yet written. Never was the system and the cult of the
wrong note practiced with so much industry, zeal and fury. From the first
measure to the last, whatever note one expects, it is never the one that comes
…” A certain H. Moreno, in Paris’ Le
Mnestrel
a year after the premiere, summed up the work thusly: “One
recalls the scandalous spectacle of this Sacre
du Printemps,
or rather a Massacre du
Printemps ….”

 

Today audiences tend to take this work in stride but it
remains one of the 20th century’s most compelling compositions. It
was a signature piece for Dudamel’s predecessor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and this
will be the first time that Dudamel has conducted the work locally.

 

The weekend programs will also include the world premiere of
Steven Stucky’s Symphony, a 20-minute
work with four connected sections. Stucky has a 21-year-connection with the
Philharmonic. In 1988 then-Music Director Andr Previn appointed him
composer-in-residence; later he became the orchestra’s consulting composer for
new music, working closely with Esa-Pekka Salonen. Commissioned by the Phil,
Stucky’s “Second Concerto for Orchestra” won him the Pulitzer Prize in music in
2005. Read David Ng’s profile on Stucky in the Los Angeles Times HERE.

 

Incidentally, Stucky will be the “Upbeat Live” presenter an
hour before each concert. If you can’t be there, you can dial 1-605-475-4333 and
enter access code 184648 to listen on your cell phone (toll charges may apply).
Also, if you haven’t already signed up the Phil’s “FastNotes” email information,
click HERE for the details.

Concert Info:
323/850-2000; www.laphil.com

 

This weekend will be busy for local classical music lovers.
In addition to the Phil concerts and performances of I Due Foscari and Don
Giovanni
at LA Opera:

 

The Colburn
Orchestra
opens its 10th season at Ambassador Auditorium
Saturday night. Music Director Yehuda Gilad will conduct Shostakovich’s
Symphony No. 6 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, the latter with Colburn
Conservatory student Beiyao Ji as soloist. Info:
 www.colburnschool.edu

 

Pasadena
Presbyterian Church
begins its “Friends of Music” season of nine
free-admission concerts on Saturday evening with Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony and The Company of Heaven. The latter is a cantata on the subject of
angels that will be presented on the 75th anniversary to the day of
its inaugural performance as a broadcast on England’s BBC Radio.

 

Timothy Howard will conduct the church’s Kirk Choir, soprano
Judith Siirila, tenor Micheal Smith, narrators Frances Nicholson and Ray
Quiett, and the Friends of Music Orchestra in Saturday’s performance.

 

A post on the entire “Friends of Music” season is HERE. Concert Info: www.ppcmusic.org

 

Pasadena Master
Chorale
opens its season Sunday afternoon at Altadena Community Church as
Artistic Director Jeffrey Bernstein leads a program of folk music from
Scotland, the U.S. and Japan. Info:
www.pasadenamasterchorale.org

 

Farther afield, the New
West Symphony
welcomes Marcelo Lehninger as
its new music director with concerts Friday in Oxnard, Saturday in Thousand
Oaks and Sunday in Santa Monica. The programs feature violinist Anne Akiko
Meyers as soloist in Barber’s Violin Concerto, along with Dvorak’s Symphony No.
8 and Wagner’s Prelude to Die
Meistersinger.
(Read a story that I wrote two years ago about Meyers and
her then “old/new” violin HERE).

 

The Brazilian-born Lehninger
will conduct four of the season’s six concerts. In addition to his New West
Symphony gig, he is also one of two assistant conductors of the Boston Symphony.
Info: www.newwestsymphony.org

 

The Pacific
Symphony,
which opened its season this weekend, has a one-performance
concert Thursday at the Rene and Henry Segersrtrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa
with Lang Lang as soloist in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Beethoven’s Piano
Concerto No. 5 (Emperor). Carl
St.Clair conducts. Info: www.pacificsymphony.org

 

One additional note on Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring: the reviews quoted were cited in Nicolas Slonimsky’s
Lexicon of Musical Invective, a
collection of negative (or worse) reviews of classical compositions now
considered part of the standard repertoire (e.g., symphonies by Beethoven,
Brahms and Tchaikovsky). The book is available in soft cover although not,
alas, in Kindle or other electronic forms (at least that I could see). It
remains one of my favorite books.

_______________________

 

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

ALERT: Sign up for L.A. Phil’s “FastNotes” now

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

I know it’s time for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s indoor
(aka Walt Disney Concert Hall) season to begin when the first edition of
“FastNotes” appears in my inbox. The Phil sends these out a few days before
each concert. “FastNotes” are a quick overview of the upcoming concert along
with links to program notes, ticket purchasing and other important and/or
interesting areas.

 

Even if you aren’t planning on attending a particular
program, “FastNotes” are worth perusing. I suppose there’s a significant amount
of Web site programming involved, but I wish other groups would do the same
thing.

 

To subscribe to “FastNotes,” click HERE to begin the
process. If you already have an account with the Phil, log in and click the
“view/edit settings” button. If you don’t have an account, follow the prompts
to create one. In either case, next click on the “Email Subscription
Preferences” link. “FastNotes” are split into seven different categories (e.g.,
L.A. Phil Concerts, Celebrity Recitals, organ recitals, etc.) so you just sign
up for whatever interests you.

 

BTW: It’s not easy to find this link on the Phil’s Web site.
You have to click the “Philpedia” button (a marginally cute but not
particularly intuitive header) on the home page and then find the link on the
bottom right of the next page. Just click HERE and save yourself the time.
Also, I wish there was a way to save “FastNotes” (or have then linked to the
individual program pages) so that they’d be easy to find for multiple readings.
I know … picky, picky, picky.

_______________________

 

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

NEWS: L.A. Philharmonic shelves “LA Phil LIVE” movie theater telecast series

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s theater telecast series, “LA
Phil LIVE,” has been discontinued after just two years. A Phil spokesperson emailed
me: “We have decided not to continue with the ‘LA Phil LIVE’ program as a
series in the 2012/13 season. We’ll consider presentations on a one-off basis
in the future though.”

 

The series began two seasons ago amid great fanfare with
telecasts into hundreds of theaters of three live Sunday afternoon telecasts
from Walt Disney Concert Hall. All three programs were conducted Gustavo
Dudamel and they included fascinating rehearsal footage, interviews and gushy
“hosts.”

 

Last season began with one live telecast from Disney Hall
and continued with a presentation of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 from Caracas,
Venezuela, the concluding segment of the Phil’s “Mahler Project.” The final
“live” telecast turned out not be live at all, but a replay of the
season-opening gala concert that featured jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.

 

The marketing linchpin of the series was, of course, Dudamel
and this season presented a problem, as the Venezuelan maestro will be leading
just 10 weeks of subscription concerts, down from 14 last season. Moreover,
three of those programs that include a Sunday afternoon performances are right
at the beginning of the season, and the Oct. 14 concert is a presentation of
Oliver Knussen’s opera, Where the Wild
Things Are,
which would have been a tough sell for movie-theater audiences.

 

Dudamel doesn’t returns to the Phil podium until Feb. 24,
2013 with an all-19th century program that might have been a
possible telecast but probably not as the leadoff of a new season. Ditto for
the March 3 program: good music but not well known to audiences, especially
because Stravinsky’s Firebird is the
complete version, not the more popular 1919 suite.

 

The March 10 concert is the staged version of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary. After
last spring debut of the oratorio version, there will be lots of hype
concerning the staged version, which the Phil will take to Europe following the
March 10 performance. It would be quite a gamble but it might be a shot for
that “one-off” possibility the spokesperson held out.

 

A better choice would probably be the concert on March 5,
which — in addition to Dudamel conducting the Phil at Disney Hall — opens with
Lang Lang as soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The
post-intermission work, Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4 (The Inextinguishable), isn’t particularly well known on this side
of the Atlantic but it’s a big splashy piece that will provide Dudamel with an
opportunity to re-examine his original concept when he recorded the piece with
the Gothenburg Symphony a couple of years.

_______________________

 

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

(Revised) PREVIEW: Pasadena Pops offers free concert tomorrow as tribute to Marvin Hamlisch

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

______________________

 

Pasadena Symphony and
Pops

“A Tribute to Marvin
Hamlisch”

Larry Blank, conductor

Jason Alexander, host

Saturday, September
22, 2012 7:00 p.m.
(corrected time)

Pasadena City Hall Centennial Plaza

FREE CONCERT

Information:
www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org

______________________

 

The Pasadena Symphony and Pops will pay a final musical
tribute to former Principal Pops Conductor Marvin Hamlisch, with a free concert
tomorrow night on the steps of Pasadena’s City Hall and facing Centennial
Plaza. The music will start at 7:30 p.m. Family activities, including a musical
instrument petting zoo and children’s entertainment, will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Food trucks will also be available for those who don’t want to go to the bother
of packing a picnic dinner.

 

Hamlisch died suddenly on Aug. 6 at the age of 68.
Subsequently, noted pianist and singer Michael Feinstein was named as his
replacement beginning with next summer’s season at the Los Angeles County
Arboretum. Feinstein will hold the newly established Marvin Hamlisch Chair as
the Pasadena Pops’ principal conductor.

 

Longtime Hamlisch colleague Larry Blank will conduct
tomorrow’s concert, which will be enceed by TV and Broadway star Jason
Alexander. Guest performers will include composer-pianist Jason Robert Brown
(who, among many other things, wrote the Broadway musical Parade) and Broadway stars Lisa
Vroman and Valerie Peri.

 

The program will include many of Hamlisch’s most memorable
songs, including selection from A Chorus
Line
, They’re Playing Our
Song
, Nobody Does It Better,
and The Way We Were, as well as music
by people that inspired Marvin: the Gershwin’s, Jule Styne, and others.

 

The free concert comes two weeks before the opening of the
Pasadena Symphony season on Oct. 6 at Ambassador Auditorium. Guest conductor
Mei-Ann Chen returns to lead the PSO in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9,
Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, and
Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with 17-year-old George Li as soloist.
(LINK)

_______________________

 

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

Season Preview-5: Pasadena Presbyterian Church offers eclectic concert season

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

From Bach to Britten, organ to orchestra, choral to jazz,
Pasadena Presbyterian’s Friends of Music Concert season offers an eclectic mix
in its nine concerts, which begin September 29 with a performance featuring two
youthful works by English composer Benjamin Britten.

 

(Full disclosure: I’m a member at PPC and am involved in the
music program, so — as the late, great Molly Ivins was often wont to say — you
can take this post with a grain of salt or a pound of salt, if you’re so
inclined. On the other hand as you can see from the title, this is one in an
ongoing series of season previews of the many offerings in our area this
season. More are to come.)

 

In addition to the broad mixture of genres, the church’s FOM
season is notable for the fact that all concerts are free of admission charges
(although voluntary offerings are taken; it is a church, after all). There’s
also free parking available in the church’s lots. All concerts begin at 7:30
p.m. (some, offer preconcert lectures at 7 p.m. — I’m doing one on Sept. 29).
The church is located at 585 E. Colorado Blvd. (at Madison Ave.) in the
Playhouse District of downtown Pasadena.

 

The opening concert focuses on the upcoming centennial of
Britten’s birth (Nov. 22, 2013) as Timothy Howard conducts the Friends of Music
Orchestra in the composer’s Simple
Symphony
and then leads the Kirk Choir, two soloists, two narrators, organ
and orchestra in The Company of Heaven, a
cantata on the subject of angels. Britten composed TCOH for a BBC radio broadcast on Sept. 29, 1937, which means that
the church’s concert is on the 75th anniversary to the day of that
inaugural performance.

 

Other concerts on the FOM schedule are:

 

Nov. 3 — Daryl
Robinson organist

Last July, Robinson won First Prize and the Audience Prize
at the American Guild of Organists’ National Young Artists Competition in Organ
Performance, one of the world’s most prestigious organ-playing competitions
(PPC has a tradition of presenting the NYACOP winner in the season after his or
her victory). Robinson is organist at Grace Presbyterian Church, Houston.

 

Dec. 8 — 68th
annual Candlelight and Carols program

This Pasadena tradition features all of the church’s choirs,
an instrumental ensemble and organ in a varied program of sacred and secular
music that also includes audience caroling.

 

Dec. 29 –
Schubert’s Winterreise

Tenor Micheal Smith and pianist Mark Robson combine on this
magnificent song cycle.

 

Jan. 26 — The
Modern Brass Quintet

This noted local brass group, which serves as PPC’s
“Ensemble-in-Residence,” performs a concert in honor of its 20th
anniversary. The group’s members have recorded all over the world as soloists,
chamber musicians and orchestral players.

 

Feb. 23 — Meaghan
King, organist

PPC’s new assistant organist performs her first recital on
the church’s massive Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ.

 

March 29 — Good
Friday Devotional Concert

The 16th edition of this traditional event will
feature Timothy Howard conducting the Kirk Choir, community singers, soloist
and Friends of Music Orchestra in Durufl’s Requiem
and other music appropriate for Holy Week.

 

May 11 — Timothy
Howard, organist

PPC’s Organist/Music Director plays his annual recital.

 

June 1 — Jazz for
the City

This has become the series’ traditional close.

 

In addition to the nine FOM concerts, the church also
sponsors its weekly “Music at Noon” series of free recitals from 12:10 to 12:40
p.m. on Wednesdays. These programs spotlight local, national and international
artists in a myriad variety of genres.

 

Information: www.ppcmusic.org

 

Other season
previews:

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra HERE

The Colburn Orchestra HERE

Pacific Symphony HERE

Pasadena Master Chorale HERE

_______________________

 

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

NEWS: L.A. Children’s Chorus fills two major leadership positions

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

The Pasadena-based Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, one of the
world’s premiere children’s music organizations, has named Roy Mueller as
executive director and Joanne Crawford-Dunr as chair of the group’s board of
directors.

 

Mueller previously served as executive director of the San
Luis Obispo Children’s Museum, where he led a successful four-year, $5.2
million capital campaign to design and build a new facility. Prior to that, he
was education director for the Pasadena Kidspace Children’s Museum.

 

An accomplished musician, Mueller received Bachelor of Music
degree from the University of Louisville and a Master of Music degree in
performance from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. He also received a
Certificate of Jazz Composition and Performance from Berklee College of Music
in Boston. For 15 years he performed as an oboist/English horn player in South
America, Europe and the U.S. and has taught music at the university level.

 

Crawford-Dufnr, a Covina Hills resident, is director of
marketing communications for Nestl USA, where she oversees public relations,
digital and social media, packaging commununications and consumer promotions
for the Beverage Division. She has served on the LACC board of directors since
2008. In 2009, she helped arrange Nestl USA’s sponsorship of LACC’s “First
Experiences in Singing,” a satellite after-school enrichment program piloted at
Daniel Webster Elementary School in Pasadena.

 

She succeeds David Scheidermantle as LACC board chair; he
continues on the board as past chair.

 

More details on both appointments are on the LACC Web site
HERE.

_______________________

 

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

Season Preview-4: Pasadena Master Chorale to open season Sept. 30

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

The Pasadena Master Chorale will offer five concerts during
its 2012-2013 season, including a reprise of last season’s performance of
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and the start of a two-part project entitled “The
Voice of America.”

 

Artistic Director Jeffrey Bernstein will lead all seven
performances, beginning with “Songs of the World” on Sept. 30 at 4 p.m. at
Altadena Community Church. This reprise of a popular program from earlier
seasons will include folk songs from the U.S., Scotland and Japan.

 

Other programs include:

 

Baroque Christmas –
Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, Pasadena

The Chorale will be joined by an orchestra for this holiday
program. The first half will feature Part I of Handel’s Messiah. After intermission comes Claudio Monteverdi’s rarely
performed Magnificat.

 

Beethoven’s Ninth –
Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m., San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

Last January, PMC teamed up with Los Angeles Daiku for
Beethoven’s final symphony, a tradition on New Year’s Eve in Japan. This year,
singers from Japan will join the PMC and instrumentalists for a repeat
performance in San Gabriel.

 

Rachmaninoff:
All-Night Vigil —
March 23 at 7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church,
Pasadena. March 13 at 4 p.m., Altadena Community Church.

No, this performance won’t last all night (just an hour)
although it was written in 1915 to be performed at a Russian Orthodox Church
All-Night Vigil service. The Chorale will record Rachmaninoff’s work before the
concerts, so the singers should be right on their game for the performances.

 

The Voice of
America —
May 17 at 7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, Pasadena. March
19 at 4 p.m., Altadena Community Church.

This will be the first part of a two-year project supported
by a grant from the LA County Arts Commission. The program will feature composers
who Bernstein believes have defined the “American” choral sound: Randall
Thompson, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. In 2014 PMC will present the
second concert in the series: “The Voice of California.”

 

Information:
www.pasadenamasterchorale.org

 

Other season
previews:

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra HERE

The Colburn Orchestra HERE

Pacific Symphony HERE

_______________________

 

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