By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
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
Other concerts on the FOM schedule are:
Nov. 3 — Daryl
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 –
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
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
PPC’s Organist/Music Director plays his annual recital.
June 1 — Jazz for
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.
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.