(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

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


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
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
at LA Opera:


The Colburn
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:


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
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:


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
(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
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.

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