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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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