AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: A weekend of Requiems … and brass

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.

If you’re a lover of choral music — and, in particular, of Requiems, the musical setting of the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead — then next weekend will have you in seventh heaven. Two of the landmark Requiem settings will be the centerpieces of local concerts; fortunately both the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Los Angeles Master Chorale each scheduled two performances so you can hear both groups, if you’re over a mind to do so.

Nioted Bach specialist Helmuth Rilling will conduct LACO, the USC Thornton Chamber Singers, and soloists Stacey Tappan, soprano; Callista Hoffman, alto; Nicholas Phan, tenor; and Michael Dean, bass in performances of Mozart’s Requiem on Saturday at 8 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale and next Sunday at 7 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. The programs opens with Mozart’s Symphony No. 39; a preconcert talk will be held an hour before each performance.

Mozart died as he was writing what became his Requiem; both the death and the work itself remain shrouded in mystery. The composer actually completed only the first movement (“Kyrie”) of the Requiem before he died, although he left vocal parts for two other sections along with fragments of the orchestral accompaniments. Franz Xaver Süssmayr, Mozart’s assistant, completed the work in 1792, and while this is the version usually performed, Rilling and LACO will use an intriguing 1960s version by noted Mozart specialist Robert D. Levin, instead.

Information: 213.622-7001;

Meanwhile, Grant Gershon and his Los Angeles Master Chorale will pair Brahms’ A German Requiem with the West Coast premiere of Peter Lieberson’s The World in Flower Saturday at 2 p.m. and next Sunday at 7 p.m. in Walt Disney Concert Hall. A preconcert talk will be held one hour in advance of each program.

The Lieberson work on the theme of tolerance was written for the New York Philharmonic and was to have been sung in 2006 with his wife, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, as one of the soloists. She was too ill to perform (and later died) and the work was belatedly premiered in 2009 (the composer orchestrated the final version while in hospital battling lymphoma).

Soloists for The World in Flower will be mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor and baritone Brian Mulligan; Mulligan will be joined by soprano Yulia Van Doren for the Brahms Requiem. It will be a busy fortnight for Van Doren, who will also be the soloist in the Pasadena Symphony’s performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 on Feb. 9 at Ambassador Auditorium (INFO).

Master Chorale Concert information: 213/972-7282;

For a complete change of pace from choral music, check out the Modern Brass Quintet in a free concert on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Pasadena Presbyterian Church. The ensemble’s five members are among the Southland’s premiere brass instrumentalists; they’ve played hundreds of movie scores and all perform in orchestras across the region, including the Pasadena Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Opera. The concert celebrates 20 years for the MBQ as the church’s Ensemble-in-Residence.

The program will feature music by Jan and J.S. Bach, Aaron Copland, Alec Wilder, Witold Lutoslawski. There will also be world premieres by Anne McGinty and MBQ trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom.

Information: 626/793-2191;

(c) Copyright 2013, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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