CLASS ACT: Choral concerts in La Cañada and Costa Mesa

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

My biweekly column is now online — LINK — but there are a couple of choral concerts I failed to include that are worth noting, both taking place next Sunday.

This year (Oct. 31, to be precise) marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Tradition ascribes the beginning to when Martin Luther, an obscure Roman Catholic monk, nailed his Ninety-five Theses or Disputation on the Power of Indulgences to the door of All Saints Church at Wittenberg, Germany on that date.

Although many churches will commemorate the anniversary in worship on Sunday, the La Cañada Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir, soloists and orchestra, will present a concert at 2 p.m. on Sunday that revolves around music associated with the Reformation.

Among other things, Luther was a hymn writer, and his most famous hymn — A Mighty Fortress is Our God — will be performed in several guises during the concert, including Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5 (Reformation), which uses the Luther’s famous tune — Ein Feste Burg — in the final movement.

Jack Lantz, the church’s music director, will conduct and will also offer a preconcert lecture beginning at 1:45 pm. The concert is free but a donation of $15 is requested from those who can afford it. Information:


Although it’s only been around 1/10 of the life span of the Reformation, nonetheless 50 years is an important anniversary for a musical organization, and the Pacific Chorale begins its year-long celebration of half a century on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa.

The Chorale’s new music director, Robert Istad, will lead his chorus, Pacific Symphony, Cal State Fullerton University Singers, Southern California Children’s Chorus and tenor Derek Chester in a wide-ranging concert that also commemorates the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein.

The program will include a performance of Bernstein’s Mass in a concert-version arrangement by Doreen Rao; a reprise of Songs of Eternity, a superb work by Southern California composer James Hopkins, which was commissioned for the Chorale’s 25th anniversary; and the U.S. premiere of A Celestial Map of the Sky by the Chorale’s new composer-in-residence Tarik O’Regan.

As a bonus, concert attenders will get to view the new outdoor court between Segerstrom Concert Hall and the Orange County Performing Arts Center’s original Segerstrom Hall. The 56,100-square-foot plaza features a large open space, multi-purpose stage, reflection pool, two green spaces — Theater Grove and Community Picnic Grove — an arrival court, and an outdoor restaurant.


(c) Copyright 2017, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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