NEWS: San Diego Opera, L.A. Phil announce major promotions

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Los Angeles Newspaper Group

This has been a busy week for promotions in the classical music world:

• David Bennett has been named General Director of San Diego Opera. Considering that a year ago the company nearly closed down, this counts as a major resurrection story. The most interesting aspect is that Bennett comes to SDO from Gotham City Opera, a small but growing and innovative company in New York City, which is quite different that what SDO was in its first 50 years. One can hope this is a good omen for SDO’s future. James Chute’s analysis in the San Diego Union-Tribune is HERE. David NG’s take in the Los Angeles Times is HERE.

• Closer to home, the Los Angeles Philharmonic has promoted Gail Samuel to Executive Director and Chad Smith to Chief Operating Office. Both will report to LAPO President and CEO Deborah Borda, who will take a sabbatical in the fall at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she will join the Center for Public Leadership community as a Hauser Leader-in-Residence (LINK).

The well-deserved promotions of Samuel and Smith are also part of the orchestra’s ramp up to its centennial season in 2018-2019. Read the media release HERE.
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(c) Copyright 2015, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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THOUGHTS AND LINKS: Can a composer quote the “Horst Wessel” song in a piece?

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Los Angeles Newspaper Group

Parts of the music world are abuzz over the decision by the New York Symphony to cancel a performance of a new work, Marsh u Nebuttya, by young Estonian composer Jonas Tarm (the title means March to Oblivion/ in Ukrainian).

Tarm was the latest winner of the orchestra’s “First Music,” composition but when the piece was played last month, an anonymous letter writer (who called him or herself “a Nazi survivor”) objected because the nine-minute work quotes 45 seconds of the Nazi’s infamous “Horst Wessel” song.

Norman Lebrecht, in his “Slipped Disc” Blog, has letters from the composer and the orchestra HERE (the comments are also illuminating). Zachary Woolfe has a thoughtful take in his New York Times HERE. Was the orchestra right to cancel? Not in my book (Woolfe nails the issue perfectly IMHO) but others may disagree.
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(c) Copyright 2015, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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NEWS: NY Phil home to be called David Geffen Hall

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Los Angeles Newspaper Group

David Geffen will ante up $100 million over the next eight months and the name of the New York Philharmonic’s home will in September from Avery Fisher Hall to David Geffen Hall. Details in the New York Times article HERE.

Geffen’s lead gift will help jump-start the NYPO’s fund to overhaul (sorry) the building’s interior, a design/construction project currently tabbed at $500 million.

Fisher’s name will be memorialized in different ways within the Geffen Hall (details in an earlier NYT article HERE).

In a BLOG post last December (HERE), I raised several issues that the New York Phil situation might raise in conjunction with the Music Center and, specifically, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Mike Boehm fleshes out many of those issues in his analysis in the Los Angeles Times HERE. Stay tuned.

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ORCHESTRA NEWS: Rattle to London Symphony

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Los Angeles Newspaper Group

Scratch one major orchestra off of the leader search list. Sir Simon Rattle has been appointed music director of the London Symphony Orchestra, effective Sept. 2017, the year before he will step down from a similar position with the Berlin Philharmonic. Read the LSO media release HERE.

Note that Rattle’s title is music director, not principal conductor as has been the case with previous LSO musical leaders, including the incumbent, Valery Gergiev. The releases states, “As Music Director [Rattle] will be involved in every aspect of the LSO’s work as well as championing the importance of music and music education.” Michael Cooper in the New York Times (LINK) says that Claudio Abbado held the music director title from 1984-87.

Lisa Hirsch, in her Blog “Iron Tongue of Midnight,” has a list of orchestras looking for new musical leadership HERE, a group that includes another of Rattle’s former ensembles, the City of Birmingham (England, not Alabama) Symphony Orchestra but doesn’t list the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra nor the Long Beach Symphony.
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(c) Copyright 2015, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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Season schedules — Part 1: Pasadena Symphony and Hollywood Bowl

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News

It’s that time of the year when schedules for 2015 and 2016 begin to appear in mailboxes (electronic and USPS). Read my story about the 2015-2016 PASADENA SYMPHONY season published in the above papers HERE.

Among other schedules that have popped up:

HAVING ESTABLISHED A PATTERN that seems to provide maximum variety and healthy income to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hollywood Bowl’s 2015 summer schedule offers more of the same for the season that begins June 13 and extends through September 27.

The bulk of the season features popular and movie fare but the 10-week classical season, with concerts on Tuesday and Thursday, features a number of interesting programs. Among those that caught my eye:
• Composer/conductor Tan Dun conducts a program of his own “Martial Arts Trilogy” on Aug. 13, including his Crouching Tiger concerto and his Triple Concerto, which had its West Coast premiere last week at Walt Disney Concert Hall The Bowl concerts will include film clips.

• Now Music Director of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Lionel Bringuier returns to conduct the L.A. Phil (where he served for six years in various conducting capacities) to open the 2015 Bowl classical season. The July 7 concert will include Yuja Wang as soloist in Prokofiev’s second concerto, while Thursday’s program will pair Tchaikovsky’s and Prokofiev’s takes on Romeo and Juliet themes along with Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, with Narek Hakhnazaryan — gold medalist in the 2011 Tchaikovsky International Competition — as cello soloist.

• LAPO Music Director Gustavo Dudamel has several program scheduled. On July 21 and 23, he conducts the orchestra, L.A. Master Chorale, L.A. Children’s Chorus and three soloists in performances of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and music by Eric Whitacre.

On that weekend, Dudamel leads the annual “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” for the first time. The program will include Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Swan Lake excerpts and, of course, the 1812 Overture, with fireworks, cannon shots and the USC Marching Band in accompaniment. The 5th Symphony was the vehicle with which Dudamel made an electrifying Bowl and L.A. Phil debut in September 2005 (see this review by the late, great critic Alan Rich HERE).

The following week Dudamel leads an all-Mendelssohn program on July 28 and an all-Mozart program on July 30.

• Other guest conductors are James Gaffigan; Joshua Bell, also soloing on the violin; Daniel Harding; Nicholas McGegan leading a program with Cameron Carpenter soloing in the Poulenc Organ Concerto on Carpenter’s International Touring Organ INFO); Bramwell Tovey; Lahav Shani; and Pablo Heras-Casado. LAPO Assistant Conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will also lead a program.

http://www.sgvtribune.com/arts-and-entertainment/20141114/organist-cameron-carpenter-la-philharmonic-to-celebrate-walt-disney-concert-hall-pipe-organ

• The “Sing-Along Sound of Music” program on June 26 will celebrate the movie’s 50th anniversary. Other programs with either the L.A. Phil accompanying films and/or film clips are Back to the Future on June 30 (this year is BTF’s 30th anniversary), the 25th anniversary of Bugs Bunny at the Movies on Aug. 14 and 15. 2001: A Space Odyssey on Aug. 18, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on Sept. 4, 5 and 6.

Live performances of Monte Python’s Spamalot will take place July 31, August 1 and 2, while — for something completely different — the annual opera night will be Verdi’s La Traviata on Aug. 9 when Daniel Harding leads the L.A. Phil and an as-yet-unnamed cast.

Information: www.hollywoodbowl.com
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(c) Copyright 2015, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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