PREVIEW: London Symphony comes to Disney Hall Tuesday

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Los Angeles Newspaper Group

Juja_Wang-WebThe London Symphony has been in the news lately for its announcement that Sir Simon Rattle will become the ensemble’s Music Director in September 2017 (LINK). Michael Tilson Thomas, one of orchestra’s former Principal Conductors (1988-1995), has continued his relationship with the orchestra as its Principal Guest Conductor, and brings the LSO to Walt Disney Concert Hall Tuesday night.

The concert, which is part of a cross-country U.S. tour that concludes Wednesday night in Santa Barbara, also celebrates Thomas’ 70th birthday. The Disney Hall program is Four Sea Interludes from Britten’s opera, Peter Grimes, Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 and Gershwin’s Concerto in F with pianist Yuja Wang (pictured right) as soloist. In Santa Barbara, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 replaces the Sibelius. Both are in the “don’t miss” category.

• L.A. concert information HERE.
• Santa Barbara concert information HERE.
• Read a New York Times review of a New York performance of the program to be played at Disney Hall HERE. David Allen, the reviewer, noted that Wang used in iPad instead of a paper score during her encore.
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(c) Copyright 2015, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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NEWS: Cecilia Bartoli, Seoul Philharmonic cancel upcoming So. Cal. appearances

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Los Angeles Newspaper Group

Cancellations are the bane of concertgoers and (often) of presenters, as well. Sometimes reasonable reasons — illness, injury — are among the causes. Recently we have seen a couple of singers cancel because they’ve decided — belatedly — that the role doesn’t fit their voice or long-term plans.

Unfortunately, two recent cancellations would seem to go beyond the pale.

Mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli has cancelled her recitals on March 21 and 26 at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica and on March 23 at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. The thoroughly useless, albeit mysterious, reason given by the presenting company was “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

Ticketholders for The Broad Stage recitals will be notified by box office and will receive credit towards future performances or a refund. For more information, contact The Broad Stage box office at 310/434-3200, Mondays through Fridays, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Ticketholders for the Segerstrom Hall recital will be notified by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County’s Patron Services Department to receive credit towards future performances or a refund. For more information, contact the Philharmonic Society at 949/553-2422, Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, The Seoul Philharmonic has cancelled its April tour to the United States that was going to include a stop at Walt Disney Concert Hall on April 15. The reason given by the L.A. Philharmonic was “due to a recent and significant cut in tour funding from the City of Seoul.”

However, Norman Lebrecht — in his Blog, “Slipped Disc” — reports that the reasons are far more nefarious, beginning with the dismissal of the orchestra’s Chief Executive Officer Park Hyun-jun, on grounds of sexual harassment. You can read his reports HERE and HERE (on the first post follow the embedded links for more information).

The tour from April 14-24, which was to bring Music Director Myung Whun Chung back to the city where he was once assistant conductor of the LAPO, had also planned stops in Santa Barbara, Davis, San Francisco, Seattle, Ann Arbor and Chicago.

Tickets will be refunded using the original payment method, says the LAPO. For further details or questions, call 323/850.2000 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
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(c) Copyright 2015, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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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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