FIVE-SPOT: April 20-23, 2017

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

Each week about this time I list five (more or less) classical-music programs in Southern California (more or less) during the next seven days (more or less) that might be worth attending. Once again, Saturday will be a VERY busy day.

APRIL 20, 22, 23: LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC
8 p.m. April 20 and 22; 2 p.m. April 23
at Walt Disney Concert Hall; Los Angeles
David Robertson, music director of the St. Louis Symphony, returns “home” (he’s a Santa Monica native) to lead the Phil in a program that features the west coast premiere of Christopher Rouse’s Organ Concerto, with Paul Jacobs as soloist. The concerto is bookended by Charles Ives’ Three Places in New England and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 (“from the New World”). The Rouse concerto, a L.A. Phil co-commission, debuted last fall in Philadelphia.

BONUS: Disney Hall is easily reachable (at least if you’re not mobility challenged) via Metro’s Red and Purple Lines. Exit at the 1st and Hill St. side of the Civic Center/Grand Park station and walk up two steep blocks to reach the hall.

Information: www.laphil.com

APRIL 21: HIGH SCHOOL CHORAL FESTIVAL
1 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall; Los Angeles (see “Additional Concert” below)
1,000 high school students from 30 Southland schools can be heard in a free concert when the Los Angeles Master Chorale presents the 28th Annual High School Choir Festival. The Festival choir will be led by LAMC Artistic Director Grant Gershon in a varied program that features works by this year’s guest artist singer/composer Moira Smiley. Smiley will also teach the massive choir body percussion to accompany one of her songs.

BONUS: Free admission, first come, first served (which means it’s a great — and cost effective — opportunity to hear choral music in Disney Hall).

ADDITIONAL CONCERT: Assistant conductor Jenny Wong will lead 16 members of the Chorale in a concert at 11 a.m. This one is also free but tickets must be arranged through the Master Chorale Web Site (see below).

Disney Hall is easily reachable (at least if you’re not mobility challenged) via Metro’s Red and Purple Lines. Exit at the 1st and Hill St. side of the Civic Center/Grand Park station and walk up two steep blocks to reach the hall.

Information: www.lamasterchorale.org

APRIL 21: THE COLBURN ORCHESTRA
7 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall; Los Angeles
Guest Conductor Christian Arming (music director of the Liège Royal Philharmonic) leads this top-notch conservatory orchestra in a program that features a collection of songs by Irving Berlin sung by tenor Joshua Wheeker and danced by The Colburn Dance Academy. The songs are bookended by Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to Candide and a suite from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet.

BONUS: This concert is part of the L.A. Phil’s “Sounds About Town” series, which means that tickets are very reasonably priced ($15-$44). So, if you’ve never heard a concert in Disney Hall, this is a great opportunity.

Disney Hall is easily reachable (at least if you’re not mobility challenged) via Metro’s Red and Purple Lines. Exit at the 1st and Hill St. side of the Civic Center/Grand Park station and walk up two steep blocks to reach the hall.

Information: www.laphil.com

APRIL 21: “WEST SIDE STORY”
8 p.m. at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts; La Mirada
The McCoy-Rigby mounting of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, his iconic retelling of Romeo and Juliet, moves to La Mirada for an extended run that lasts through May 14.

BONUS: Nice ticket prices: $14-$70.

Information: lamirdadatheatre.com

APRIL 22 AND 23: LOS ANGELES CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
8 p.m. April 22 at Alex Theatre; Glendale
7 p.m. April 23 at Royce Hall, UCLA; Westwood
In his penultimate concert as LACO Music Director, Jeffrey Kahane leads the orchestra, soloists and members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

Information: www.laco.org

APRIL 22: BACH’S “GOLDBERG VARIATIONS”
3 p.m. at The Huntington Library; San Marino
Harpsichordist Paolo Bordignon will play one of Bach’s most famous keyboard works as part of Camerata Pacifica’s 27th season.

Information: www.cameratapacifica.org

APRIL 22: AMERICAN YOUTH SYMPHONY
6 p.m. at Royce Hall, UCLA; Westwood
Music Director Carlos Izcaray leads his young musicians in a performance of Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, and Korngold’s Violin Concerto, with Rachel Ostler as soloist.

BONUS: Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance (the concert is nearly sold out). The concert is followed by a ticketed gala dinner; reservations are required.

Information: aysymphony.org

APRIL 22: PUCCINI’S “TOSCA”
7:30 p.m. at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; Los Angeles
Sondra Radvanovsky returns to L.A. to reprise her role in Puccini’s tear jerker. James Conlon conducts and John Caird oversees his original LA Opera staging. Other performances are April 27, May 2, 5 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and April 30 and May 7 at 2 p.m.

BONUS: The Pavilion is easily reachable (at least if you’re not mobility challenged) via Metro’s Red and Purple Lines. Exit at the Temple St. side of the Civic Center/Grand Park station, walk north to Temple and then west up two steep blocks to reach the hall.

Information: www.laopera.org

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

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REVIEW: “Into the Woods” continues to work its magical spell

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

I’m by no means an expert on musical theater but those I like I tend to see multiple times (the same is true of certain books and movies, and I’ve seen most M*A*S*H episodes enough times to be able to double the soundtracks). Some of the reasons are pure enjoyment but I also find that multiple viewings allows me to experience different levels of thinking inherent in whatever it is that I’m viewing.

Thus I saw Into the Woods Saturday for the third time. I first experienced it during its original Broadway run in New York City and then saw it again at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles a few years later. It’s back at the Ahmanson again, but this version by the wonderfully named Fiasco Productions is quite different from the original and light years away from the 2014 Disney movie.

Five things I think I think (with apologies to Peter King of SI.com, who runs “10 Things I Think I Think” in his weekly “Monday Morning QB” column …)

1. The play, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and the book by James Lapine, continues to be as fresh and thought provoking as when it first opened. The mashup idea (merging several familiar fairy tales with one, the Baker and his wife, invented by Lapine) was a stroke of genius.
2. The concept of Act I being “they lived happily ever after” and Act II being the consequences of the characters’ actions was particularly effective in this rendition (although that might have resulted from my multiple viewings). The shift is stark enough that one of the characters reminded the audience before the performance began to be sure to come back for the second act.
3. The Fiasco Productions concept was highly inventive, with many of the 11 performers playing multiple parts and several also playing different instruments throughout the performance.
4. The cast was uniformly exuberant and strong. Darick Pead earned the biggest laughs for his portrayal of Milky White and Evan Rees gets special plaudits for his work on the piano (which is onstage during the production).
5. I was amazed at how many young children were in the audience Saturday afternoon. I’m not sure this is really a work for young children (teenagers, yes) but it’s great for them to at least be exposed to a major musical theater work in such an excellent production.

Information:
Into the Woods runs through May 14 at the Ahmanson. Information HERE.
• You may be able to find discounted tickets through Goldstar HERE.
• The Ahmanson is easily reachable (at least if you’re not mobility challenged) via Metro’s Red and Purple Lines. Exit at the Temple St. side of the Civic Center/Grand Park station, walk north to Temple and then and walk up two blocks to reach the hall.
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(c) Copyright 2017, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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FIVE-SPOT: April 14-18, 2007

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

Each week about this time I list five (more or less) classical-music programs in Southern California (more or less) during the next seven days (more or less) that might be worth attending.

APRIL 13, 14 and 15: L.A. PHIL’S “REYKJAVIK FESTIVAL”
8:00 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall
The rock group Sigur Rós performs three different programs as part of this festival of music from Iceland. Former LAPO Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen (now the Phil’s Conductor Laureate) leads the orchestra.

BONUS: Disney Hall is easily reachable (at least if you’re not mobility challenged) via the Red and Purple Lines. Exit at the 1st and Hill St. side of the Civic Center/Grand Park station and walk up two steep blocks to reach the hall.

Information: www.laphil.org

APRIL 14: MOZART REQUIEM & SOLEMN VESPERS
7:30 p.m. at Pasadena Presbyterian Church, Pasadena
In the 20th edition of PPC’s annual Good Friday Devotional Concert, Dr. Timothy Howard leads the church’s Kirk Choir; Pasadena Singers; soloists Judith Siirila Paskowitz, soprano, Bonnie Snell Schindler, alto, Jonathan Mack, tenor, and Michal Dawson Connor, bass; and the Friends of Music Orchestra in two of Mozart’s best-loved choral works.

BONUS: Free admission (freewill offering).

Information: www.ppcmusic.org

APRIL 14: STAINER’S “THE CRUCIFIXION”
7:30 p.m. at Church of Our Saviour, San Gabriel
Phillip Smith leads the church’s choir; soloists Stephen Salts, bass, Phil Gold, tenor, and Bryan Dyer, narrator; along with guest organist Joseph Peeples in a work that is rarely performed these days but lies dusty in most church choirs’ libraries.

BONUS: Free admission (freewill offering).

Information: www.churchofoursaviour.org

APRIL 14: FESTIVAL M.A.R.S.
This 10-day festival throughout downtown Los Angeles includes music, art, fashion and dance. Musical groups include the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble (making its only local appearance of the year), composer/performer collective Ensemble Pamplemousse, and the newly-formed M.A.R.S. Collective. More details HERE.

Information: www.festivalmars.com

APRIL 18: BACH’S B-MINOR MASS
8:00 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles
Hans-Christoph Rademann leads the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, soloists and Gächinger Kantorei in this landmark of western classical music.

BONUS: Disney Hall is easily reachable (at least if you’re not mobility challenged) via the Red and Purple Lines. Exit at the 1st and Hill St. side of the Civic Center/Grand Park station and walk up two steep blocks to reach the hall.

Information: www.laphil.org
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(c) Copyright 2017, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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FIVE-SPOT: April 6-9, 2017

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

Each week about this time I list five (more or less) classical-music programs in Southern California (more or less) during the next seven days (more or less) that might be worth attending.

APRIL 6-8: PACIFIC SYMPHONY
8 p.m. at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa
Music Director Carl St.Clair leads the Pacific Symphony in the orchestra’s annual American Composers Festival, which this year features Peter Boyer’s Ellis Island: The Dream of America, along with John Adams’ The Darma at Big Sur and Frank Tichelli’s Blue Shades. Alan Chapman offers a preview one hour before each performance.

BONUS: The April 7 and 8 performances are being taped for a future broadcast on PBS’ “Great Performances” series. The Boyer piece will be played as a stand-alone program on April 9.

For an excellent preview by OC Register staff writer Paul Hodgins, click HERE.

Information: www.pacificsymphony.org

APRIL 6, 8 AND 9: LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC
8 p.m. on April 6. 2 p.m. on April 8 and 9
at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles
Former L.A. Phil Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen (now the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate) leads the Phil in an all-Sibelius program: Symphony Nos. 6 and 7; Finlandia; and Six Humoresques, Op. 89, with Principal Concertmaster Martin Chalifour as soloist.

BONUS: Disney Hall is easily reachable (at least if you’re not mobility challenged) via the Red and Purple Lines. Exit at the 1st and Hill St. side of the Civic Center/Grand Park station and walk up two steep blocks to reach the hall.

Information: www.laphil.org

APRIL 7-8: NEW WEST SYMPHONY
April 7 at 8 p.m. at Oxnard Performing Arts Center, Oxnard
April 8 at 8 p.m. at Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center, Thousand Oaks
Kynan Johns, the latest in a line of guest conductors vying to become the orchestra’s next music director, leads Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique; and Poulenc’s Gloria, with soprano So Young Park and the Cal Lutheran University Choral Ensembles.

Information: www.newwestsymphony.org

APRIL 9: “FEEL THE SPIRIT” — LCPC CHANCEL CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA
2 p.m. at La Cañada Presbyterian Church, La Cañada
Music Director Jack Lantz leads his choir and orchestra (each of which numbers 60 performers) in a concert of famous American hymns, songs and spirituals. Disclaimer: my wife and I sing in the choir, so feel free to take this recommendation with a grain of salt or a pound of salt, as the late, great Molly Ivins used to say.

Seven of the spirituals were arranged by English composer John Rutter, who is far better known for his Christmas carol settings, but these arrangements are a winner!

BONUS: Free Admission (freewill offering with a suggested donation of $20; everyone who donates any amount and fills out a form will receive a CD of the concert later).

Information: www.lacanadapc.org

APRIL 9: CALDER QUARTET
4 p.m. at The Broad Stage, Santa Monica
The Broad’s Artists-in-Residence play Beethoven’s String Quartets Nos. 2, Op. 18, No. 2 and 8, Op. 59, No. 2, and the world premiere of Andrew McIntosh’s wrestle, stain, whistle and pound.

BONUS: The McIntosh piece is one of several that are being commissioned for this series, inspired by the Op. 59 quartets.

The Broad Stage can be reached via Metro’s Expo Line. Exit at the 17th St./SMCC station and it’s about a 10-minute walk from there.

Information: www.thebroadstage.com
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(c) Copyright 2017, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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PREVIEW: Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America” highlights Pacific Symphony’s American Composers Festival

Paul Hodgins of the Orange County Register has a fine interview with composer Peter Boyer, whose work Ellis Island: The Dream of America will be the centerpiece of the Pacific Symphony’s American Composers Festival April 6-8 at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. The concert is being taped for a future edition of PBS’ “Great Performnances” series, a first for the orchestra. Read his preview story HERE.

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