NEWS: Boston-Leipzig orchestra partnership — one off or the start of a trend?

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

The Boston Symphony and Lepizig Gewandhaus Orchestra have announced a five-year program of exchanges between the two orchestras, both of which have Andris Nelsons as their music director. See the New York Times article HERE. The question is, “Is this a one-off sort of relationship or could it be the start of something bigger?”

The article doesn’t make it clear whether either of the orchestra’s audiences will actually hear their music director more, only that the musicians will apparently benefit from more contact with their leader and the audiences will get to hear both orchestras during the same season. It will be cool for the Bostonians to be able to play in the Thomaskirche, where Bach was once organist and music director, and — presumably — will enjoy spending part of their summer at Tanglewood, the BSO’s summer home in the Berkshires.

In today’s world, music directors often direct 1/3 of their orchestra’s subscription concerts or less, and they often lead more than one orchestra.

For example, next season Gustavo Dudamel will conduct 12 of the orchestra’s subscription 31 weeks of subscription concerts Disney Hall. The number of performances is actually a bit more because several weeks have multiple programs. Moreover, Dudamel is leading an opening gala concert, taking the orchestra on its annual tour, and will conduct three of the 10 weeks of classical concerts during the summer Hollywood Bowl season.

In addition to the L.A. Phil, Dudamel is music director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the flagship ensemble of Venezuela’s El Sistema music education program. When Dudamel conducted all of the Mahler symphonies several years ago, both orchestras played — sometimes separately and together for the Symphony No. 8 — and the festival was held both in Los Angeles and Caracas.

However, the extent of the Boston-Leipzig sharing is unique. Part of what makes it possible is that both ensembles are traditionally thought of as among the world’s best. It would be interesting to see whether other orchestras will try to adapt something similar. Could, for example, the New York and Hong Kong Philharmonics, both of whom will be led by Jaap von Zweden beginning next year, adopt a similar policy? We may need to see how the five years plays out in Boston and Leipzig to have a better understanding.

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

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Five-Spot: What caught my eye on December 8, 2011

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily



Each Thursday morning, I list five events that pique my
interest, including (ideally) at least one with free admission (or, at a minimum,
inexpensive tickets). This weekend offers a plethora of opportunities, so
there’s more than five listed.



Tonight and
tomorrow at 8 p.m. Sunday at 2 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles
Philharmonic; Thomas Wilkins, conductor

The Getty Museum has spearheaded a major collection of
events under the umbrella of “Pacific Standard Time” and these concerts are the L.A. Phil’s contribution. Wilkins, who
is principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, leads a program of
music ranging from Eric Wolfgang Korngold to John Williams. Zull Bailey will be
the soloist in Korngold’s Cello Concerto (which was featured in the Bette Davis
film, Deception). This is a rare
opportunity to hear movie music played in the wonderful Disney Hall acoustics. Info:


Friday at 8 p.m.
Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Pasadena Playhouse

Opera Posse: Amahl and the Night Visitors

Opera Posse picks up from the now-shuttered Intimate Opera
Pasadena in presenting this familiar one-act opera, written by Gian Carlo
Menotti in 1951 for NBC television. Last year’s presentation was one of the
season’s highlights and this year’s production features most of the artists who
brought it to life, including Director Stephanie Vlahos and set designer John
Iacovelli. The cast includes noted mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzmn as the mother
and Caleb Glickman in the title role. As was the case last year, actor Malcolm
McDowell will intro the opera by reading Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Michelle J. Mills’ article in last
week’s Star-News is HERE. Concert Info:


Saturday at 8 p.m.
at Alex Theater (Glendale); Sunday at 7 p.m. at Royce Hall (UCLA)

Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra; Jeffrey Kahane, conductor

Kahane returns to the LACO podium to lead a program that
includes music by Ravel, Respighi and Thomas Ades. Cellist Ralph Kirshbaum will
be the soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Variations
on a Rococo Theme.
This is the first of two major appearances by Kirshbaum
this season; he will also be on a Los Angeles Philharmonic program March 15
playing the Dvorak Cello Concerto as part of the Piatagorsky International
Cello Festival (LINK). LACO info:


Saturday at 8 p.m. at
Walt Disney Concert Hall

Boston Symphony
Orchestra; Ludovic Morlot, conductor

The famed BSO makes its first Los Angeles appearance in 20
years bringing a program of music by John Harbison, Ravel and Brahms. Gil
Shaham will be the soloist in Brahms’ Violin Concerto. It’s also a chance to
take the measure of Morlot, who took over the season as music director of the
Seattle Symphony from retiring Gerard Schwarz and may be a candidate to succeed
James Levine as the BSO’s music director. Info:


Handel’s Messiah

There are several opportunities this season to partake of
this ultra-familiar but still beloved oratorio that tells the story of the life
of Jesus Christ. A (not complete) list includes:


Saturday at 7:30
p.m. at First United Methodist Church, Pasadena

Angeles Chorale and Da Capo Players Chamber Orchestra,
conducted by Donald Neuen. Info:


Sunday at 3 p.m. at
Segerstrom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa

Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale; Christian Knapp,
conducting. Info:


Monday at 7:30 p.m.
at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles Master Chorale “Messiah Sing-Along.” If you’ve never done one of these, it’s a
fantastic way to experience this famous work. The audience joins with the
Master Chorale in the choruses — or you can just listen and be surrounded by
sound. Bring your own score or buy one for $10. Info:


Tuesday and
Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Philharmonia Baroque and Philharmonia Chorale; Nicholas
McGegan, conductor. Info:


And the weekend’s “free admission” program …


Saturday at 7:30
p.m. at Pasadena Presbyterian Church

annual Candlelight and Carols Concert

All of the church’s choirs participate in this annual event,
which also features plenty of audience caroling. The featured work on the
program is Veni Emmanuel by local
composer Elizabeth Ann Sellers, with the Kirk Choir and Friends of Music
Orchestra conducted by Timothy Howard. (Full disclosure: I sing in two of the
choirs participating.) Information:



(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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