AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Major concerts on calendar during next fortnight

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

This article was first
published today in the above papers.

 

Four major concerts occur in our region during the next
fortnight — and that doesn’t count the final two events of the Piatigorsky
International Cello Festival at Walt Disney Concert Hall: a 2 p.m. concert by
the Los Angeles Philharmonic, featuring cellist Alisa Weilerstein (LINK), and a
7:30 p.m. recital by 110 (!) cellists that will wind up the nine-day-long
festivities (LINK).

 

Also on today’s agenda is the final “LA Phil Live” movie
theater telecast: the season-opening all-Gershwin concert with Gustavo Dudamel
conducting and legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock as soloist in Rhapsody in Blue. (LINK)

 

And then comes:

 

MUSE-IQUE ON MARCH
19 AT PASADENA CIVIC AUDITORIUM

Rachael Worby begins this group’s second season with a
typically cheeky program entitled “Ebony Meets Ivory.” Six pianists, including
the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Joanne Pearce Martin, will perform on three
Steinway pianos in a program that ranges from Baroque to jazz, rap to classical
(Moonlight Sonata), and the spoken
word. The program takes place on stage — literally — as both performers and the
audience will be on the stage and a loading bay of the Pasadena Civic
Auditorium. This is the first of seven performances on Muse-ique’s 2012 season.
Information: muse-ique.com

 

LOS ANGELES CHAMBER
ORCHESTRA ON MARCH 24 (Alex Theatre, Glendale) AND MARCH 25 (Royce Hall, UCLA)

Music Director Jeffrey Kahane leads his ensemble and
pianist-composer Timothy Andres in the world premiere of Old Keys, the latest installment in LACO’s “Sound Investment”
commissioning program. Also on the concert is the West Coast premiere of
Andres’ “reconstruction” of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 26, K. 531 (Coronation). Mozart wrote only a few
measures for the left hand of this work although the first published edition
was complete, possibly from Mozart’s publisher. In this new version, Andres has
replaced those left-hand sketches with his own creation; how this “mash-up”
works will be part of the concert’s intrigue. Information: www.laco.org

 

PASADENA SYMPHONY
ON MARCH 31 AT AMBASSADOR AUDITORIUM

Nicholas McGegan, known worldwide as one of the premiere
interpreters of Baroque music, takes on a larger task as he leads concerts at 2
p.m. and 8 p.m. in Ambassador Auditorium that conclude with Beethoven’s
Symphony No. 3 (Eroica). Prior to
intermission, Armenian pianist Nareh Arghamanyan will be the soloist in
Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466. Information:
www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org

 

LOS ANGELES MASTER
CHORALE AND MUSICA ANGELICA ON MARCH 31 AND APRIL 1 AT WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL

LAMC Music Director Grant Gershon conducts 40 singers of his
Chorale, soloists and one of the nation’s premiere period-instrument ensembles
in the first performances of Bach’s St.
John Passion
to be played at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Information: www.lamc.org

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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Thoughts on the L.A. Philharmonic’s Mahler 8 telecast

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

At the exact time that the Los Angeles Philharmonic was
telecasting its performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 into movie theaters
across the U.S., Canada and South America, I was singing in a memorial service
for Robert Prichard, an old friend and former organist/music director at
Pasadena Presbyterian Church.

 

However, for the first times in the two years that the
orchestra has presented its “LA Phil LIVE” series, it offered an “encore”
performance last night. One thing we learned is that Mahler — and Gustavo
Dudamel — sells. The Alhambra Renaissance Stadium 14, where I always attend
these telecasts, was about full — a larger crowd than for any of the other
LAPO telecasts I’ve attended there — and I’m told that the Feb. 18 telecast was
completely full.

 

Following are some random thoughts from last night’s
viewing:

Prior to the 7 p.m. start time, there was a series of
interesting questions/answers: among other things we learned: there were 12
nationalities represented on stage; the Phil flew 3,613 miles from L.A. to
Caracas; “El Sistema,” the Venezuelan music system that nurtured Dudamel now
has 31 orchestras and 125 youth orchestras, serving about 250,000 children and
adults.

The 1,200 or so choristers had to stand for more nearly 2
hours from the time they got on stage until the final salvos of applause.

The choir looked like it was all young people. The
so-called “children’s choir” (the youngest, treble voices) sang their parts
from memory (I believe that was the case in Los Angeles, as well).

The preconcert introductory part, hosted by a gushing John
Lithgow, ran 40 minutes, and was mostly interesting. As is always the case in
these telecasts, the rehearsal footage with Dudamel rehearsing the LAPO and
Simn Bolivr Symphony Orchestra together in Walt Disney Concert Hall was
fascinating, with Dudamel alternating between English and Spanish as he talked
to the combined ensembles.

Including a 19-minute intermission before the actual
performance, the entire evening ran 2:45.

Dudamel called Symphony No. 8′s second movement “Wagnerian
Mahler.”

In response to a question about “El Sistema,” we learned
that although the cream rises to the top in the orchestra hierarchy, no one
“flushes out” of the system — if you want to keep playing, you can do so.
Lithgow didn’t follow up to find out exactly how this works.

The mob scene of singers and instrumentalists was so huge
(the wide-angle shots were jaw-dropping) that Dudamel had to mount several
steps to reach the podium floor. As was the case at the Shrine performance, he
conducted the piece with a score.

The sound in the theatre got better as the performance
went along. It still doesn’t equal a live performance but, as at the Shrine,
the climactic sections of both parts made a mighty noise! Recording technology
certainly made the soloists sound better than at the Shrine Auditorium
performance and we heard many details that didn’t emerge clearly at the Shrine.

Dudamel seemed more relaxed in the Caracas performance,
emphasizing grandeur whenever possible. At the end, he also seemed more
exhilarated; in L.A. he was absolutely spent.

Even for me, that’s enough Mahler for a while!

The final “LA PHIL” telecast is March 18 at 2 p.m. (PDT)
as Dudamel conducts the Phil in the all-Gershwin program that was the
2011-2012′s opening gala last October. A truncated version of this program was
telecast on PBS but that left out quite a bit from the actual concert. Herbie
Hancock will be the soloist in Rhapsody
in Blue.
Info: www.laphillive.com

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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NEWS: L.A. Phil LIVE announces third telecast — March 18

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

When the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced its 2011-2012
“LA Phil LIVE” movie theater telecast schedule, the final telecast of the
troika was left as TBD. Now comes word that the “LIVE” portion of the title
will need to be taken with a grain of salt because the telecast — on Sunday,
March 18 at 2 p.m. (PST) — will be a showing of the gala concert that opened
the 2011-2012 Walt Disney Concert Hall season.

 

Gustavo Dudamel leads the L.A. Phil in an all-Gershwin
program includes An American in Paris and
Rhapsody in Blue. Noted jazz pianist
Herbie Hancock was the soloist in the Rhapsody
and also played improvisations on two Gershwin songs, Embraceable You and Someone
to Watch Over Me.
Unlike the truncated “Great Performances” television
broadcast last Friday, this in-movie theater telecast will feature the entire
concert, including the Cuban Overture
and both improvs, along a segment from Hancock’s home where he will talk about
his improv process.

 

The complete L.A. Phil media release follows:

 

LOS ANGELES
PHILHARMONIC PRESENTS

ALL-GERSHWIN CONCERT
EVENT FEATURING GRAMMY AWARD WINNER HERBIE HANCOCK

IN MOVIE THEATERS
THIS MARCH

 

February Brings
Performance Broadcast Live from Caracas, Venezuela,

Featuring Mahler 8,
“Symphony of a Thousand,” with more than 1,000 Musicians

on Stage Led by
Gustavo Dudamel and Hosted by John Lithgow

 

LA Phil LIVE is Made
Possible with the Proud Support of Rolex

 

Los Angeles & Centennial, Colo. – January 10, 2012 – The
Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil) and NCM Fathom announced today the third and
final performance of the LA Phil LIVE
second season featuring world-renowned Music Director Gustavo Dudamel and the
LA Phil with jazz legend Herbie Hancock for a celebration of quintessential
American composer George Gershwin on Sunday, March 18 at 2 p.m. Pacific / 5
p.m. Eastern. LA Phil LIVE:
Gustavo Dudamel and Herbie Hancock Celebrate Gershwin
, pre-recorded
from the LA Phil’s 2011-12 season Opening Night Concert at Walt Disney Concert
Hall, includes some of the composer’s best-loved works including the Cuban Overture, An American in Paris,
and Rhapsody in Blue, as well as
intimate solo improvisations by Hancock on Embraceable
You
and Someone to Watch Over Me.
The event also features exclusive footage of Hancock – the LA Phil’s Creative
Chair for Jazz – in his home, playing Gershwin and providing insights into his
improvisational process.

 

Tickets for LA Phil LIVE in-theater events are available at
participating U.S. theater box offices and online at www.fathomevents.com. For a complete list
of theater locations and ticket prices, please visit the website (theaters and
participants are subject to change). LA Phil LIVE will be shown in select movie
theaters through NCM’s exclusive Digital
Broadcast Network
.

 

 

LA Phil LIVE’s second performance of the season, LA Phil
LIVE: Dudamel conducts Mahler 8, “Symphony of a Thousand,” on Saturday,
February 18 at 2 p.m. Pacific / 5 p.m. Eastern will offer a never-before-seen
live broadcast from Caracas, Venezuela, featuring Dudamel leading the two
organizations that have been so prominent in his life, the LA Phil and the
Simn Bolvar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela in a dynamic performance of
Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, “Symphony of a Thousand.” The live broadcast
will be hosted by award-winning actor John Lithgow, who hosted his first LA
Phil LIVE performance in June 2011. Multiple soloists and choruses will also be
part of the performance. This exceptional presentation is the climactic
performance of The Mahler Project – one of the pillars of the LA Phil’s season
- which features Mahler’s complete symphonic cycle presented in both Los
Angeles and Caracas.

 

“This is a special moment for me, especially since the Los
Angeles Philharmonic coming to Venezuela is a beautiful homage to El Sistema,”
said Dudamel. “Bringing one of the world’s best orchestras together with the
Simn Bolvar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, a symbol of El Sistema, sends a
message of hope for the musical youth of the country. Playing the Mahler 8th
Symphony together will be historic.”

 

Fathom and the LA Phil will present an encore of LA Phil
LIVE: Dudamel conducts Mahler 8, “Symphony of a Thousand,” in select theaters
on Wednesday, February 29, at 7 p.m. local time.

 

“The LA Phil LIVE concert from Caracas will mark the first
time that we have broadcast live to cinemas from anywhere except Walt Disney Concert
Hall,” said LA Phil President and CEO Deborah Borda. “For this extraordinary
event, we’ll see Gustavo Dudamel in his home town, leading his two musical
families in a performance of Mahler’s legendary ‘Symphony of a Thousand.’ It
promises to be a momentous occasion. The final broadcast for this season will
be the transmission of our Opening Night Gala featuring soloist Herbie Hancock,
at Walt Disney Concert Hall, from last October. We are both thrilled and
honored to be able to share these remarkable concerts with viewers across North
America.”

 

LA Phil LIVE offers an enriching and unique concert
experience in which the orchestra’s performance is broadcast to theaters in
high definition and 5.1 digital surround sound, featuring top talent and
behind-the-scenes segments. Led by vibrant Dudamel, the LA Phil LIVE series
transports audiences to the conductor’s podium and places them inside the
music. Each broadcast includes an insider’s look via the Backstage Pass feature
with live behind-the-scenes interviews with Dudamel, soloists and LA Phil
musicians and exclusive rehearsal footage.

 

“The in-theater event on February 18 will transport
audiences to Caracas to see the spectacle of 1,000 musicians performing
together in this amazing performance,” said Dan Diamond, senior vice president
of NCM Fathom. “And fans of Gershwin won’t want to miss this must-see event
featuring Oscar and Grammy-award-winning musician Herbie Hancock this
March.  Seeing Gustavo Dudamel bring symphony to life on the silver screen
is an experience fans have to see to believe.”

 

The LA Phil is offering fans an opportunity to win a chance
to see Dudamel perform live at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles in May,
2012. One grand prize winner, chosen at random, will receive two tickets to a
Los Angeles Philharmonic performance with Gustavo Dudamel, a two-night hotel
stay and free round-trip airfare for two, along with LA Phil merchandise. For
contest details and entry requirements, please visit LAPhil.com/win.

 

# # #

 

About National CineMedia
(NCM)

NCM
operates NCM Media Networks, a leading integrated media company reaching U.S.
consumers in movie theaters, online and through mobile technology.  The NCM Cinema Network and NCM Fathom present cinema
advertising and events across the nation’s largest digital in-theater network,
comprised of theaters owned by AMC Entertainment Inc., Cinemark Holdings, Inc.
(NYSE: CNK), Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) and other leading regional
theater circuits. NCM’s theater advertising network covers 176 Designated
Market Areas (49 of the top 50) and includes over 18,300 screens (17,300
digital). During 2010, approximately 700 million patrons attended movies shown
in theaters in which NCM currently has exclusive, cinema advertising agreements
in place.  The NCM Fathom
Events
broadcast network is comprised of nearly 700 locations in 165
Designated Market Areas (all of the top 50). The NCM
Interactive Network
offers 360-degree integrated marketing
opportunities in combination with cinema, encompassing 42 entertainment-related
websites, online widgets and mobile applications.  National CineMedia,
Inc. (NASDAQ: NCMI) owns a 48.7% interest in and is the managing member of
National CineMedia LLC. For more information, visit www.ncm.com
or www.FathomEvents.com.

 

About the Los Angeles
Philharmonic Association

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under the vibrant
leadership of Gustavo Dudamel, presents the finest in orchestral and chamber music,
recitals, new music, jazz, world music and holiday concerts at two of the most
remarkable locations anywhere to experience music – Walt Disney Concert Hall
and the Hollywood Bowl. In addition to a 30-week winter subscription season at
Walt Disney Concert Hall, the LA Phil presents a 12-week summer festival at the
legendary Hollywood Bowl, summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and home
of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. In fulfilling its commitment to the community,
the Association’s involvement with Los Angeles extends to educational concerts,
children’s programming and community concerts, ever seeking to provide
inspiration and delight to the broadest possible audience. For more
information, visit www.laphil.com/LAPhilLive.

_______________________

 

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

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Five-Spot: What caught my eye on January 5, 2012

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

______________________

 

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). Here’s today’s grouping:

______________________

 

Today at 8 p.m., Tomorrow
at 11 a.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles
Philharmonic

Miguel-Harth Bedoya,
conductor; Jean-Yves Thibaudet, pianist

The L.A. Phil swings back into action with a program of 19th
century music that includes Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Saint-Sans
Symphony No. 3 (Organ). My preview
article on the concert is HERE. Information:
www.laphil.com

  

Friday at 8 p.m. at
Alan Goldman’s Mt. Washington Performance Space

Piano Theater:
Elizabeth and Soya Schumann

Both of these pianists have won competitions and Elizabeth
Schumann received a Gilmore Award so their credentials seem well
established.  The program includes
Saint-Sans Carnival of the Animals. I
have no idea what the performance space is but it sounds intriguing. The duo
has other Southland performances listed on the flyer. Information: www.palosverdes.com

 

Saturday at 7:30
p.m. at San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

Beethoven’s Symphony
No. 9

New Year’s celebrations mean Strauss waltzes in Vienna and Auld Lang Syne in NYC’s Times Square,
but in Japan it means hundreds of performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
Jeffrey Bernstein hopes to recreate the magic by joining his Pasadena Master
Chorale with the Los Angeles Daiku Orchestra (“The Japanese word ‘daiku’
is translated literally as ‘the great nine’ and often refers to Beethoven’s 9th,”
says Bernstein) for a performance of this most famous of symphonies. BTW: you
may know the venue as the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium; it’s been renamed. Information: www.pasadenamasterchorale.org

 

Ongoing at Geffen
Playhouse, Westwood

Red Hot Patriot: The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins

This 75-minute performance by Kathleen Turner includes many
of the famous stories and lines that made the late, legendary, liberal
newspaper columnist beloved of those whose political bent leans to the left. If
you’re of that persuasion and don’t know who the saucy, bawdy Texan was (she
died in 2007), it’s a chance to see what you missed for decades. If you’re a
Republican who loved Ronald Reagan and George Bush (Sr. and “Shrub,” as Ivins
termed George W.), you won’t appreciate it nearly as much. The show runs
through Feb. 12. Information: www.geffenplayhouse.com

 

And the weekend’s “free admission” program …

 

Friday at 9 p.m.
and Sunday at 11 p.m. on PBSSoCal (formerly KOCE) television

Los Angeles
Philharmonic Gala Concert

This “Great Performances” telecast features the L.A. Phil’s
gala concert that opened the 2011-2012 Disney Hall season last September. The
program is all-Gershwin: An American in
Paris
and Rhapsody in Blue, with
jazz legend Herbie Hancock as the soloist. The TV schedule says that the
program will also include one of the two improvisations on Gershwin tunes (Someone to Watch Over Me) that Hancock
performed in September. Apparently the one-hour telecast will not include the Cuban Overture that opened the gala or
the other improv (Embraceable You)
that Hancock played that night. Information:
www.pbs.org

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

 

 

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Cleaning out the inbox, checking out other Blogs, etc.

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

ON THE SMALL SCREEN

Orchestral music gets a healthy dose of television
prime-time exposure during the next week with three major programs scheduled on
some local public broadcast stations. They’ll also be streamed on the Web after
the telecasts.

 

At 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, PBSSoCal (formerly KOCE), will
telecast the “Live from Lincoln Center” New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve
concert, which features music by George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein under
the baton of Music Director Alan Gilbert. Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will be
the soloist in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in
Blue
and Concerto in F. The orchestra will also play Bernstein’s Candide Overture and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Information: www.pbs.org

 

BTW: Thibaudet will join with the Los Angeles Philharmonic
at Walt Disney Concert Hall on January 5, 6, 7 and 8 as soloist in Liszt’s
Piano Concerto No. 2. Former LAPO Associate Conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya will
also lead Dvorak’s Hussite Overture
and Saint-Sans’ Symphony No. 3 (Organ). There’s
an interesting tie, as John Henken writes in his program note for the symphony.
Saint-Sans dedicated the piece (which, in addition to its organ part, is
scored for piano four-hands) to Liszt, who died in 1886, the year the symphony
was composed. Information: www.laphil.com

 

On January 1 at 6 p.m., PBSSoCal will air the “Great Performances”
telecast of the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Concert. Mariss Jansons
will lead the orchestra in the city’s famed Musikverein with a frothy program
of music by the Strausses (Johann, Johann Sr. and Edward), Tchaikovsky and
others. Julie Andrews will be the host. Information
(with the complete program listing):
www.pbs.org

 

PBSSoCal comes back on January 6 at 9 p.m. with a “Great
Performances” telecast of the L.A. Phil’s gala concert that opened the
2011-2012 Disney Hall season last September. The program is all-Gershwin: An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue, with jazz legend
Herbie Hancock as the soloist. The TV schedule says that the program will also
include one of the two improvisations on Gershwin tunes (Someone to Watch Over Me) that Hancock performed in September.
Apparently the one-hour telecast will not include the Cuban Overture that opened the gala or the other improv (Embraceable You) that Hancock played
that night. Information: www.pbs.org

  

Following the concert telecast, PBSSoCal will repeat an
interview between Tavis Smiley and Dudamel.

 

DUDAMEL ON VINYL?

Norman Lebrecht is reporting on his Blog, Slipped Disc, (LINK) that Gustavo
Dudamel’s next recording on the Deutsche Grammophon label will be a vinyl
pressing, scheduled for release in May, of the Venezuelan maestro conducting
the Vienna Philharmonic as it plays Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 (Scottish. It should also be noted that
neither DGG nor Dudamel have officially commented on the subject (at least that
I can find).

 

In Lebrecht’s comment section, there are predictably joyous
reactions from those who love vinyl recordings as opposed to CDs, although as
some responders point out there are questions as to the recording format to be
used. I wonder (a) are there enough vinyl lovers in the world to make this
commercially viable or will be there also be CD and iTunes versions available;
(b) how many people can really tell the difference in recording formats; and
(c) if they can, will they be willing to invest in the high-quality equipment
necessary to make the difference audible? (My answers are “I doubt it,”
“relatively few,” and “I can’t afford it.”). Stay tuned … so to speak.

 

The thing that interested me about this recording is that
the Scottish Symphony will (if you
judge by the cover Lebrecht posted) be the only piece on the LP. When Dudamel
and the L.A. Phil played it last October, the symphony clocked in at about 40
minutes, which seems pretty short for a record.

 

ANNE MIDGETTE

Anne is the Washington
Post’s
classical music critic and her Blog, The Classical Beat, is one of my favorite reads. However, her last
Blog post was Nov. 1 and I wondered whether that newspaper had joined the list of publications to deep-six their classical
music reviews or whether she was ill. Neither, fortunately, is the case. She’s
on maternity leave and will be back on the “beat” in mid-January. Good for her
and for us, too.

 

WYNTON MARSALIS

This isn’t exactly news — CBS News released it on Dec. 15 –
but I’m not on its distribution list so I just caught up with it via a post on
Peter Dobrin’s Blog (LINK). Trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis has been
named Cultural Correspondent for CBS News, appearing on CBS This Morning and CBS
Sunday Morning.
His first CBS News gig will be on Monday, Jan. 16 (natch) –
the day that the nation observes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. A link
to the media release is HERE.

_______________________

 

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

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