Five-Spot: What caught my eye on March 15, 2012

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

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Each Thursday, I list five events (six this week — it’s a
very busy weekend) that pique my interest, including (ideally) at least one
with free admission (or, at a minimum, inexpensive tickets). Here’s today’s grouping:

______________________

 

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

Los Angeles Philharmonic:
Piatigorsky International Cello Festival concludes

This nine-day celebration of the cello (named in honor the
legendary cellist and teacher Gregor Piatigorsky) concludes this weekend as
Neemi Jrvi conducts the Phil in programs with three different cellists.
Tonight it’s Ralph Kirshbaum, who will solo in the Dvorak Cello Concerto
(LINK). Saturday night Misha Maisky plays Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1
and a transcription of Lenski’s Aria from
Eugene Onegin (LINK). On Sunday,
Alisa Weilerstein takes center stage in Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme and Respighi’s Adagio con variazioni (LINK).
Each program begins with Dvorak’s Carnival
Overture
and concludes with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. Piatigorsky Festival Information: www.piatigorskyfestival.com

 

Saturday at 4 p.m.
at Whittier College

Chorale Bel Canto
sings Bach’s Mass in B Minor

Stephen Gothold directs his chorale (which is celebrating
its 30th anniversary this season), soloists and orchestra as it
concludes the 75th annual Whittier Bach Festival with a performance
of this monument of choral literature. Information:
www.choralebelcanto.org

 

Saturday at 8 p.m.
at Zipper Hall (The Colburn School)

Vox Femina

Iris Levine conducts her women’s chorale as it continues its
15th season and celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with a concert of music
from the British Isles and Ireland. Singer-composer Moira Smiley will be the
guest artist. Information: www.voxfeminala.org

Sunday at 2 p.m. at
local movie theatres

Los Angeles
Philharmonic; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor; Herbie Hancock, piano

No, the Phil has not mastered the trick of bifurcation. The
final event in this season’s “LA Phil LIVE” telecasts into movie theatres isn’t
live. Instead, it a recording of the all-Gershwin concert that opened the
2011-2012 season last October. This isn’t the truncated version that played on
PBS in December; it’s the entire concert. Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Phil in
rousing performances of Gershwin’s Cuban
Overture
and An American in Paris. Jazz
legend Herbie Hancock joins the orchestra as soloist in Rhapsody in Blue and also plays improvisations on two Gershwin
songs, Embraceable You and Someone to Watch Over Me. There will
also be an interview with Hancock in his home and the usual sort of rehearsal
footage shots that makes these telecasts must viewing, even if you saw the
original concert. Information: www.laphil.com

 

Monday at 7 p.m. at
Pasadena Civic Auditorum

Muse-ique: “Ebony
Meets Ivory”

Rachael Worby begins Muse-ique’s second season with the
first of four “Uncorked Events” featuring six pianists in music that’s all over
the lot. My preview story is HERE. Information:
muse-que.com

 

And the weekend’s
“free admission” program …

 

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

Pipe Organs Inspire
Inaugural Concert

Three Pasadena churches — First United Methodist, First
Church of Christ, Scientist, and Pasadena Presbyterian — are combining on this
series of three free concerts. The churches’ organists — Ae-Kyong Kim (FUMC),
David Wolfe (FCCS) and Timothy Howard (PPC) — will perform on all three
programs with music selected specifically for the instrument. Saturday’s
inaugural program will be played on FUMC’s E.M. Skinner Organ. Information: www.pipeorganlsinspire.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 AND LINK: L.A. Phil theatre telecast schedule expands to three South American countries … but not to Venezuela

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

The list of movie theaters showing the telecast of Mahler’s
Symphony No. 8 from Caracas, Venezuela on Saturday continues to grow. Gustavo
Dudamel will conduct the Los Angeleles Philharmonic, Simn Bolivr Symphony
Orchestra of Venezuela, eight soloists and more than 1,000 choristers in what
will indeed be “Symphony of More than 1,000.”

 

The telecast begins at 2 p.m. Pacific Time Saturday from the
Teatro Teresa Carreno in Caracas where both orchestras are currently
participating in a reprise of “The Mahler Project” held recently in Los
Angeles. In addition to theatres in the U.S. and Canada, Saturday’s performance
will be telecast live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with tape-delayed telecasts
following in Brazil and Columbia. Oddly enough, there are no telecasts yet
slated for Venezuela. An encore telecast will be shown in some U.S. theatres on
Feb. 29.

 

Information: www.laphil.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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STORY AND LINK: Will Dudamel interview himself Sunday?

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

In what may either turn out as one of dumbest moves in
recent memory, a stroke of genius or (most likely) somewhere in between, the
Los Angeles Philharmonic has announced that Gustavo Dudamel will both conduct
and host the first “LA Phil Live” telecast from Walt Disney Concert Hall to
400+ movies theaters across the U.S. and Canada on Sunday at 2 p.m. (PDT).

 

Each of last year’s three telecasts had a celebrity host,
who ranged in quality from so-so to competent. Apparently LAPO management
decided (either for financial reasons or because they think Gustavo can do a
better job himself) that it could do away with the outsider. It will be
interesting to see what changes will occur with the Venezuelan maestro having
to come off stage and then serve as host. Will he speak in both Spanish and
English? What will he use to replace someone interviewing him between pieces?

 

There is precedent of a sort, of course. A half century ago,
Leonard Bernstein both hosted and conducted his now-legendary “Young People’s
Concerts,” quite effectively, I might add.
Perhaps history will repeat itself. Nonetheless, while acknowledging that
hosting this sort of event isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, you’d
think that in the heart of the entertainment industry the Phil could have found
someone exemplary to handle these duties.

 

The program remains the same: all Mendelssohn — (Hebrides Overture, Symphony No. 3 (Scottish) and the Violin Concerto, with
Janine Jansen as soloist. Information:
www.laphil.com

_______________________

 

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

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