FIVE SPOT: June 8-13, 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.

JUNE 8, 9, 10 AND 11: MAHLER’S “RESURRECTION”
8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 3 p.m. Sunday
at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall; Costa Mesa

Music Director Carl St.Clair leads the Pacific Symphony, Pacific Chorale and soloists in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, his massive tribute to eternal life. The concert also honors Pacific Chorale Artistic Director John Alexander, who is retiring after 45 years (but only from the Pacific Chorale, as Timothy Mangan notes — see below).

BONUS: Read Paul Hodgins’ article in the Orange County Register HERE. Timothy Mangan, the Pacific Symphony’s Writer-in-Residence, has an appreciation for Alexander HERE.

Information: www.pacificsymphony.org

JUNE 10: MOSCOW VIRTUOSI CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
7 p.m. at Wilshire Ebell Theatre; Los Angeles

Vladimir Spivakov conducts the orchestra he has led since 1979 in a varied program that includes music by Mozart, Shostakovich, Bruch, Poppers, Grieg and others. Israeli cellist Danielle Akta and soprano Hibla Gerzmava will be the soloists.

Information: www.mvco.ru

JUNE 10: ANGELES CHORALE
7:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church; Pasadena

John Sutton leads his ensemble in a program of American music entitled “A Musical Bite of the Big Apple: from Broadway to Bernstein,” which includes Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and selections from West Side Story.

Information: www.angeleschorale.org

JUNE 10: CULVER CITY SYMPHONY
7:30 p.m. at Kirk Douglas Theatre; Culver City

Frank Fetta leads the Culver City Symphony in a program that includes Aaron Copland’s Quiet City, William Grant Still’s Danzas de Panama, Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A Major, and Haydn’s Cello Concerto, with Leah Hansen as soloist.

Information: www.culvercitysymphony.org

JUNE 10: JOANN FALETTA RETURNS LONG BEACH SYMPHONY
8 p.m. at Terrace Theatre; Long Beach

Former Long Beach Symphony Music Director JoAnn Falletta returns “home” for the first time to conduct the orchestra that she led from 1989-2000. The program begins with four movements from Shostakovich’s The Gadfly Suite, arranged for the 1955 Soviet film The Gadfly, based on the novel of the same name by Ethel Lilian Voynich. LBSO Concertmaster Roger Wilkie will be the soloist.

The evening continues with Falletta’s own compilation of Prokofiev’s Suites 1-3 from his ballet Cinderella. After intermission, 21-year-old pianist George Li will be the soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

BONUS: The Terrace Theatre can be reached easily via Metro’s Blue Line. Exit at 1st Street, walk two blocks south and cross Ocean Blvd. to reach the theatre.

Read Richard Guzman’s article in the Long Beach Press Telegram HERE.

Information: www.longbeachsymphony.org

JUNE 13: “YOUNG CAESAR”
8 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall; Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s New Music Group joins with The Industry to conclude the Phil’s “Green Umbrella” series with a performance of this work by Lou Harrison, whose 100th birthday would have been May 14. Harrison was a composer whose works have been celebrated by a few hardy souls (mostly on the west coast where studied and later taught) if not always elsewhere.

This production — the first since the work was premiered in 1971 at Caltech — will be directed by Yuri Shuval, the Phil’s new Artist-Collaborator, in conjunction with his company, The Industry. Marc Lowenstein will conduct members of the Phil

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
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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: June 1-4, 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.

JUNE 1, 2, 3 and 4: BARTOK CYCLE
8 p.m. on June 1 and 3
11 a.m. on June 2; 2 p.m. on June 4
at Walt Disney Concert Hall; Los Angeles
Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic conclude their 2016-17 subscription season by completing a cycle revolving around Bartók’s three piano concertos. Yuja Wang will be the soloist in the second concerto on Thursday and Friday and the third concerto Saturday and Sunday. On all four days, the accompanying pieces will be Stravinsky’s Symfonies of Wind Instruments and Janáček’s Sinfonietta. (The first concerto was last week — review link HERE).

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

JUNE 2: “MAN OF LA MANCHA”
Various times and days, through June 25
at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts; La Mirada
The long-time Broadway hit musical is the final production in the 2016-2017 McCoy Rigby Entertainment series at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Davis Gaines — one of the most popular performers in the title role of ZZZPhantom of the Opera — stars as the chivalrous knight Don Quixote.

Information: lamiradatheatre.com

JUNE 2 and 3: “POPS THRU CHILDREN’S EYES”
8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Saturday
at La Cañada Presbyterian Church; La Cañada
Since I’m a member at LCPC (although I’m not singing in this concert) you can take this recommendation with a grain of salt or a pound of salt, as the late, great Molly Ivins used to write. This annual Pops program focues on music and films beloved by children of all ages, including Shrek, Mary Poppins, and Seussical the Musical, among others. The church’s choir and soloists are accompanied by the Jack Lantz Little Big Band; Jack Lantz conducts.

Information: www.lacanadapc.org

JUNE 2 and 3: “PACIFIC SYMPHONY SALUTES JOHN WILLIAMS”
8 p.m. at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall; Costa Mesa
Pacific Symphony Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman leads this program of music covering a healthy slice of Williams’ motion picture scoring career.

Information: www.pacificsymphony.org

JUNE 3: “MUSIC UNDER THE STARS”
8 p.m. at Centennial Plaza; Pasadena
In advance of its summer season at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, the Pasadena Pops offers its annual free concert on the steps of the city’s iconic City Hall. Resident Conductor Larry Blank will lead music from Broadway, Hollywood and the “Great American Songbook,” accompanied by soloists Kiki Ebsen, Valerie Perri and Christina Saffran, as well as the JPL Chorus.

BONUS: Free admission; gates open at 6 p.m.

The Plaza is easily reachable via Metro’s Gold Line. Exit at the Memorial Park Station walk up three blocks east to reach the City Hall and Centennial Plaza.

Information: www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org

JUNE 3 and 4: ANGEL CITY: INTERACTIVE
7 p.m. at Wilshire United Methodist Church; Los Angeles
Music Director Sue Fink leads her choir of 160+ in a program that mixes music from several centuries and genres with elements of cyberspace. The program will feature the premiere of a new song, A Vibration, by Los Angeles-based composer and ACC choir member Andrew Cheeseman.

Information: angelcitychorale.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: May 17-22, 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.

It’s not unusual to have the same piece show up on two different ensembles’ programs within the same season. Last month we had Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 played a week apart by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Pasadena Symphony. However, this weekend we have two ensembles playing the same major work on the same days!

MAY 18 AND 19: L.A. PHIL’S SCHUBERT SERIES CONTINUES
8 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall; Los Angeles
Gustavo Dudamel concludes his Schubert/Mahler cycle with two different programs this week. Thursday and Friday, it’s Schubert’s fifth and sixth symphonies paired with Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder, featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke as soloist (she’s a powerhouse replacement for Elīna Garanča, who withdrew for “personal reasons”).

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

MAY 18, 19 AND 20: MOZART MEETS “DON QUXIOTE”
8 p.m. Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall; Costa Mesa
Carl St.Clair leads the Pacific Symphony in a program that features Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17, with Orli Shaham as soloist, and Richard Strauss’ tone poem Don Quixote, with Timothy Landauer, the orchestra’s principal cellist, as soloist.

BONUS: Timothy Mangan, the orchestra’s new writer-in-residence, has a thoughtful article on Strauss’ piece HERE.

Information: www.pacificsymphony.org

MAY 20: DRUM SUMMIT: MUSIC OF STEVE REICH
8 p.m. First Presbyterian Church; Santa Monica
Jacaranda’s Percussion Ensemble honors the 80th birthday of Steve Reich with a performance of Reich’s Drumming; Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices & Organ.

BONUS: The church is about a 10-minute walk from the downtown Santa Monica stop on Metro’s Expo Line (the line’s final stop). If you arrive early, there are plenty of places to eat in the Third St. Promenade, which is one route to the church.

Information: www.jacarandamusic.org

MAY 20 AND 21: JEFFREY KAHANE’S FINAL CONCERTS AS LACO MUSIC DIRECTOR
8 p.m. Saturday at Alex Theatre; Glendale
7 p.m. Sunday at UCLA’s Royce Hall
With these concerts Jeffrey Kahane concludes his 20-year reign as Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s music director. The program contains a first and two lasts: the world premiere of Christopher Cerrone’s Will There Be Singing, Schubert’s final symphony, No 9 (“The Great C-Major”) and Mozart’s final piano concerto, No. 27 n B-flat major, K.595, with Kahane as soloist and conducting from the keyboard.

Information: www.laco.org

MAY 20 AND 21: DUDAMEL AND L.A. PHIL’S CONCLUDE SCHUBERT/MAHLER SERIES
8 p.m. Saturday. 2 p.m. Sunday
at Walt Disney Concert Hall; Los Angeles
If you’re really into compare and contrast, this is your weekend! You can either catch Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 played by LACO on Saturday and the L.A. Phil on Sunday, or you’ve even got time to hear both ensembles on Sunday.

Dudamel’s program also includes Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony and Mahler’s Songs from Das Knaben Wunderhorn, with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke as soloist (again, as Thursday and Friday, she is serving as a great sub for Elīna Garanča, who withdrew for “personal reasons”).

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

MAY 22: IVETA APKALNA, ORGANIST
7:30 p.m. Saturday at Walt Disney Concert Hall; Los Angeles
Latvian organist Iveta Apkalna will make her Disney Hall debut in the final recital of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2016-2017 organ series. Apkalna — titular organist of the Klais organ at the newly opened Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg — will play music by Aivars Kalējs, Thierry Escaich, Philip Glass, Johann Sebastian Bach, Dmitri Shostakovich, Franz Liszt, and George Thalben-Ball.

Apkalna will also appear next weekend with Dudamel and the LAPO in a performance of Leoš Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass. Information: www.laphil.com

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 for May 22: www.laphil.com
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(c) Copyright 2017, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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NEWS: Pacific Symphony names Timothy Mangan as the orchestra’s “writer-in-residence”

I hope this is the beginning of a trend. I’ve been saying for years that arts organizations need to find people who can tell their story on all of their various media outlets (including Web sites), rather than depending on traditional news outlets to get the stories out.

You may think that this sounds like a different way of saying that Tim is joining the Pacific Symphony’s marketing department, but I think if you read down in the release, this statement from PS President John Forsythe is the key to the entire new endeavor:

“The decline in traditional media has made it increasingly difficult for arts organizations to get their stories told to wider audiences as well as to reach new audiences. Creating the writer-in-residence position is our personal response to shifts in the media landscape,” Forsyte explains. “Tim Mangan is someone who can tell relevant stories of our art form in compelling, innovative ways, using video, photos and audio, in addition to the written word. I hesitate to use terms like ‘brand journalism’ or ‘content marketing’ about this new role because that is only a part of this position. What Tim brings to this organization is far more creative: his unique voice and extensive experience will evolve the position as he interacts with Pacific Symphony musicians, concertgoers and the greater Orange County community at large. He will help bring greater recognition to the Symphony, our musicians, music education in our schools and the philanthropists who share their resources to make it all happen.”

I’m confident that Tim will be able to pull this off successfully. I hope other groups follow suit.

The complete release follows:

Orange County, Calif.—May 1, 2017—Pacific Symphony today announced the appointment of Timothy Mangan, former classical music critic for The Orange County Register and founder of the blog ClassicalLife.net (created in 2006 to cover Pacific Symphony’s European tour), to the newly created position of writer-in-residence. Mangan is an award-winning nationally renowned journalist who has an established reputation as a cultural thought leader and writes about music with deep knowledge and passion.

Symphony President John Forsyte says, “As writer-in-residence, Tim Mangan will be a collaborative partner in engaging current and new culture-seekers in innovative ways. He is well respected on the Southern California cultural scene and, in fact, on the national scene as well. We’re looking forward to embracing his creativity and sharing it widely with our audiences.”

Mangan joins Pacific Symphony after serving as The Orange County Register’s classical music critic from 1998-2016. He is a contributor to Opera News and the Los Angeles Times, and has also written for the Baltimore Sun, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Musical America and Gramophone, among other publications. In 1999, he won an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for his writing on classical music. In addition, he is co-editor of Paul Bowles on Music, published by the University of California Press. In 2010, the Orange County Press Club named ClassicalLife the best blog in Orange County.

“The decline in traditional media has made it increasingly difficult for arts organizations to get their stories told to wider audiences as well as to reach new audiences. Creating the writer-in-residence position is our personal response to shifts in the media landscape,” Forsyte explains. “Tim Mangan is someone who can tell relevant stories of our art form in compelling, innovative ways, using video, photos and audio, in addition to the written word. I hesitate to use terms like ‘brand journalism’ or ‘content marketing’ about this new role because that is only a part of this position. What Tim brings to this organization is far more creative: his unique voice and extensive experience will evolve the position as he interacts with Pacific Symphony musicians, concertgoers and the greater Orange County community at large. He will help bring greater recognition to the Symphony, our musicians, music education in our schools and the philanthropists who share their resources to make it all happen.”

“I’m grateful for this opportunity and eager to start,” Mangan said. “As a music critic, I’ve been covering the Pacific Symphony since 1989. I reviewed Carl St.Clair’s first concert with the group in 1990 for the L.A. Times. I actually played with the orchestra in the early ’80s. Over the years, I have come to know and admire many of the people who work there and appreciate their innovative approach to presenting classical music. I’m really looking forward to this collaboration.”

“Similar to a composer-in-residence, Tim Mangan will be creating original work for a symphonic organization. But instead of creating original music, as writer-in-residence he will be creating original writing about music,” says Frank Terraglio, the Symphony’s vice president of marketing and public relations. “Among the interesting initiatives Tim will be developing are a Pacific Symphony blog, in-depth articles providing insight into classical music, a digital newsletter and YouTube interviews with Symphony musicians and soloists. We are also discussing the idea of Tim hosting an interactive series of casual conversations about music, so stay tuned for more details.”

Pacific Symphony, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, celebrates its 38th anniversary this season. The largest orchestra formed in the United States in the last 50 years, it is widely recognized as an outstanding ensemble making strides on both the national and international scene, as well as in its own burgeoning cultural community. The Symphony has played a central role in the phenomenal growth of the performing arts in Orange County. Presenting more than 100 concerts and a rich array of education and community programs, the Symphony touches more than 300,000 Orange County residents each year—from school children to senior citizens.

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