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:

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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

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

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PREVIEW: Muse-ique launches new season Monday, March 19

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

59140-Worby Image.jpg

When Rachael Worby — who for 10 years was music director of
the Pasadena Pops Orchestra — unleashed her new organization, Muse-ique, last
year, she promised a radically different programming concept. Last year’s
events (she doesn’t call them concerts) offered a tantalizing taste of her
eclectic vision. The 2012 season — four “Uncorked” events and three summer
programs — fleshes out that vision.

 

The first “Uncorked” event takes place Monday onstage at the
Pasadena Civic Auditorium — literally. Both the performers and the audience
will be on the stage and a loading bay (everyone will enter from the loading
door to the right of the auditorium; the audience is limited to 300). The
evening begins at 7 p.m. with cocktails and the actual event kicks off at 7:20
p.m.

 

As is the case with each of the “Uncorked” programs, Monday
will be unscripted to a degree because they involve conversations between Worby
and her colleagues, in this case, six pianists (thus the title “Ebony Meets
Ivory”): Joanne Pearce Martin, principal keyboard player for the Los Angeles
Philharmonic; Markus Pawlik; Julia Greer; assistant professor of materials
science and mechanics at Caltech; Bryan Pezzone; Kirk Wilson; and Gavin Martin
(Joanne’s husband). They will perform music ranging from Moonlight Sonata to Coltrane, bebop Bach to a 12-hand arrangement
of Stars and Stripes Forever. Also on
the agenda is pop culture analyst/ writer/ performer Sandra Tsing Loh.

 

The only thing that’s a given about Worby’s programs is that
nothing is a given, but the concept is intriguing. Information: muse-ique.com

 

Among the innovative aspects of Muse-ique are the locales.
The April 9 event — a Western theme featuring a Worby regular,
singer-songwriter Michael Murphy and several others — will be at the Gene Autry
National Center in Griffith Park. The Oct. 8 program at the Rose Pavilion will
be a mash-up of Beatles’ music including Sgt.
Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
(the album celebrates its 45th
anniversary on June 1). The fourth program, Nov. 12, will be held amid the
paper rolls of Castle Press (the latter two locales are repeats from the 2011
locales — Rachael loves recycling something or someone that clicks with the
audience).

 

The summer series begins with a free concert June 23 on the
steps of the Pasadena Civic Center. The other two events will be outdoors at
Caltech’s outdoor Olive Garden, which proved to be a terrific venue last year.
Latin Jazz Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval will return to headline the evening on
July 14; details of the August 18 program have not been announced.

 

Information: muse-ique.com

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

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UPDATE: 1/2-price tickets available for “Amahl and the Night Visitors; Worby to conduct Saturday night

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News

Goldstar.com is offering half-price tickets for this weekend’s Opera Posse performances of Amahl and the Night Visitors, being performed at the Pasadena Playhouse. MORE

Moreover, although you would know it from Opera Posse’s Web site, an article by Richard S. Ginell on the Los Angeles Times Web site says that Rachael Worby — former Pasadena Pops music director now heading up her new venture entitled Muse-ique — will conduct Saturday night’s performance. Jeffrey Bernstein, who is leading the other performances, has a Pasadena Master Chorale concert on Saturday night.  Read Rich’s article HERE.
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(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 November 3, 2011

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

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Each Thursday morning, I list five events (actually six this
week) that peak my interest, including (ideally) at least one with free
admission (or, at a minimum, inexpensive tickets). And this doesn’t count the
Metropolitan Opera’s HD telecast of Siegfried
on Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. at theaters in the area — be forewarned:
the running time is approximately six hours! (LINK).

Here’s today’s grouping:

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

Los Angeles
Philharmonic. James Conlon, conductor; Yuja Wang, pianist

Much of the attention will, undoubtedly, be focused on what
the young Chinese pianist will wear (she of the “little orange dress” notoriety
LINK) but the real story should be a wonderfully constructed
program — Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem, Prokofiev’s
Piano Concerto No. 3 and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7 — led by LA Opera Music
Director James Conlon with Wang as soloist. Tip: if you’ve never attended a
morning L.A. Phil concert, this would be a great time to try it out, but check
for ticket availability. Info: www.laphil.com

 

Tomorrow at 8 p.m.
at Alex Theatre (Glendale) and Sunday at 7 p.m. at Royce Hall (UCLA)

Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra plays Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti

The six Bach Brandenburg Concerti are about as far away from
Prokofiev’s 3rd (above) as you can get, but Bach’s famous sextet is
indelibly linked with LACO — this will be the 51st time that the
orchestra has played all or some of the pieces. Concertmaster Margaret Batjer
will lead the performance from her first-chair position. Info: www.laco.org

 

Sunday at 2 p.m. at
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Los Angeles Opera’s Romeo et Juliette

LAO brings back its
Ian Judge-created production of Gounod’s take on Shakespeare’s tale of
star-crossed lovers. Tenor Vittorio Grigolo and soprano Nino
Machaidze
sing the title roles; Plcido Domingo conducts. A Los Angeles Times story on the young
soprano is HERE and and of Brian’s nifty “10 Questions” posts in Out West Arts on Grigolo is HERE.
Info: www.losangelesopera.com

 

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

Lang Lang in recital

What caught my eye about this concert was the program, which
begins with Bach’s Partita No. 1 in B-flat, continues with Schubert’s Sonata in
B-flat, and Chopin’s 12 Etudes, Op. 25 — three pieces of distinctly contrasting
styles that should be fascinating in the hands and mind of the young Chinese
pianist (this is obviously a weekend for young Chinese pianists). Info: www.laphil.com

 

Monday at 7 p.m. at
Castle Press (Pasadena)

Muse-ique stops the
presses

Rachael
Worby continues her penchant in Muse-ique’s first year of presenting programs
in unusual sites — in this case, the Doric String Quartet making its Los
Angeles debut amid stacks of paper and the printing presses of this north
Pasadena establishment (the musicians will be standing on the press while the
audience will sit on other presses and rolls of paper).

 

The
featured work on the evening will be a new string quartet by Southern
California native Peter Knell that the composer and Worby will discuss and the
Doric Quartet (which took first prize in the 2008 Osaka International Chamber
Music Competition) will play. The evening will also contain movements from
quartets by Haydn, Schubert and Bartok, and — given that Worby is in charge –
there’s sure to be a surprise or two. Info: www.muse-ique.com

 

And the weekend’s “free admission” program …

 

Friday at 8 p.m. at
Pasadena Nazarene Church

Pasadena Community
Orchestra with Suzanna Guzmn as soloist

Music Director Alan Reinecke conducts a program that
features one of the nation’s finest mezzo-sopranos, Suzanna Guzmn, as soloist
in Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer. The
program also features music by Bartok, Howard Hanson, Prokofiev and Ralph Vaughan
Williams. Info: www.pcomusic.org

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

 

 

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AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Chamber music rocks!

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

This article was first
published yesterday in the above papers.

 

After a month when orchestral concerts dominated the local
classical-music landscape, chamber music will be in the spotlight during the
next couple of weeks. Here are a few of the potentially intriguing programs:

 

Muse-ique presents
the Doric String Quartet

Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at
Castle Press (Pasadena)

Rachael Worby continues her penchant in Muse-ique’s first
year of presenting programs in unusual sites — in this case, the Doric String
Quartet, making its Los Angeles debut amid stacks of paper and the printing
presses of this north Pasadena establishment (the musicians will be standing on
the press while the audience will sit on other presses and rolls of paper).

 

The featured work on the evening will be a new string
quartet by Southern California native Peter Knell that the composer and Worby
will discuss and the Doric Quartet (which took first prize in the 2008 Osaka
International Chamber Music Competition) will play. The evening will also
contain movements from quartets by Haydn, Schubert and Bartok, and — given that
Worby is in charge — there’s sure to be a surprise or two. Information: 626/539-7085; www.muse-ique.com

 

Musica Angelica
salutes its founders

Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. at
Neighborhood Church, Pasadena

Lutenist and guitarist John Schneidermann will join Hideki
Yamaya, guitar and lute, violinists Janet Strauss and Susan Feldman, cellist
William Skeen, tenor Daniel Plaster and Denise Bries on viola da gamba in a
program that honors Michael Eagan and Mark Chatfield, who founded Musica
Angelica in 1993. Eagan, a lute player, died in 2004, while Chatfield, a
cellist, passed away in 1998. The duo formed the ensemble that has become one
of the world’s Baroque music groups. The concert repeats Nov. 13 in Santa
Monica. Information: 310/458 4504; www.musicaangelica.org

 

Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra performs Bach’s Brandenburgs

Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. at
the Alex Theatre; Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. at Royce Hall (UCLA)

LACO Concertmaster Margaret Batjer leads the ensemble in its
51st performance of Bach’s famed concerti. Information: 213/622-7001; www.laco.org

 

The Chamber Music
Society of Lincoln Center

Nov. 6 at 3:30 p.m.
at Beckman Auditorium (Caltech)

The New York City ensemble plays music by Beethoven and
Brahms as part of the 108th year of the Coleman Chamber Concerts. Information: (626) 793-4191;
coleman.caltech.edu

 

Meanwhile, Los
Angeles Opera
resumes its season next Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Dorothy
Chandler Pavilion when it brings back its Ian Judge-created production of Gounod’s
Romo et Juliette. Tenor Vittorio
Grigolo and soprano Nino
Machaidze
sing the title roles; Plcido Domingo conducts. Information: 213/972-8001;
www.losangelesopera.com

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

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