AROUND/MUSIC: SW Chamber opens Huntington season on another “clash Saturday”

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.

As if you couldn’t tell from last week’s heat wave, summer is really upon us and our burgeoning music season reflects the seasonal change.

Southwest Chamber Music begins its 20th season in the Loggia of the Huntington Library in San Marino next Saturday and Sunday. The music begins at 7:30 p.m. Preconcert, three-course dinners are available by prior reservation from the Huntington’s Tea Room or you can bring your own picnic and enjoy it on the lawn. As a bonus, sections of the library are open to ticketholders prior to the concert and at intermission.

This weekend’s programs include Hums and Songs of Winnie the Pooh by English composer Oliver Knussen, Stravinsky’s Octet for Winds and Mozart’s Serenade, K. 361. Other programs are July 27 and 28, August 10 and 11 and August 24 and 25. Information: 800/7236-7147; www.swmusic.org

Saturday is one of this summer’s “clash nights.” In addition to Southwest Chamber Music, both the Pasadena Pops and California Philharmonic are performing in their Arcadia locations (thus creating some traffic issues).

Michael Feinstein, the Pasadena Pops’ new principal conductor, returns to the Los Angeles County Arboretum to lead a program celebrating the musical legacy of MGM movies, including Singing in the Rain, Harvey Girls, Gigi, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Wizard of Oz and others. Vocalists Christine Ebersole and Ron Raines will join the festivities. Information: 626/793-7172; www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org.

Meanwhile, the Cal Phil returns to Santa Anita Racetrack on Saturday for one of Music Director Victor Vener’s perennial programming favorites: “Andrew Lloyd Webber Meets Puccini.” Singers Lori Stinson, Christine Campbell and Cedric Berry and the Cal Phil Chorale will join the orchestra for music by two of the world’s best-known composers. The program repeats July 14 at 2 p.m. indoors at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Information: 626/300-8200; www.calphil.org

Although Hollywood Bowl has presented several pops concerts during the last month, the Los Angeles Philharmonic opens its 10-week classical season at the iconic Cahuenga Pass amphitheater Tuesday night. Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony, returns home to lead the Phil, Los Angeles Master Chorale and soloists Kiera Duffy and Sasha Cooke in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection).

On Thursday, Thomas leads the orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Dubinushka, along with Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, with Gil Shaham as soloist.

Next week, Bramwell Tovey returns to the Bowl stage on July 16 to lead the Phil in a Britten-Elgar-Sibelius program. On July 18, Tovey conducts a program that concludes with Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

Information: 323/850-2000; www.hollywoodbowl.com.

_______________________

(c) Copyright 2013, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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Five-Spot: What caught my eye on October 27, 2011

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

______________________

 

Each Thursday morning, I list five events that peak my
interest, including (ideally) at least one with free admission (or, at a minimum,
inexpensive tickets). This week it was hard to get down to five. Here’s today’s
grouping:

______________________

 

Tomorrow and
Saturday at 8:30 p.m.; Sunday at 7 p.m. at REDCAT (Walt Disney Concert Hall)

Southwest Chamber
Music: Ten Freedom Summers

To open a season celebrating its 25th anniversary, Pasadena-based
Southwest Chamber Music joins forces with the Golden Quartet to present the
world premiere of Ten Freedom Summers
by composer and jazz trumpeter Wadada Lee Smith.

 

The composition — which was inspired by the Civil Rights
movement from 1954-1964 and August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle, in which each play
chronicles a decade of African-American life in the 20th century — also uses
archival news footage from the era and other cinematic effects. The piece will
take three evenings to perform; you’re encouraged to attend all three nights to
get the full effect but SCM tells me that each evening stands on its own musically.

 

Get more
information on the composition HERE and by downloading the media  release.

PressReleaseTenFreedomSummers.pdf

A link to an article by Greg Burk in the Los
Angeles Times
is HERE.

 

General admission tickets are $38 for each program. Concert information: www.redcat.org

 

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

Los Angeles
Philharmonic: Gustavo Dudamel and Richard Goode

Conductors love micro-macro programs and Gustavo Dudamel is
no exception. Tomorrow night’s Los Angeles Philharmonic “Casual Friday” program
begins with Goode as soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466, and
concludes with Richard Strauss’ tone poem Also
Sprach Zarathustra.
The latter is an
eight-movement work that many people know only because of the opening section, Sunrise, which was the theme music for
Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1968 motion picture 2001: A Space Odyssey. That dramatic opening sounds particularly impressive
in Disney Hall because the hall’s pipe organ adds grandiose weight to the
climactic measures, but there’s a lot more to come in the succeeding 30 or so
minutes.

 

The Saturday and Sunday programs add Gyrgy Kurtg‘s
Grabstein fr Stephan as the opening
work. These concerts mark Dudame’s final appearances locally until “The Mahler
Project” begins next January. Info: www.laphil.com

 

Saturday at 2 and 8
p.m. Ambassador Auditorium

Pasadena Symphony;
Mei-Ann Chen, conductor; James Ehnes, violin

Chen, one of the fastest-rising conducting stars today,
leads the Pasadena Symphony in its season-opening concerts, which will
conclude with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. Ehnes will be the soloist in
Korngold’s Violin Concerto (his recording of the Korngold, Walton and Barber
violin concertos, with Bramwell Tovey conducting the Vancouver Symphony, won
the 2008 Grammy and Juno awards). For my Pasadena
Scene
profile on Chen, click HERE. Concert
info:
www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org

 

Saturday at 4 p.m.
at Downey Theater

Chorale Bel Canto and
Opera a la Carte

The Whittier-based chorus Chorale Bel Canto opens its 30th
season by joining with Opera a la Carte in an unusual program (for CBC, that
is): Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates
of Penzance
. Richard Sheldon, who founded Opera a la Carte in 1970, stars
as the Modern Major General. Info:
www.choralebelcanto.org

 

And the weekend’s “free admission” program …

 

Sunday at 3 at Vic
Lopez Auditorium (Whittier High School)

Rio Hondo Symphony;
Kimo Furumoto, conductor

The Rio Hondo Symphony focuses on small pieces Sunday with a
program entitled “Good Things: Small Packages.” The program will begin with Mozart’s
dramatic Overture to Don Giovanni and
will also include Bartok’s Romanian Folk
Dances Suite
, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella
Suite
and Dvorak’s Czech Suite. Info: www.riohondosymphony.org

_______________________

 

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

 

 

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AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Classical music schedule — overload or overjoy?

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

A shorter version of this
article will be published tomorrow in the above papers.

______________________

 

In every classical-music season there are one or two weeks
where the operating word is “overload.” The upcoming fortnight counts as one of
those blocks, especially as it comes on the heels of an extremely busy weekend.
Chronologically, here are some of the major upcoming events (check my Blog for
additions, updates, more details and reviews):

 

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

Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra

Music Director Jeffrey Kahane leads his ensemble in
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (Eroica).
Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin will be the soloist in Britten’s Les illuminations and Now sleeps the crimson petal. Info: 213/622-7001; www.laco.org

 

Tomorrow (Sunday)
at 7 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

Los Angeles Master
Chorale

Music Director Grant Gershon leads the Chorale in the
opening concert of its 48th season with the U.S. premiere of Music for a big church; for tranquility
by Swedish composer Thomas Jennefelt and Morton Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, one of the most popular
compositions of the last quarter century. Paul Meier accompanies on the Disney
Hall organ. Info: 213/972-7282; www.lamc.org

 

Tuesday at 8 p.m.
at Valley Performing Arts Center, Northridge

Mariinsky Theater
Orchestra

Valery Gergiev leads this famed Russian orchestra (formerly
known as the Kirov) in a program of Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Alexander
Toradze will be the soloist in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Info: 818) 677-3000; www.valleyperformingartscenter.org

 

Thursday and Friday
at 8 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles
Philharmonic

Music Director Gustavo Dudamel conducts music by John Adams
and Prokofiev. Johannes Moser will be the soloist in the world premiere of Magnetar, concerto for electric cello by
Mexican composer/guitarist Enrico Chapela. “What,” you ask, “is an electric
cello?” Read all about it and the piece in the words of the composer HERE. Info: 323/850-2000; www.laphil.com

 

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

Cappella Gloriana

This San Diego professional chorale opens the church’s Friends of Music series of nine free
concerts performing music by its founder and director, Stephen Sturk, with
organist Martin Green and the San Diego Harmony Ringers Handbell Choir. Info: 626/793-2191; www.ppc.net

 

Saturday at 8 p.m.
at Ambassador Auditorium

The Colburn Orchestra

Music Director Yehuda Gilad leads his excellent ensemble in
Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 and Shostakovich’s Festive
Overture
and Cello Concerto No. 1. Colburn student Estelle Choi will be the
soloist in the concerto. The concert is free but tickets must be downloaded
through the school’s Web site. Info: www.colburnschool.edu

 

October 23 at 6
p.m. at Royce Hall (UCLA)

American Youth
Symphony

Music Director Alexander Treger leads another of the
region’s top-notch training orchestras in Bernstein’s Candide Overture and Tchaikovsky’s
Symphony No. 5. Rod Gilfry will be the soloist in selections from CarouselWest Side StorySweeney Todd and The Most Happy Fella. The concert is free (although a
$10 donation is suggested); make reservations through the orchestra’s Web site.
Info: aysmphony.org

 

October 28 and 29
at 8:30 p.m. and 30 at 7 p.m. at REDCAT (Walt Disney Concert Hall)

Southwest Chamber
Music

The Golden Quartet helps SWCM open its 25th season
with Wadada Lee Smith’s Ten Freedom
Summers,
which takes three evenings to perform and is inspired by the
1954-64 years of the Civil Rights Movement. Get details on the composition HERE.
Concert and ticket info: www.swmusic.org

 

Oct. 29 at 2 p.m.
and 8 p.m. at Ambassador Auditorium, Pasadena

Pasadena Symphony

Rising conducting star Mei-Ann Chen leads the PSO in its
opening concerts with a program that concludes with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.
5. James Ehnes will be the soloist in Korngold’s Violin Concerto. My profile of
Chen is HERE. Info: 626/793-7172;
www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org

 

Oct. 29 at 4 p.m.
at Downey Civic Theatre

Chorale Bel Canto and
Opera a la Carte

The Whittier-based chorus opens its 30th season
by joining with Opera a la Carte in an unusual program (for CBC, that is):
Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of
Penzance
. Richard Sheldon, who founded Opera a la Carte in 1970, stars as
the Modern Major General. Info:
562/861-8211; www.choralebelcanto.org

_____________________

 

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

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PREVIEW AND LINK: Southwest Chamber Music announces silver anniversary season

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

Southwest Chamber Music’s 25th anniversary will be
a typically eclectic meld of contemporary music: the world premiere of Ten Freedom Summers by trumpeter and
composer Wadada Lee Smith; the continuation of the group’s tribute to American
composer John Cage; and a festival of new works commissioned for the silver
anniversary of the ensemble, which is based in Pasadena.

 

The season begins with Smith’s three-part work that was
inspired by the Civil Rights Movement. It will play Oct. 28, 29 and 30 at
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/Cal Arts Theater); this marks the first time that Southwest Chamber Music will perform in the experimental theater located
at Walt Disney Concert Hall. 
Smith’s Golden Quartet will be joined by SWCM musicians during the three
evenings.

 

The Cage Festival is a continuation of SWCM’s multi-year tribute
to the composer who was born Sept. 5, 1912 in Los Angeles. “Cage 2012″ will
have performances March 3 and 4 at the Japanese American National Museum in
Little Tokyo; March 10 at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena; March 11 at
Pasadena’s Pacific Art Museum; and March 24 at The Colburn School, across Grand
Ave. from Walt Disney Concert Hall.

 

The Colburn School will also be the site of SWCM’s New Music
Festival May 9-24 with exact dates and programs to be announced next January.
Commissions from Charles Wuroinen, Unsuk Chin, Anne LeBaron, Lei Liang, Vu Nhat
Tan, Tn Tht Tit, Gabriela Lena Frank, Gabriela Ortiz, Hyo-shin Na and Kurt
Rohde are on the projected schedule.

 

Detailed information is HERE.

_______________________

 

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

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AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Cleaning out the inbox

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

A shorter version of this
article was first published today in the above papers.

 

THE PASADENA POPS
AND THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY ARBORETUM
have finalized a contract for the
orchestra to appear at the Arcadia facility beginning next summer. The
three-year agreement with an "evergreen" clause will also see the Pops become
the Arboretum's presenting partner. Dates for the Pops' concerts in 2012 are
June 26, July 21, August 18 and September 8. Happily for fans of both the Pops
and the California Philharmonic -- which shifts from the Arboretum to next-door Santa
Anita Racetrack next summer -- that means the two organizations will not
conflict on dates, a good thing from a parking and traffic point of view. The
Pops also envisions "family concerts, outdoor theatre, silent films, as well as
Asian-influenced performances, to name a few," according to Paul Jan
Zdunek, CEO of the Pasadena Symphony Association; programming details will follow
in the coming weeks. MORE

 

MUSE-IQUE, the
new ensemble headed by former Pops music director Rachael Worby, will appear in
a free concert of American music on the steps of Pasadena's City Hall at 6 p.m.
on Sept. 11 commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

 

THE LOS ANGELES
PHILHARMONIC
has promoted outgoing associate conductor Lionel Bringuier to
the new post of resident conductor through the 2012/2013 season. MORE

 

GUSTAVO DUDAMEL,
music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will be featured on a new DGG box
set of CDs next month conducting the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra of Sweden
(one of three orchestras he currently helms) in Bruckner's Symphony No. 9,
Sibelius's Symphony No. 2 and Nielsen's Symphonies No. 5 and. 4 (The Inextinguishable).

 

Gramophone Magazine
(which is published in England) devotes its cover story for the August 2011
issue to Dudamel and this new recording. It's an interesting article but not
easy to find. The print edition costs $10 (U.S.) and the only way to find it
online at this point is to subscribe ($63.14 per year or $16.21 for three
months). Like other digital magazines, you get the full pages and have to
scroll through them (i.e., they're not converted to easily readable text).
However, the publication does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not
satisfied.

 

Los Angeles Times
Music Critic Mark Swed dwells on Dudamel's upcoming DGG release, which Dudamel
recorded at the beginning of his tenure with the Swedish orchestra (he became
that ensemble's music director in 2007; next season will be his sixth and last
in that capacity, although he will continue to work with the ensemble as its "honorary
conductor").

 

Two things make this upcoming recording intriguing, as Swed
points out in the article. First, the works are pieces that Dudamel has yet to
conduct in Los Angeles. Second, the performances show him at a very young age
(he was 26 when he came to Sweden) and he talks with Swed about how his
concepts have changed -- and are changing -- even in just a few years. The
article shows us a different side of Dudamel than we've seen so far in L.A.
BTW: there's a great photo of young Gustavo -- wearing glasses and with short
hair. You might not recognize him without the caption!

 

THE L.A. PHIL has
announced the 2011-2012 participants in the Dudamel Fellowship Program: Joshua Dos Santos of Venezuela, Mihaela Cesa-Goje of Romania (the first
woman ever selected for the fellowship), Courtney
Lewis
of Northern Ireland and Boston, and Santtu Rouvali of Finland.

 

Each of the four conductors spends 4-6 weeks working with
Dudamel, Phil musicians and with students in LAPO education programs. During
their time (Santos, Lewis and Rouvali will have two time blocks), the fellows
will both observe and gain hands-on experience. The Dudamel Fellowship was
instituted in 2009. One of the inaugural class, Perry So, is leading Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings on Tuesday's Hollywood Bowl program and a
member of last year's class, Joshua
Weilerstein,
was recently named as one of two assistant conductors at the
New York Philharmonic (MORE). Details on the new class are HERE.

 

JOANN FALLETTA,
who once headed up the Long Beach Symphony, has renewed her contracts with the
Buffalo Philharmonic and Virginia Symphony and been named principal conductor
of the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

 

The Buffalo Philharmonic contract takes her through the
2015-2016 season; she was the first woman to head a major orchestra when she
took over that position in 1999 at the age of 45. The Virginia Symphony
contract is for another three years with an option for an additional two years.
She becomes the first American and first woman to serve with the Ulster
Orchestra.

 

Violinist JOSHUA
BELL,
who is appearing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic next week at
Hollywood Bowl (DETAILS), has been named music director of the

Academy of
St.-Martin-in-the-Fields in London. According to Gramophone, Bell will conduct performances from the violin chair as
opposed to standing on a podium (at the Bowl he will lead the Phil in Vivaldi's
The Four Seasons while playing the
solo parts). Kenneth Sillito remains as the ASMF artistic director and will
also conduct. Pianist Murray Perahia has been the group's principal guest conductor
for several years.

 

THE L.A. PHIL has
announced the 2011-2012 participants in the Dudamel Fellowship Program: Joshua Dos Santos of Venezuela, Mihaela Cesa-Goje of Romania, Courtney Lewis of Northern Ireland and
Boston, and Santtu Rouvali of
Finland.

 

Each of the four conductors spends 4-6 weeks working with
Dudamel, Phil musicians and with students in LAPO education programs. During
their time (Santos, Lewis and Rouvali will have two time blocks), the fellows
will both observe and gain hands-on experience. The Dudamel Fellowship was
instituted in 2009. One of the inaugural class, Perry So, is leading
Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings on
Tuesday's Hollywood Bowl program and a member of last year's class, Joshua
Weilerstein, was recently named as one of two assistant conductors at the New
York Philharmonic (MORE). Details on the new class are HERE.

 

UPCOMING NOTABLE
CONCERTS:
The Cal Phil plays
today at 2 p.m. in Walt Disney Concert Hall and concludes its 2011 summer
season on Aug. 21 at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and 22 at Disney Hall
(DETAILS)

 

Southwest Chamber
Music
concludes its summer festival at The Huntington Library tonight at
7:30 p.m. and August 20-21, also at 7:30 p.m. (DETAILS)

 

John Mauceri returns to conduct the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which he founded 20 years ago, on Aug.
19, 20 and 21, playing the score to Walt Disney's 1940 movie classic "Fantasia"
while the movie is shown on the Bowl's large screens. (DETAILS). This is one of
my "don't miss" concerts of the Bowl season.

_____________________

 

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

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