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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FROM THE WEB: Kudos to LA Opera from an unusual source

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

Although the New York Times works hard to attract readers in Southern California, its arts critics rarely venture beyond the confines of the East Coast. Thus, it was notable that Music Critic Zachary Woolfe made the trip west for Los Angeles Opera’s presentation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which opened last Saturday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Read his review HERE.

What made the review notable was that Woolfe’s focus was to laud the company for reacting quickly (in opera-world terms) after CEO Christopher Koelsch went to Berlin to see Komische Oper’s new, radical production of Mozart’s famous work (read my preview story HERE). After returning to L.A., Kolsche persuaded colleagues Plácido Domingo and James Conlon that LAO should substitute the Komische Opera production for the originally announced revival of LAO’s 20-year-old production by Sir Peter Hall and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe.

As Wolfe wrote: “The Los Angeles Opera’s late switch — this new ‘Flute’ was not officially announced until June — should be a positive example for the opera world, where artistic choices can be encased in amber up to five years in advance. Companies should be eagerly looking for new singers and stagings that can be presented in a matter of months rather than years. (O.K., I’d accept maybe a year or two.) This new ‘Flute’ shows that the results can be worth the rush and risk.”

Although I haven’t seen the LAO production, to judge from the critics the decision to change was more than worth the risk. Jim Farber’s review in the Los Angeles News Group papers (which include my papers listed above) is HERE. Mark Swed’s review in the Los Angeles Times is HERE. Timothy Mangan’s review in the Orange County Register is HERE.

What Woolfe didn’t say in his article was that Magic Flute was the first of two “last-minute” changes to the LA Opera 2013-2014 schedule. Six months after the season had been unveiled the company announced that it would add semi-staged concert performances of Andre Previn’s opera, A Streetcar Named Desire on May 18, 21 and 24, 2014. That omission was somewhat ironic, since Michael Cooper reported the story in the NY Times on Sept. 4.

Renée Fleming will reprise her starring role as Blanche DuBois from the original San Francisco Opera production. Patrick Summers will lead the LA Opera Orchestra. The production will be the semi-staged version that played at Carnegie Hall in New York City and at Lyric Opera Chicago. DETAILS.

Speaking of Mr. Woolfe, he posted quite an interesting article after attending nine — NINE! — performances of Bellini’s Norma at the Metropolitan Opera this fall. His premise was to evaluate how the Met sounds from nine different seat locations. Read the article HERE. Lisa Hirsch, in her “Iron Tongue of Midnight” Blog HERE, suggested he should have seen the Met’s production of Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten instead. To each his (or her) own.
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(c) Copyright 2013, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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HEADS UP: Riccardo Muti and Chicago Symphony tonight in Costa Mesa

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

Although this weekend is ultra-full, one of the concerts
that I missed in my “Five Spot” post yesterday (LINK) was an oversight. The
Chicago Symphony Orchestra comes to the Rene and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
tonight for the first of three Southern California concerts (next week, the CSO
is in Palm Desert and San Diego).

 

Riccardo Muti, now in his second year as the CSO’s music
director, brings an interesting program, especially considering that it’s for a
tour: Honegger’s: Pacific 231 (Mouvement
symphonique No. 1)
, a piece based on railroads; Alternative Energy, a new work by Mason Bates, the CSO’s
Composer-in Residence; and Franck’s Symphony in D minor, which used to be
played often but has in the past couple of decades has slipped into obscurity.

 

Timothy Mangan on his Blog Classical Life (LINK) and CK Dexter Haven in All is Yar (LINK) have posted this week on the CSO’s visit to the
Southland. Concert information: www.philharmonicsociety.org

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

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STORY AND LINKS: Tim Mangan on Riccardo Muti — a definite “worth read”

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are coming
to Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa next Friday (Feb. 17). Tim Mangan, the
Orange County Register’s classical music critic (when he’s not covering the
celebrity beat) has just posted an excellent article based on a phone interview
with Muti, the CSO’s music director, who will conduct the concert. Conductors
like Muti aren’t easy to corral for interviews but Tim really made the most of
his opportunity — I learned more about Muti from this article than almost any
I’ve read. Here’s a LINK.

 

Friday’s CSO program (sponsored by the Orange County
Philharmonic Society) is quite out of the ordinary for a tour concert: Pacific 231 by Swiss composer Arthur
Honegger (a piece based on trains); Alternative
Energy,
a new work by CSO Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates; and Franck’s
Symphony in D minor, once a repertory staple but now mostly languishing in obscurity.
Information: www.philharmonicsociety.org

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

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