Five-Spot: What caught my eye on February 2, 2012

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 that pique my
interest, including (ideally) at least one (two today) with free admission (or,
at a minimum, inexpensive tickets). Here’s today’s grouping:

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Tonight and Tomorrow at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles
Philharmonic: Gustavo Dudamel conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 9

The L.A. Phil’s “Mahler Project” winds up this weekend with
these two concerts and Saturday’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 at the
Shrine Auditorium. Information: www.laphil.com

 

Saturday at 8 p.m.
at the Shrine Auditorium

Mahler’s “Symphony of
a Thousand”

Gustavo Dudamel conducts 99 instrumentalists from the Simn
Bolivr Symphony Orchestra and 91 from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, eight
soloists and more than 800 choristers in this performance of Mahler’s Symphony
No. 8 that will live up to its nickname. The concert has been announced as a
sellout for some time; check the Phil’s box office (323/850-2000) for updates. Information: www.laphil.com

 

Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
at Ambassador Auditorium

The Colburn
Orchestra; Yehuda Gilad, conductor

The orchestra’s music director leads a program that
concludes with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke will be the
soloist in “Am I In Your Light” from John Adams’ opera Dr. Atomic and Mahler’s Rckert
lieder.
Information: www.colburnschool.edu

 

And the weekend’s
“free admission” programs

 

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

John Weaver Hymn
Festival

For 35 years, John Weaver was organist/music director at
Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church and also headed the organ departments at the
Curtis Institute and Juilliard School for many years. His program Saturday
night will include him playing pieces he’s written based on hymn tunes; the
audience and the church’s Kirk Choir will sing the hymns. Information: www.ppc.net

 

Sunday at 3 p.m. at
Whittier High School

Rio Hondo Symphony;
Kimo Furumoto, conductor

In a program entitled (somewhat oddly) “No Strings
Attached,” Kimo Furumoto leads the orchestra’s string sections in music by
Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Holst and Tchaikovsky. Information: www.riohondosymphony.org

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

Five-Spot: What caught my eye on October 20, 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 I actually have three such events — to
make up for last week when I had none.

 

Here’s today’s grouping:

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Today and Tomorrow
at 8 p.m. at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles
Philharmonic; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor

In advance of the Phil’s trip to San Francisco next week,
Dudamel conducts John Adams’ Short Ride
in a Fast Machine
and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. 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?” Yamaha, creator of the instrument, provides
details in the following link.

Electric cello release.doc

Concert info: www.laphil.com

 

Saturday at 8 p.m.
at the Greek Theatre

Pasadena Pops; Marvin
Hamlisch, conductor. Idina Menzel, vocalist

If you still need a Pops fix, Marvin Hamlisch and the Pops
play back up for Menzel, who won a Tony Award in 2005 for her role as Elphaba
in Wicked on Broadway. The program
will reportedly include selections from pop, musical theater favorites
(including Wicked and Rent), as well as selections from her
album of original songs, I Stand.
Info: www.greektheatrela.com

 

And the weekend’s “free admission” programs …

 

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: www.ppc.net

 

Saturday at 8 p.m.
at Ambassador Auditorium

The Colburn
Orchestra. Yehuda Gilad, conductor

Gilad will conduct Shostakovich’s Festival Overture and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3. Colburn student
Estelle Choi will be the soloist in Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1.
There’s a wait list available for the free tickets. Info: www.colburnschool.edu

 

Sunday at 6 p.m. at
Royce Hall, UCLA

American Youth
Symphony. Alexander Treger, conductor; Rod Gilfry, baritone

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 CarouselTrouble
in Tahiti
Sweeney Todd
and The Most Happy Fella. For my profile on this concert,
click HERE. The concert is free (although a $10 donation is suggested); make
reservations through the orchestra’s Web site. Info: aysmphony.org

_______________________

 

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

 

 

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.

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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

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

OVERNIGHT REVIEW: The Colburn Orchestra opens season at Ambassador Auditorium

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

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The Colburn
Orchestra; Yehuda Gilad, conductor; Francisca da Pasquale, violin

Berlioz: Roman
Carnival Overture,
Dvorak: Violin Concerto

Mussorgsky/Ravel: Pictures
at an Exhibition

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 Ambassador Auditorium

Next concert: Oct. 22

Information: www.colburnschool.edu

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Although experience and maturity count for much in the
classical music world, there’s also something to be said for youthful
exuberance, especially when its married to the kind of exceptional talent that
permeates the student body at The Colburn School in downtown Los Angeles.

 

Colburn is the west coast equivalent of The Juilliard School
in New York City or the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, and the school’s
flagship ensemble, The Colburn Orchestra, opened its 2011-2012 season last
night in impressive fashion before a full house at Ambassador Auditorium.
Although approximately 30 percent of the orchestra turns over annually and
school has been in session only a few weeks, Music Director Yehuda Gilad had
his young charges playing with precision, power and musicality throughout the
program.

 

Gilad and Co. opened with a performance of Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture that was
sumptuous and spirited, depending on the composer’s wishes. As they did all
evening, the string sections produced deep, sonorous tones in the welcoming
Ambassador Auditorium acoustic and English horn principal John Winstead got
things rolling with his plaintive solo lines.

 

Choosing Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is a good way
to show off any orchestra’s virtuosity and The Colburn Orchestra has that in
abundance. Gilad led a sensitive, highly individual performance of this
familiar work, emphasizing silences effectively and letting his principals and
sections shine. That list includes Trumpeter Joseph Brown, Tubist Spencer
Brown, the entire brass section and the full woodwind contingent.

 

Gilad had some distinctive ideas with regard to tempos. Bydlo (the oxcart) was something of a turbocharged
vehicle and Baba Yaga (The Hut on Fowl’s
Legs)
also raced forward, but the latter led to a majestic rendition of The Great Gate of Kiev that concluded
the evening gloriously.

 

Prior to intermission, 20-year-old Francesca dePasquale, a
senior in the Bachelor of Music program at The Colburn Conservatory, delivered
a polished reading of Dvorak’s Violin Concerto. DePasquale (a student of Robert
Lipsett at Colburn) displayed a silvery tone and impressive technique
throughout the performance, although her tone turned edgy occasionally in the
final movement. She played the middle-movement theme with great sweetness and
danced her way impressively through the final movement’s lighter moments. She
also smiled more during the final movement dispelling the mood of her grimaces
in the previous movements. The winner of last year’s Irving M. Klein String
Competition in San Francisco, dePasquale (who is serving this year as one of
the orchestra’s concertmasters) is clearly a talent to watch in the future.

 

Gilad and the orchestra offered sympathetic accompaniment to
dePasquale, and the audience — which obviously included fellow students, parents
and other Colburn supporters — responded exuberantly, as it did for all three
pieces.

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Hemidemisemiquavers:

One of the finer advantages of attending Colburn Orchestra
concerts are the comprehensive and erudite music notes written by Colburn
students — in this case, violist Matthew Cohen, violinist and pianist Bora Kim,
and oboist Titus Underwood, all of whom played in the orchestra.

DePasquale clearly comes from a musical family; among the
people she lists in her bio as mentors are four people with the last name of
dePasquale.

Given that the 1,400 free tickets for last night’s concert
were distributed a week before the concert, you might want to sign up now to
make sure you don’t get shut out for the Oct. 22 concert. Click HERE for
details.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the
birth of Richard D. Colburn, the school’s founder and namesake.

_______________________

 

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

PREVIEW: Colburn Orchestra opens season Saturday at Ambassador Auditorium

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

This article was first published today in Pasadena Scene magazine.

______________________

 

The Colburn
Orchestra; Yehuda Gilad, music director and conductor

Saturday,
September 24, 7:30 p.m.

Ambassador
Auditorium, 300 W. Green St, Pasadena

Free
admission (tickets are required; download from Web site– or call 213/621-1050)

NOTE: As of today,
the orchestra had announced a sellout although a standby line will be
available on the Web site.

Information:
www.colburnschool.edu

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After
years of wandering from one home to another, The Colburn Orchestra will play
all five free concerts of its upcoming season in the acoustically friendly
confines of Pasadena’s Ambassador Auditorium.

 

55350-Gilad-Web.jpg

Music
Director Yehuda Gilad (pictured right), who founded the orchestra when Colburn’s
Conservatory of Music was formed in 2003, will lead the opening concert on
Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. with a program that includes Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, the
Mussorsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition
and Dvorak’s Violin Concerto, with Colburn student Francesca dePasquale, winner
of the 24th Irving M. Klein String Competition in 2010, as soloist.

 

The
Colburn Conservatory is the West Coast equivalent to such prestigious East
Coast institutions as The Juilliard School in New York City and Curtis Institute
of Music in Philadelphia.  As many
as 100 students, ages 17-26, play in the orchestra with approximately 30
percent of the ensemble turning over each year.

 

“It’s
a fascinating dynamic and each year is different,” says Gilad, also a fine
clarinetist who teaches at both The Colburn School and the University of
Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. “All the students all come in
with fine technical ability — they can all play the notes and play in tune. My
job is to find ways to meld them into a cohesive, beautiful whole, to mold them
rather than changing them.”

 

Even
the orchestra’s principals (i.e., first-chair players) change from year to
year. “We hold auditions every year and my staff and I then choose a leadership
pool to help guide the entire ensemble,” explains Gilad, who was born and
raised on a kibbutz in Israel. “Some principals are new; others remain from
previous years. The ones who have been here before know what sort of color and
timbre I want and they help the others. For example, this year, we’ll have
different wind principals for every concert, which does present a unique set of
challenges.”

 

55351-Tovey-Web.jpg

Gilad
will lead three of the five concerts, including programs on Oct. 22 and Feb. 4,
2012. Gerard Schwarz, who recently completed a 25-year tenure as music director
of the Seattle Symphony, will conduct on Dec. 3. Bramwell Tovey (pictured right), music director
of the Vancouver Symphony and principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles
Philharmonic at Hollywood Bowl, will lead the season’s final concert on March
3.

 

“I
love having two or three guest conductors a year,” says Gilad. “They bring a
different flavor, another point of view to the orchestra and that provides
great experience for the students who, after all, will experience just that
sort of thing routinely when they move on to professional orchestras.”

 

One
of the issues that Gilad won’t face this year is adjusting to five different
halls. The Colburn School’s main performing space, Zipper Hall (which is
located across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall) is an excellent locale
for chamber music but neither the size of the stage nor the hall’s capacity are
appropriate for orchestral concerts.

 

“It
would be wonderful to have our own hall on campus where we could both practice
and rehearse all the time,” says Gilad. “However, Ambassador Auditorium is a
wonderful hall and I always look forward to working there. Each hall has a
completely different sound and it always takes a while to adjust. My staff and
I have to listen very closely to get the right balances and quality of sound;
eventually we find what we want. As the season goes on, we’ll come to think of
Ambassador as home — there’s a real sense of excitement and expectation for all
of us. We’ll be up to it — I know I am!

_______________________

 

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

NEWS AND LINKS: Colburn Orchestra to perform five concerts at Ambassador Auditorium

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

 

After several seasons of “wandering in the wilderness,” The
Colburn Orchestra has settled on Pasadena’s Ambassador Auditorium as its home
for the five concerts of its 2011-2012 season. Moreover, in addition to hearing
one of the nation’s top conservatory orchestras, the price is right: free.

 

Although perhaps not as well known as its east coast
counterparts, The Colburn School is the west coast equivalent of institutions
such as The Juilliard School in New York City, Curtis Institute of Music in
Philadelphia and Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. The Colburn Orchestra is
the school’s flagship ensemble and many of its alumni have gone on to major
orchestras in the U.S. and beyond, as well as to solo and teaching careers. Its
concertmaster last season, Nigel Armstrong, won fourth prize in this summer’s
Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow (LINK).

 

Why Ambassador? In addition to being one of the nation’s
premiere concert halls, Ambassador is a logical choice because the school’s
main performing space, Zipper Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, is not big
enough — either in stage size or seating capacity — to handle major orchestra
concerts.

 

The 2011-2012 Colburn Orchestra season will open on Sept. 24
when Music Director Yehuda Gilad leads a program of Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, the
Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an
Exhibition
and Dvorak’s Violin Concerto with Francesca dePasquale, winner
of the 24th Irving M. Klein String Competition in 2010, as soloist.

 

Other concerts:

Oct. 22: Gilad
will conduct Brahms Symphony No. 3 and Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with
Colburn Conservatory cellist Estelle Choi as soloist.

Dec. 3: Gerard
Schwarz, who recently completed a 25-year tenure as music director of the
Seattle Symphony, returns to Ambassador to conduct The Colburn Orchestra in
Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Toru Takemitsu’s From Me Flows What You Call Time, which will feature the percussion
ensemble “Smoke and Mirrors.” When Schwarz was music director of the Los
Angeles Chamber Orchestra from 1978 to 1986, the orchestra’s home was
Ambassador Auditorium.

Feb. 4: One of
the nation’s top mezzo-sopranos, Sasha Cooke, joins Gilad and the orchestra in Am I In Your Light? from John Adams’
opera Dr. Atomic and Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder. The program concludes
with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7.

March 3:
Bramwell Tovey, music director of the Vancouver Symphony for the past nine
years and principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at
Hollywood Bowl for the past three years, leads The Colburn Orchestra in Richard
Strauss’ tone poem Ein Heldenleben and
Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2, with Conservatory pianist Sichen Ma as soloist.

 

More information HERE

_______________________

 

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