Five-Spot: What caught my eye on January 12, 2012

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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



Each Thursday morning, I list five events (six this week)
that pique my interest, including (ideally) at least one with free admission
(or, at a minimum, inexpensive tickets). Here’s today’s grouping:



Tonight at 8 p.m.
at Royce Hall (UCLA)

Paul Jacobs, organist

Despite being just 34, Paul Jacobs is one of America’s
extraordinary organ talents, who came to international renown 11 years ago when
he performed the complete organ works of J.S. Bach in an 18-hour non-stop
marathon performance. Later he performed the complete organ works of Olivier
Messiaen in nine-hour marathon concerts around the country. At age 26, he was
named chairman of the organ department at The Juilliard School in New York
City, one of the youngest faculty appointments in that school’s history.


There’s no Bach on this Royce Hall program, but the
selections include music by Messiaen, Elgar, John Weaver and others.


Royce Hall’s E.M. Skinner organ was built in 1930. It was
restored and rebuilt after being damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
With 104 ranks and 6,600 pipes, it’s one of the larger instruments in Southern


Concert information:


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

Los Angeles
Philharmonic: “The Mahler Project” begins

The Los Angeles Philharmonic begins its massive survey of
all of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies as Gustavo Dudamel leads the orchestra in
Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, with soprano Miah Persson as soloist, and Songs of a Wayfarer, featuring baritone
Thomas Hampson. Links to my articles on the cycle are HERE and HERE. The Phil’s
“Mahler Project” information site is HERE. Concert


Saturday at 2 p.m.
and 8 p.m. in Ambassador Auditorium (Pasadena)

Pasadena Symphony;
David Lockington, conductor

The PSO resumes its 2011-12 season as David Lockington,
music director of the Modesto and Grand Rapids Symphonies, become the latest in
a string of PSO guest conductors. He leads a program with a British theme: The Gale of Life by British composer
Philip Sawyers, Elgar’s Cello Concerto, with Andrew Shulman as soloist, and
Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 (Scottish). In
addition to the compositional British tone, Lockington and Shulman are English.
A link to my preview story on this concert and next weekend’s L.A. Chamber
Orchestra concerts (Shulman is conducting the LACO programs) is HERE. Concert information: www.pasadenasymphony-org


Looking for a marketing edge, the PSO has joined forces with
Breakthru Fitness to sponsor a Yoga class tomorrow at 6 p.m. (As the late,
great British comedienne Anna Russell once famously said of Wagner’s Ring, “I’m not making this up, you
know!”) Lockington, an avid practitioner of yoga, will offer a brief
explanation on the influence yoga has made on his life and career as a
symphonic conductor. He will also play the cello during the class. Space is
extremely limited; contact Breakthru Fitness at 626/396-1700 to reserve a spot.


Sunday at 5 p.m. at
the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (Los Angeles)

Young Musician
Foundation’s 57th annual Gala Concert

Usually a YMF concert would be in the “free admission”
category, but this one is held yearly to raise funds for this important
training program. Legendary film composer John Williams will lead the YMF Debut
Orchestra in selections from The
Adventures of Tintin
and War Horse, the
first concert performance of this music. Williams will conclude the program by
conducting music from E.T. The


Michael Tilson Thomas, who was the YMF’s music director from
1963-67 while he was a student at USC, will return to conduct Ravel’s La Valse. Other pieces will be conducted
by David Kaufman, Joey Newman and Teddy Abrams. Information:


Tuesday at 8 p.m.
at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Steve Reich;
Bang-on-a-Can All Stars; ref fish blue fish; percussionist David Cossin

Steve Reich, one of the greatest composers working today,
brings a program to the Phil’s Green
series that includes the West Coast premiere of the double-rock
quintet, 2 x 5,  and concludes with one of Reich’s
seminal works, Music for 18 Musicians.


And the weekend’s
“free admission” program …


Saturday at 8 p.m.
at La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts (La Mirada)

La Mirada Symphony;
Robert Frelly, conductor

For the second concert of its 48th season, this
community orchestra presents a Spanish-themed program with music by Fannin,
Chabrier, Bizet, Turnia, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Guitarist Jeff Cogan will be the
soloist in Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un



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

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NEWS AND LINKS: Jorge Mester named artistic director of Young Musicians Foundation

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

The revision is to correct the location of the Nov. 6 concert.



Jorge Mester, who for 25 years was music director of the Pasadena
Symphony, has been named artistic director of the Young Musicians Foundation and
its Debut Orchestra. The 76-year-old Mester will continue in his current
positions as Music Director of the Louisville Symphony and Naples (Fla.)
Philharmonic, although the Louisville ensemble is embroiled in a major
financial struggle at the moment.


Founded in 1955 and based in Los Angeles, the YMF is one of
the nation’s top pre-professional training orchestras. Its list of former music
directors includes such illustrious names as Andr Previn, Myung-Whun Chung and
Michael Tilson Thomas.


Last week, the its most recent maestro, Case Scaglione, was
named an assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, joining Joshua
Weilerstein, who was a Dudamel Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic last
year, in that post assisting Music Director Alan Gilbert (MORE).


Scaglione’s YMF predecessor, Sean Newhouse, is now assistant
conductor of the Boston Symphony. Last season he won praise from audiences and
critics alike when he stepped in on two hours notice to replace James Levine
and conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 with the BSO (MORE).


Thus, Mester (who has served on the YMF Advisory Board for
12 years) takes his new position at a propitious time for the organization. He
will help select and mentor the YMF’s next music director (it’s usually a
three-year appointment) and is preparing an expanded conductor program where he
will serve as a mentor for those people, as well. He will also supervise
auditions for the orchestra’s new musicians next month.


It’s a role for which Mester is eminently suited. He headed
the conducting program at The Juilliard School in New York City in the 1980s, taught
conducting at the USC Thornton School of Music, and was the Aspen Festival’s
artistic director for many years (he is now conductor laureate there). Several
conductors heading orchestras today, including JoAnn Falletta (Buffalo
Philharmonic) count Mester as a mentor. During his time with the Pasadena
Symphony, he also introduced to local audiences a number of young artists who
have gone on to major careers, perhaps most notably the violinist Midori.


In addition to his shepherding and teaching work, Mester
will conduct one of the YMF’s six free concerts during the upcoming season,
leading the orchestra in John Adams’ Shaker
and Bizet’s Symphony in C Major at 6 p.m. on Nov. 6 at the Los Angeles County Art Museum’s Bing Theater.


Read Janette Williams’ article in the Pasadena Star-News HERE.

The YMF media release is HERE.

The 2011-2012 YMF Debut Orchestra season is HERE.



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

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