By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
This article was first published today in the above papers.
November is always packed tightly with important classical music events but this year’s schedule is even more noteworthy due, in part to the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s three-week-long West Coast/Left Coast festival. Curated by the Phil’s newly named Creative Chair, John Adams, the festival celebrates the influence of the West Coast not only on the classical realm but on other music genres, as well.
There are 10 different WC/LC programs at Walt Disney Concert Hall, along with offerings at concert venues throughout Southern California. Although two programs linked to WC/LC played yesterday, the festival opens officially Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. (!) with Eureka! featuring the Kronos Quartet, one of the founders of minimalism, Terry Riley, and others. That “blast from the past” is followed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s second concert of its season, next Sunday at 7 p.m. when Music Director Grant Gershon leads a program of music by four composers either based on the West Coast or who gained their musical voices when they moved west.
The Philharmonic plays three programs during the festival. Music Director Gustavo Dudamel leads the final programs of his fall tenure with the orchestra on Nov. 27, 28 and 29 when he conducts LA Variations by the LAPO’s former music director, Esa-Pekka Salonen; a reprise of Adams’ City Noir, which Dudamel and the Phil premiered last month at the season’s inaugural gala concert; and Lou Harrison’s Piano Concerto, with Marino Formenti as soloist.
On Dec. 3 and 4, Leonard Slatkin (presuming he is recovered from recent heart troubles) will lead a program of unusual music from Hollywood, while Adams concludes the Phil’s portion of the festival on Dec. 5 and 6 when he leads his own The Dharma at Big Sur with violinist Leila Josefowicz as soloist, along with William Kraft’s Timpani Concerto No. 1 and other works.
Among other notable programs during this fortnight are:
-- French organist/composer Jean Guillou makes his first Walt Disney Concert Hall appearance tonight at 7:30 p.m. with a program that includes one of his own works and a transcription of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, along with music by Bach and Mozart.
-- Los Angeles Opera opens two productions at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this month. Handel’s Tamerlano begins Saturday evening in the first of five performances. Opening night is already reportedly sold out, due in large part to the fact that the company’s General Director Placido Domingo sings the role of Bajazet, the 126th role in his illustrious career. Countertenor Bejun Mehta sings the title role. Tamerlano runs in repertory with Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, which opens Nov. 29 and stars Nathan Gunn in the role of Figaro (the barber).
Another visitor to town this month is the mighty Berlin Philharmonic, which comes to Disney Hall Nov. 23 and 24 with Music Director Sir Simon Rattle on the podium. The first program includes Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and Schoenberg’s orchestral arrangement of Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 1. Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 headlines the Tuesday program.
Dudamel’s coming to Los Angeles has focused new light on bringing music to youngsters but, in truth, Los Angeles has always been a hotbed for youth orchestras, which admittedly are not exactly the same focus as the Philharmonic’s YOLA Expo Youth Orchestra.
One example is the Pasadena Young Musicians Orchestra (not to be confused with the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra), which opens its 2009-2010 season next Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Pasadena City College’s Sexson Auditorium. Music Director Jo Raquel Stoup leads a program of pieces by Tchaikovsky, Ravel, de Falla and Copland, all of which reflect the lands in which they were written. Tickets are $5, $3 for students and seniors; children under age 12 are free.
(c) Copyright 2009, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.