By Robert D. Thomas
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. 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 György Kurtág’s Grabstein für 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.