By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
This article was first published today in the above papers.
If, as noted last week, choral music is one of the enduring symbols of the holiday season, many people would consider Handel’s Messiah to be pinnacle of that genre, and we’re in the midst of a Messiah cornucopia throughout Southern California.
The most unique way of experiencing Handel’s 1742 oratorio is by singing it, and Monday night at Disney Hall the Los Angeles Master Chorale offers you the opportunity to do just that with its annual “Messiah Sing-Along.” No experience necessary; just buy a ticket, show up and sing —or you can just listen and be surrounded by sound. Bring your own score or buy one for $10. Information: 213/972-7282; www.lamc.org
For a complete change of pace, Nicholas McGegan will conduct his Philharmonic Baroque and Philharmonia Chorale on Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Disney Hall. Presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, these concerts will be closer to what most people would consider “authentic” performances of Messiah, although Handel heard his famous oratorio (created in just 24 days with the assistance of librettist Charles Jennens) performed by a wide variety of sizes and types of performing ensembles. Information: 323/850-2000; www.laphil.com
Finally next Sunday at 7 p.m., Grant Gershon completes the Messiah Disney Hall troika when he conducts 48 singers of his L.A. Master Chorale, soloists (from the Chorale) and a chamber orchestra in a full-length (three hours) performance of Messiah. Information: 213/972-7282; www.lamc.org
Two other Disney Hall holiday programs are worth noting. Chanticleer, the San Francisco-based, all-male ensemble, returns to the hall on Thursday at 8 — a must-see for choral lovers — and organist David Higgs plays his annual recital on the Disney Hall pipe organ, assisted by soprano Shana Blake Hill, who has performed many times with the Pasadena Symphony. The latter program will also include audience caroling.
If you’re absolutely fed up with holiday music (or even if you’re not), Canadian conductor Bernard Labadie will lead the L.A. Phil on Friday morning (11 a.m.), Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon in an all-Mozart program that concludes with the composer’s final symphony, No. 41 “(Jupiter”). Benedetto Lupo will be the soloist in Mozart’s final piano concerto, No. 27, K. 595. This program is right in the wheelhouse of Labadie, who is a Baroque and Classical specialist; he is founder and music director of Les Violons du Roy and La Chapelle de Québec in his native province. Information: 323/850-2000; www.laphil.com
(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.