By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
A shorter version of this article was first published today in the above papers.
Three major choral programs are among the highlights as the winter-spring indoor season fades to black.
• The Los Angeles Philharmonic will present the world premiere of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary Thursday through next Sunday at Walt Disney Concert Hall. This performance is an oratorio; Peter Sellars (who wrote the libretto) will direct a staged version of the work next March in Los Angeles and then on tour in New York, London, Lucerne and Paris.
Gustavo Dudamel will conduct the Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master Chorale, six soloists including three narrators in this complex work, which is a bookend to Adams’ nativity oratorio, El Niño, which had its premiere in December, 2000 in Paris and was later performed in Los Angeles. The narrators are counter tenors Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings and Nathan Medley (Bubeck and Cummings performed in the world premiere of El Nino). Mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor sings the role of Mary Magdalene.
The first half of The Gospel According to the Other Mary tells the Biblical stories of the family of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus (including the raising of Lazarus from the dead). The second half deals with Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion and resurrection.
As they did with El Niño, Adams and librettist Sellars weave contemporary writings into the Biblical stories for The Gospel According to the Other Mary, using material from American social activist Dorothy Day and poet/essayist June Jordan, contemporary poet Louise Erdrich, Mexican poet Rosario Castellanos, along with the 12th-century mystic and abbess Hildegard of Bingen. Moreover, as was the case with El Niño, the orchestra plays a central role in the new work.
Reed Johnson has a profile of Adams in the Los Angeles Times HERE. Video clips of Adams and Sellars discussing The Gospel According to the Other Mary are HERE and HERE.
Information: 323/850-2000; www.laphil.com
• The Angeles Chorale concludes its season on June 9 at 8 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, Pasadena, with a program entitled “Stories of our Lives.”
The concert will feature the west coast premiere of Alzheimer Stories by Robert Cohen, using a libretto by Herschel Garfein that incorporates words drawn from letters written by Alzheimer’s patients, their families and their caregivers. “I found it compelling and moving,” says Artistic Director John Sutton, who will conduct the performance. “We often talk about Alzheimer’s over coffee and in our homes. Why shouldn’t we be singing about it? It’s so beautiful, this setting, and it’s so real.”
The program also includes Sing Me to Heaven by Daniel Gawthrop, a work Sutton explains is not about dying but the importance of singing throughout our lives; and music by Brahms, Paul Halley and Eric Whitacre.
A video clip with Sutton discussing the concert is HERE. Concert Information: 818/591-1735; www.angeleschorale.org
• The Los Angeles Master Chorale finishes its 48th season on June 10 at Disney Hall with a program of music by Polish composer Henryk Górecki and Brahms. The concert includes Górecki’s Miserere, which Music Grant Gershon programmed during his first season as LAMC music director 11 years ago. The concert will be recorded for a Decca CD release next fall.
Information: 213/972-7282; www.lamc.org
In other Master Chorale news, LAMC member Shawn Kircbner has been appointed the ensemble’s Swan Family Composer in Residence, effective July 1. He’s just the second person to hold the position; Morten Lauridsen was Composer in Residence from 1995-2001. The new position was funded by a gift from the Swan family (Philip A. Swan was a former LAMC board member).
In his new role with the Chorale, Kirchner will compose a new work in each year of his term; create new arrangements for Chorale concerts; consult with Music Director Grant Gershon and Associate Conductor Lesley Leighton regarding programming LAMC concerts; and partner with Gershon and senior LAMC staff to create and implement an LAMC commissioning program.
The LAMC media release is HERE.
(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.