By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
This article was first published today in the above papers.
While local summer seasons get underway, a couple of individual concerts are worth noting.
Albert McNeil Singers perform this afternoon in Pasadena
‘The Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers of Los Angeles, one of the world’s great choral ensembles specializing in the genre of what we used to call Negro spirituals, will perform today at 4 p.m. at Pasadena Presbyterian Church in the Playhouse District of downtown Pasadena. The concert is free of admission charge, although an offering will be taken.
Although Spirituals have a history that is centuries old, the arranged spiritual became known in the winter of 1870 when a group of 11 singers — seven women and four men — representing the newly-established Fisk University in Nashville appeared at the Court of St. James in London. Queen Victoria's immediate acceptance helped this a cappella, four-part singing by an ensemble of students to become known worldwide as a creative religious music evoking a deep sense of personal spiritual fervor.
Since it was founded in 1968, the AMJS has performed 18 sold-out European tours, 12 tours of the United States and Canada, and tours of the Middle and Far East, Africa and South America. Now an active 92, McNeil has been the group’s leader since it was founded.
Information: 818/209-4635; www.ppc.net
Carmen meets Glee
• In a completely different vein, Opera Posse is setting Bizet’s famous opera, Carmen, in an American high school and calling it (what else) Carmen High. Think of it as Carmen meets Glee. The production lands at the Japan America Theatre in Little Tokyo on Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.
“With Carmen High, we’ve taken Bizet’s opera and recast it as a high school drama rife with issues that are current to the real high school experience,” explains Stephanie Vlahos, founder and artistic director of Opera Posse. “Peer pressure, bullying, teen pregnancy, violence and what happens to those who are marginalized — all are incorporated into the opera. But, at the same time, we remain true to Bizet’s music and concept.”
Vlahos — a mezzo-soprano who has sung in a number of productions with LA Opera and is currently theater coach and stage director for that company’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artists Program — will direct this production, which will feature high school and college students in the cast.
Information: 626/428-5609; www.operaposse.com
Cal Phil to unveil new home at Santa Anita Racetrack
In the summer season category, the flag is up for Victor Vener and the California Philharmonic, which will open their inaugural outdoor season at Santa Anita Racetrack on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and their indoor season next Sunday at 2 p.m. in Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Information: 626/300-8200; www.calphil.org
(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.