By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
This article was first published today in the above papers.
As we close the books on an eventful 2012 in terms of classical music (and, of course, other areas), several important issues in our favorite genre will play themselves out in 2013. Here are three that I’ll be watching:
PASADENA POPS LEADERSHIP CHANGE
Last summer, the Pops moved into a new home at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and then was staggered by the untimely death of its iconic music director Marvin Hamlisch on Aug. 6. The orchestra moved quickly, naming another major musical figure, Michael Feinstein, to replace Hamlisch as the orchestra’s principal pops conductor. This represents a gamble as Feinstein — best known for his work in what he calls the “Great American Songbook” — has never formally conducted a symphony orchestra before. Thus, how this all unfolds will be closely watched.
One other thing to watch will be how well the Pops fares going head to head with the Cal Phil at nearby Santa Anita Racetrack and with Muse-ique (Rachael Worby’s ensemble) at Caltech. Last year, the Pops and Cal Phil didn’t play on the same days; this summer their concert dates conflict three times, including June 29 when all three groups perform on the same night.
LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC’S SPRING SCHEDULE
In 2012, the LAPO’s “Mahler Project” dominated the news early on. The orchestra followed with a striking, albeit controversial, production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. This spring (May 17, 19, 25 and 25) at Walt Disney Concert Hall comes the second installment in the Phil’s Mozart/DaPonte Trilogy with The Marriage of Figaro, featuring sets designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel and costumes by couturier Azzedine Alaïa. Gustavo Dudamel will conduct.
Two months prior (March 7, 8 and 10), Dudamel will lead his orchestra, soloists and the Los Angeles Master Chorale in the initial fully staged performances of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, to be directed by Peter Sellars. It will be interesting to see what, if any, musical changes Adams makes to his powerful, complex score and how Sellars’ concept affects audiences’ reaction to it.
After its introduction locally, Dudamel and the Phil will take the production on the road for a tour that includes stops in New York City, London and Paris.
2013: A MAJOR ANNIVERSARY YEAR
Next year marks the bicentennial of the births of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi and the centennial of the birth of Benjamin Britten. How will local companies celebrate these three landmarks? So far, the only thing announced officially is Los Angeles Opera’s production of Wagner’s Flying Dutchman, which is scheduled to open March 9 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and continue with five more performances.
Thus, part of the intrigue in 2013 will be answered as 2013-2014 seasons are unveiled early next year and we see what else will be performed from these three musical giants.
(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.