Welcome to September (special thanks to Pomplamoose for helping to ring it in with style). We officially still have a few weeks of summer left, but this month is when all sorts of seasons (musical and otherwise) start anew:
Dr. Art Bartner rallies the troops (photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)
My beloved USC Trojans kick-off their 2011 football season tomorrow at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Here’s hoping that the new offensive line holds up and the defense gets a LOT better — that shouldn’t be so hard considering how disappointing they were last year. In anticipation of the game and the annual Hollywood Bowl appearance of the USC Trojan Marching Band (TMB) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture, the Los Angeles Times profiled Dr. Arthur C. Bartner, the very vocal director of “The Spirit of Troy” for the past 42 years. There also happen to be side interviews with two former TMB players who are now both in the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO): Principal Horn Richard Todd and Principal Trumpet David Washburn.
Speaking of interviews with LACO musicians, Music Director Jeffrey Kahane chats with Brian Lauritzen about the first half of the upcoming 2011/2012 season on a podcast that can be downloaded or streamed from the orchestra’s website. Their first concert is on September 24 & 25 in a program featuring Music Director Jeffrey Kahane as conductor and soloist in the Beethoven Piano Concerto No 4, with works by Mozart, Golijov, and an electric guitar concerto by Derek Bermel featuring soloist Wiej Hijmans. If you can’t wait that long to see them, September 17th marks the beginning of an interesting series, “LACO à la carte:” concerts featuring one or two LACO solo players, performed at residences of various foreign Consul Generals (Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Austria) plus an “Iran” themed evening at the Brentwood home of Ahmad & Haleh Gramian. Each concert comes complete with a dinner of the respective country’s cuisine. Not surprisingly, tickets aren’t cheap: $250/seat for the Australian evening and $200/seat for all others, with multi-concert discounts available.
If you want something a little more affordable, you can’t get much better than the five concerts by the Colburn Orchestra this coming year: $0. Yup, that’s right, my favorite price, “Free Fifty-Free” for general admission seats (Premium seats front and center cost a still-reasonable $25/ticket). Clarinet pedagogue extraordinaire and Colburn Orchestra Music Director, Yehuda Gilad, conducts three of the concerts including mostly warhorse works by Dvorak, Mussorgsky, and Brahms. Gerard Schwarz leads the orchestra in the Mahler 5th Symphony, and Bramwell Tovey is on the podium for Ein Heldenleben by Strauss. Featured soloists include distinguished Colburn students Francesca dePasquale (Dvorak violin concerto), Estelle Choi (Shostakovich cello concerto no. 1), and Sichen Ma (Brahms piano concerto no. 2), plus mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke singing works by Adams and Mahler, and percussion ensemble, “Smoke and Mirrors” in From Me Flows What You Call Time by Takemitsu. All concerts this year will be at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena.
For something a little more adventurous, try “New Music for String Quartet and Electronics,” a concert on September 17 presented by People Inside Electronics, featuring The Eclipse Quartet performing new compositions. This info is taken from their press release:
Last winter, People Inside Electronics, a concert series directed by Aron Kallay and Isaac Schankler, put forth an international call for scores, seeking work that combined the traditional instrumentation of a string quartet (the award-winning Eclipse Quartet) with electronics. They were delighted with the response of over 60 entries, and set to work preparing a concert of their favorites.NEW MUSIC for STRING QUARTET and ELECTRONICS is the culmination of that work.
The concert, at MiMoDa Studio in Culver City, comprises five exciting pieces of new music. Three are arranged for the full quartet and electronics: Zeena Parkins’ spellbinding Persuasion, Dan Visconti’s dynamic, eclectic Love Bleeds Radiant, and Kotoka Suzuki’s atmospheric Vestigia. Rounding out the program are Jason Heath’s enchanting Rain Ceremony, arranged for viola and electronics, and Panayiotis Kokoras’ mercurial Shatter Cone for violin and electronics.
Do you prefer your electronic music in the form of New Wave? Southern Californians can head over to the Hollywood Bowl tonight for a concert by the Human League, Berlin, The Fixx, and The B-52′s. If you miss them there, The B-52′s and Human League will head to Las Vegas for a beach-side concert at Mandalay Bay on Sunday; the others will drive up to the Bay Area where they’ll be joined by the likes of Men Without Hats, Kenny Loggins, The Romantics, and many more at the Sausalito Art Festival this weekend. That won’t be quite the one-hit wonder fest that appeared at Mandalay Bay last month, but it holds its own.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic will NOT be joining the New Wave fun at the Hollywood Bowl (imagine Chris Hanulik doing the bass riff on a special orchestral arrangement of “Rock Lobster” or better yet, Fred Schneider doing his trademark sprechstimme to Pierrot Lunaire), but they did take part in a different kind of fun: they were the beneficiaries of a cake-making challenge in this week’s episode of “Top Chef — Just Desserts.” If the TV show’s judges were to be believed, they tasted pretty good. Unfortunately, theirs are the only opinions we have to listen to since the show decided to show absolutely no footage of LA Phil musicians actually commenting on the creations; save for some out-of-focus shots of second violinists in the background, they barely got any screen time to speak of. I guess their SAG cards will have to wait.