Music News & Info: Classical / Southwest Chamber Music

Beyond the Bowl: a summer full of music across Southern California (including many FREE concerts)

Southwest Chamber Music Summer Festival 2012 at The HuntingtonWhen thinking of summertime music in SoCal, one’s thoughts usually go first to the Hollywood Bowl.  There’s a good reason for that:  the iconic venue in Cahuenga Pass is not only the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, it hosts a dizzying array of jazz, world music, alternative rock, musical theatre, and more.  Where else can you see The Rite of Spring, Herbie Hancock, M83, and Bugs Bunny under the same starry roof in one summer? (click HERE for more details on this summer’s concerts at the Hollywood Bowl)

That said, perhaps you’d prefer not to brave stacked parking or a bus ride, or you think enjoying a concert with 16,000 of your closest friends is not exactly the intimate experience you were looking for.  Lucky for you, there is much more to the musical offerings in the area than that one big venue.

Here is a quick list of the concerts that caught my eye happening in various areas across town — many of which are offered at my favorite price:  Free Fifty-Free (AKA Gratis, AKA $0):


  • Southwest - Ravel String Quartet (photo by Andreas Salomon)Southwest Chamber Music, Summer Festival at The Huntington (July 13 – Aug 25):  My favorite non-Bowl series is definitely Southwest’s set of eight concerts performed on the grounds of this beautiful San Marino landmark.  The performance quality is uniformly excellent, the musical selections are interesting and intelligent, and the acoustics within the logia are quite good.  Plus, if you prefer a more casual (and less pricey) option, you can bring a chair, blanket, and a cooler and picnic on the grass in front of the logia and still hear the concert.  This year’s programs include a broad range of works by composers ranging from Mozart & Brahms to Stravinsky, Schoenberg, & Janacek, plus living composers like Gabriela Ortiz and Oliver Knussen.  Single tickets are $28 – $65,  students with ID – $10.  Buying full four-concert subscriptions offer savings of 30% in the logia ($182) and 10% on the lawn ($100).  For more info and to buy tickets, click HERE.
  • MUSE/IQUE’S 2013 “Summer of Sound” at Caltech’s Beckman Mall (June 29 – Aug 17):  Artistic Director Rachel Worby describes the series as “90 minutes of pure out-of the-box adventures in sound.”  Each of the three concerts features orchestral works paired with non-orchestral music and musicians.  Tonight’s opening concert features Patti Austin and “a musical mash up of works by Brubeck, Beatles, Ellington, Weill, Paganini and more.”  Tickets are $10 and go up from there, click HERE for more info and to buy tickets.  Future concerts include:
    • “Moving Pictures” (July 27), featuring  cellist Matt Haimovitz and actress Wendie Malick (“Hot in Cleveland”) in a fresh take on motion picture scores by Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith and Erich Korngold as well as a world premiere of a work by Peter Golub, prolific composer for films and theatre and director of Sundance’s Film Music Program, and some Bach and Beethoven as well.
    • “Lose Your Senses with Ellis Hall” (Aug 17) which brings together celebrated vocalist/pianist virtuoso Ellis Hall, former Tower of Power lead singer, with the MUSE/IQUE orchestra, for a blend of soul by Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, and beyond with works by Beethoven, Vivaldi and Bach, to celebrate life through music.

The South Bay

  • iPalpiti Orchestra in Rolling Hills (July 20):  The 16th Annual iPalpiti Festival of International Laureates runs July 11 to July 27 in venues all across Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties.  Many of the concerts’ tickets cost various amounts greater than $0, but the July 20th concert at 7:30pm in the Rolling Hills United Methodist Church is FREE.  The program will feature iPalpiti soloists and a preview of orchestral selections from the Walt Disney Concert Hall performance the following weekend.  Click HERE for more details.


The Westside

  • Skirball Sunset Concerts (July 25 – Aug 29):  This season’s world music series at the Skirball Cultural Center starts with Los Angeles-based band The Belle Brigade on July 25.  Other performers later in the summer include: the West Coast premiere of  Israeli composer, producer, and performer Shye Ben-Tzur; Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars; Mamak Khadem and Ensemble’s work influenced by the ancient poetry and music of Persia; Grammy-winning vocalist Maria Muldaur (best-known for her recording of “Midnight at the Oasis”) and The Campbell Brothers; and Afro-Brazilian musicians Dendê & Band.  Concerts are FREE (though parking at the Skirball is $10, cash only).  Click HERE for more info.
  • Marina Del Rey Concert Series (July 11 – Aug 31):  This FREE outdoor concert series features classical music on Thursday nights and pop music on Saturday nights on the green in Burton W. Chace Park, a 10-acre park surrounded on three sides by water — trust me, the setting does not suck.  Frank Fetta is music director and conductor of the classical music concerts; the pop concerts feature Billy Ocean, Taylor Dayne, Poncho Sanchez, and Rose Royce.  General admission seating, bring your lawn chair or blanket.  Parking details and other info is available HERE.
  • Summer Organ Concerts at Westwood United Methodist Church (July 14 – Aug 11):  This series features three concerts highlighting the church’s Shaffer Memorial Organ with its 153 ranks, 87 digital voices, 240 registers.   Soloists are Edward Tipton, Daniel Kerr, and Timothy Howard performing works by Bach, Duruflé, Barber, and many more.  Complimentary secure parking is available adjacent to the church building.  Click HERE for program details.


Photo credits:

  • The Huntington:  photo by CK Dexter Haven
  • Southwest Chamber Music players:  photo by Andreas Salomon
  • iPalpiti orchestra:  courtesy of iPalpiti

2 thoughts on “Beyond the Bowl: a summer full of music across Southern California (including many FREE concerts)

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