Mark Swed: 2021 classical music for LA, OC, San Diego


We are back! We are back?

You may have noticed, thanks to the lithium shortage, a shortage of semiconductor chips to power crystal balls, making them even rarer and more expensive than used cars. We are alone, friends.

For memory :

4:31 p.m. 23 Aug 2021An earlier version of this article misinterpreted the title of Mark Gray’s opera as “Birds of the Moon.” It’s “Birds in the Moon”. The listing also implied that the venue for the performance would be the Broad Stage; the opera will be staged by the Broad Stage on an outdoor lot in downtown Santa Monica.

We are approaching an uncertain fall season which just a month or two ago seemed hopeful and ready to celebrate. Instead, regulations and recommendations seem to change on a daily basis. Cancellations – whether due to artist infections, fear of travel, or visa issues – remain an ongoing reality. As for indoor gatherings, who knows now?

This, however, is certain: the equation for the predictable fall will be Music = Mask + Vax.

If the list below is weighted towards large institutions, it is because many others did not have the means to finalize the plans. Don’t forget to look out for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Wallis, UCLA Center for the Art of Performance, REDCAT, Beckmen YOLA Center, Broad Stage, Monday Night Concerts, Piano Spheres, UCSB Arts & Lectures and the many new music organizations, chamber ensembles and multimedia artists that make Southland a happening scene.

In the meantime, the reopening is going on promisingly, so let’s turn our attention to the openings with optimism. On paper, they look like the dawn of a new world.

1-4 Sep

“Birds of the Moon” by Mark Gray

The brilliant composer and sound technician Mark Gray has proven to be particularly invigorating and stimulating in musical theater, most recently and originally in ‘Frankenstein’, written for the adventurous La Monnaie in Brussels. His latest is a “mobile opera”, taking an offbeat approach to migration via a work written for travel and to be performed in a maritime container. “Birds in the Moon” will have its West Coast premiere presented by the Outdoor Broad Stage at Santa Monica Lot 27, Arizona Avenue and Fifth Street in downtown Santa Monica. $ 25 to $ 75.

September 14

“Yo-Yo Ma: The Bach Project”

Four years ago, Yo-Yo Ma made the astonishing discovery that he could play all of Bach’s six deeply intimate and inner cello suites right in the Hollywood Bowl, where distraction tends to be inevitable. Yet some 17,000 of us stayed there for almost three hours and listened with a startling intensity that has become downright infectious. Ma has since repeated this feat around the world and is bringing it back to the Bowl at a time when we desperately need to be reminded that not all contagion is to be avoided. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. $ 16 to $ 171.

American musician Rhiannon Giddens will perform at the Ojai Music Festival.

(Rick Loomis / For the Times)

16-19 Sep

Ojai Music Festival

The three-quarter-century young and relevant open-air festival of Ojai has gone beyond its usual weekend in early June to fight the coronavirus. John Adams is this year’s musical director. It focuses on young composers and performers. Among them are the brilliant Icelandic pianist Vikingur Ólafsson and genre star Rhiannon Giddens. Libbey Bowl, 210 S. Signal St., Ojai and other locations. $ 20 to $ 150 per show; festival passes cost between $ 75 and $ 950.

A scene from Francisco Negrin's production of

A scene from Francisco Negrin’s production of “Il Trovatore”, shown in a performance at the Monte Carlo Opera.

(Alain Hanel)

Sep 18-Oct ten

The Los Angeles Opera performs “Il Trovatore”

Although it is one of Verdi’s best-known operas, “Il Trovatore” is not the most performed. Do it right, and it’s pure opera fire. If you get it wrong (as is far too common) it becomes a festival of laughs (as the Marx Brothers ‘Night at the Opera’ keep proving). Obviously, the Los Angeles Opera is hoping to directly target the guts of an opera-hungry audience with this season’s opening led by the company’s musical director, James Conlon, an electrifying Verdian. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Downtown LA $ 19 – $ 292.

Reena esmail

Los Angeles composer Reena Esmail.

(Arnaud Pyvka)

25-26 Sep

Los Angeles choirmaster

No ensemble has struggled more powerfully during the pandemic than the choirs, as singers are inevitable spitters of the cursed coronavirus. The Los Angeles Master Chorale plans to return in full swing to the Walt Disney Concert Hall with a fantastically mixed program of short pieces given first in homage to teachers, then in free concert for subscribers. Looking back and forward for inspiration, the choir’s versatile musical director, Grant Gershon, begins with medieval plainsong and reaches the present day with Reena Esmail’s “Together at Last”. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Downtown LA September 25: Teachers with ID are free. September 26: Subscribers are free. Everyone else pays what you can.

September 26

“Bird Catalog” from Piano Spheres

As the Broad Stage sends opera birds to the moon with Mark Gray’s new opera, leave it to the Piano Spheres to find meaning on the pitch. Olivier Messiaen’s massive and whimsical catalog of bird songs amplified in 13 fiercely inventive and virtuoso piano studies will be played by 13 pianists at the source where bird watchers, piano lovers and Messiaen’s feathered friends can meet. Audubon Center at Debs Park, 4700 Griffin Ave., LA $ 150.

Pianist Emmanuel Ax

Pianist Emanuel Ax joins the Pacific Symphony for its overture.

(Los Angeles Times)

Sep 30-Oct 2

Pacific Symphony

Longtime Music Director Carl St. Clair has the esteemed Emanuel Ax to help him bring his orchestra back to his Costa Mesa hall with Mozart’s Young Piano Concerto No.17, as well as Tchaikovsky’s painfully moving Fifth Symphony. . The program begins with the creation of an orchestral version of Wayne Oquin’s ode to skyscrapers, “Tower Ascending”, written a dozen years ago for group. Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. $ 25 to $ 209.

October 8

San Diego Symphony

The San Diego Symphony will be moving outdoors this fall in its eye-catching new concert shell on the bay. The city has time to do it and the Shell, which opened this month, has the latest bells and whistles. The orchestra’s dynamic musical director, Rafael Payare, is a former LA Phil Dudamel Fellow who will also become musical director of the Orchester Symphonique de Montréal. He has a brilliant opening program with Ravel’s jazzy Piano Concerto in G (Inon Barnatan is soloist) and Mahler’s First Symphony. Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, 222 Marina Park Way, San Diego. $ 25 to $ 108.

Gustavo Dudamel directing the LA Phil

Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil mark their return to Disney Hall in October.

(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

14-17 Oct

Los Angeles Philharmonic

Gustavo Dudamel opens the return of the Los Angeles Philharmonic to Disney Hall in a more thoughtful and hopeful way rather than a pro forma celebration with Schoenberg’s “Transfiguration Night” and Strauss’s “Death and Transfiguration”. Beyond this transfiguration, it’s an otherwise archetypal fall from LA Phil. All the guest chefs are women: Susanna Mälkki, Nathalie Stutzmann, Simone Young and Xian Zhang. 71% of symphonic programs include the creation of a new piece. Disney Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Downtown LA $ 91 to $ 227.

A man raises his arms as a woman watches

The contemporary art museum Geffen Contemporary hosts the installation “Sun & Sea”.

(Andréj Vasilenko)

October 14-16

“Sun & Sea”

Highlight of the Venice Biennale 2019, the theme of the environment “Climate opera” The installation by Ruglié Barzdziukaite, Vaiva Grainyte and Lina Lapelyte will transform the Geffen Contemporary of the Museum of Contemporary Art into a beach of at least 10 tons of sand. Yes, LA already has all the beaches in the world and we can count on our globally warmed October to continue enjoying the beach weather. But the 13 Sunbathing Singers will have something to tell you that you won’t hear the tourists from Santa Monica. Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 152 N. Central Ave., Little Tokyo, Downtown LA $ 20, $ 25.

October 16

Pasadena Symphony

Violinist Randall Goosby, 24, who made a splendid Hollywood Bowl debut this month, is a player with a superbly lyrical tone and grace beyond his years. But on the 18the The concerto of the century that he played by Joseph Boulogne is a light work and as good as the sound system, the Bol est le Bol, always leaving something to the acoustic imagination. The Ambassador Auditorium will be the place to find out more when Goosby opens the Pasadena Symphony season as a soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No.7. Ambassador Auditorium, 131 S. St. John Ave., Pasadena. $ 35 to $ 130.

Esa-Pekka Salonen

Esa-Pekka Salonen returns as Director of Conducting at Colburn School.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

November 13

Colburn Orchestra

LA Phil Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen is sure to be in the news this fall as he opens his first real season as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony and tries to turn the ensemble into a real 21st orchestra of the century. In addition to his permanent links with the LA Phil, he is also the conductor at Colburn School, and it is with the Colburn Orchestra that we will meet him this fall. He can be expected to give convincing meaning to Bruckner’s strangely weird and neglected Symphony No. 6. The Soraya, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. Free on reservation.


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