Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

LACO newbie

a great concert on a bad night

February 23, 2009

Sunday was the worst night for me to go to a concert. For anyone living under a rock, it was Oscar night, and I’m a big fan of watching the Academy Awards, even though every year it ends up being kinda boring, no matter how they try to jazz it up (this time around, I could have done without the ego-stroking during the acting categories. Just one presenter is fine). I also administer my office Oscar Pool, so I had to score everyone’s entries on Sunday night – and there were 57 in all. That is actually why this blog is delayed a day; I didn’t get to bed until about 2am after tallying the points. I didn’t realize this concert fell on Oscar night until about 2 weeks ago, but I couldn’t change my tickets for the Saturday concert, because I had other plans. So, reluctantly, I headed over to Royce Hall (after watching Penelope Cruz’s speech before I left), grumbling the whole way. But I walked out (it was more of a scurry, I suppose) glad that I came, of course.

It was another evening of premieres – two of them, in fact. The first was LACO flutist (flautist?) David Shostac’s Carmen Fantasy. The program clearly explained how the piece was Shostac’s own arrangement and featured his new orchestration of the themes from the classic opera, but to my newbie ears, it just sounded like Carmen to me. I’ve never seen Carmen, but am familiar with a couple parts of it – you know, the famous parts, which I quite enjoyed hearing LACO perform. I bet most people have heard parts of Carmen, even if they didn’t know it: The theme to The Bad News Bears, for example, is from Carmen, and the Carmen aria Habanera has been popping up in pop culture my whole life, including this little gem that makes me laugh every time I see it.

I’m proud that during most (if not all) of the concerts this season, I have been introduced to a new instrument that I wasn’t familiar with before, whether it be oboe, contrabassoon, hyper-accordian, or pool noodle. Which reminds me, LACO, I’m still waiting for the euphonium to make an appearance. Tick tock. This concert, though, had something rather unique: a percussionist smacking two planks of wood together. It was during the lively and spirited performance of Lalo Schifrin’s Tangos Concertantes (the U.S. premiere!), and it made me wonder what the technical term is for playing music with lumber. How is it denoted in the sheet music? Are there standards for length and type of wood and thickness? Does oak sound different from walnut?

A couple notes on the Oscars: First of all, did I spy LACO horn player Richard Todd playing in the Oscar band? I think there was a fleeting close-up during the medley of Original Score nominees, but someone, please confirm! And also, I have to toot my own horn: I predicted the Original Score winner in a recent blog, and I was right! While it wasn’t enough to win my office pool, I think that still warrants a boo-yah, if the kids are still saying that these days. I suspect they aren’t.

My next LACO concert isn’t until April – what will I blog about until then? I wish I knew, but really, I have no idea. Do you, dear readers, have any questions for me?

1 comment

Yes, that was Rick Todd you saw playing in the Oscars.

Regarding your question about the percussionist... he was playing the slap stick. You will get to see that instrument again in April so please stay tuned.

  • —Amy, February 24, 2009 12:04 pm

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