Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

LACO newbie

a new LACO season already? bring it on!

August 23, 2010

Is it already almost time for another LACO season to begin? Where did the summer go? Mine was too short but quite lovely, involving a little traveling and a lot of R&R, but I’ll be forthright and just say it: One thing I didn’t do all summer long was listen to classical music. I didn’t make it to the Hollywood Bowl to listen to the Philharmonic (which has been on my to-do list each of the past five summers and has only been crossed off those five to-do lists once). I didn’t listen to any of the classical music on my iPod – in fact, when a classical piece came up on shuffle, I jumped ahead to the next track. Rachmaninov? Not right now. Shakira? Yes, please! Just today I decided to drag myself out of my classical rut because I wanted to learn more about the piece of music used during the nude underwater ballet sequence in “Pirahna 3D” (yes, you read that correctly). Turns out, it was the Flower Duet from “Lakme,” the 1883 Delibes opera. Now that my appetite has been whetted (by a gory, disturbing, fantastic killer fish movie – hey, don’t judge), let’s take a look at some of what’s in store this season at LACO!

The season opener in September is called Infinite Enchantment and it promises, um, infinite enchantment. That’s a big promise for anyone to make, given the definition of ‘infinite’, but I’m certain LACO won’t disappoint. And speaking of definitions (sorry for the clunky transition, but this Newbie Blogger is a little rusty), I just learned a new one, because I had to look up a word used on LACO’s website: chimerical. Anyone? Anyone? If you guessed anything but “existing only as the product of unchecked imagination,” well, you’re wrong. Usage of a word associated with an unchecked imagination (a powerful notion!) is just one of the reasons I’m looking forward to this evening, and here are two more: 1) The program includes a Prokofiev Violin Concerto, and somehow in the past year, before my summer rut, I got turned on to Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto #2, and I love it. And since LACO’s orchestral season last year was Prokofiev-free, I’m excited for the opportunity to be introduced to more of his work. 2) I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard Mendelssohn’s music from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” but I have a particular attachment to that play, because when we did it at my high school, I played the very crucial role of… a mushroom. When the characters take off into the forest at the end of Act 1, our director decided to make our forest come alive, so kids played trees, and rocks, and I was a mushroom. The best mushroom ever.

Another concert that has my ears all perked up is French Connection, in February. I’m always entertained and amazed by the guest musicians LACO brings in, and this concert features a 21-year-old piano soloist named Lise de la Salle. Twenty one years old! I hope LACO provides transportation to their guests, because she’s not old enough to rent a car. In addition to the presence of a prodigy, this concert sounds like it might run the course, emotionally speaking. De la Salle is performing in a piece that is a “delightful, show-stopping nod to Parisian cabaret music,” while the evening’s other guest, Louis Langrée, is performing in Ravel’s “Pavane For a Dead Princess” (Pavane is the second word I had to look up to write this blog. If I were forced to guess, I would have said it’s some sort of creme-filled pastry, but actually, it’s a type of slow processional dance). A dead princess, eh? That’s a conversation stopper. Perhaps Mario and Luigi didn’t make it in time. Sounds like it could be a downer, unless I don’t really understand what a Pavane is, which is probably the case. But I look forward to it, even if it is a downer, because that’s just who I am. And if it is a downer, than I’ll have a great reason to pick up a creme-filled pastry on the way home.

April’s concert, Beethoven’s Emperor, caught my eye because I don’t think I’ve ever heard music described as funny before. But LACO’s website includes critical blurbs about John Harbison’s “The Most Often Used Chords” that say it’s a “charming spoof” that has “a few places that make you laugh.” Sign me up. Count me in. Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh from an unexpected source?

While those are the concerts that most stand out to me, it’s definitely not the entire LACO season, and what I’ve learned from attending concerts over the past couple years is that, often, it’s the concerts that seem least attractive on paper that end up being the most engaging – so definitely take a look at everything! To see what else they have coming up this season, click here. You can also do something that I haven’t done, and listen to all the music that will be performed this year by clicking on the ‘listen’ links on each individual concert page (I haven’t clicked on any of them because I don’t want to have any impressions before the actual concerts). So, start exploring and buy your tickets! Maybe we can meet up after a concert for some coffee and a Pavane.

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