Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

looking back

looking back at 2011

December 23, 2011

looking back at 2011

photo Ken Hively

Over the past year, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra has experienced two seasons of outstanding music-making, celebratory returns and major organizational milestones. The Orchestra started the year with Mozart and Haydn under the direction of pianist Ignat Solzhenitsyn. Following the weekend concerts, LACO traveled to Santa Barbara performing a unique run-out at The Granada. Called “one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world” (Scene), LACO’s concert was a “rare pleasure.” (Santa Barbara News-Press) Moving into February, the 2010-11 season picked up speed with PROJECT Trio making their LACO debut at the popular Family Concerts series. Performing Hip-Hop Peter and the Wolf, the ensemble wowed audiences with their mix of classical and cool, laying the ground work for an exciting new three-year Family Concerts residency that starts in 2012.

The Westside Connections series marked its three year anniversary with a truly outstanding program that explored Music and the Mind. Curated by concertmaster Margaret Batjer, Westside Connections looked at how music influences and shapes the mind, delving into the series with an exploration of Romantic composer Robert Schumann’s “often stirring music as well as the depression that shaped it.” (Los Angeles Times) Later in March, Jeffrey Kahane returned to the LACO podium for Bach’s birthday with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke making her Los Angeles debut. Kahane gave a “dazzling” (Los Angeles Times) performance, having taken an extended leave of absence for health concerns, taking on Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 6 and leading Cooke in Bach solo cantatas, all in celebration of the great Baroque master. Closing out the month, a contemporary Baroque great, Harry Bicket, lead the final Baroque Conversations concert of the season.

Celebrating ten years of Sound Investment commissions, composer-in-residence Derek Bermel premiered Mar de Setembro with Grammy-winning Brazilian singer Luciana Souza. The piece brilliantly set the stage to launch the new decade of works commissioned by LACO through Sound Investment, a dedicated group of forward-thinking individuals committed to supporting new classical music. Hailed as “a small gem” (Los Angeles Times), the work is set to texts by the late Portuguese poet Eugénio de Andrade. This season, Sound Investment premiers a work by Brooklyn-based composer, Timothy Andres who is a youthful artist in the Charles Ives tradition. Andres brings a technological-bent to LACO, playing the piano and reading the score from his iPad alongside Jeffrey Kahane at the Azerbaijan à la carte on September 18. Jeffrey later brought this revolutionary performance method to The New York Philharmonic in November, when he conducted the orchestra from the harpsichord, offering “glimpses of both the past and a possible future . . . he used an iPad instead of a conventional score.” (The New York Times).

The 2011-12 season marks Jeffrey Kahane’s 15th anniversary as music director, as well as decades-long anniversaries of several musicians, and takes on a celebratory air. Launching the season in September with an electric guitar concerto for Dutch guitarist Wiek Hijmans by Derek Bermel that announced LACO’s golden age with the “proof in the playing” (Los Angeles Times ). Continuing a succession of outstanding soloists, soprano Karina Gauvin lit up the stage in October with Britten’s Les illuminations, an “inspired tour de force” ( Seen and Heard International ) that solidified the Orchestra’s vigor and convincing a reviewer to declare, “I had heard mumbling about how good the orchestra was sounding this season. The mumbling should be a shout.” (Seen and Heard International )

Marking another milestone in November, the Orchestra performed the complete Brandenburg Concertos for the 52nd time with Margaret Batjer leading. The pieces highlighted the musicians’ virtuosic playing, spotlighting each performers’ unique musical personality that marked the performance as “memorable in every way.” (The International Review of Music ) Continuing LACO’s ability to combine the old with the new, the December concerts were nights “of musical and artistic tributes that “brought the 17th and 18th centuries into the 21st” with “vibrant and colorful readings” of Thomas Adès Three Studies from Couperin and an “eloquent, songful rendition” of Respighi’s Gli uccelli (The Birds). (Los Angeles Times) At the Reflection concerts in December, violin Julie Gigante spoke about an important cultural monument in Los Angeles, Kent Twitchell’s “Harbor Freeway Overture” which immortalized the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra over the 110 Northbound. Two of the remaining musicians in the mural, principal oboe Allan Vogel and principal viola Roland Kato, joined Julie in the tribute to Kent Twitchell, which culminated in a Los Angeles Times feature story and an interview on KPCC’s Off-Ramp.

As LACO looks back at 2011 as an important year of growth during a difficult economy, we must thank our audience first and foremost for your loyalty and support as we look forward to an exciting conclusion to our season in 2012. Please click here for some seasonal cheer as we wish you and yours a very happy holiday season and New Year.

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