discovering mozart AKA “Oh you Arch-Donkey”

Thursday’s LACO Discover performance at Ambassador auditorium in Pasadena was unlike any other I’ve been to. When I arrived I plopped down in my seat and mentally prepared myself to hear some combination of a 20-30 minute classical composition paired with a bizarre/jangly modern piece before intermission. As usual the orchestra all came out but then the lights suddenly went dim, almost like a guest rock band was going to come out. There was a scuffle of movement in the dark. A spot light finally lit up a small part of the stage revealing two men in black shirts and pants sitting at an ornate wooden table with silver goblets in front of them.

read more →They began to perform a skit! One of the men played Mozart and the other was Mozart’s composer “friend” Salieri. As Mozart explained the unusual origin of his Requiem to Salieri, I couldn’t believe this was really happening. Salieri then secretly “poisons” Mozart’s goblet and the orchestra and a full choir began to play a Mozart composition as the “poison” takes effect. Salieri leaves the “dying” Mozart on the wooden table as the orchestra and choir really get going. As a huge fan of unexpected theatrics I was overjoyed and couldn’t believe how long this was going on for. The Mozart actor stayed “dead” on the table for awhile but sadly the music ended and the lights came back on. Conductor Jeffery Kahane appeared and explained that the skit was actually part of a play by Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. JK went on and began a fascinating lecture that explained some of the history, tragedy and plain wackiness associated with Mozart’s Requiem. Among my favorite facts: Mozart wrote the majority of the Requiem in just five weeks! It was unfinished but brilliant. Kind of reminds me of procrastinating in college…except in this case Mozart died and I passed my classes with flying colors. #humblebrag

  • After parts of Mozart’s Requiem were called into question Beethoven responded by calling Mozart out with this quote: “Oh you Arch-Donkey!”
  • One movement in Requiem is called “Tuba Mirum” (which is actually kind of funny, more on this later) BUT at the time of the writing the tuba, the hilarious instrument we all know and love today, did not exist and tuba meant trumpet at the time.
  • Mozart only used the trombone, another (arguably) hilarious instrument, during parts he considered sacred and holy.
  • Finally, here’s a wonderful quote JK shared. It’s Mozart from a letter to his father about his feelings on death: “I never lie down at night without thinking that (young as I am) I may be no more before the next morning dawns. And yet not one of all those who know me can say that I ever was morose or melancholy in my intercourse with them. I daily thank my Creator for such a happy frame of mind, and wish from my heart that every one of my fellow-creatures may enjoy the same.”

After an intermission, the actual performance of Mozart’s Requiem began. As I mentioned early, there were an impressive array of performers along with JK and the Orchestra. There was also a huge choir and four solo vocalists. My favorite soloist was probably Aubrey Allicock because of his performance on a movement I mentioned earlier “Tuba Mirum”. The beginning of the movement has Allicock in a super deep voice singing: “Tubaaaaaaaaaaa”. It sounded like a deep ballad to the (arguably) silly looking musical instrument, which made me happy. The actual translation of that part according to the program notes are “The trumpet scattering its wondrous sound throughout the sepulchral regions”. As I mentioned early, Mozart found the trombone to be sacred so perhaps he also really loves trumpets. Or maybe he was terrified of them because it seems like most of this piece is a reference to Judgment day? Yikes.

As a whole Mozart’s Requiem is one my favorite pieces of music that LACO has played in the almost 3 seasons I’ve seen. It was cool to have the evening just focused on the one piece of music. And the sound of Requiem is so epic and captivating. This is in large part thanks to the vast array of vocals from the soloists and choir. It almost feels like the darkest Christmas carol ever which I mean as a high compliment.

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mozart’s final masterpiece

The Discover Concerts are always such a joy for a person like me. I’m the kind of person who enjoys something even more when I know the intricate details about it. I’m anticipating this particular Discover Concert because I know there are lots of details to cover. On Thursday, LACO will be performing Mozart’s Requiem. Since it’s a choral piece, LACO will be joining forces with the Los Angeles Master Chorale (and their artistic director, Grant Gershon). The piece will feature the magnificent solo voices of Alison King (soprano), Emily Fons (alto), Nicholas Phan (tenor), and Aubrey Allicock (bass). But that’s not all; two other guests, actors John Sloan and JD Cullum will have very important roles to play. They will be the embodiment of our composer, Mozart, and his imagined antagonist, Antonio Salieri. I don’t know exactly how the evening will be structured, but the possibilities are very exciting!

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Mozart’s death in December of 1791 cut short a very productive life. Just shy of his 36th birthday, Mozart had written somewhere around 600 works including 41 symphonies, 27 piano concertos and nearly two-dozen string quartets. The composer’s last years were, at times, extremely productive. In the summer of 1788, he completed his three final symphonies in less than two months. He wrote operas including Così fan tutte and The Magic Flute. And in his last year, Mozart received an anonymous commission for a Requiem mass. This final piece, however, was left incomplete at his death.

The Requiem was commissioned anonymously by a man named Count Franz Walsegg, who wished to commemorate his wife’s death. The whole affair was shrouded in mystery. Walsegg sent a mysterious emissary to make a deal with Mozart: the anonymous benefactor would pay half of his generous fee up front, and pay Mozart the other half when the work was completed. We think that Walsegg used the emissary probably because he wanted to pass the work off as one of his own. He was something of an amateur composer and a piece like this would have made him look very talented, indeed! Mozart was devoted to the completion of the work, and desperate for the second payment (the Mozarts were chronically in financial straits), but his health did not cooperate. He suffered with an illness in September, but continued to work. In late November, he became too sick to continue. After ailing for two weeks, Mozart died on December 5th.

Mozart had completed the opening movement of the work, the Requiem aeternam. He had written out the vocal parts of the Kyrie, but left just sketches for the orchestral parts. The Sequence and Offertory were in a similar condition, although he composed the Sequence only as far as the eighth measure of the Lacrimosa. The rest of the movements—Sanctus, Benedictus, Hosanna, Agnus Dei—were not composed. This left Mozart’s wife, Constanze, in a bit of a bind. Without Walsegg’s second payment, Constanze struggled to support herself and her children. Turning to different composers to complete the unfinished work, Constanze found only one man who would agree to the subterfuge of passing it off as Mozart’s work. Franz Xaver Süssmayr, Mozart’s long-time assistant, completed the work in 1792.

Süssmayr did an admirable job, especially for his skill level, but some critics have mentioned its problems, among them, lackluster musical ideas and errors in harmony. But over the years, listeners have become used to it, accepting it as Mozart’s final masterpiece. Mozart’s incomplete score seems to have provided more than enough raw material for Süssmayr to put together something worthwhile, but there were still some nagging doubts. Could it have been done differently, maybe even better? What if we had just a little bit more information? These thoughts lingered for more than a hundred and seventy years. But then there was a break in the case.

In the 1960s, a sketch for an Amen fugue was discovered among Mozart’s papers. Many musicologists believe that Mozart meant for this piece to be included in the Requiem after the Lacrimosa. Robert D. Levin, an American musicologist and pianist, is one of a handful of people who attempted new completions of Mozart’s Requiem in the twentieth century. Levin’s version—the one LACO will be playing this week—retains Süssmayr’s basic structure, but addresses some of the problematic aspects of style and orchestration in Süssmayr’s version. Perhaps the most important change is the reworking of the Lacrimosa to accommodate Levin’s Amen fugue, which was written from the sketch. Levin, an expert on Mozart’s work, has completed a number of fragments Mozart left unfinished, as well as some incomplete cantata movements by Bach.

The first few bars of the Lacrimosa, which are the only bars of that movement Mozart completed, are easily some of the most achingly beautiful in all of music. I know them well because I have sung them many times. As a singer who spent many, many hours in choirs, I have sung both Süssmayr’s version of the Requiem and Levin’s completion. I was first introduced to Levin’s version when I was in college, and I was struck by its boldness and its beauty. The Amen fugue is not an easy piece, but it’s absolutely breathtaking and exciting. I am delighted to experience this work again in LACO’s Discover Concert. The combination of LACO, the LA Master Chorale, the soloists, the actors, and of course, our beloved Jeffrey Kahane, will make this Discover Concert one of our best yet. I, for one, will not miss it.

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impress your friends with these 12 little-known facts about singers!

It’s not unheard of for singers and vocalists to grace the LACO stage, but it is a rare occurrence. Not this month, though! In honor of the upcoming Discover Mozart’s Requiem concert on February 19, which features soloists Alison King, Emily Fons, Nicolas Phan and Aubrey Allicock, as well as The Los Angeles Master Chorale, we’ve assembled these fun facts about the human voice, singers, and the composers who work with them. On with the show!

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1) Before his opera career took off, Luciano Pavarotti supported himself and paid for his vocal lessons by selling insurance.

2) In 1722, composer George Frideric Handel hired soprano Francesca Cuzzoni to perform in an opera he was writing. Cuzzoni was known for being difficult, which Handel experienced first-hand when she refused outright to sing one of his arias in rehearsal. Handel resolved the issue by grabbing her wrist and threatening to throw her out the window unless she sang it. His strategy worked, and she didn’t complain again (about that aria, at least).

3) Vocal coach Richard Fink IV set the Guinness World Record for longest continual vocal note when he sang a Bb for 103 seconds in 2009.

4) During her first performance in the Royal Opera House’s production of Tosca in 1964, legendary soprano Maria Callas leaned in too close to a burning candle on stage, and her wig caught on fire. Her co-star, Tito Gobbi (who was playing Scarpia), reached over and extinguished the flame with his bare hard, and while all this was happening, Maria never missed a note. Later, when she had to stab Gobbi, Maria acknowledged his quick thinking by saying under her breath, as she lifted the blade, “Grazie, Tito.”

5) Famed contralto Marian Anderson was the first African American to perform at the White House, as a guest of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1930s. She was also the first African American to perform as a member of the New York Metropolitan Opera.

6) An interactive chart was published last year comparing the vocal ranges of 75 hugely popular recording artists. Axl Rose, the lead singer from Guns ‘N’ Roses, has the widest range, from F1-Bb6, followed by Mariah Carey (F2-G7), Prince (E2-B6), and Steven Tyler from Aerosmith (D2-E6). Country star Luke Bryan has the smallest range (A2-A4), followed by Taylor Swift (E3-F#5) and Karen Carpenter (D3-F5). Other fun facts gleamed from this chart:  Bjork and Dolly Parton have the exact same vocal range (E3-D6), as do Rod Stewart and Whitney Houston (C#3-C6), Bob Dylan and Kurt Cobain (C#2-F5), and John Lennon and Elvis Presley (B1-A5). Mariah Carey beat out Christina Aguilera for the honor of being able to sing the highest note: Carey can hit G7, compared to Aguilera’s C#7. At the other end of the spectrum, Axl Rose narrowly beat out Barry White for lowest note honors. Rose can hit F1, while White’s range ended at F#1.

7) The Guinness World Record for the lowest vocal note produced by a male was set by Tim Storms in Branson, Missouri, in 2012. He hit a G -7 (0.189 Hz).

8) The oldest professional opera singer was Lou Pinchao, a Chinese performer who sang Cantonese opera well into his nineties. He was known for singing for almost 30 minutes with one foot raised and wrapped around a prop. Lou passed away in 2010.

9) While “Break a leg!” is one common way of wishing a singer good luck before a performance, in Spanish- and Portugese-speaking countries, the popular phrase is “mucha mierda,” which translates to “lots of shit.” This phrase can be traced back to the days when audiences arrived at the theater in carriages. Seeing lots of shit in front of the theater would be a good sign, because it indicated a packed house.

10) One tradition that came from the opera world is the cheering, during a curtain call, of the word “Bravo!” Be careful, though, because the word you cheer changes, depending on who’s onstage. Here’s a quick guide: It’s appropriate to yell bravo for a man and brava for a woman. If there are multiple performers, use the plural, which is bravi. If the group consists only of women, yell brave (pronounced “bra-vay”).

11) In 1991, Plácido Domingo sang the title role in Verdi’s Otello in Vienna, and the audience set a record by applauding for 80 minutes straight. There were 101 curtain calls.

12) This last one isn’t a fun fact, it’s a joke. Enjoy!
Q: How many altos does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: None. They can’t get that high.

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frank’s house

It’s not every day that I get to have a glass of wine with one of my adolescent heroes, but such was the case last August when I visited the home of Frank Gehry and his wife Berta. I’ve known of Gehry since a picture of the shiny, swooping model of the then-still-a-glimmer-of-a-wish-of-a-fantasy of Disney Hall appeared in Newsweek in the mid 90’s, and I was, in that moment, hooked. I count my visit to the Frank Gehry retrospective at the Guggehnheim in the early 2000’s to be one of the formative experiences of my creative life, and I was lucky enough to watch Disney Hall rise up out of the ground from my post as an usher at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion a few years later. The year the hall opened I painted myself silver and donned a swooping silver Disney-shaped hat for Halloween. Needless to say, I’ve been like next-level-obsessed with this guy and his work for quite some time.

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So when Margaret Batjer first told me that LACO’s Westside Connections was looking at architecture as a theme for this season, and was working on securing Frank for one of their concerts, I was over the moon, begging to be involved. We concocted a plan for me to write a piece about Frank’s house (this is actually something I’ve done before – writing music about buildings), and I was off to meet the man himself in the house he built more than 35 years ago.

I have more to say about the experience of Frank’s house than I can possibly say in this blog. You’ll have to come to the concert to hear for yourself. But more than anything, I left my drink with Frank and Berta impressed by the generous spirit they both possessed, they who sat with a young composer and talked for hours about everything – music, architecture, creativity, life. On the outside, Frank’s house can be a little intimidating. It’s all corrugated metal and chain link fence and crazy angles and sharp corners. Inside, however, it’s luminous and fun and fluid and whimsical and generous, much like the couple who live there.

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bachelor behind-the-scenes

When I was told that the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra was going to be featured on an episode of the Bachelor I knew I had to find a way to be there. As a young teen I had watched my fair share of the Bachelor, and the Bachelorette. I had oohed and aahed with all my friends about who was going to win, who should be kicked out, and of course, how we would act if we were on the show. Having LACO be part of the show was my chance to finally get the backstage scoop of the inner workings of this crazy-yet addicting-show.

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When I first arrived at the Park Plaza hotel I was astounded by the sheer number of people who were working. Dozens of crew members were quickly putting the set together. Handful of flower arrangements, candles and linens-so many different linens-were strategically placed, draped and hung. By the looks of it, the crew had redecorated the hotel! But no, it was just a small, tiny section. The table where the couple ate was as big as a card table. The floor danced on? The length of a bed. However, with all the camera angles and decorations, the table looked comfortable and not itsy-bitsy. The dance floor seemed as spacious and open as when Cinderella dances with her Prince. The magic of angles, lighting and many retakes were finally revealed to me.

I can never look at TV, especially reality TV the same. But it’s because I now appreciate all the hard work that goes into making it happen. The crew team was incredible, fixing any stray hair, dress malfunction and sweaty forehead quickly and professionally. The detailing of each shot of footage was painstakingly examined and tweaked. The patience each member possessed and the comradery they had for one another was truly wonderful to watch.

But of course, we can’t forget about the LACO musicians. For me, they were the chocolate icing on the cake. The call time for the musicians was 6:00 pm and not a single person was late. In fact many of them were 20-30 minutes early. As I greeted the musicians and asked how their days were going, many answered, “I just came from a recording session.” Or “I just finished teaching at school”. It was 6:00 pm, they had already put in a full day of playing, teaching, or practicing and they still had a 5 hour gig that night. The life of a musician really never stops!

At 6:30 pm sharp they began to rehearse. It was the first rehearsal. It was the first time playing with the guest conductor. It was the first time for many of them to look at the music. And yet, not a single note was wrongly played. The harpist strummed away as if it was her favorite piece in the whole world. The basses-my favorite to watch-plucked away like they had been playing this their entire life. And the soloists? Not a faulty breath or shaky note. No, it was magical listening and watching them play. It was clear they truly loved performing and had a deep understanding of their instruments. They could not have looked more professional yet at ease if the director had told them to. When LACO began to play the whole Bachelor crew stopped working. How could they not? It was beautiful. Some people even started dancing, faking a waltz and stepping on toes (clearly they didn’t watch Dancing with the Stars enough). The atmosphere in the whole hotel changed from frantic work to calm and serene enjoyment. That was what the LACO musicians could do.

In 30 minutes, they both rehearsed and recorded the sound for the episode. The director was shocked that they were now ahead of schedule. As I later learned, this rarely happens! The musicians quickly and quietly left the ball room to get a quick dinner before the taping started.

When the taping finally started (at this point it was around 9:45) it was my first time seeing the Bachelor and his lovely date. She looked incredible. Her gown was a beautiful shade of blue and fit her like a glove. Her hair was perfectly done and her makeup artist was close at hand to retouch any lipstick or eyeliner issues that arose. As the couple walked up the stairs to the dance stage, I caught a glimpse of her shoes. Holy mackerel. They were at least 5 inches tall! And stilettos! If you’ve ever worn heels-any heels, then you can really appreciate the skill it took for her to gracefully make her way around.

The next hour and a half was spent taping the dance. It was interesting to see how each time they did the scene, the couple seemed to become more comfortable with each other and began to have more fun. By the last taping, they were laughing and goofing off as if they were childhood sweethearts. It was surprisingly touching to watch. When the final dance had finished and the taping was over, all of the crew cheered, clapped and finally began talking again. The scene was over. It was now back to real reality. The one without the orchestra, the gowns, and the ballroom. I noticed though, as everybody began cleaning and packing up, the songs LACO played were being hummed and whistled by many. The music continued to play.

Getting to observe the taping of The Bachelor has definitely been added to my list of “Awesome things I’ve done in LA”. I’m so lucky that LACO gave me the opportunity of a lifetime!

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john adams the minimalist

Back when I was a young music student and I first heard of John Adams, I thought, the second president of the United States was a composer!? But of course, I hadn’t yet heard of John Adams (b. 1946), nor had I the pleasure of hearing the music of this artist, who is one of the most influential and well-known living composers. John Adams was born and raised in New England. He played music from a young age, and started writing original music when he was just 10 years old. He attended Harvard, and while in Boston, soaked up the musical offerings of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. After his time at Harvard ended (two degrees conferred), Adams moved to San Francisco to teach at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In 1982, he was named composer-in-residence of the San Francisco Symphony, and founded and curated their “New and Unusual Music” series. He is currently the Creative Chair of the LA Phil, and curates its Minimalist Jukebox festival.

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John Adams is often classified as a minimalist composer, and perhaps it’s important to define precisely what this term “minimalism” means. In the realm of 20th century music, “minimalism” refers to music that often features short phrases repeated a large number of times or that may gradually go through a process of change or transformation. There is routinely a steady pulse in pieces like these, and there is not necessarily a harmonic goal, so the music becomes more about the process rather than traditional harmonic language, or narrative or representative stories. There are five American composers generally associated with the early days of minimalism: John Adams, LaMonte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass.

Some early minimalist pieces were produced on tape loops, and explored the resulting sounds when two loops of the same phrase were slowly drawn out of phase with each other. Later, this idea of phasing was explored with live instruments, to great effect. One of the pieces on LACO’s upcoming concert is John Adams’ Shaker Loops from 1978. The “loop” of the title was inspired by these tape loop compositions, although there are no tape loops used in the piece. Shaker Loops started out as a string quartet called “Wavemaker,” which was an exploration of two ideas: 1) minimalist procedures and 2) the ripples made when the surface of water is broken or disturbed. The “Shaker” of the title might suggest the religious sect (so named because their worship included shaking and dancing), but it actually grew out of the idea of string tremolo, a technique that requires the player to quickly repeat a note by moving the bow back and forth in a continuous motion. According to the composer, when he was writing this piece, he was thinking of “long sequences of oscillating melodic cells that created a rippling, shimmering complex of patterns like the surface of a slightly agitated pond or lake.”

The first iteration of this piece in “Wavemaker” didn’t work in the way Adams had hoped, so he expanded the work for seven string instruments. The version LACO is playing is actually a third version, which was arranged for string orchestra. The added instruments allow for more possibilities in terms of texture. There four movements of the piece, “Shaking and Trembling,” “Hymning Slews” “Loops and Verses,” and “A Final Shaking.” Like other minimalist pieces in which the short ideas transform gradually, over time, the musical ideas in each movement display gradual changes in focus. Sometimes, the waves seem to crash into each other, while in other parts the sounds mesh into one. It’s a fascinating piece to both watch and hear, and the synchronization of the ensemble’s collaboration is absolutely key to the success of the piece. I’ve not yet heard this piece in live performance, so I’m very excited to experience the energy of this piece on stage.

My first experience with the music of John Adams was Nixon in China, a ground-breaking opera he composed in 1985-1987. It premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in October of 1987. It was a joint commission by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Houston Grand Opera, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Alice Goodman penned the libretto, which covers the arrival of Pat and Richard Nixon in China and continues through the subsequent meetings and events of this historic visit. I was struck by the power of minimalist music when used by a large orchestra, and it’s still one of my favorite operas. It wasn’t universally praised when it premiered, but in the nearly 30 years since it was composed, it has been recognized as a very important work in twentieth century opera, and it has endured in a way its early detractors never thought possible.

John Adams won the Pulitzer in 2003 for a work called On the Transmigration of Souls, a work commemorating the lives lost on 9/11. As a native New Yorker, I felt that the choice of Adams as the voice of such a work seemed a natural. It’s a moving and touching piece meshing orchestra, adult choir, children’s choir, and tape. Adams still composes and curates and conducts. In 2008 he published a memoir called Hallelujah Junction. He came to the Los Angeles Public Library to give a talk, which I attended. When he took questions, I asked him this: “Do you compose every day?” To which he answered, “Yes, I try to, even if it’s just a little bit.” This is a good lesson I think about a lot, especially at the beginning of a year. How can I make this year more productive than the last? I think of John Adams and his answer: whatever you do, try to do a little bit each day.

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welcome, karina!

Most musicians I know would be content playing in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra or the Berlin Philharmonic on a regular basis. Some might even have the privilege of being asked to solo with professional orchestras across the country. Apparently for Karina Canellakis, that was not enough. Following in her father’s footsteps, she decided to pursue conducting at The Julliard School. She received her Master’s in orchestral conducting and she won 2013 Schiff Conducting Award for outstanding achievement in orchestral conducting, the American Conductors Award, Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship and the Isidore Komanoff Award. With her academic success, she has now moved to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as the new Assistant Conductor this season where she continues to impress the musical community. Even at the last minute.

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Karina Canellakis was called into action in the middle of the night on October 3, 2014. Jaap van Zweden, the Music Director of the DSO, was experiencing strong shoulder pains while preparing the orchestra for a weekend of concerts. Jaap van Zweden conducted both concerts both Thursday and Friday night, but the pain was too much and after seeing a doctor, he needed to recover. It was in this moment in which the spotlight moved to Canellakis. With Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14, Canellakis had her work cut out for her. As the Dallas Morning News stated, “she rose spectacularly to the challenge Saturday night, leading with great clarity and expressivity” and listed this performance as one of the Top 10 classical music performances of 2014. Her thorough preparation and excellent execution earned her a standing ovation and thunderous feet shuffles from the orchestra.

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra would like to congratulate Karina on her triumph upon the podium in Dallas and cannot wait to begin preparing for a weekend of music for LACO’s 4th concert of the orchestral series on January 24th and 25th. She will display both her talent on solo violin and conducting. The program will include Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in E-flat major and Peteris Vasks’ Lonely Angel and following that, she will lead the orchestra through John Adams’ Shaker Loops and Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major in LACO’s 4th concert of the orchestral series. Best of luck and welcome Ms. Canellakis!

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yours, mine and ours

Several years ago, a colleague from a fellow arts organization and I were meeting to discuss a collaborative project. She had attended a LA Chamber Orchestra concert a few nights earlier, and her sharp observation of the listeners around her has stuck with me ever since: “I’ve never seen such a possessive audience,” she said. In just a few words, she defined the essence of the LACO community and pointed out what makes it so remarkable. When it later became my job to make the pre-concert, “turn off your cell phone” announcements, I took those words to heart and, Vin Scully-style, incorporated the phrase, “your Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.”

read more →Multiple media platforms have made music more accessible now than ever. You can enjoy LACO performances online, on radio and on disc, but it’s remote access. To be in the room with the Orchestra’s fierce collection of talent is a visceral experience, where a musical energy field connects you to the players – and to your fellow concert-goers. It’s that bond that creates a real sense of ownership, and I don’t just mean figuratively. Almost three-quarters of the funding needed to produce LACO’s world-class performances and engaging community programs is contributed – and 70% of that comes from individuals like you, who donate over and above the price of a concert ticket.

By definition, that makes LACO your Orchestra, and because of your generosity, it belongs to all of Los Angeles and the world.

You can help sustain this indispensable cultural and community resource – and boost your tally of charitable deductions for 2014 – by making a gift before December 31. Donate online or call the LACO office up until 5 pm on New Year’s Eve.

Thanks for making LACO not only your Orchestra, but ours.

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musician spotlight: Patricia Mabee

The 2014-2015 season is in full swing, and we wanted to start highlighting some of the many amazing and talented musicians seen on the LACO stage. First up, Patricia Mabee, who has been LACO’s principal keyboardist for 38 years! You can catch Tisha performing during in LACO’s upcoming Baroque Conversations concert on Thursday, December 11. Tisha took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer some fun questions for us, so keep reading to learn more about Tisha’s history with snake bites and the soundtrack to her forbidden adolescent tryst!

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Do you have any pre-concert rituals?  I like to curl up into a ball, or at least close my eyes and listen to my breath for a minute.

What’s your earliest musical memory?  Sitting under the upright piano while my Mom played Bach. I was probably only one or two years old.

What’s a piece of music that triggers a memory that always makes you smile?  It’s “Let’s Spend the Night Together” by the Rolling Stones. Ahhh, forbidden adolescent tryst!

If you could play another instrument other than the one(s) you already play, what would it be and why?  It’d have to be a lute or theorbo, because then I could just jump from harpsichord to play it whenever I felt the music called for it.

If you could play a duet with any living musician, living or dead, who would it be and what would you play?  Herbie Hancock, and we’d play “Chameleon.”

What’s your favorite music-based movie or TV show and why?   “West Side Story.” Pure genius, innovative for its time and it never seems dated.

What’s something about you that no one would know just by attending a LACO concert?  In my late teens I wanted to become a doctor with the Peace Corps. I trained as a nurse and volunteered for 2 summers in rural areas in Guatemala and Colombia treating things like tarantula and snake bites and kwashiorkor, which is malnutrition.

Halloween just passed. What’s your all-time favorite Halloween costume?  Marie Antoinette, of course!

Turkey Day is a couple weeks away. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish, dessert, or entree?  Are mashed potatoes and gravy a side dish? You can have everything else!

In addition to her work with LACO, Tisha is also principal keyboard with the New West Symphony Orchestra. She made her debut at Carnegie Hall in 1982, and has since given recitals on four continents. She has made regular appearances at the Oregon Bach Festival, as well as at the Casals, Chamber Music Northwest, Ojai and Los Angeles Bach festivals. Tisha performs with the Bach’s Circle and is the music director of Ritornello, a period instrument ensemble. Tisha can be heard on many film soundtracks including “Marie Antoinette” and “Master and Commander.” Specializing in Early Music, Tisha received a Master’s degree in keyboard performance from California Institute of the Arts. She is currently on both the CalArts and Colburn School Conservatory of Music faculties.

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what is music?

I had the best time at LACO’s Meet the Music performance on Friday, November 21. Meet the Music is the Orchestra’s education program for 4th and 5th grade students, primarily from LAUSD. These programs are always so much fun to attend – watching the students respond to the music presented, listening to their questions, and hearing their reactions as they leave the auditorium.

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On Friday, the program, which included musicians from LACO, musicians from wild Up and conductor Christopher Rountree particularly spoke to me. At the concerts, Christopher asked students “What is music?” The concert explored the difference between music and sound – could sounds be music? Are they the same? In further exploration of this concept, Chris answered, “Music is all around you.”

For those of you who have attended recent LACO concerts, you know we have been asking concertgoers the same question – what is music to you? We also got lots of great answers, and put together this fantastic video:

Watch the video, and read what other music lovers had to say in response to this question.

Join in the conversation! Tell us what music is to you via Facebook or Twitter and tag it with #musicIs.

As 2014 is coming to a close – consider making a gift to the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra to help keep music thriving in Los Angeles.

Thank you for your support! I look forward to seeing you I the audience soon!

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