Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond
If I Were You
September 24, 2011
I’m not in Los Angeles this weekend. However, if I were, I’d certainly be at the opening performance of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s 2011/2012 season. Music Director Jeffrey Kahane will be leading works by Golijov, Beethoven, and LACO’s composer-in-residence Derek Bermel who will be presenting the West Coast premiere of his concerto for electric guitar Ritomello. It’s a program that sets the tone for a banner season featuring new and recent music from a number of artists including Bermel, Thomas Adès, Gabriel Kahane, and Timothy Andres. Gabriel Kahane will present a new work in April 2012 which will be his second big commission for a local orchestra in Southern California in as many years. His Orinoco Sketches for the Los Angeles Philharmonic earlier this year was one of the highlights of last season. In the meantime, he’s been breaking down musical genre barriers elsewhere with the recent release of his new album of contemporary pop songs, Where Are the Arms which has too many should-be hits to go on about them all here.
Meanwhile, the recipient of LACO’s “Sound Investment” commission this year is the young Brooklyn-based composer, and friend of Kahane’s, Timothy Andres. “Sound Investment” which is now in its 11th year, is a commissioning program run by LACO where donors can make contributions to the ensemble specifically for the purpose of supporting new musical works for the orchestra. Andres should be no stranger to local classical music audiences having made a significant appearance on the L.A. Philharmonic “Green Umbrella” new music series at the invitation of John Adams in 2009. Last week he was back in L.A. to offer LACO staff and supporters a preview of his music and what he’s working on for the scheduled premiere in April. Andres is a tall, thin young man who is much more personable than his bookish appearance might suggest. He’s smart and engaging without being overly demonstrative or effusive. Only in his mid-twenties, he’s had some major successes including the previous L.A. Philharmonic gig. He released his first recording last year, Shy and Mighty, a one-hour song cycle for two pianos on the Nonesuch label. He garnered strong reviews for the recording and on Wednesday at the Colburn School in downtown Los Angeles he gave a small solo performance of “How Can I Live in Your World of Ideas?” a piece from the recording that was also included in his 2009 L.A. Phil performance.
His new piece for LACO is only just now taking shape, but it is a piano concerto that he will perform as the soloist. Andres’ work as a pianist has been highly influential on his compositions to date, and the spring LACO program will feature one of his other more notorious projects, a completion of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 26. Mozart famously left much of the music for the left hand in the piece blank with the intention of improvising it later along with the cadenzas in the performance. Andres took up the challenge to complete the piece by rewriting all of the left-landed component of the score not with a mind to mimicking or complementing Mozart, but providing his own retrospective historical commentary on it. You can listen to his performance of the piece on his excellent website already, which I would recommend you do. But until April, there are plenty of other great shows LACO has planned. And you don’t have to wait until April to hear them play. In fact, I wouldn’t wait at all given that Sunday’s show at Royce Hall already has a lot going for it.