Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond
In the Wings - Jan '12
January 04, 2012
The holidays are over and the local performing arts scene will be back in full swing this January with too much to choose from. The event I’m most excited about is the return of Marino Formenti to Southern California on Jan 7th as a guest of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County where he’ll play workers by Benjamin and Gardner as well as Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. His appearances are always surprising and this is the one show not to miss next month. A good second choice would be a local appearance by Steve Reich with red fish blue fish and the Bang on a Can All-Stars who will present an evening of his work including Music for 18 Musicians as guests of the L.A. Philharmonic’s “Green Umbrella” program on the 17th. And if you love Kaija Saariaho as much as I do, you’ll also want to consider this month’s performance from Jacaranda Music in Santa Monica on the 21st which will include Je sens un deuxieme coeur taken from her opera Adriana Mater.
Probably the most publicized event this month is the L.A. Philharmonic’s “Mahler Project” under the guidance of music director Gustavo Dudamel which starts Jan 13. What the "project" part is, I’m not sure other than no one wants to use a plain jane word like "cycle" anymore. Call it what you will, all of Mahler’s symphonies, and a few other works, will be presented over four weeks by either the L.A. Phil or the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela who’ll visit here before returning with Dudamel and the L.A. Phil to Venezuela to repeat the concerts. Both orchestras will perform alongside for Mahler’s 8th Symphony which will take place at the Shrine Auditorium on Feb 4th which the will later reprise from Venezuela as the next installment in the company’s live broadcast to movie theater series. And in case this "extraordinary" series doesn't have enough spoon-feeding built into it already, it will also bring the likes of stormin’ Norman Lebrecht to town (the real one not the fake one) who will participate by telling us why Mahler is important. So if this is a matter that has been puzzling to you, you may want to check out some of these shows along the way. Who knows? Maybe Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic will finally succeed in giving the largely unknown and misunderstood composer a foothold in the world of contemporary orchestra performance.
Apparently Mahler is considering that at east the LA Phil PR department feels that a Mahler cycle is "extraordinary" and needs to have the composer's importance explained to its audience by "world-class scholars".
In reality the series just reprises some of the most familiar orchestra music around - something you could hear more or less anywhere- with little added value other than it's being played over a rather condensed schedule using two different orchestras.