Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Coming Attractions

March 15, 2012

Tenor Ben Bliss Photo : Kenneth Dolin
There are four events in the next two weeks that are worth mentioning, and even more worth seeing, that you may have overlooked. So put down those Billy Squire LPs you're spending so much time mooning over and don’t make that mistake again.

1) While there are some arts organizations in Los Angeles that would like you to believe that youth and community arts program was invented in South America over the last decade and was only recently imported to the U.S., the reality is most organizations have had just such operations for a very long time thank you very much. Case in point, the Los Angele Opera and music director James Conlon have made an annual trek across the street to Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral to present one of a number of rotating community-based musical productions on an appropriate theme for the setting. Past years have featured Britten’s Noye’s Floode and a version of the Jonah and the Whale story. This year, Conlon and his large orchestra and chorus made up of a variety of community players including over 400 children and the Hamilton High School Symphony Orchestra will remount The Festival Play of Daniel on Friday the 17th and again on the 18th downtown. The pastiche of Medieval music has been re-orchestrated, arranged, and directed by Eli Villanueva, the resident stage director of L.A. Opera’s Education and Community Outreach programs. The show is bigger and more ambitious than in its prior outing two years ago now that it too benefits from some of the high-end video equipment the company used for its 2010 Ring Cycle. The show is a great chance to hear a number of the company’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artists including bass Erik Anstine, tenor Ben Bliss, and tenor Alexey Sayapin among others. It’s also a great chance to see José Rafael Moneo’s beautiful Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral, a local architectural landmark that surprisingly too few Angelenos have seen first hand. Of course, since the 7000 or so free tickets were already distributed weeks ago, you may not be able to get in, but the company just released several tickets to both performances yesterday, so you may want to see if you still have a chance.

The Calder Quartet
2) Jacaranda Music in Santa Monica will present their latest program on Saturday and Sunday at First Presbyterian Church on 2nd St in an evening of their own American mavericks. In addition to pieces by William Schuman and Leon Kirchner, the evening will also feature the second and third string quartets from Christopher Rouse. The latter of these was commissioned especially for the Calder Quartet who will be on hand to play it. I heard them do so last summer in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and it’s a considerable piece of chamber music you should not pass up the opportunity to hear by one of America’s premiere chamber groups.

Garrick Ohlsson
3) And speaking of string quartets, the Takács Quartet is coming to Orange County and the Irvine Barclay Theater on Tuesday the 20th along with Garrick Ohlsson playing Beethoven and the Shostakovich Piano Quintet. Shostakovich’s chamber music is a unique world unto itself, and this is not a piece one comes across everyday. Best of all the Philharmonic Society of Orange County is offering tickets at a 10% discount for folks who purchase online or over the phone when they use the code TAKACS10. That’s a good deal on a show from some great musicians.

4) And last but far, far from least is the latest big stage review from L.A.’s next big comedy star and all around dynamo Ayana Hampton who’ll be bringing her latest Ayana Hampton Show creation, The Morning After Show to the Bootleg Theater in Hollywood for three nights on March 22-24. Miss Hampton’s freewheeling subversive comedy ups the ante on legends like Sandra Bernhard with the kind of bite that made her 2009 REDCAT performances unforgettable. And it’s only $15. It doesn’t get much better than that.


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