Los Angeles Master Chorale Announces Blockbuster 50th Season at Walt Disney Concert Hall
Date: March 20, 2013
Location: California, USA
Choir type: Professional Choirs
2013|14 Season Celebrates Choir’s Reputation as one of World’s Most Eminent Choruses and Highlights Its Seminal Role in City’s Cultural Development as a Founding Resident Company of The Music Center and the
Resident Chorus of Walt Disney Concert Hall
Acclaimed Music Director Grant Gershon Draws Season’s Repertoire from
Grammy-Nominated Chorus’s Treasure of Signature Works as well as
Block of Significant New Commissions
Chorale Commemorates Half Century of Exceptional Music Making with:
Serving as the musical voice of Los Angeles for half a century, the Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC) holds a prominent place in the city’s cultural fabric as well as in the annals of classical music. The 2013-14 Season marks the milestone 50th Season of the trailblazing chorus, noted for its remarkable legacy as one of the world’s preeminent choirs, credited with enriching the choral literature with numerous high profile commissions and world premieres, and hailed as both a virtuosic symphonic chorus and a masterful a cappella tour de force. A dazzling year-long celebration embracing both the choir’s rich history and its commitment to advancing choral music showcases the Chorale’s broad and impactful reach.
The Kiki & David Gindler Music Director Grant Gershon, proclaimed “a first-rate conductor” (Opera News), conducts 10 programs, 4 of which are repeated, for a total of 14 performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Repertoire was chosen from the Grammy®-nominated choir’s treasure trove of signature works, including four choral masterpieces closely associated with the chorus: Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with baritone José Adán Pérez and Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Verdi’s Te Deum, Bach’s B Minor Mass and Handel’s Messiah, presented a record 52 times by the Chorale since its inception in 1965. Commemorating five decades of exceptional music making, the choir also reprises some of its recent cornerstone premieres, Steve Reich’s You Are (Variations) and Gabriela Lena Frank’s Los Cantores de las Montañas, among them, and presents four world premieres by eminent composers Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Lang, Francisco Núñez and LAMC Swan Family Composer in Residence Shawn Kirchner, all commissioned in honor of the Chorale’s 50th Season.
Special highlights include a riveting multi-media spectacular opening the season September 22, 2013; an extraordinary Anniversary Weekend Celebration January 25 and 26, 2014, paying homage to the Chorale’s inaugural performance and featuring “Golden on Grand,” a gala honoring 50 years of extraordinary music; and a heartfelt musical tribute to former Composer in Residence Morten Lauridsen on March 16, 2014, as well as a film tribute to him at the Alex Theatre. Additionally, the Chorale launches the second installment of the LA Phil’s popular Minimalist Jukebox Festival on April 6, 2014; participates in the noted city-wide “Britten 100/LA: A Celebration” with Britten’s beloved A Ceremony of Carols as part of the Chorale’s holiday program Rejoice! December 8, 2013; showcases the next generation of composers at its season finale June 8, 2014; opens the doors of Disney Hall to the public free-of-charge for its 25th Annual High School Choir Festival May 2, 2014; and continues its vital role in the classroom through its Voices Within in-school artists in residence and other education programs, reaching some 9,000 students and adults annually.
Additionally, in a significant pre-season appearance, the Chorale makes its Ravinia Festival debut, performing The Gospel According To The Other Mary with the Ravinia Festival Orchestra and the original cast, under Gershon’s baton, September 7, 2013. Music fans around the globe can also take the Chorale’s music home with them with digital downloads of two of the choir’s live performances during the 50th Season – the holiday programs “Festival of Carols” and a second concert to be determined.
“The Los Angeles Master Chorale is hitting on all cylinders,” says Gershon, who marks his 13th season at the helm of the Chorale. “Our tickets sales have reached record highs, our programming continues to win awards and generate excitement in the musical community, our singers have achieved ever-greater levels of artistry, and our education programs are making enormous impacts on young people’s lives. This is a time to celebrate the Chorale as well as look ahead to a vibrant future for choral music. This organization leads the choral field in the United States through our strong example of artistic integrity and community engagement.”
A resident company of the Music Center of Los Angeles County, the Chorale continues to present “Listen Up!,” a series of lively pre-concert conversations providing insight into the evening’s program, with Gershon and KUSC Radio’s Alan Chapman.
In addition to presenting its own concert series, this season the Los Angeles Master Chorale appears on seven programs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Hollywood Bowl engagements include Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas July 9, 2013, Verdi’s Aida led by Gustavo Dudamel August 11, 2013; and the Verdi Requiem, also conducted by Dudamel, August 13 and 15, 2013. At Disney Hall the Chorale joins the LA Philharmonic and Dudamel for the US premiere of The Last Days of Socrates, composed by Brett Dean, October 10-13, 2013, and Debussy’s Nocturnes, featuring the women of the Chorale, October 18 and 19, 2013. The Chorale and orchestra are also led by Esa-Pekka Salonen in the world premiere of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels, October 23, 2013, and by Grant Gershon in Phillip Glass’ the CIVIL warS, the Rome Section, April 17 and 19, 2014.
Los Angeles Master Chorale Makes Ravinia Festival Debut in Pre-Season Appearance September 7, 2013
Expanding its reach with a significant pre-season appearance, the Los Angeles Master Chorale makes its Ravinia Festival debut, performing John Adams’ The Gospel According To The Other Mary with the Ravinia Festival Orchestra and the original cast, under Gershon’s baton, September 7, 2013. It is the oldest and one of the most prestigious outdoor music festivals in the country. In a separate Ravinia Festival engagement, Gershon, a tenor, sings the quartet version of David Lang’s the little match girl passion with soprano Elissa Johnston, his wife, mezzo-soprano Adriana Manfredi and bass-baritone Cedric Berry August 26, 2013.
Los Angeles Master Chorale Launches 50th Season in Grand Style with Stunning Multi-Media Spectacular Featuring Retrospective Concert, Historical Exhibition and Post-Concert Champagne Celebration on Sunday, September 22, 2013
The Los Angeles Master Chorale’s landmark 50th Season launches on Sunday, September 22, 2013, 7 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, with a dazzling spectacular celebrating the rich history and inspiring artistry of the extraordinary musical organization that has been acclaimed for its “needle-sharp quality” (Financial Times) and hailed as “inspired” (New York Times), “splendid and adventurous” (Daily Variety), “a superb vocal ensemble” (New York Observer) and “matchlessly polished” (Los Angeles Times). A compelling multi-media retrospective concert encompasses some of the most beloved and groundbreaking works in its repertoire and spotlights, among many other pieces, signature musical selections linked to each of the four music directors who have led the Chorale during its fifty-year history – Renaissance motets for Roger Wagner; Scottish folk songs for John Currie, excerpts from Lux Aeterna for Paul Salamunovich and Unclouded Day and Spem in alium for Grant Gershon. Additionally, BP Hall transforms into a temporary gallery for a fascinating historical exhibition about the choir drawn from its extensive archives as well as personal artifacts from some of the people who have helped shape the Chorale over the past five decades. The magical evening concludes with a complimentary post-concert champagne toast for the entire 2,200-member audience with the Chorale.
Matinee and Evening Performances of Orff’s Seminal Carmina Burana and Verdi’s Lush Te Deum Set for Saturday, November 2, 2 pm, and Sunday, November 3, 2013, 7 pm
Orff’s Carmina Burana, one of the most popular choral works of the 20th century and a staple of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, having been conducted by all four of the choir’s music directors a total of 16 times in the past 50 years, receives back-to-back performances led by Music Director Grant Gershon with guest artists José Adán Pérez, a “glorious baritone” (Bach Track) and the ever-polished Los Angeles Children’s Chorus on Saturday, November 2, 2013, 2 pm, and Sunday, November 3, 2013, 7 pm, at Disney Hall. Verdi’s lush Te Deum, a Gershon favorite for double chorus and orchestra with roots in polyphony and Gregorian chant, opens the program.
Carmina Burana, based on a remarkable collection of 13th Century writings by medieval poets, defrocked monks, vagabond scholars and minstrels, illuminates the bawdy and sensuous side of mankind. Written in 1936, when Orff was 41, it is perhaps the most recognized choral work composed in the 20th century. The majority of its movements are for chorus, which provides the musical heart of Carmina Burana and is a testament to Orff's considerable skill in handling massed voices. Gershon last conducted the piece in 2005.
Chorale’s Extensive Holiday Programming Opens with Two Matinees of “Festival of Carols” Ringing in the Season Saturday, December 7, and Saturday, December 14, 2013
The Los Angeles Master Chorale heralds Christmas with two matinees of its delightful seasonal concert, “Festival of Carols,” Saturday, December 7, 2013, 2 pm, and Saturday, December 14, 2013, 2 pm, at Disney Hall. Joy to the World, Deck the Hall and Carol of the Bells are among the cherished holiday carols and traditional favorites setting a joyous mood and sung to glorious perfection by 115 members of the Chorale under Music Director Grant Gershon’s baton. Tickets for children 6-12 are discounted in all sections. (Children under six not admitted.)
Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity, Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols and Stephen Paulus’s Christmas Dances Resonate at Rejoice! Sunday, December 8, 2013
The Chorale’s holiday offerings continue with “Rejoice!,” featuring Gershon conducting three seasonal classics – Respighi’s beautiful Laud to the Nativity, filled with the rich imagery of the nativity story, Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols and Stephen Paulus’s Christmas Dances – on Sunday, December 8, 2013, 7 pm. Britten composed A Ceremony of Carols in 1942 while sailing to England from the United States, and it instantly joined the ranks of treasured holiday repertoire. Similarly, Paulus, a prolific composer hailed as "a bright, fluent inventor with a ready lyric gift" (The New Yorker) and “exceptionally imaginative” (The New York Times), wrote the lush 25-minute Christmas Dances for flute, harp and chorus in 2008 and has seen it become a seasonal phenomenon in just a few short years. The concert is part of the noted city-wide “Britten 100/LA: A Celebration” curated by LA Opera.
33rd Annual Messiah Sing-Along Taps Audience Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Reflecting the global popularity of Handel’s Messiah, the Los Angeles Master Chorale has presented the Baroque masterpiece a record 52 times since its inception in 1965, with 32 of those performances sung by the community at large as part of the Chorale’s famed Messiah Sing-Along. This season, Angelenos can belt out the “Hallelujah” chorus – and all of the work’s other glorious choruses – at the 33rd Annual Messiah Sing-Along on Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 7:30 pm, at Disney Hall. Grant Gershon conducts the 2,200-voice do-it-yourself choir, a professional chamber orchestra and four professional soloists from the Chorale. (Scores are available for sale in the lobby.)
Chorale Offers Two Performances of Concert Version of Handel’s Messiah Sunday, December 15, and Sunday, December 22, 2013
Capping the holiday season, the Los Angeles Master Chorale presents two performances of a concert version of Handel’s Messiah on Sunday, December 15, 2013, 7 pm, and Sunday, December 22, 2013, 7 pm. The concerts feature 48 members of the acclaimed chorus, chamber orchestra and four gifted soloists from among the Chorale’s ranks, and provide the opportunity to hear this riveting oratorio – filled with soaring high notes, powerful bass, majestic brass and luscious orchestrations – performed by what many critics consider to be the best chorus in the country.
“Handel’s Messiah is the essence of the holidays,” says Gershon. “It’s always thrilling to conduct and thrilling to hear, especially with the stellar acoustics of Disney Hall.”
Composed in 1741 in a mere 24 days, Handel’s English-language oratorio may be the most performed classical work of all time. It is set to Charles Jennens’s libretto, which draws texts from the King James and Great Bibles.
Bach’s B Minor Mass Reprised for Pull-out-the-Stops Anniversary Weekend Celebration with Matinee and Evening Concerts Saturday, January 25, and Sunday, January 26, 2014, Plus “Golden on Grand,” a Gala Extravaganza
An extraordinary Anniversary Weekend Celebration slated for January 25 and 26, 2014, reprises Bach’s incomparable B Minor Mass, which the Chorale has performed ten times in five decades, including, most notably, for the first time as a newly minted Music Center resident company at its first independent concert conducted by Founding Music Director Roger Wagner at the just-opened Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on January 27, 1965. Of that remarkable performance Los Angeles Times then-music critic Robert Riley stated in his review, “Roger Wagner’s audacity in breaking in his 84 choristers with Bach’s supreme achievement paid off handsomely.”
Says Gershon, “This is where it all started. To be able to conduct Bach’s masterpiece with the Chorale almost 50 years to the day after Roger Wagner did at the choir’s inaugural concert is simply amazing. It is an honor to be a part of this incredible legacy.” He conducts the musical homage on Saturday, January 25, 2014, 2 pm, and Sunday, January 26, 2014, 7 pm, at Disney Hall. Gershon also notes that early in his career, 15 years before he was named the Chorale’s music director, he played harpsichord for a performance of the piece conducted by John Currie.
Regarded as the pinnacle of Bach’s considerable musical legacy, the work evolved over a number of years and was completed during the final years of his life, from 1745-1750. But the composer never had the opportunity to hear the piece performed in its entirety since it was not until a century after his death that the full Mass was performed in a single concert – in Leipzig in 1859. It has been a mainstay of the choral repertoire ever since and revered by generations for magnificently expressing universal themes touching on life, death, faith, sadness and joy.
In addition to the Bach B Minor Mass performances, the anniversary weekend celebration shifts into high gear on Saturday, January 25, 2014, with “Golden on Grand,” a gala honoring 50 years of extraordinary music. Cultural, political and business luminaries as well as long-time friends of the Chorale pull out the stops for this glamorous tribute and elegant evening of dining and music staged in the Chorale’s original home – the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion – and sponsored by BNY Mellon.
Season Continues with Tribute To Morten Lauridsen Sunday, March 16, 2014
Among other special events planned for the 50th Season, on March 16, 2014, 7 pm, the chorus offers a heartfelt musical tribute to Morten Lauridsen, who served as LAMC Composer In Residence for six years from 1995 to 2001 and is the composer most closely linked to the Chorale. The fruitful relationship produced such sublime Lauridsen blockbusters as O Magnum Mysterium and Lux Aeterna, resulting in the Chorale’s best-selling recording Lux Aeterna (RCM 1998) for which it earned a Grammy nomination. Those works as well as Lauridsen’s gems Mid-Winter Songs, Ave Dulcissima Maria, Canticle / O Vos Omnes, Nocturnes, Madrigali and Les Chansons des Roses are on the program, for which the composer himself is pianist.
The two-part tribute kicks off on Friday, March 14, 2014, 8 pm, with an exclusive private screening of the documentary film “Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen” followed by a conversation with Lauridsen, recipient of the 2007 National Medal of Arts, film director Michael Stillwater, Music Director Emeritus Paul Salamunovich and Music Director Grant Gershon at the historic Alex Theatre in Glendale.
“Minimalist Masterworks” Reprises Works of Steve Reich and David Lang Sunday, April 6, 2014
The Chorale launches the second installment of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s popular Minimalist Jukebox Festival on Sunday, April 6, 2014, 7 pm, with a program entitled “Minimalist Masterworks” reprising Steve Reich’s You Are (Variations), commissioned, premiered and recorded by the Chorale in 2004 (Nonesuch), and David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning the little match girl passion, of which LAMC presented an extended choral version last season that Outwest Arts proclaimed, “was one of those great LA Master Chorale moments” and “a performance to remember.”
Critics across the country have lauded the little match girl passion, based on the Hans Christian Andersen story with additional text borrowed from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, as one of the most original choral compositions of the new century since its riveting premiere in Carnegie Hall. The Los Angeles Times described the piece as a “missive from heaven…a stunner” and credits Lang with finding “a radiantly hip spiritual core to a maudlin story that stubbornly refuses to go out of fashion.” The New York Times proclaims, “With this work – one of the most moving and original scores of recent years – Lang has solidified his standing as an American master.” The Washington Post declares, “I don’t think I’ve ever been so moved…(it) is unlike any music I know.”
Reich’s four-movement You Are (Variations), considered by the composer as one of his most important works, is written for 18 amplified voices, and an amplified instrumental ensemble. In addition, there are four significant piano parts for which the Chorale has tapped noted pianists Gloria Cheng, Lisa Edwards, Bryan Pezzone and Vicki Ray, who also performed on the Chorale’s recording. Enthused the Los Angeles Times of the premiere, “Grant Gershon conducted a fearless performance…full of elation.” The LA Weekly called it “splendid…gleaming…fresh.”
The text of You Are (Variations), written in both English and Hebrew, is drawn from the Talmud, the Psalms, and the writings of philosopher Paul Wittgenstein. Additionally, the title itself and the text of the first movement are taken from the phrase “you are wherever your thoughts are,” written by the 18th Century Jewish mystic Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.
“Today, Tomorrow & Beyond” Wraps 50th Season with World Premieres by Eminent Composers Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Lang, Francisco Núñez and Shawn Kirchner and Reprise of Gabriela Lena Frank’s Los Cantores de las Montañas Sunday, June 8, 2014
The Los Angeles Master Chorale concludes its year-long celebration with “Today, Tomorrow & Beyond” comprising four world premieres commissioned in honor of its 50th jubilee from eminent composers Esa-Pekka Salonen, with whom the Chorale has shared a rich history both in his capacity as a composer and Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lang, whose piece also features the masterful Calder Quartet, MacArthur Fellow Francisco Núñez and LAMC Swan Family Composer in Residence Shawn Kirchner. Also on the program is a reprise of Gabriela Lena Frank’s Los Cantores de las Montañas (“The Singing Mountaineers") performed with the innovative Latin American folk ensemble Huayucaltia. It was premiered by the Chorale in April 2012 and is the fifth new work in the LAMC’s highly regarded LA is the World commissioning project, conceived by Gershon as a collaboration among American composers, master musicians and the choir to expand the choral repertoire with works that mirror LA’s vibrant multi-cultural fabric.
In testament to the strong ties and great mutual respect between the Chorale and Esa-Pekka Salonen, it is the singers themselves who are underwriting his commission. The Chorale has sung under his baton in more than 200 concerts and has previously performed two of his works on three concerts, including Two Songs to Poems of Ann Jäderlund, of which the chorus made the world premiere recording (RCM 2003) that earned a coveted four-star rating from the Philadelphia Inquirer and critics called “razor sharp” (Daily News) and “ethereal and impelling” (Los Angeles Times).
Núñez, founder and artistic director of the renowned Young People’s Chorus of New York City, is acclaimed for seamlessly fusing a wide gamut of cultural and musical idioms. In keeping with the closing concert’s forward-looking theme, the LAMC’s High School Choir Festival Honor Choir – the next generation of singers – for whom the piece was commissioned on the occasion of the 25th Annual High School Choir Festival in May 2014, reprises it onstage in its professional debut.
Kirchner, a noted choral composer and songwriter whose works have been performed around the globe, was named the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s Swan Family Composer in Residence in July 2012. Only the second Composer in Residence in the Chorale’s history, Kirchner, also a longtime tenor in the Chorale, succeeds Morten Lauridsen. His popular arrangement of the Kenyan folksong Wana Baraka was performed at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Windsor Castle celebrating the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Frank’s 20-minute work is set to the poetry of José María Argueda by the California-based Latin Grammy-winning composer – whose own family tree spreads from South America to China. The Los Angeles Times describes it as “fond, alluring music that sounds like a vivid memory of a place that doesn't exist.” One of the most sought-after classical composers in the country, Frank has “clearly emerged as a major composer” (San Francisco Classical Voice). She has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Kronos Quartet, soprano Dawn Upshaw and Chanticleer, among others. Born in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Frank explores her multicultural heritage most ardently through her compositions. She has traveled extensively throughout South America, and her pieces blend Latin-American folklore, poetry, mythology and native musical styles into a Western classical framework that is uniquely her own.
25th Annual High School Choir Festival Set for Friday, May 2, 2014
The Los Angeles Master Chorale opens the doors of Disney Hall to the public free-of-charge on Friday, May 2, 2014, 1 pm, for its 25th Annual High School Choir Festival, which this year showcases the world premiere of a piece composed for the occasion by 2011 MacArthur Fellow Francisco Núñez that is also being reprised for the Chorale’s season closer on June 8. Serving as a vital force in training the next generation of singers and music lovers, the comprehensive yearlong in-school program culminates with a performance conducted by Gershon of 900 high school students from more than two-dozen Southland high schools. The community is welcome to enjoy the vitality and power of these young voices raised in song in the splendid setting of Disney Hall.
LAMC’s Voices Within In-School Residency Program Fosters Student Collaboration
The Los Angeles Master Chorale continues its award-winning in-school artists in residence program Voices Within, through which students learn collaborative and compositional skills by composing and performing original songs. The program has engaged more than 30,000 children, who have created more than 400 original songs and 3 oratorios, since its launch in 2001.
Four years ago, Voices Within added an Oratorio Project component developed specifically for high school students. Choir students work closely over a 20-week period with the guidance and mentorship of three professional teaching artists – a singer, lyricist and composer – as well as their own choir teachers, to create an original oratorio. They learn how to adapt a classic work of literature, write a libretto based on the adaptation and create the melodies and harmonic structure for each movement of the oratorio. They also learned techniques for capturing the “voice” of the characters and how to propel the momentum of the plot and paint the mood of a scene. After the work is completed, students audition for feature roles and are mentored and receive vocal coaching to prepare for the culmination performance that is open to the public.
Chorale Appears in Seven Programs with LA Philharmonic at Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall
In addition to presenting its own concert series, this season the Master Chorale appears in seven programs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Three Hollywood Bowl engagements with the orchestra include Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas July 9, 2013, Verdi’s Aida led by Gustavo Dudamel August 11, 2013, and the Verdi Requiem, also conducted by Dudamel, August 13 and 14, 2013. At Disney Hall the Chorale joins the LA Philharmonic and Dudamel for the US premiere of The Last Days of Socrates, composed by Brett Dean, October 10-13, 2013, and Debussy’s Nocturnes, featuring the women of the Chorale, October 18 and 19, 2013. The Chorale and orchestra are also led by Esa-Pekka Salonen in the world premiere of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels, October 23, 2013, and by Grant Gershon in Phillip Glass’ the CIVIL warS, the Rome Section, April 17 and 19, 2014.
For further information about the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s 2013½14 season at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, please call (213) 972-7282, or visit www.lamc.org.