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ARTICLE: La Jolla Music Society SummerFest heads inside

San Diego Reader

Garrett Harris
June 4, 2021

The La Jolla Music Society (LJMS) has announced its SummerFest 2021, which will be held from Friday, July 30 – Friday, August 20, 2021, at The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla.

The theme of Self + Sound — which was originally developed for SummerFest 2020 by Inon Barnatan, now in his third year as SummerFest Music Director — returns, with the majority of its programming intact. Self + Sound explores how composers write themselves into their music, and how the diversity of influences that make each person unique find their expression in sound. Barnatan explains the key components: “The festival theme, Self + Sound, allows us to delve into the music that tells the composers’ own life stories; music that expresses their history and heritage and pays tribute to the people that shaped and inspired them.”

Perhaps the most significant element of SummerFest 2021 is that it marks a return to the concert hall. With California scheduled to reopen on June 15, the SummerFest concerts will indeed be held in The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center. According to La Jolla Music Society President and CEO Todd Schultz, “The Conrad was built with a ventilation system that pulls air into the concert hall from under the seats and draws air out of the ceiling. This design keeps the flow of air moving away from the attendees and increases the safety of the venue for large audiences. As the State of California modifies its pandemic restrictions, we will continue to follow any state-prescribed guidelines for masking and showing proof of vaccination or negative test results, as well as our own precautions, to ensure the comfort and safety of our audience.”

The opening concert, on July 30, 2021, is a collection of musical celebrations selected by the SummerFest artists. The concert includes Franz Liszt’s piano arrangement of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, Fritz Kreisler’s violin arrangement of “Londonderry Air” (“Oh, Danny Boy”), and Mendelssohn’s String Octet. The chance to hear the String Octet should not be underestimated. In my opinion, this piece of music is one of the musical pinnacles of the entire 19th Century, across all genres.

Other SummerFest highlights include string quartets by Debussy, Shostakovich, Janáček, and Smetana. There is also a healthy dose of music for piano and strings, such as Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A Minor and Brahms’s Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor. At about 45 minutes in length, the Tchaikovsky is written on an epic scale.

Perhaps the jewel in the musical crown of SummerFest 2021 is Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet. This is one of Mozart’s most beloved pieces of music, and for good reason. If there’s a piece of music that assures us that everything is going to be okay, it’s this one.