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So far Jediah McCourt has created 68 blog entries.

PREVIEW: SummerFest forging ahead, with livestreamed concerts and unabated musical passion, despite pandemic

The San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
August 16, 2020

Embracing the transformational power of great art has long been the essence of SummerFest, the La Jolla Music Society’s 35-year-old chamber-music celebration. Now, SummerFest is set to embrace the power of music anew at the same time that the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically transformed the annual event itself.

How dramatically? Let us count the ways.

The 2020 edition of SummerFest has been reconfigured three times since being announced in March as a marathon event spanning 22 days and 18 concerts. It was postponed for a year in May, then revived in June as a “reimagined” six-concert festival that opens Friday at the La Jolla Music Society’s year-old, $82 million Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center.


PREVIEW: SummerFest forging ahead, with livestreamed concerts and unabated musical passion, despite pandemic2020-08-17T10:07:03-07:00

ANNOUNCEMENT: For La Jolla Music Society’s Leah Rosenthal, new season is something to sing about

The San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
July 19, 2020

La Jolla Music Society Artistic Director Leah Rosenthal has virtually no fear when it comes to putting together eight-month concert seasons, even during a global pandemic, or negotiating increasingly complex performance contracts. And she doesn’t flinch when dealing with the concert hall-sized egos of some guest artists or as she ambitiously expands the creative and stylistic parameters of one of San Diego’s oldest and most respected arts organizations.

But singing in public?

That’s another story for this New Jersey native, who gave birth to her second child last fall and started laying the foundation nearly two years ago for the society’s upcoming 2020-21 concert season at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla.

Never mind that Rosenthal, 40, earned a bachelor’s in vocal performance from Chicago’s Northeastern Illinois University in 2003. Never mind that she sang with opera companies in the Windy City, where she earned her master’s in Performing Arts Management at Columbia College five years later. And never mind that the weekly singing lessons she takes here every Saturday afternoon stretch back to 2008, when she was hired by the society as an artistic administrator.


ANNOUNCEMENT: For La Jolla Music Society’s Leah Rosenthal, new season is something to sing about2020-07-19T10:11:21-07:00

ARTICLE: SummerFest, in ‘re-imagined’ form, to have 6 concerts, not 18, and (maybe) a socially distanced audience

The San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
June 11, 2020

The 2020 edition of the La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest was postponed in May until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the annual August festival will now take place in a smaller, “re-imagined” form.

This year’s edition of the 34-year-old chamber-music festival was originally scheduled to feature 18 concerts between July 31 and Aug. 21, all in the society’s $82 million Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, which opened last year.

The “re-imagined” SummerFest will feature six performances between Aug. 21 and 29 in the center’s Baker-Baum Concert Hall. An innovative Aug. 30 gala will be held at the Lodge at Torrey Pines, where the musicians will perform on the lawn and attendees will watch from the balconies of their hotel rooms, with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop.

“I feel very strongly that music is a huge comfort to me and to anybody who loves music. As a service for musicians and audiences, I think it’s important not to take the easy way out and just cancel,” SummerFest Music Director Inon Barnatan said Wednesday afternoon from his home in New York City.


ARTICLE: SummerFest, in ‘re-imagined’ form, to have 6 concerts, not 18, and (maybe) a socially distanced audience2020-06-11T14:09:55-07:00

ANNOUNCEMENT: A note to the LJMS Community regarding Covid-19

A Note to the LJMS Community Regarding COVID-19
Updated April 30, 2020

LJMS has cancelled all May 2020 performances. We eagerly await the day we can welcome all of you back to live performances from world class artists and, in that spirit, we continue to move forward with plans for SummerFest 2020.

Donating your tickets to May shows is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to help us continue fulfilling our mission and move toward reopening. This is an opportunity to turn your ticket purchase into an investment in the future of La Jolla Music Society. And, the value of your donated tickets will be matched by a group of generous donors.

We are grateful that so many patrons have chosen to donate their tickets to April performances and we invite you to join that group for May.

The best part is that you don’t need to do anything to donate your tickets. We will automatically convert your tickets to a donation in 30 days and your gift will be matched.

Exchanging your tickets for a future performance, like SummerFest, or for a refund is always an option available to you. Call our Box Office at 858.459.3728 to learn more.

Every generous ticket donation gets us one step closer to the time where we can all be together again at The Conrad. Until then we encourage you to visit our Digital Concert Hall  to relive some legendary performances.

See you soon and thank you for supporting LJMS! We will continue to update you as the situation evolves.

ANNOUNCEMENT: A note to the LJMS Community regarding Covid-192020-04-30T10:37:41-07:00

ARTICLE: La Jolla Music Society names Leah Rosenthal as its new artistic director

The San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
April 8, 2020

Leah Rosenthal has been named as the artistic director of La Jolla Music Society, where she is a proven veteran with more than a decade of achievements to her credit. She is the first person to be named as the organization’s artistic director who isn’t concurrently serving as its president or CEO.

Rosenthal was hired by the 51-year-old society in 2008 and became its director of artistic planning and education in 2011. She has served as its director of programming since 2016. She was instrumental in booking last year’s opening season at the nonprofit arts organization’s $82 million Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla.

“Basically, in my new position, I’m doing a lot of what I’ve been doing the last couple of years. The change in title (reflects that) my role will now be more external and that I’ll have greater visibility in the community and play a greater role in fund-raising. I’m so honored,” Rosenthal said Wednesday, speaking from the North Park home she shares with her husband and two children.


ARTICLE: La Jolla Music Society names Leah Rosenthal as its new artistic director2020-04-09T09:34:53-07:00

ARTICLE: Stranded in San Diego, Spanish guitar star Pablo Sainz Villegas keeps playing

The San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
March 26, 2020

Because of the coronavirus, classical guitar star Pablo Sainz Villegas is stranded in La Jolla. That puts him almost 6,000 miles away from his wife, Valeria, at their home in Madrid, which — like all of Spain — is now under a nationwide lock-down.

His March concert tour of Germany has been canceled, along with his April tour of Japan. The May recording of his new album in Los Angeles is on hold. So is pretty much everything else on his schedule, although he is currently brainstorming ideas to take his duties as the La Jolla Music Society’s first education ambassador online.

Yet, while Villegas misses his wife, his parents — who live in the northern Spanish province of La Rioja — and the performances around the world that fuel his career, he also sees an unexpected opportunity the pandemic has provided.


ARTICLE: Stranded in San Diego, Spanish guitar star Pablo Sainz Villegas keeps playing2020-03-27T16:11:02-07:00

ANNOUNCEMENT: Our Journey Ahead

Dear La Jolla Music Society Family,

We want to give you an update on some exciting digital content you’ll be receiving in the weeks ahead, our plans for SummerFest, and daily life at La Jolla Music Society.

Before we get into all of that, we want to say thank you. For the past week, we have heard from so many of you with messages of support and encouragement. That feeling is mutual. We are thinking about all of you and our deepest wish is that you stay physically and mentally healthy over the upcoming weeks. We look forward to welcoming you back to The Conrad soon, but, in the meantime, we are working on an exciting way to bring LJMS’ world class music into your home.


During this live programming hiatus, we will be providing you with unique online audio and video content, on a weekly basis. The first piece is our SummerFest 2018 performance of Carnival of the Animals.

Upcoming content highlights also include:

  • A “SummerFest Favorites” Playlist featuring curated selections from internationally renowned festival artists, LJMS staff, and most importantly from you, our LJMS extended family. Submit your favorite LJMS and SummerFest memories and performances, here.
  • Performances and messages from students of the San Diego Youth Symphony and San Diego Civic Youth Ballet
  • A musical message from our Education Ambassador in Residence Pablo Sainz Villegas

All of this content will be delivered to your email and also live on the LJMS website, here.


SummerFest 2020

We are optimistic that SummerFest 2020 will go on as scheduled. SummerFest is always a celebration, but this year we anticipate it will be an especially joyous opportunity for us to gather as a community, after spending far too much time apart.

If you are a renewing subscriber, be sure to submit your renewal by March 31. Our box office is open by phone and ready to serve you at 858.459.3728.

For everyone else, single tickets and new subscriptions go on sale on April 6. We can’t wait to show you the full lineup.

We are also hard at work on next year’s season.

Strategic Planning

For the past several months, the LJMS staff and board have been thinking about how to make the organization even stronger and mission driven over the next five years. This strategic planning process is ongoing and we anticipate that we will be sharing elements of this plan with all of you this autumn.


Like most of you, the staff at LJMS is working remotely until the California shelter at home mandate is lifted. The box office is fully operational remotely and ready to serve any needs that you have, via phone or email. The staff is committed to supporting each other throughout this crisis and we all appreciate your well wishes and expressions of concern.

We have also done a deep clean of the entire Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center. This cleaning includes an industrial strength, virus eliminating, protocol. When all of this is over, The Conrad will be pristine to welcome us back again.


Phrases like this used to feel cliché. Today, it feels truer and more relevant than ever. In an environment that is both fluid and complex, it is useful to have a “North Star” to guide decision making. At LJMS, that guiding point is our mission. Our mission is to deepen your cultural life by presenting and producing music and dance. The opening of our Digital Concert Hall is a natural extension of that mission. Preparing to produce SummerFest live at The Conrad is another vital part of that mission. With your support and encouragement, we will come out of this stronger than ever. We are honored to bring the performing arts straight into your homes during this time.

Enjoy Carnival of the Animals and look out for more surprises to come.

We will see you soon.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Our Journey Ahead2020-03-23T09:28:25-07:00

REVIEW: Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Salute Beethoven and Paganini at the Jacobs Music Center

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
March 3, 2020

In the heyday of classical music radio broadcasting, a regular listener probably heard the phrase “performed by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under the direction of Neville Marriner” more frequently than he heard the call letters and frequency of the radio station. Having made hundreds of first-rate recordings, this redoubtable chamber orchestra made available a staggering cornucopia of Western instrumental music. Unless you were looking for Mahler’s Symphony of A Thousand or the complete symphonic catalogue of Bruckner and Scriabin, the Academy—as our British cousins refer to the orchestra—has probably recorded it.

Although Marriner conducted into his nineties and died in 2016, in 2011 the Academy appointed American violin virtuoso Joshua Bell as Music Director of the Academy. The La Jolla Music Society brought the Academy under Bell to San Diego two years ago, and they returned to the Jacobs Music Center in downtown San Diego Monday, March 2. The orchestra continues to flourish under Bell’s leadership, and his playing—he indulged in Nicolo Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 6—is as peerless as ever: he maintains his signature radiant sonority, seamless and captivating throughout the range. His glorious tone and elegant phrasing are rarely compromised, regardless of the myriad technical challenges he subdues with graceful aplomb.


REVIEW: Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Salute Beethoven and Paganini at the Jacobs Music Center2020-03-05T11:45:41-08:00

ARTICLE: SummerFest 2020 season, ‘Self and Sound,’ will tunefully celebrate universal differences, commonalities

The San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
March 1, 2020

Championing musical diversity is a key impetus for acclaimed Israeli-American pianist Inon Barnatan, who hopes his upcoming second season as the music director for the La Jolla Music Society’s annual SummerFest will raise the bar to a new high.

That goal is amplified by the theme and title for the 18 concerts, “Self and Sound,” which runs from July 31 to Aug. 21 at the $82 million, 11-month-old Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center.

“The idea of ‘Self and Sound’ — and of how a composer writes themselves into their music and how we are reflected in music — is something I find fascinating,” said Barnatan, who will perform on piano at eight of the SummerFest concerts.


ARTICLE: SummerFest 2020 season, ‘Self and Sound,’ will tunefully celebrate universal differences, commonalities2020-03-01T16:26:42-08:00

PREVIEW: Joshua Bell makes time for San Diego

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Beth Wood
February 25, 2020

While it’s not typical of an interview with acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell, a recent phone conversation signifies the pace of his life. Different time zones had resulted in a scheduling snafu, so he was valiantly trying to answer questions on the fly.

It began with Bell in a car headed to New York’s La Guardia Airport, where he needed to hang up upon arrival. He called back while in the security line for a quick chat and then resumed the interview a short while later, after boarding his flight to Florida.

“I play 150 concerts a year, so life is always hectic,” said Bell, who the next day was launching a tour that will stop in San Diego Monday. “I had to be in London to rehearse with the orchestra and now I’m flying to Tampa for the tour’s first concert in Sarasota. I’ll be away for several weeks, so there are a lot of details to take care of.”

As a prelude to all this, the versatile violinist performed in the star-studded finale of the Grammy Awards telecast on Jan. 26.


PREVIEW: Joshua Bell makes time for San Diego2020-02-26T10:14:15-08:00