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So far Rachel Cohen has created 26 blog entries.

REVIEW: On opening night, SummerFest delivers passionate performances in an empty hall

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Christian Hertzog
August 22, 2020

La Jolla Music Society’s annual festival — slimmed down to six concerts — opens virtual series with excellent sound, crisp images and top-notch musicianship

“The show must go online.”

That updated show business adage appears to be the way of the classical music world these days.

On Friday night, the La Jolla Music Society — under the artistic direction of Inon Barnatan — offered its version of a COVID-19-safe production. SummerFest, now in its 35th year, opened its slimmed-down 2020 season with a YouTube broadcast of a pre-recorded performance of “The Unanswered Question” by Charles Ives and a live performance of Schubert’s Quintet in C major inside an empty Baker-Baum Concert Hall at The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center.

The sound was excellent, and the video appeared to be high-definition…


REVIEW: On opening night, SummerFest delivers passionate performances in an empty hall2020-08-22T18:06:33-07:00

ANNOUNCEMENT: A note to the LJMS community regarding Systemic Racism and Injustice

LJMS joins our colleagues in the many arts and culture organizations all over the world that are acknowledging that we must speak up and oppose systemic racism and injustice. We stand with the Black community and with all people who desire a more equitable world.
It is both our mission and our priority to use music as a way of embracing people from all cultures and perspectives. We are using this time as a moment of reflection on how we can make our community a better, more loving and more inclusive space. We encourage all those who support us to do the same.
ANNOUNCEMENT: A note to the LJMS community regarding Systemic Racism and Injustice2020-06-08T08:38:45-07:00

Remembering Lynn Harrell, Acclaimed American Cellist

The New York Times
Anthony Tommasini
May 1, 2020

Lynn Harrell, a leading American cellist whose acclaimed playing, begun when he was 8 years old, combined robust sound, insightful musicianship and feeling for nuances, died on April 27 at his home in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 76.

His death was announced on social media by his wife, Helen Nightengale, a violinist and former student. His death was sudden, she said by phone, perhaps caused by cardiac arrest.

In his 20s critics were already describing Mr. Harrell as a “gentle giant” of the cello, and both words applied. At 6 feet 4 inches tall and built like a linebacker, with long arms and enormous hands, he seemed to envelop the cello when he played it, producing burnished and penetrating sound easily. Yet he was also a sensitive interpreter and subtle colorist.


Remembering Lynn Harrell, Acclaimed American Cellist2020-05-06T08:53:33-07:00

ANNOUNCEMENT: LJMS’ Leah Rosenthal Named New Artistic Director

ANNOUNCEMENT: LJMS’ Leah Rosenthal Named New Artistic Director

La Jolla Music Society (LJMS) announced today that Leah Rosenthal has been named the organization’s new Artistic Director, effective April 1.

Rosenthal studied at Boston University before graduating from Northeastern Illinois University with a B.A. in Voice Performance. She later got her Masters of Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago. Before moving to San Diego, Leah was active in the Chicago arts scene, holding coveted positions with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, PBS, Ravinia Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, and The Recording Academy Chicago Chapter (GRAMMYs). Rosenthal began her tenure at La Jolla Music Society in 2008 as an Artistic Administrator and quickly moved up the ranks to Director of Artistic Planning & Education in 2011 before settling into the role of Director of Programming in 2016.

“I am so thrilled that Leah Rosenthal is officially at the artistic helm of LJMS. We owe a lot of the success and brilliance of the past seasons to her vision and taste, and she has been an indispensable partner to me with SummerFest. Congratulations to Leah and to LJMS. I look forward to many more years of artistic collaboration,” said Inon Barnatan, current SummerFest Music Director.

In her most recent position, Rosenthal was responsible for the curation and long range planning of La Jolla Music Society’s 40+ concert winter season, which includes a diverse range of programming from orchestras and chamber ensembles to dance and jazz. In collaboration with the SummerFest Music Director (Cho-Liang Lin 2008-2018 and Barnatan 2019- present), Rosenthal also programs and produces LJMS’ internationally recognized three week chamber music festival.

“It was always an invigorating process to discuss SummerFest ideas with Leah,” said Lin. “She was an indispensable part of the working process. I am very pleased by this appointment. It cannot go to a better or more deserving person.”

After over a decade with La Jolla Music Society, Rosenthal has a proven track record of programming innovative and compelling performers and educational activities for the organization. With the help of Education & Community Programming Manager Allison Boles, as well as Programming Manager Sarah Campbell, Rosenthal has created a department that is widely respected throughout both the performing arts and music education worlds.

“Leah has become a lynchpin of the North American presenting community. Her integrity, collaborative spirit and vision have not only enriched LJMS audiences, but helped us execute many of our most rewarding touring projects and special events. Opus 3 Artists congratulates Leah on this well-deserved promotion. She is a treasure!” said Robert Beretta, Vice President & Manager of Artists and Attractions at Opus 3 Artists.

Rosenthal is currently in the midst of finalizing details for this year’s SummerFest, as well as the 2020- 2021 winter season. “As Artistic Director, I look forward to the endless artistic possibilities that The Conrad provides, and to ensuring that LJMS continues to elevate and expand upon the world-class programming we are so well known for,” said Rosenthal. “My 12 years with LJMS has been a time of enormous personal growth for me. I have been fortunate to work with an exceptional staff, dedicated Board of Directors, unbelievably talented musicians and many personal mentors who have both inspired me and helped me hone my skills and grasp of the vast repertoire we are fortunate to present.”

ABOUT LA JOLLA MUSIC SOCIETY As one of Southern California’s leading presenters of premier performing arts, La Jolla Music Society contributes to San Diego’s cultural vitality year-round through a rich variety of presentations, including classical, jazz, contemporary music, and dance. In addition to robust educational programs and community outreach, La Jolla Music Society produces SummerFest, a three-week music festival featuring over 80 world-class artists and ensembles performing eclectic concerts. For more information, visit www.LJMS.org, or call 858.459.3728. ###

ANNOUNCEMENT: LJMS’ Leah Rosenthal Named New Artistic Director2020-04-05T19:15:35-07:00

REVIEW: New La Jolla Music Society Family Concerts are #SDMBApproved

San Diego Moms Blog
Karina Klepach
February 13, 2020

This past weekend my daughter and I, along with our family friend and her daughter, attended the Jazzy Ash & The Leaping Lizards concert with La Jolla Music Society. All four of us walked away feeling elevated, joyous, and even more connected. The only downside was that the concert ended (after several encores)!

When it comes to music concerts and cultural experiences, I must confess — I’m a bit of a snob . . . Having grown up surrounded by the arts and music and studying music as my major, I developed an ear for high-quality concerts. I also uphold the same level when it comes to attending these productions with my daughter…

They did NOT disappoint! I was pleasantly surprised and grateful for La Jolla Music Society’s commitment to bringing quality music to our children. They made it so accessible and engaging for the whole family! There was not one child in the audience who didn’t have a smile or at least a wiggle. All eyes and ears were on the exceptional artistry of Jazzy Ash & Leaping Lizards! There was something for everyone at this concert: the small and the big kids got to fully enjoy and experience the amazing talent of the musicians, New Orleans culture, and even learn a bit of Creole.


REVIEW: New La Jolla Music Society Family Concerts are #SDMBApproved2020-02-14T09:27:52-08:00

REVIEW: In La Jolla Music Society concert, cellist Kian Soltani makes an exciting San Diego debut

San Diego Union Tribune
Christian Hertzog
January 27, 2020

Those unfamiliar with Soltani won’t soon forget his performance in The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center’s Baker Baum Concert Hall. He had irresistible charisma onstage and astounding technique.

La Jolla Music Society’s Discovery Series got off to a great start on Sunday afternoon, with cellist Kian Soltani and pianist Julio Elizalde playing Beethoven, Franck, Stravinsky and Pärt to a loudly appreciative full house.

Soltani — only 27 years old — may have been unknown here when the La Jolla Music Society booked him, but since 2018, he’s appeared on five recordings, three of those on the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label, one of those an impressive solo album.


REVIEW: In La Jolla Music Society concert, cellist Kian Soltani makes an exciting San Diego debut2020-01-27T15:56:45-08:00

REVIEW: Kian Soltani and Julio Elizalde Bring Brilliant Chamber Program to La Jolla

San Diego Story
Ken herman
January 27, 2020

If the goal of the La Jolla Music Society’s “Discovery Series” is to present highly promising young performers, Sunday’s (January 26) recital by cellist Kian Soltani and pianist Julio Elizalde made the best possible case for that premise. Their fiery but uncannily polished performance of Stravinsky, Beethoven, Pärt, and Franck thrilled the substantial afternoon crowd at the Baker-Baum Concert Hall.

I was immediately taken by the 27-year-old Soltani’s electric account of the Stravinsky Suite Italienne for Piano and Cello that opened their program. His lean, supple tone propelled each deftly delineated phrase of this neo-classical gem with an unswerving sense of purpose, an approach keenly paralleled by Elizalde at the piano. Their ferocious ostinatos in the “Tarantella” movement, for example, displayed a keen musical intuition that transcended their easily laudable technical prowess.


REVIEW: Kian Soltani and Julio Elizalde Bring Brilliant Chamber Program to La Jolla2020-01-27T15:51:41-08:00

REVIEW: What’s Old is New Again: Martha Graham Dance

San Diego Story
Janis Steinberg
January 26, 2020

Fresh. Vital. These are not words I expected to use for the Martha Graham Dance Company’s performance at the Civic Theatre on Wednesday. Graham, the imperious mother of American modern dance, was long ago superseded by her rebellious children, former company members Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor; and later dance makers have moved even further from her often-overwrought style.

What a happy surprise, then, to see the exciting show the Graham company did here, performed by dancers who seemed enraptured by this work. The program, presented by the La Jolla Music Society, included three Graham dances from the 1930s and 40s. There was also a 2019 piece commission the very hot choreographer Pam Tanowitz, a brilliant choice by artistic director Janet Eilber. Although the Tanowitz dance showed a distinctly 21stcentury sensibility, it didn’t shove Graham into the dance-history dust heap. Rather, each woman’s work illuminated the other’s.


REVIEW: What’s Old is New Again: Martha Graham Dance2020-01-27T15:47:46-08:00

PREVIEW: Kian Soltani looks at the cello through the centuries

San Diego Union Tribune
Beth Wood
January 23, 2020

Cellist Kian Soltani has options of where to rest up from his busy touring schedule, which includes playing with such orchestras as the Vienna Philharmonic and Boston Symphony and such musical luminaries as pianist Daniel Barenboim and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter.

“Home base for me is several places,” said Soltani, who headlines La Jolla Music Society’s concert Sunday at The Conrad’s Baker-Baum Concert Hall. “One of them is Zurich, Switzerland, one of them is Vienna, Austria, and one of them is Berlin, Germany. And, of course, my parents’ house in Bregenz, Austria, which borders Switzerland. But Europe is not (that) big, so central Europe is my home base. It’s a wonderful place.”


PREVIEW: Kian Soltani looks at the cello through the centuries2020-01-27T15:54:13-08:00

REVIEW: Garrick Ohlsson’s Definitive Brahms Recital at The Conrad

The San Diego Story
Ken Herman
November 10, 2019

Garrick Ohlsson returned to The Conrad in downtown La Jolla Saturday, November 9, to play another all-Brahms piano recital. With his evident affection for the repertory, his superlative technique, and his insight into what makes Brahms’ piano music distinctive, his recital also turned into a graduate level master class for anyone who plays piano or has ever studied the instrument.

From Brahms’ early Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 5, and the Variations on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 35, Book II, to the mature Op. 79 Rhapsodies and the Op. 116 Fantasies, Ohlsson’s every phrase illuminated important aspects of this rich body of piano music, amplifying the sheer joy of experiencing Brahms played with such command and panache.


REVIEW: Garrick Ohlsson’s Definitive Brahms Recital at The Conrad2019-11-13T15:28:12-08:00