MEDIA ARCHIVE

REVIEW: Urban and Jookin Animal Ballets Mark Change in Acceptance, Expectation

San Diego Story
Kris Eitland
October 5, 2018

When Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Jazz Series in Oct. 2016, who could have predicted that two years later they’d return with tap and jook dancing geniuses?

Wynton Marsalis’ Spaces combines big band jazz and jook dancer Lil Buck and modern tap dancer Jared Grimes, and for the San Diego performance Oct. 3 at the Balboa Theatre, jook dancer Myles Yachts also performed physically charged dances.

Musicians and dancers interacted and throughout ten movements that correspond to a different animal. Marsalis describes it as “animal ballet,” and with every leap, slide and undulation, the dance performance marked a moment of glorious acceptance and expectation.

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REVIEW: Urban and Jookin Animal Ballets Mark Change in Acceptance, Expectation 2018-10-08T16:49:49+00:00

PREVIEW: Wynton Marsalis on his animal ballet, teen funk band days, kazoos and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 31 years

The San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
September 30, 2018

Before Wynton Marsalis mastered all that jazz — and more than 40 years before he debuted “Spaces,” his 2016 Jazz at Lincoln Center “animal ballet” now headed to San Diego — he cut his teeth playing in several New Orleans funk bands in the 1970s.

It was then, as the teen-aged trumpeter in such groups as The Creators and Killer Forces & The Crispy Critters, that this 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and band leader learned some of the key skills he has drawn on ever since.

“Definitely!” affirmed Marsalis, 56, whose subsequent musical collaborators have ranged from Ray Charles and Bob Dylan to Dizzy Gillespie and Carole King.

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PREVIEW: Wynton Marsalis on his animal ballet, teen funk band days, kazoos and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 31 years 2018-10-05T10:21:54+00:00

REVIEW: The Artistry of Emanuel Ax and Friends at La Jolla SummerFest

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 24, 2018

La Jolla SummerFest called Wednesday’s concert “An Evening with Emanuel Ax.” But it was much better than that. It turned out to be an evening with Emanuel Ax and friends. The former would have been undoubtedly rewarding, but the latter proved spectacular.

In Mozart’s “Kegelstatt” Trio with clarinetist John Bruce Yeh and violist Che-Yen Chen and in Antonín Dvo?ák’s nonpareil Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81, with Cho-Liang Lin, Anna Lee, and the Hoffman brothers, Ax gently spurred his colleagues to empyrean heights.

Some describe Mozart’s delightfully unusual piano trio—the standard instrumention is piano, violin, and cello—as charming, but these performers made it sublime. Yeh and Chen played in standing position, which not only strengthened their voices to that of the concert grand, but seemed to allow the composer’s fluid lines to dance. Indeed, Yeh’s tall frame swayed gently, mirroring Mozart’s balletic phrases, even as he garbed them in his superbly polished, silvery sonority, seamless from burnished bass notes to translucent treble tones.

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REVIEW: The Artistry of Emanuel Ax and Friends at La Jolla SummerFest 2018-08-24T15:07:35+00:00

REVIEW: SummerFest’s Glowing Concert of French Music from Gounod to Ravel

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 23, 2018

The French Revolution did French music no favors. In the decades of political and social turmoil that followed the Revolution, music in the land of “liberté, fraternité et égalité” languished. At the same time in German-speaking principalities, however, Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn birthed that rich musical movement we call Romanticism.

While the symphonic works of Hector Berlioz brought France into the orchestral big leagues mid-century, it was not until the later years of the 19th century that French composers took composing chamber music seriously. Tuesday’s (August 21) SummerFest concert presented a beautifully played program that captured that late Romantic flowering of French chamber music as it progressed to the edge of 20th-century modernism.

Charles Gounod’s “Little Symphony” for Wind Nonet, Op. 216, strikingly recasts the symphonic form of the Classical era into a perfectly structured four-movement chamber work that might be easily be dismissed as academic, were it not for Gounod’s endlessly charming motivic invention. In truth, I would choose hearing Gounod’s delectable “Little Symphony” over any of the 104-plus Haydn orchestral symphonies for the same reason I would choose a slice of Black Forest cake over a kale salad.

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REVIEW: SummerFest’s Glowing Concert of French Music from Gounod to Ravel 2018-08-24T15:25:29+00:00

REVIEW: La Jolla Music Society’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ glitters and gleams at SummerFest

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Marcus Overton
August 22, 2018

Full disclosure first: the doors of music were opened for me with the first notes of Ravel’s “Pavane for a Dead Princess,” as I struggled to play the high-lying French horn passage that opened the orchestral transcription being rehearsed by a community orchestra in Rome, Georgia.

I was 15 years old. That wonderful musical landscape was expanded by Debussy and Fauré and, later, by Chausson and Saint-Saëns. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven were all wonderful, when they came along, but when difficult times demand solace, it is French music that clears the mind and renews the spirit.

At its best, French music offers spring-water clarity, emotional freshness, and an opportunity for performers to create and sustain an atmosphere of balance, repose and restraint.

All those virtues, and more, were on rich display in La Jolla Music Society SummerFest’s “Midnight in Paris” concert Tuesday evening in UC San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Concert Hall.

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REVIEW: La Jolla Music Society’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ glitters and gleams at SummerFest 2018-08-22T15:05:12+00:00

ARTICLE: Celebrating SummerFest – La Jolla Music Society and UCSD

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Vincent Andrunas
August 17, 2018

The La Jolla Chamber Players formally incorporated in 1968, but soon grew to become the La Jolla Music Society. Its mission is to enhance the vitality and deepen the cultural life of San Diego by presenting and producing a dynamic range of performing arts for the increasingly diverse community. Also in 1968, the University of California acquired 130 acres in the La Jolla Farms area. The first land purchased for UC San Diego, it included the home that would become the Audrey Geisel University House, the official residence for the university’s chancellors.

Both organizations have grown dramatically in stature over the last half-century, and share mutual respect. LJMS holds an annual SummerFest music festival, running Aug. 3-24 this year, with nearly all performances taking place at UC San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Concert Hall. Last Saturday, the festival’s exceptionally elegant black-tie celebration — the SummerFest Gala — was held at University House, hosted by Chancellor Pradeep Khosla.

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ARTICLE: Celebrating SummerFest – La Jolla Music Society and UCSD 2018-08-20T09:17:05+00:00

REVIEW: Works by Lei Liang and Pierre Jalbert make triumphant premieres at SummerFest

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Christian Hertzog
August 17, 2018

Over his 18 years as director of La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, Cho-Liang “Jimmy” Lin has brought important composers to La Jolla and has discerningly commissioned new works for the festival.

Tuesday evening, on a program featuring Turina, Debussy, Mahler and Ginastera, Lin’s most recent commission was happily premiered: “Vis-à-vis” for percussionist Steven Schick and Wu Man, a virtuoso on the pipa (China’s version of the lute). It was composed by UC San Diego professor Lei Liang.

On the stage at Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, Wu Man and Schick were separated by 7 or 8 feet, a bit puzzling for a work whose title means “Face-to-face.” Wu Man began alone with an arresting, tart chord that slowly accelerated into a dramatic cut-off. Schick answered this with a loud cascade of notes. The musical back-and-forth that ensued made clear that the title referred more to a metaphorical conversation than physical proximity.

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REVIEW: Works by Lei Liang and Pierre Jalbert make triumphant premieres at SummerFest 2018-08-17T14:55:40+00:00

REVIEW: Pushing the Envelope, Enticing New Music at La Jolla SummerFest

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 17, 2018

The amount and quality of contemporary music featured in this season’s La Jolla SummerFest, Music Director Cho-Liang Lin’s valedictory year, has been astonishing. Last week the FLUX Quartet presented an entire evening of bracing avant-garde offerings, included the premiere of Rand Steiger’s “Tropes,” commissioned by the FLUX Quartet. The following night FLUX returned to offer the La Jolla Music Society’s commission, Toshi Ichiyanagi’s String Quartet No. 5.

On Tuesday, August 14, at the heart of a program featuring Lin’s favorites, we experienced Lei Liang’s showstopping “Vis-à-vis” for Pipa and Percussion, yet another premiere of a commission by the La Jolla Music Society. Then on Thursday, August 16, Lin brought back French composer Marc-André Dalbavie’s stunning Quartet for Piano and Strings, a La Jolla Music Society commission premiered here in 2012, and paired it with Pierre Jalbert’s 2017 Piano Quintet, which the La Jolla Music Society co-commissioned with two other arts organizations.

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REVIEW: Pushing the Envelope, Enticing New Music at La Jolla SummerFest 2018-08-17T14:51:26+00:00

REVIEW: A Sumptuous Banquet of Lin’s Favorites at La Jolla SummerFest

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 15, 2018

San Diego chamber music lovers could easily come up with a dozen reasons why they will miss Cho-Liang Lin when he leaves the La Jolla Music Society after 18 seasons as the SummerFest Music Director. Reason number one on my list, however, is Lin’s brilliant programming, that keen insight that assembled the complementary variety of styles and exhilarating caliber of music-making displayed on Tuesday’s (Aug. 14) SummerFest concert at UC San Diego’s Prebys Concert Hall.

Lin assembled an embarrassment of riches, each amazing piece raising the bar yet another notch, from the warmth and allure of Joaquin Turina’s Escena Andaluza that opened the concert, to Claude Debussy’s profound yet unsentimental Cello Sonata, to Lei Liang’s extravagantly exciting new commissioned piece “Vis-à-vis” for Pipa and Percussion, to Gustav Mahler’s transcendent Rückert-Lieder song cycle to Alberto Ginestera’s breathtaking String Quartet No. 1.

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REVIEW: A Sumptuous Banquet of Lin’s Favorites at La Jolla SummerFest 2018-08-15T16:47:00+00:00

PREVIEW: Guitar ace John Pizzarelli returns with his jazz trio for SummerFest concert

San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
August 13, 2018

John Pizzarelli’s stellar jazz credits are a matter of record. So are his pop, rock and soul credits.

The guitar ace has recorded on albums by Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Roberta Flack, Solomon Burke and other greats.

That versatility has enabled Pizzarelli to stand out whether performing with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees McCartney and Taylor or trading fleet lines with such jazz luminaries as pianists Monty Alexander and Ramsey Lewis.

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PREVIEW: Guitar ace John Pizzarelli returns with his jazz trio for SummerFest concert 2018-08-13T12:31:29+00:00