Over and above its contributions in teaching the performing arts, The Colburn School gives Los Angeles a good, small concert hall, Zipper Concert Hall, just across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall. Zipper Hall is now performing home to three independent program series important to contemporary music in Los Angeles. To get a little off-topic, of course Zipper is also home to the programming of Colburn School itself and is the primary Los Angeles home of the Calder Quartet, just ending a residency at Julliard and a co-founder of the Carlsbad Festival of alternative classical music, which begins down south tomorrow.
For us Angelenos, Monday Evening Concerts deserves pride of place and first mention. MEC will provide four concerts in Zipper this season; tickets are only $25 ($10 for students). The programs are interesting, exciting even. The range of composers and of musical styles is stimulating. But I am surprised that there is only a single work by a living American (Donald Crockett) plus works by Earl Kim and Ralph Shapey (and Stravinsky). In an interesting supplement to the series, each of the concerts on Monday will be preceded on Sunday morning by coffee, pastries, and a film having some tie to the program. The Sunday mornings will be in the media lounge of the Goethe Institute; sehr gemutlich. Free to subscribers! MEC’s new web site conveys that they are now an established program; the site even includes an audio preview of the series. (In something almost unique for Los Angeles the site even gives the public transportation lines to get to the concerts or the films.) I look forward to the time when the site includes the programming history of this important series.
Piano Spheres is a favorite of mine. The season opens in only ten days with Gloria Cheng performing a challenging program that includes the premiere of a new work by Dante De Silva plus Berio’s “Sequenza IV” plus Cage, Takemitsu, Xenakis, Lachenmann, Carter and Messiaen. What a range, and with lesser art the program would be a hodgepodge rather than something exciting. And that’s just Gloria, so look at the entire season with Vicki Ray, Susan Svrcek, Mark Robson, and Ursula Oppens as this season’s guest. The cost is $25 a ticket, $20 on subscription. Buy now.
Southwest Chamber Music has a Pasadena home (with a winter season in the auditorium of the Norton Simon Museum and a summer season at the Huntington), but their winter season has dual performances at Zipper Concert Hall. Southwest has produced an excellent “Composer Portrait” series of 12 CDs, plus four CDs in their project to perform and record all of the chamber music of Carlos Chavez. This season, Southwest’s 20th, will have two programs of performances of William Kraft’s complete “Encounters” series, including the premiere performance of “Encounter XIV, a new commission. The performances will be recorded and released next year in commemoration of Kraft’s 85th birthday. The internet confirms my recollection that two (at least) of the “Encounters” were written for a full orchestra, so I’m unsure of whether or not these will be included, or will be performed in alternate versions. I like most of the programming of the Southwest performances. Scroll down the list of programs and see whether or not you agree. Will the two Brandenburgs work with the Cage, for instance?
In the final post in this series, I’ll mention the contemporary music offered this coming season in the Jacaranda series, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Pacific Serenades, and summarize some events in other venues.