The LA Phil’s prestigious Sounds About Town series continues with a Shakespeare-themed program featuring renowned conductor James Conlon conducting two of the country’s leading youth ensembles – the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus (LACC) and the American Youth Symphony (AYS) – in the world premiere of The isle is full of noises… by Icelandic composer Daníel Bjarnason based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and co-commissioned by LACC and AYS on Sunday, March 4, 2012, 7:30 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The ensembles also perform Sir David Willcocks’ The Glories of Shakespeare, which draws on texts from The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, Cymbeline and Two Gentlemen of Verona and alternates between spirited syncopated rhythms and slower, richly harmonic elements. Additionally, the chorus and orchestra each perform separately with LACC Artistic Director Anne Tomlinson conducting a compilation of inventive settings of Shakespearean texts for treble voices, including Benjamin Britten’s Francie and Douglas Beam’s Spirits, and AYS Music Director Alexander Treger conducting a suite from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, described by National Public Radio as “one of the most beautiful scores of the 20th century.”
A pre-concert talk with Bjarnason hosted by Chad Smith, Director of Artistic Planning for the LA Phi, is open to ticket holders at 6:30 pm.
“We are honored to be a part of the esteemed Sounds About Town series and are extremely grateful to Mr. Conlon for conducting this highly anticipated premiere, which is reflective of his deep commitment to mentoring young artists,” says Tomlinson.
Adds Treger, “In what promises to be a diverse and illuminating program, we particularly look forward to presenting a new piece by Daníel Bjarnason, who is considered to be one of the world’s most intriguing composers writing for artists ranging from the London Sinfonietta to the post-rock group Sigur Rós.”
Mirroring the plot of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Bjarnason’s The isle is full of noises… begins with Miranda’s compassionate plea to Prospero, her father – with whom she is stranded on an island along with Caliban, a monster who has taught them how to survive there – to have mercy on the souls sailing by the island on dangerously stormy seas. The choral writing divides the singers into 12 different parts with clustered harmonic chords serving to heighten her concern and despair. It then condenses in scope, drawing into three parts as she speaks of how she would have “sunk the seas within the earth.” The second movement finds a lyric melody artfully representing Caliban’s calming words over a pulsating major seventh chord that reflects the unusual sounds on the island upon which they are marooned. The composer employs glissandi (vocal slides) and humming to highlight the evocative island sounds. The movement ends gently as Caliban reflects upon his dream of gaining riches and his hope “to dream again.” The concluding movement highlights the dramatic words of Prospero’s “all shall dissolve” soliloquy by beginning with gentle harmonies that crescendo into the upper treble range, finally folding into one another to close in a single vocal octave.
Bjarnason has garnered widespread acclaim for his debut album, Processions (2010), with Time Out NY declaring that Bjarnason “create(s) a sound that comes eerily close to defining classical music’s undefinable brave new world.” Both a conductor and composer, he has worked with a range of ensembles, including the London Sinfonietta, Ulster Orchestra and Sinfonietta Cracovia. He also regularly conducts at both the Icelandic Opera and Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Bjarnason has won numerous awards and grants and has twice been awarded a special recommendation for his work at the International Rostrum for Composers. In 2010, he was nominated for the prestigious Nordic Council’s Music Prize and won the Kraumur Music Award. The same year, Processions won the coveted Best Composer/Best Composition category at the Icelandic Music Awards. Bjarnason’s versatility as an arranger and conductor has led to collaborations with a broad array of musicians outside the classical field, including, in addition to Sigur Rós, Efterklang, múm and Ólöf Arnalds, among others.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under the vibrant leadership of Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, presents an inspiring array of music from all genres – orchestral, chamber and Baroque music, organ and celebrity recitals, new music, jazz, world music and pop – at two of L.A.’s iconic venues, Walt Disney Concert Hall (www.laphil.com) and the Hollywood Bowl (www.hollywoodbowl.com). The LA Phil’s season at Walt Disney Concert Hall extends from October through May, and throughout the summer at the Hollywood Bowl. With the preeminent Los Angeles Philharmonic at the foundation of its offerings, the LA Phil aims to enrich and transform lives through music, with a robust mix of artistic, education and community programs.
Tickets are $20.75, $34.25, $40, $45. Tickets are available at LAPhil.com, the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office or any Ticketmaster outlet. To order by phone with credit card, please call the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office at 323.850.2000, or Ticketmaster at 800.745.3000. For more information, please call 323.850.2000. Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.