Posts Tagged “Master Chorale”
Grant Gershon, Music Direcgtor, Los Angeles Master Chorale,
The Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC) has announced that eminent Music Director Grant Gershon will continue his key leadership role at the choir’s helm through the 2019-2020 season, which will be his 19th season with the chorus, with the new title of Artistic Director effective July 1, 2014, according to LAMC Chair David Gindler. Gershon’s title change from Music Director to Artistic Director, a significant part of his five-year contract extension that begins in the 2015-16 season, reflects the highly regarded conductor’s expanded vision to redefine the choral experience. Widely lauded by critics for elevating the Chorale’s musical excellence to new heights since he joined the chorus in 2001, Gershon will reimagine how, why and where the chorus explores and presents choral music, from its concerts and educational programs to its online presence, marketing, strategic planning and every other area guided by the Chorale’s artistry.
“We are extremely pleased that Grant is not only extending his outstanding leadership of the Los Angeles Master Chorale but is dedicated to doing so in such a meaningful way,” says Gindler. “It will definitely not be business as usual. Grant is deeply committed to changing the face of choral music through his work with the Chorale. His desire to create a completely immersive environment for the audience has ignited incredible passion in the singers, the staff and our board. We are fully committed to supporting his vision to break barriers in choral music and redefine the concert experience. Grant’s expanded artistic vision will help the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s light shine so much brighter than it already does.”
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to take our work with the Chorale to a new level and am deeply grateful to the Board of Directors for embracing this enhanced vision and for committing to provide the resources to make it feasible,” says Gershon. “We are in a remarkable position to redefine what is possible for a choral organization. The Los Angeles Master Chorale is a tremendously strong and extremely well respected institution with a rich history and tradition. Our singers have achieved a phenomenally high level of artistry and refinement together in recent years. I’m therefore making this decisive commitment to rededicate myself to this amazing organization and its very bright future. The length of this contract extension is somewhat unusual, and I think that it should be seen as a sign that we are making an extraordinary commitment together for the artistic future of the institution as we strive to reach the Chorale’s full potential. By extending my leadership of the Chorale through the 2019-2020 season, we will be able to plan strategically in an unprecedented way. This will allow us to dream big and use our imaginations to create the most impactful organization possible.”
Explaining the significance of his title change to Artistic Director and how it will shape his role with the chorus, Gershon says, “It speaks to my strong commitment to the overall artistic profile and direction of the Chorale and my desire to be more involved with all aspects of the organization that touch on our artistic mission, including our education programs, community engagement, marketing/messaging, strategic planning and enhanced production values. It also suggests that there is more than just the music alone that defines our artistic profile. The look and feel of each concert is also vitally important, so we will explore all ways to open up the concert experience to maximize the impact of the music we love.”
There are several long-range projects and initiatives currently in the planning stages that will be announced at a later date. As an example of the kind of broader over-arching themes that the Chorale will explore, Gershon points to the unifying “triple Passion” concept that he crafted for the upcoming 2014-15 season, which features, in three separate concerts, J.S. Bach’s Passion According to St. Matthew, the Chorale’s reprise of Tan Dun’s extraordinary Water Passion After St. Matthew and the Disney Hall debut of Richard Einhorn’s “brilliantly effective” (Washington Post) 1994 work Voices of Light/The Passion of Joan of Arc, inspired by and performed with the 1928 silent film.
In addition, with the Master Chorale’s subscription concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall generally attracting capacity audiences for more than a decade, Gershon will explore expanding the chorus’s performance offerings into smaller venues, with concerts that provide fresh and unique artistic opportunities to showcase new repertoire with the talents of LAMC’s gifted singers, achieving LAMC’s goal of attracting even broader audiences while creating the most satisfying artistic experience possible for the singers. “Not all music is best served in a venue like Disney Hall,” explains Gershon. Alternate performance opportunities will also provide Gershon with more opportunities to tap the long list of composers with whom he would like to work. Additionally, there are a number of prominent and emerging directors, video artists and other arts organizations with whom he and the Chorale would like to engage in collaborative projects.
Gershon is reimagining the look and feel of the chorus’s artistic presentations to make concerts an “all in” experience for the audience by expanding such production elements as lighting, staging, video, singers’ attire and movement. “Incorporating these kinds of values into our concerts in a meaningful and thoughtful manner will further enhance our concerts and maximize the impact of the music, which is our ultimate goal,” explains Gershon.
Making the Chorale’s highly successful education programs more targeted and far-reaching and imagining new ways to engage the community and introduce people to the art form of choral music are also key components of Gershon’s vision. Additionally, he wants to reach new audiences in greater numbers with recordings, a more substantial social media presence and special projects that are marketable to presenting organizations in other regions.
“Bottom line, it’s all about reaching towards the Chorale’s full potential,” he says. “The Los Angeles Master Chorale is one of the strongest and most vibrant choral organizations in the world. We want to celebrate this by adopting best practices in all areas that will allow choral music to evolve in a way that is compelling and relevant for today’s world and beyond. I am so excited about the opportunities ahead and for the chance to make our vision a reality.”
Frankenstein: Of Monsters and Men, a major new oratorio with powerful themes of rejection, misunderstanding and regret composed by 100 high school students from downtown Los Angeles’ Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts and based on Mary Shelley’s classic 1818 novel, is being premiere by the students in conjunction with the Los Angeles Master Chorale Chamber Singers, instrumentalists and soloists in free matinee and evening performances on Thursday, February 20, 2014, at noon, and Friday, February 21, and 7 pm, at the high school’s main auditorium. (Ample free on-site parking is available.) Compelling arias and rousing choruses tell the dark gothic tale of the eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque monster during a laboratory experiment, and then, horrified by the result, regrets giving life to the creature he just made. The students composed the melodies and lyrics for the oratorio, which is told in several musical movements. The performances are the culmination of the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s award-winning “Voices Within” artists-in-residence program, designed to foster collaboration among students to create and perform their own original choral works.
Shelley’s novel, written when she was only 21 years old, resonates with students on a variety of levels. For the oratorio, students have focused on Shelley’s theme of being outcast as their libretto portrays the tale of a lonely creature shunned by his creator and misunderstood and feared by everyone else.
The 9th through 12th grade students worked closely over a 20-week period with the guidance and mentorship of singer Alice Kirwan Murray, lyricist Doug Cooney and composer Jonathan Beard, as well as their own choir teachers, Desiree Fowler and Stormy Sacks. They learned how to adapt a classic work of literature, write a libretto based on the adaptation and create the melodies and harmonic structure for each movement of the oratorio. They also learned techniques for capturing the “voice” of the characters and how to propel the momentum of the plot and paint the mood of a scene. After the work was completed, students auditioned for feature roles and received vocal coaching to prepare for the culmination performance. This is the fourth year LAMC has offered its “Voices Within” program at the school.
An oratorio is an extended musical composition with a text dramatic in character for solo voices, chorus and orchestra, performed with minimal action, costume and scenery. Complex and sophisticated musical works, they challenge even season composers, making the student’s accomplishments particularly noteworthy.
This massive undertaking is an extension of the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s award-winning music education program, “Voices Within,” which was originally designed to teach fifth graders collaborative and compositional skills by composing and performing their own original songs and has engaged over 25,000 children and created over 350 original songs since its launch in 2001.
Encouraged by previous successful collaborations involving elementary and middle school students, and with the support of the California Arts Council’s Artists-in-School Program, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Los Angeles Master Chorale adapted the “Voices Within” curriculum to address the advanced maturity of high school students, specifically choral students at the new visual and performing arts high school in downtown LA.
The concert is free, and seating is first come, first served. Cortines High School for Visual and Performing Arts is located at 450 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Campus parking is free (enter on Cesar Chavez Avenue).
The Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC), following on the heels of its wildly successful and critically applauded 50th Anniversary Season opening night concert, has released its first all-digital album featuring 17 of its signature a cappella works conducted by Music Director Grant Gershon and recorded live at that historic concert on September 22, 2013, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The album, entitled “50th Season Celebration Concert,” celebrates the most beloved, groundbreaking and inspiring a cappella works that have defined the Los Angeles Master Chorale and its music directors over the past 50 years. Priced at $9.99, it is available online-only, at LAMC.org, iTunes and Amazon.com. Featuring 115 singers, it is the Chorale’s ninth album and its sixth conducted by Gershon.
Critics heralded the live concert as “glorious” and “sensational” (Los Angeles Times), “brilliant” (Out West Arts), “emotionally charged” (LA Opus) and “an aural feast” (ConcertoNet) “that will long be remembered by those fortunate to have been there” (Examiner).
“The Los Angeles Master Chorale is thrilled to be able to share with audiences beyond the concert hall these exceptional musical highlights from this landmark concert,” says LAMC President & CEO Terry Knowles. “The recording illuminates and honors the music and music directors who brought the Chorale to this unforgettable moment in time – the choir’s 50th Anniversary Season. Creating a digital album has enabled the Chorale to bring it to market much more quickly than a traditional CD, making this project particularly significant.”
The remarkable acoustics of the landmark Disney Hall, the Chorale’s home venue, complement the choir’s rich sound, which is captured on the recording, as is the Chorale’s astonishing versatility with musical styles ranging from Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony to gospel and new music. Featured tracks include:
1. Ave Maria | Tomás Luis da Vittoria
2. Il Est Bel et Bon | Pierre Passereau
3. Ev’ry time I feel the spirit | arr. William Dawson
4. Danny Boy | arr. Roger Wagner
5. Kyrie/Sally Gardens from Missa Carminum Brevis | Paul Chihara
6. Veni Creator Spiritus | Gregorian Chant
7. Tu es Petrus | Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
8. Tu es Petrus | Maurice Duruflé, conducted by Lesley Leighton
9. Ubi caritas | Maurice Duruflé, conducted by Lesley Leighton
10. O Magnum Mysterium | Morten Lauridsen
11. Hold On! | arr. Jester Hairston
12. Spem in alium | Thomas Tallis
13. The Good Old Way | William Walker
14. Bogoroditse Devo from All-Night Vigil | Sergei Rachmaninoff
15. The Lord’s Prayer | Duke Ellington
16. Unclouded Day from Heavenly Home | Shawn Kirchner
17. Alleluia | Randall Thompson
For more information on the Chorale or to purchase the digital album, please visit www.lamc.org, iTunes or Amazon.com. Single tracks are also available for purchase.
Los Angeles Master Chorale