Last week I attended a noteworthy concert, which was nearly note-perfect and attended by local notables. The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA) opened its eighth season under its indefatigable founder Charles “Chuck” Dickerson III, at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, on 31st Street near Jefferson.
If you are not familiar ICYOLA, I recommend you get to know them, for the good work they do. The orchestra says it “transforms the lives and minds of young people in Inner City Los Angeles through high quality and rigorous music training and reading enrichment.” These young people, I elaborated to my own children, grew up in homes and communities that are impoverished in ways that go even beyond the lack of food and comforts we take for granted. They face intellectual and aesthetic impoverishment. Yet, despite everything, there they are with their violins and their winds, playing great ...
1 – Johannes Brahms, Symphony #4 in E Minor. A teacher I trusted once said to me, “I can’t trust anyone who doesn’t like Brahms.” Brahms represents a base line of cynicism. Go beyond the base line, into the world of idealism, and you encounter the gritty optimism of Beethoven, or the stalwart carry-forth stick-to-it-ness of Haydn, and you end up feeling ridiculous. But with Brahms, pessimism is your friend and compass, most especially needed to guide you through the darkness of his final symphony. RECOMMENDED RECORDING: Carlo Maria Giulini, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
2 – Maurice Ravel, Piano Concerto in G. Ravel remained a curious artist, that is, an artist who remained curious, even after achieving great success. Following his visits to the Apollo Theater in NYC, and other venues where jazz reigned, Ravel found himself with renewed vigor, his acute curiosity restored by these new sounds in the new ...
Here at KUSC we’ve been coming up with our personal lists of “ten pieces of classical music everyone should know.” I can’t come close to covering all the music I love in so short a list, so I offer you the first ten pieces that came to mind (arranged in chronological order).
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Art of Fugue (1740s)
There are complex and fascinating musical procedures that underlie these fugues, these fabrics skillfully woven from melodic strands. But you don’t hear the wheels turning; you hear music. And that is part of the genius of Bach. Another part is that he achieves, as no one else can, a perfect balance between the melodic dimension and the harmonies that support the structure.
Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in G minor (1788)
So many great Mozart symphonies to pick from. Why this one? It’s incredibly unified from beginning to end, with much ...
This weekend, the American Youth Symphony will present a screening of Star Trek Into Darkness with the film score played live to picture. David Newman will conduct Michael Giacchino's exhilarating score and Giacchino will be on hand for a pre-concert/screening Q&A with film music journalist (and frequent KUSC contributor) Jon Burlingame.
In advance of this weekend's performance, I had a chance to catch up with the very busy Oscar-winning composer, Michael Giacchino, for a few questions.
BL: Live movie concerts are all the rage at major orchestras from Europe to the United States and beyond. They are extremely popular with audiences and a boon financially for the orchestras which present them. What do you make of the popularity these types of events?
MG: A large number of people are only exposed to orchestral music through film scores. It only makes sense that this material would find it’s way into the hands ...
Welcome to a new series on the KUSC blog. Over the next several weeks, each of the KUSC on-air hosts will unveil a list of 10 essential pieces of classical music that we think everyone should know. These aren’t the “10 Best” pieces, or even our “10 Favorite” pieces--just 10 that we absolutely love and want to share with you.
First up, Brian Lauritzen’s 10.
1. J.S. Bach: Chaconne, from Partita No. 2 in d minor for Solo Violin - This is breathtakingly epic music and, at times, it’s difficult to believe you’re only hearing a single instrument. The architecture is of the Chaconne is spectacular and a performance of it requires the highest level of virtuosity and artistry. I love both modern and period instrument performances and highly recommend the latter here, with Rachel Podger doing the honors. Also check out: Passacaglia and Fugue in c minor (solo organ) ...
Sunrise. It's beautiful. Or so I'm told. I am *not* a morning person and can count the number of sunrises I've actually seen on my two hands and still have a finger left over to tap the snooze button on my alarm clock. Many composers have also been inspired by sunrises. In fact, some of the most beautiful and exciting music out there depicts sunrise. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Haydn - He took a couple of different cracks at sunrise, including the first-ever sunrise--that is, the creation of light in his oratorio The Creation. Haydn also gave us a symphony and a string quartet called "Sunrise."
2. Richard Strauss - There's the very famous one from Also Sprach Zarathustra (aka that music from 2001: A Space Odyssey), but Strauss also gave us a stunning musical depiction of sunrise in his Alpine Symphony.
3. Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite ...
This year marks the 69th annual Ojai Music Festival. The venerable gathering of contemporary musicians and new music enthusiasts has boasted such music directors as Pierre Boulez, Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, and many others. This year, marks the first time in 69 years that the festival will be helmed by a percussionist. That's Steven Schick. KUSC's Gail Eichenthal gets a detailed preview of the full festival from Ojai's artistic director, and the man who picked Schick to be in charge this year, Tom Morris.