It’s kind of a chaperone’s worst nightmare—Tokyo Station at morning rush hour. Three rail companies and 14 different lines converge on this central station hauling more than 400-thousand commuters through here every single day. And today, among the throngs: 15 young musicians of YOLA.
I’m happy to report that no one got lost or separated in the madness and we all managed to squeeze aboard our scheduled high-speed bullet train, or Shinkansen, headed to Fukushima Prefecture and eventually the city of Soma—an area hit hard four years ago in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. It takes 78 minutes to ride the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Fukushima. 182 miles; 78 minutes. It's enough to make us Californians ponder the what ifs of that LA to San Francisco bullet train that has been in the "proposed" stage for how many years now? The YOLA musicians certainly dug it.
I sat ...
Yesterday was a 28-30 hour day for most of the young musicians of YOLA. It started like any normal Tuesday--Karen, a 16-year-old YOLA cellist told me she got up early like she always does and drove her brother to school--but then things changed in a hurry. At Walt Disney Concert Hall, the YOLA musicians were feted with an official proclamation from LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Photo: Leni Boorstin
Photo: Leni Boorstin
The proclamation reads: "On your selection as a member of the Los Angeles tour to Asia, and in recognition of your outstanding hard work and dedication to excellence, you are hereby highly commended by the Board of Supervisors, County Los Angeles." Mayor Eric Garcetti also sent each of the students a letter: "Dear ____, Congratulations on being selected to represent Los Angeles and perform with the newly formed Japanese youth orchestra in collaboration with Gustavo Dudamel and the ...
Today,15 talented young musicians—ages 13 to 17—from the LA Phil’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) program will arrive in Tokyo, Japan. The students are traveling in conjunction with the LA Phil’s own Asian tour…and will be meeting up with their youth orchestra counterparts in El Sistema Japan to rehearse and perform together before playing for Gustavo Dudamel and a big audience in Tokyo in a few days. The students who were selected for this trip had to endure a rigorous application process, which included an audition and a written essay. There were fun parts of the travel preparation process too, though. Like a few days ago, when they headed Little Tokyo for a taste of Japanese culture and history at the Japanese American National Museum…and then a literal taste of some Japanese food at a nearby noodle shop.
Megumi Smith, one of YOLA’s teaching artists, taught the students how to ...
Alan Chapman is currently roaming through Rome with a KUSC tour of Italy. He sent us these photos, so we can travel along with him.
A nighttime view from the roof of Hotel Raphael.
Our daytime survey of the Roman forum.
A detail from the Church of Sant'Andrea, location of the first act of Puccini's Tosca.
Speaking of Tosca ... this is where she jumps at the end of Puccini's opera (atop Rome's Castel Sant'Angelo with St. Peter's in the background). The KUSC tour visited all three locations in Tosca and, in the evening, a Rome Opera House production featuring reconstructions of the original 1900 sets and costumes.
The LA Phil has announced its 2015-16 season--Gustavo Dudamel's seventh as music director--and there is a lot to be excited about. As has become my custom, I leave most of the punditry to others (All is Yar and Classical Life are always good places to start). I always like to run the numbers on each new season at the LA Phil. Here's how 2015-16 looks:
- 12 commissions, 12 world premieres, 6 U.S. premieres, and 7 West Coast premieres. This breaks a previous LA Phil record for presentation of new music. The orchestra has never presented as many as 12 world premieres in a single season.
- In 2015-16, the LA Phil and visiting artists will present music by 8 different Baroque composers; 5 Classical-era composers; 22 Romantics; and 72 20th and 21st Century composers.
- That's 7% Baroque, 5% Classical, 21% Romantic, and 67% 20th/21st Century
- Of the 107 composers on the ...
Los Angeles opera fans met countertenor John Holiday just recently, but he's already made a big impression. He was a 2014 winner of Operalia and performed as the Sorceress in Barrie Kosky's production of Dido & Aeneas at the LA Opera. Writing in the LA Times, critic Mark Swed said:
The cross-dressing sorceress and witches, who connive to send Aeneas on his way, are scene-stealers. John Holiday, G. Thomas Allen and Darryl Taylor are advertised as the first trio of African American countertenors to appear together in an opera production ... this is a trio of vibrant, flexible, funny Baroque singers who might have a road show of their own in their future.
From the road in Texas, Holiday talked to Brian Lauritzen about discovering he was a countertenor, taking the stage as the sorceress and contemporary composing for countertenors.
At a meeting in downtown LA in the spring of 2013, a friend and colleague with deep cultural ties to the UK, who knew I was planning a trip to Europe that summer, handed me a brochure for the 2013 Edinburgh International Arts Festival. The sheer variety and depth of presentations was intoxicating, but there was one event I didn’t think I could live without seeing: a bizarre operatic double bill of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas, premiered in 1688, and Bluebeard’s Castle by Bartok, premiered 230 years later. I adore both works: the stately beauty of the Purcell, the spellbinding terror of the Bartok, but couldn’t imagine them performed on the same program. There was also the lure of the much-acclaimed director of the double bill, Barrie Kosky, Australian by birth, and creating quite a stir in his first few seasons as artistic director of the Komische Oper Berlin. Kosky’s ...