Hit play below to listen to our Arts Alive feature previewing Salastina Music Society’s upcoming program, curated by KUSC’s Brian Lauritzen.

Oh sure…I play music for you every day on the radio, but what would happen if a local performing arts organization gave me carte blanche to program one of their concerts? That’s exactly what the Salastina Music Society has done for their performances on February 17 and 18.

Here’s what I did:

Everything is connected. Even in a fractured world where it can be profitable or politically expedient to exploit what divides us, we remain connected. As someone who builds and presents music playlists for a living, I have always been fascinated with the many ways that different pieces of music can speak to one another. With the rise of digital streaming services, the playlist concept has overtaken the album concept as the preferred method of music consumption.

This is true everywhere except the concert hall. And that’s precisely the inspiration for this weekend’s Salastina Music Society program: it’s a live music playlist. Taking a beautiful poem by E.E. Cummings as my inspiration, I chose music that connects to words and phrases in the poem and have asked the musicians to perform the works on each half of the concert with as little pause as possible in between.

Along the way, we’ll hear the purity of hope in a piece where the string players only use open strings and harmonics–they never press their fingers down on the fingerboards of their instruments. We’ll hear a song of quiet, unending joy which the composer said was inspired by the “emotional inclusiveness” of music of the past. We’ll hear works from three different faith traditions, including music composed by the first Black woman to have her music performed by an American orchestra. We’ll hear a piece of music which the composer tells us she wrote after hearing some friends of hers play a specific moment of a Haydn string quartet. We’ll hear some surrealist dance music from an Uzbekistan-born, Australian-based composer and a musical joke written by a pioneer in the field of life insurance and estate planning. We’ll hear the flirtatious love songs of the Andean romanceros alongside music of full-blown romance. We end with chamber music from an opera that is a meditation on the question, “Which is the greater art: music or poetry?”

A question which, hopefully by the end of this weekend’s playlist/program, we can all agree has no correct answer.

Curious about the music featured in this weekend’s concerts? Preview the program in the playlist below.

KUSC’s Brian Lauritzen is the curator for upcoming concerts by the Salastina Music Society. There are two performances: Saturday evening at 8 PM at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music and Sunday afternoon at 3 PM at a private residence on the Westside (upon purchasing a ticket, you will receive the address). For tickets and more, click here.

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