Classical Pick: Chinary Ung's Spiral XII

Khmer Arts Academy dancers will be moved to Chinary Ung's "SPIRAL XII"
Los Angeles Master Chorale

In the third installment of “L.A. Is the World,” the multiyear commissioning project that unites immigrant master musicians, composers and the L.A. Master Chorale, we travel to the Far East — and no, Governor Palin, that’s not Connecticut — with a program featuring Lou Harrison’s Eastern-influenced anthem La Koro Sutro and the world premiere of Cambodian-born composer Chinary Ung’s Spiral XII: Space Between Heaven and Earth. La Koro Sutro, Esperanto for the famous Buddhist “Heart Sutra,” is a musical journey into the “heart of divine wisdom” and was written for choir, organ and American gamelan — the latter being, for this work, a collection of exotic “percussion” instruments like sawed-off gas cylinders and steel-tube electrical conduit built by Harrison, who was as famous for his unorthodox instrumental inventions as he was for his compositions. Spiral XII, a meditative work for chorus, instrumental ensemble, dancers and vocal soloists, is a continuation of Ung’s ongoing exploration of an idea that works its way up a musical spiral — which, he says, is central to his mission to “employ my music as an agent of spiritual healing through aesthetic experience.” In Spiral XII, voice, percussion and dance fuse in a Southeast Asian musical technique in which the percussionists and string players also sing, chant and whistle, “as if they are participants in a village ritual, and the dancers portray both the suffering of Cambodia’s brutal history and the hope that resonates in its present. This performance features Ung’s creative partner, Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, a legendary Cambodian dancer and artistic director of the Khmer Arts Academy, and seven female dancers from her troupe. Walt Disney Concert Hall; Sun., Nov. 9, 7 p.m.; preceded by a Listen Up! talk with conductor Grant Gershon, KUSC’s Alan Chapman and Chinary Ung, 6 p.m.; $19-$124. (800) 787-5262,

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