BY GEORGE, THAT KING WAS NUTS

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (pictured) is known for his brashly original works, one of the most audacious being Eight Songs for a Mad King , a mini-opera based on the ramblings of poor, insane George III. Written in 1969 for the South African actor Roy Hart and Davies' ensemble, the Pierrot Players, the half-hour work is scored by six players and any baritone who can navigate its daunting five-octave terrain. Each of the eight songs is based on tunes played by a mechanical organ that King George owned and which, they say, he used as a way to train bullfinches to sing. So, the king soliloquizes onstage, with the players performing in giant birdcages, and the entire spectacle ends in a burst of musical violence, with George snatching and smashing a violin. Stefan Asbury conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group and baritone Thomas Meglioranza in this wild work at this week's Green Umbrella Concert, along with Arnold Schoenberg's 1912 melodrama Pierrot Lunaire, featuring soprano Kiera Duffy, and French composer Vinko Globokar's Corporel (1985), in which a nude-from-the-waist-up "percussionist"-- in this case Joseph Pereira -- uses his body as a percussion instrument, slapping himself and engaging in various breathing and physical actions to create sound. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Tues., Feb. 2, 8 p.m.; preceded by an Upbeat Live lecture by composer and L.A. Philharmonic Creative Chair John Adams at 7 p.m.; $26-$51. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com. --M.B.C.
Tue., Feb. 2, 8 p.m., 2010


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