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Classical Music

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Toke of the Town

Could Weed Be Your Gateway to Classical Music?

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Mon, Sep 22, 2014 at 4:00 AM
Red Rocks on a "High" Note - ERIC GRUNEISEN
  • Eric Gruneisen
  • Red Rocks on a "High" Note
“Do you have anything that goes well with Beethoven?”

The clerk at the Denver Wellness Center looks at me strangely, before motioning me over to a display case full of various THC-infused candies and baked goods.

“Well,” he says. “We got weed cookies, gummies, lollipops, chocolate...I think any of them should work fine.”

“Right,” I say, squinting and pointing towards a tin-foil wrapped chocolate bar. “So you're sure that one pairs nicely with classical music?”

I want to have the proper goods. Tonight I’m going to Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver to see the Colorado Symphony Orchestra's end of summer concert. Normally that wouldn't require a visit to a pot dispensary beforehand, but this show is the symphony's first public performance in partnership with the cannabis industry, which ponied up nearly $130,000 to sponsor the Symphony's “Classically Cannabis” series.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

RAMEEN GASERY
  • Rameen Gasery
Tucked away in the heart of Koreatown lives Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. One of L.A.'s most revered instrumentalists, he picked up the violin at age 4, and 28 years later has collaborated with a diverse list of artists -- including Kobe Bryant, of all people, with whom he played on his very first professional session, when Bryant had a rap recording contract with Sony/Columbia records. "I was 16 or 17," Atwood-Ferguson says. "He's a relatively good rapper." The project was never released, but Atwood-Ferguson has since composed and played for the likes of Ray Charles, Shakira, Barry Manilow and DMX.

See also: Andrew Lojero on his "That '70s Soul" extravaganza at the Mayan

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN HERTZOG
  • photo by Christian Hertzog
How do you get millennials into classical music concerts? Without young ticket buyers, who will patronize classical when the current generation of donors and attendees (most born in the mid-20th century) pass away?

Organizations have responded by trying to make the classical music experience more like going out to a club. Because, we all know the kids like clubs! And so, the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra offers its brand new 'Balcony Club.' As it's described in their press release:

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sat. Oct. 20

Jacaranda: Different Islands

First Presbyterian Santa Monica

Herman Melville's prose is nearly impossible to transmute into music (George Rochberg and Jake Heggie failed the challenge), but in The Encantadas, Tobias Picker conjures an appropriate accompaniment to depict "the special curse" of the Galapagos Islands. In City Life, Steve Reich samples street talk by New Yorkers, intermingling it with urban noises such as car horns, brakes, and sirens to weave an energetic sonic tapestry. Bonus: Gloria Cheng plays the big piano work that Esa-Pekka Salonen composed for her--Dichotomie; her recording of which helped win her a Grammy in 2008.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Classical Music

Rigoletto - Hollywood Bowl - August 12, 2012

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Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Gustavo Dudamel conducts Rigoletto at the Hollywood Bowl with Zeljko Lucic (far left) as Rigoletto and Irina Lungu (second from left) as Gilda - MATHEW IMAGING CORP
  • Mathew Imaging Corp
  • Gustavo Dudamel conducts Rigoletto at the Hollywood Bowl with Zeljko Lucic (far left) as Rigoletto and Irina Lungu (second from left) as Gilda
Rigoletto

The Hollywood Bowl

8/12/12

Better than... the guy outside the Bowl with a dog puppet doing a one-man a capella version of Handel's Hallelujah chorus.

Most American orchestras coast during their summer season with puffery such as symphonic arrangements of Pink Floyd, Broadway show tunes, or backing second-tier geezer rockers. Some of the repertoire may be cheesy, but audiences love it.

But the LA Philharmonic is not your average American orchestra. Sunday evening, Gustavo Dudamel led the LA Phil, the men of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and a fine roster of opera singers in a rousing concert performance of one of the nastiest operas of the 19th century -- Rigoletto, by Giuseppe Verdi.

Rigoletto is populated by disgusting creatures...

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Swee-Singh and Miren Edelstein
  • Summer Swee-Singh and Miren Edelstein
Skrillex Opens Grillex, the First Dubstep-Themed Food Truck

Five More Girls Who Look Like Skrillex

The 2012 Grammys confirmed that EDM had entered the mainstream, but Dave Grohl didn't really seem to be on board. A debate ensued. But if you ask Summer Shee-Singh Swee-Singh -- who's been playing the piano since she was 8 -- EDM is quite worthy. She's been putting together classical arrangements of genre stars like Skrillex and Daft Punk, and works to draw out the musical qualities beneath the production.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In this romanticized meeting of two of the greatest classical composers, Beethoven fingers Mozart's organ. - FROM THE IRA F. BRILLIANT CENTER FOR BEETHOVEN STUDIES, SAN JOSÉ STATE UNIVERSITY
  • From the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, San José State University
  • In this romanticized meeting of two of the greatest classical composers, Beethoven fingers Mozart's organ.
Top Ten Jazz Albums for People Who Don't Know Shit About Jazz

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It's been around for centuries, musicians still play it and audiences love it, so classical music must be pretty awesome, right? Hell yes!

That doesn't mean that the average Joe can dive right into any classical composition. Symphonies and sonatas can be hard to understand because: 1) there are no lyrics; 2) there are ten tons of musical ideas packed into one piece (unlike the typical pop song with a hook and contrasting bridge); and 3) the length of the works are often long.

However, sooner or later most curious listeners want to give classical music a try, and over the years I've recommended the following pieces with successful results. Classical fans argue about which performance of a Beethoven symphony is best, but here's a secret: for newcomers, the performance is less important than the actual composition. (Note: There's no vocal music here. Many newbies have trouble with operatic singing, and different languages.) Enjoy!

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kelley O'Connor - PHOTO BY ZACHARY MAXWELL STERTZ
  • Photo by Zachary Maxwell Stertz
  • Kelley O'Connor

Poor Mary Magdalene. All she wants is a little sleep, but the junkie in the jail cell next to hers is screaming in agony from withdrawal. As Mary tries to understand the addict's pain, a chorus sings "Howl ye, howl ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand." Confused? Welcome to The Gospel According to the Other Mary, the season closer for the LA Philharmonic, which begins today.

With a libretto by director Peter Sellars and music by John Adams, The Gospel tells the New Testament stories of Lazarus -- the dead man brought to life by Christ -- and the crucifixion. Central to both events (according to Roman Catholicism) was Mary Magdalene, who was Lazarus' sister and the only disciple to stand by Jesus at his execution. She will be played by Kelley O'Connor, above.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The cover art for Lil B's Choices and Flowers
  • The cover art for Lil B's Choices and Flowers
[Editor's note: Oddball Berkeley rapper Lil B suddenly released a classical music album under his "The Basedgod" moniker last week, called Choices and Flowers. Since no one in rap really knows what to make of it, we assigned West Coast Sound classical music critic Christian Hertzog to review it.]

See also: Lil B Discusses His Career Strategy: "Every day, there's something new for me. I have to be very picky and choosy what I do."

It's nothing new for popular musicians to venture into classical. Ragtime king Scott Joplin wrote two operas; George Gershwin crossed over from Broadway to create several bona fide masterpieces; jazz composers such as Ellington and Brubeck have written for orchestras; and plenty of rock stars have given it a go.

With Choices and Flowers Lil B has sought to join this elite-ish group, producing the entire instrumental album. But is it actually classical, as he claims? Well, to paraphrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen during the 1988 vice-presidential debate, I've written about, performed, and even composed classical music for most of my life, and Mr. B, your album is not classical music.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Classical Music

Who's Up for Some Opera Porn?

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Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 3:30 AM

Sex and opera go together like peanut butter and chocolate, believe it or not. After all, opera plots revolve around one character trying to remove another's clothes. That and what happens to those characters after coitus has transpired.

Rest assured, then, that an opera featuring tell-all diarist Anais Nin as the main character will involve plenty of sexual shenanigans. As part of the LA Philharmonic's Green Umbrella series tomorrow night at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Louis Andriessen's one-act musical drama Anais Nin certainly delivers on that front. Nin blows Antonin Artaud's mind, and then him. (Or maybe it's the other way around). And then there's the part where she drives Henry Miller crazy with lust.

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