Conducting an ensemble of 14 clarinetists is, in the words of Margaret Thornhill, “a little like herding cats. Everybody is an accomplished musician in his or her own right, with their own individual styles. But it’s great fun.” Thornhill, the director of the Los Angeles Clarinet Choir, herds her clarinet cats into Pasadena’s Neighborhood Church this weekend, for an unusually boisterous concert that features the world premiere of award-winning composer Edward Cansino’s The Great Clarinet Circus, composed especially for the choir. “The really rich sonority of the ensemble, with all these different instrument ranges, inspired Ed,” Thornhill says. The new work also was inspired by Cansino’s childhood memory of famed clown Emmett Kelly, and it includes mime Richard Hayworth in the role of the Sad Clown and dancer Deanna Beasom leading a circus parade. “Ed envisions a noisy atmosphere with applause for the individual musical ‘acts’ — different from the usual classical concert,” Thornhill observes. The program also includes multiple clarinet arrangements of Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, the Allegro from Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and a work by Gordon Jacob. Neighborhood Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena; Sat., Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m.; $12, children under 12 free. (310) 464-7653.
—Mary Beth Crain