Category: Arts and Music

La Jolla Symphony and Chorus Brings the Magic of Classical Music to a Young Audience

8232“One of the things I love most about music is how it helps us remember our lives.” – Conductor, Steven Schick

So begins the second annual Young People’s Concert as Schick guides an audience of children and their families through a presentation of selections from Gustav Mahler’s celebrated Fifth Symphony.

“Gustav Mahler’s symphony number five is a piece about memory,” explains Schick. “Let’s do this, let’s close our eyes… I want you to imagine a person at the end of his life…”

With eyes shut and imaginations open, the young audience is taken on a journey of Mahler’s life, which is the inspiration for his symphony. Schick introduces featured instruments and melodic themes, emphasizes the unique connections both composer and listener draw from musical expression and personal experience, and fields questions from the audience.

In addition to piquing the students’ interest and enriching their musical knowledge, La Jolla Symphony and Chorus hope that the program will, in Schick’s words, “encourage our future Symphony members to pursue their musical education.”

As funding for the arts in San Diego area schools continues to languish, outreach by arts presenters has become a vital component in public education and awareness. It is in this spirit that the community-based La Jolla Symphony and Chorus inaugurated their Young People’s Concert.

Don’t miss this fun and inspiring concert. Watch the Young People’s Concert, Featuring Gustav Mahler.

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Confessions of a Motion Addict – Stephen Petronio

8232Like a written story that starts one word at a time and builds, Stephen Petronio choreographs a story that begins one step at a time, set in motion until a dance appears.

He understands that to some, modern dance is a beautiful interpretation of thoughts set to music. To others, it is an enigma, requiring explanation to understand. Petronio says you should forget about understanding it. He wants to challenge your intuitive mind and subvert your rational inquiry.

Petronio, an award-winning dancer, choreographer and performer, shares the story of his life journey from a modest Italian family through Hampshire College then to a 25 year career building a unique and powerful language of movement. In conversation with UC Davis Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter, tune in to Confessions of a Motion Addict, part of the UC Davis Chancellor’s Colloquium Series.

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A Good Tune – SummerFest 2014

8232In past seasons the SummerFest programs aired on UCSD-TV tended to the eclectic, mixing different styles, eras and composers broadly representative of the chamber music genre. This year, we’re focusing on four great masters of the Classical style: Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, and Johannes Brahms.

Some definitions are useful here. We use the term classical music (note the small “c”) colloquially to include all Western “art music” (or “serious music”) from roughly the ninth century to the present, and especially the seventeenth century to the nineteenth. In fact, the loose term classical music encompasses a broad variety of forms, styles, genres, schools, movements, historical periods, and composers. The Classical period (note the capital “C”) highlighted in our programs was predominant from the mid-18th to the mid-19th centuries, and was largely developed in Germany and Austria. It derived from the Baroque period and lead to the Romantic period. The hallmarks of the Classical style include a rejection of the ornamentation of the Baroque in favor of a cleaner, simpler style, one with a lighter texture and concerned with logical development, structural balance, adherence to form, proportion, and “rightness” of phrasing. It was highly organized and melodic music, well suited to the Age of Reason. As is always the case when attempting to strictly define historical periods there was considerable overlap between the different styles, and several well-known composers are considered transitional figures – Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert, for example (though it’s been argued that Beethoven is a genre unto himself).

Each of the four composers whose works are performed in our programs made contributions to the development of Classical style. Haydn is considered the key transitional figure from Baroque to Classical; indeed, more than any other composer he may be said to have invented Classical style, and has been called the “Father of Sonata Form.” Mozart, who was a contemporary of Haydn and greatly admired the older man, worked within Classical forms and brought them to an unsurpassed degree of perfection. Schubert, an admirer of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, brought his own innovations to the style and paved the way for the Romantic era that followed. Brahms was a late Classical composer, a Keeper of the Faith who resisted the siren call of Romanticism, fighting a rearguard action against the onslaught of Richard Wagner and his acolytes.

Alas for Brahms, history was on the side of Wagner. Romanticism was followed by modernism, serialism, minimalism, aleatroricism, primitivism, Neoclassicism, New Romanticism, post-modernism, etc., etc. ad nauseam. For a time Classical style fell out of favor – with composers, that is; it never lost its allure for audiences, and by the 1970s younger composers and performers were re-discovering its charms, once again immersing themselves in study of the period and its leading figures. Perhaps they were looking for order amidst the chaos of seventy-plus years of experimentation; or perhaps the older forms were seen as a tonic against the extremely subjective and drily academic nature of much modern music, and a way to reconnect with audiences.

Or perhaps, as SummerFest Music Director Cho-Liang (Jimmy) Lin notes, it’s as simple as “a good tune is always a good tune – there’s no substitute,” and the Classical masters offered good tunes in abundance.

Watch La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest 2014 Season.

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Jazz Camp 2014 – Finale Concert Highlights

8232What is jazz? The late great Stan Getz described jazz thusly:

“It’s like a language. You learn the alphabet, which are the scales. You learn sentences, which are the chords. And then you talk extemporaneously with the horn. It’s a wonderful thing to speak extemporaneously, which is something I’ve never gotten the hang of. But musically I love to talk just off the top of my head. And that’s what jazz music is all about.”

UC San Diego Jazz Camp exemplifies Getz’s definition. In its twelfth year, Jazz Camp transports its students through a one week, one-of-a-kind journey into the world of jazz. Combining the expertise of more than a dozen nationally- and internationally-known musicians and jazz educators, this extraordinary faculty brings students of jazz together to explore a full spectrum of approaches to jazz improvisation.

At the end of the week, UC San Diego Jazz Camp culminates in a finale concert, featuring student ensembles performing standards and original compositions with the participation and under the direction of faculty members.

Watch the latest season of Jazz Camp and browse past performances.

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Script to Screen Welcomes Oscar-Nominated Screenwriters, Bob Nelson and John Ridley

The Script to Screen series was granted an amazing opportunity to connect recent Oscar nominees with UCSB students, the Santa Barbara community, and Los Angeles based Academy members through a live stream.

28118Paramount Pictures graciously provided a screening of Nebraska followed by Q&A with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Bob Nelson. “The ending of this movie is really wish fulfillment on my part all these years later. My dad’s been gone a long time, but this is me getting my dad his truck and his compressor back finally.” Bob Nelson’s Q&A touched upon the very important lesson that you have to draw from personal experience when developing a script. Bruce Dern’s character was based on Nelson’s own father, and the setting and large extended family also came directly from Nelson’s personal life.

Watch Script to Screen: Nebraska with Bob Nelson

28119One week before the Oscars, Fox Searchlight sent future Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley with his film 12 Years a Slave in the hopes of helping to secure a victory in the Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay categories. While the studio’s main goal was to reach Oscar voters, Script to Screen wanted to connect our patrons with this inspirational screenwriter.

“The thing that was really powerful to me was that this person (Solomon Northup) had an education, had a life, had stature, had circumstances, and just could not see how precious they were – and could not understand how easily those things could slip away from all of us. I don’t even mean the bigger picture of our freedom and our liberty but the things that we hold really precious to us,” said John Ridley during the interview.

Ridley’s script forced people to closely examine their own lives, and it demonstrated how a writer can emotionally connect people of today with the people of history. Throughout the Q&A, questions regarding the slaves and the slave owners moved Ridley to tears.

Watch Script to Screen: 12 Years a Slave with John Ridley

Script to Screen is looking forward to our Season 4 launch in October of 2014, which will include many of the upcoming Oscar contenders for the 2015 Academy Awards.

Watch all of the Script to Screen episodes!

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Contributed by Matthew Ryan, director of the Pollock Theater at the Carsey-Wolf Center and host of the Script to Screen series.

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