Tag Archives: chamber music

La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest: Evolution in Music

8232An anonymous wag once dubbed chamber music “Short Attention Span Classical Music.” Clever, perhaps, but grossly simplistic. What the best chamber pieces lack in length compared to, say, a symphony or an opera is more than compensated by their complexity and depth.

Chamber music originated as divertimenti for the aristocracy, but over its four hundred-year history the genre has adapted to encompass new schools of thought as music itself evolved. From its inception composers have considered chamber music as fertile ground for exploration and experimentation in both form and instrumentation, refining existing styles while creating new ones. Many of these composers, such as Beethoven and Brahms, would employ the lessons learned creating chamber pieces to great effect in their larger works, and chamber music remains an excellent means for young composers to find their voice and for musicians to hone their chops.

All of which is by way of noting that La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, now in its 29th year, epitomizes the afore-mentioned history, breadth and diversity of chamber music, as evidenced by the three UCSD-TV programs which represent this year’s festival. The first, “Viennese Masters,” presents works by three fabled citizens of that “City of Musicians” writing in the recognizably “classical” forms they helped to define. The second, “In Memory,” features early 20th and 21st-century composers who stretch and, at times, gently subvert the old forms in their quest for new expressions of melodicism. The third program, “Music of Our Time,” showcases four renowned contemporary composers premiering adventurous works of great melodic and rhythmic complexity that are nevertheless accessible.

If you’re a fan of chamber music you’ll find much here to delight, and if new to the genre there is no better introduction than La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest.

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Lear on the 2nd Floor

Composer Anthony Davis presents a modern take on Shakespeare’s classic, King Lear.

Lear on the 2nd Floor tells the story of Nora Lear, a neuroscience researcher suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s. As Nora loses her bearings and autonomy, she is increasingly at the mercy of her three quarreling daughters. In this version, Nora’s dead husband Mortimer is Shakespeare’s fool and her constant companion, as she wanders through a world where past and present blend and reality bends.

Davis’s music incorporates diverse styles and influences, ranging from classical opera to jazz to reggae. This performance by UC San Diego’s Kallisti Vocal Ensemble includes various music styles from classical opera to reggae, as well as a libretto by playwright Allan Havis.

Check out our other videos on opera.

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The Best Seat in the House

If you’re a chamber music fan and you find Wigmore, Alice Tully and Carnegie halls not nearly exclusive enough, consider UCLA’s Clark Library, where high culture doesn’t have to mean a high price tag.

Since 1994, the beloved rare-book library in Los Angeles’ West Adams district has featured the same talent as the best-known music halls in the world, in the kind of intimate setting for which chamber music was conceived.

In the latest episode of UCTV Prime Cuts, we visit this sumptuous, acoustically superlative 100-seat drawing room, first conceived by L.A. Philharmonic founder William Andrews Clark Jr., for an inside look at the Chamber Music at the Clark concert series, one of L.A.’s best kept secrets.

The Best Seat in the House: UCLA’s Chamber Music at the Clark Library – UCTV Prime Cuts

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