The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) presents the third concert of its 61st season, themed “Soundscape San Diego: exploration and remembrance,” on February 6-7.
Music Director Steven Schick conducts both the orchestra and guest artist Lisa Moore, piano, in a transcendental program featuring György Ligeti’s Atmosphères; Philip Glass’ Piano Concerto No. 2, “after Lewis and Clark”; the premiere of Erik Griswold’s Jeux à la fin du monde; and Debussy’s La Mer.
Ligeti’s revolutionary Atmosphères (composed in 1961) was used by Stanley Kubrick in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. This work of dense sound textures destroys any notion of the traditional language of music – there are no themes, no harmony and virtually no rhythm. There are, instead, huge blocks of sound evolving slowly over time. Kubrick used excerpts from two other Ligeti works – Lux Aeterna and Requiem – in the movie and did all of this without asking Ligeti’s permission. The effect was that a struggling avant-garde composer suddenly found himself world-famous.
Glass’ second piano concerto (2004) celebrates Lewis and Clark’s pioneering 1803-1806 expedition from the Missouri River to the Pacific. It was commissioned for one of many bicentennial observations held early in the 21st century along the expedition’s route. The concerto takes on the character of that expedition in specific ways: each of its three movements has a name that reflects an important aspect of the journey, and the second movement, “Sacagawea,” features a duet for piano and Native American flute. New York-based pianist Lisa Moore, who The New Yorker called “New York’s queen of avant-garde piano” and “visionary,” solos. Moore has gained an international reputation performing with a diverse range of musicians and artists, and in some of the world’s greatest concert halls.
Erik Griswold fuses experimental, jazz, and world music to create his works, which have been performed at major festivals and venues throughout Australia, Asia, Europe, the U.S., and Canada. His colorful orchestral work Jeux à la fin du monde (“Games at the end of the world”) expands upon Debussy’s Jeux and Lutoslawski’s Jeux Venitiens. Griswold holds a Ph.D. from UC San Diego and is currently adjunct professor at Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, in Australia. The composer will be in attendance for this world premiere.
Claude Debussy’s magnificent La Mer (composed from 1903-1905) was inspired by his feelings about the sea. He was not interested in musical scene-painting but in writing music that evokes the way we feel in the presence of the ocean. This approach was misunderstood by some early critics who anticipated a more literal sound experience, but soon La Mer became one of the composer’s most admired orchestral works. It is a masterpiece of suggestion with subtle but rich orchestration, sensuous tonal colors, and impressionistic harmonies. The normally-understated Debussy concludes La Mer with a roar of savage power as the music hurtles to its tremendous climax.
The performances take place February 6-7 in Mandeville Auditorium at UC San Diego. Concert times are 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. Individual tickets are $29 general, $27 senior, and $15 student. Group discounts are available. Parking is free. A pre-concert lecture by Steven Schick is offered one hour prior to concert times. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the LJS&C office at 858-534-4637.
The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus San Diego’s oldest and largest community orchestra and chorus, is a non-profit musical performing group dedicated to inspiring San Diego with the joy of music. Its 110-person orchestra and 120-person chorus perform groundbreaking orchestral and choral music along with traditional favorites from the classical repertoire. During the 61st season, maestro Steven Schick shares the podium with David Chase, LJS&C choral director, and guest conductor Rodrigo Ruiz, performing works by Barber, Bartok, Copland, Glass, Hindemith, Ligeti, several of the great Russian composers, and more.