Entertain, Educate & Enrich - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Join the Laguna Beach community this February 12 – 15 for an exceptional program during the Laguna Beach Music Festival featuring Grammy Award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet & their friends. The Festival’s commitment to lifelong learning makes possible meet-the-artist events, salons, open rehearsals, and lively discussions, while local schoolchildren encounter live music in the schools during Festival week.

Friday’s Opening Night will feature both Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and Los Angeles Percussion Quartet with repertoire highlights including Steve Reich’s Six Marimbas, Steve Forman’s Bitcoins and John Bergamo’s Piru Bol. Highlighted will be a new work commissioned for the festival called 'Ymir.' Begin the evening at the Opening Celebration, a ticket event that includes dessert on stage with the musicians after the concert.

Saturday’s Valentine’s Day concert will share a passion-filled night as the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet is joined by mezzo-soprano Janelle DeStefano and L.A. Flamenco. The Saturday program will include Boccherini’s Fandango, Bizet’s Carmen and Manuel de Falla’s haunting Seven Songs sung by mezzo-soprano Janelle DeStefano, exemplifying the fire and passion of Andalucía and culminating in a grand finale performance of Falla’s complete ballet El Amor Brujo featuring the phenomenal L.A. Flamenco dance troupe.

Sunday will be a multimedia performance and narration of Don Quixote with actor Phil Proctor joining Los Angeles Guitar Quartet on stage for the words and music of the Time of Cervantes. The result is inspired storytelling in its most elevated form. Immediately following, a panel discussion and Q&A on “Don Quixote and the Art of Adaptation” will be held onstage with Phil Proctor and Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.

Keep an eye on tickets as concerts are almost sold out!

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NEW CONCERT ADDED: "A Nowruz Celebration" -- Mar. 17, 2015 - Monday, January 19, 2015

We are pleased to announce the addition of "A Nowruz Celebration" to our 2015 concert lineup. "A Nowruz Celebration” features a unique blend of Indian and Persian classical music by Grammy-nominated artists Kayhan Kalhor and Shujaat Husain Khan.

Marking the arrival of spring, Nowruz (the Persian New Year) is a unifying force celebrated by diverse people from various ethnic communities and religious backgrounds.

Likewise, this musical celebration of Nowruz—featuring the Ghazal Ensemble (comprised of Iranian kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor, Indian sitar player Shujaat Husain Khan, and Indian tabla player Sandeep Das)—brings together the musical traditions of Indian and Persian classical music, which both stress elaboration and improvisation based on the Persian dastgah and Indian raga musical systems.

Described by the Los Angeles Times as “utterly captivating...an irresistible expression of creative musical passion,” Ghazal’s performances and recordings have garnered critical acclaim as well as a 2004 Grammy nomination for Best Traditional World Music Album for their 2003 live album The Rain. Amazon named Ghazal’s first CD, Lost Songs of the Silk Road, to its list of the best 100 world music albums ever recorded.

Join us for this cross-cultural celebration of the arrival of spring! “A Nowruz Celebration” will take place Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 8pm, at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Tickets start at $30, and are on sale now!

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Just Announced: CECILIA BARTOLI returns to OC on March 23! - Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Returning for the first time in six years, multi-Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli makes a rare Orange County appearance for one night only as part of an exclusive three-city West Coast tour.

On Monday, March 23, 8pm, at the Renée & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Ms. Bartoli performs her best-selling recital program, Sacrificium, celebrating the art of the castrati during their golden age in the 18th century. This tour marks the first time Ms. Bartoli is performing Sacrificium in the United States following her Grammy-winning recording of the same title.

Read the full press announcement here, and in the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times.

Pre-sale begins tomorrow, Thurs, Jan. 15
(exclusive to Philharmonic Society subscribers and donating members)

Public on sale date: Thurs, Jan. 22.

Tickets start at $50, and will be available at (949) 553-2422, or PhilharmonicSociety.org.

Photo of Ms. Bartoli pictured above © Paris Match/K. Wandycz/Scoop – Decca

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Music Monday: Hélène Grimaud at the Philharmonie de Paris - Monday, January 12, 2015

A month from now, on February 11th, pianist Hélène Grimaud will be gracing the stage of the Segerstrom Concert Hall performing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. This week, however, she will be in Paris performing in the inaugural gala concert of the Philharmonie de Paris--the city’s newest concert hall.

First envisioned in the 1970’s, the project finally got approval in 2006 with construction beginning in 2010. Designed by the architect Jean Nouvel, the Philharmonie follows the vineyard style popularized with Berlin’s Philharmonie and our local Walt Disney Concert Hall – the outside aluminum and modern; the inside flowing with seating surrounding the stage.

On January 14th, Paavo Järvi will lead the Orchestre de Paris in its debut at their new hall featuring jewels of French composition by composers Dutilleux, Fauré, Escaich and Ravel. Grimaud will perform Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, a favorite of critics and audiences alike because of its jazz influence. Below is Grimaud’s 2010 performance of the work with the Berlin Philharmonic. This will have to tide us over until February! Enjoy!

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Mandolinist Avi Avital, live in Riga - Wednesday, January 07, 2015

An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist and Grammy-nominated mandolinist, Avi Avital, who performs with us February 28th with the Grammy-nominated Venice Baroque Orchestra, is working on a new project called Between Worlds.

Featuring mandolin, percussion and accordion, Between Worlds explores the boundaries between folk and classical music.

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Reger Awards: The year in classical music - Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Timothy Mangan, classical music critic for the Orange County Register, presents the third annual Reger Awards. With tongue in cheek, he honors the best and worst in classical music this year. We've taken some of the Reger Awards where our artists have been mentioned and included them below. Enjoy!

Note: The following is taken directly from Timothy Mangan's article at OCRegister.com. Please visit the link to read the entire article.

Reger Awards: The year in classical music

  • Best Rachmaninoff: To conductor Stéphane Denève, who almost convinced us that Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 is some kind of masterpiece.

  • Best Interview: To pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, friendly, intelligent, enthused, and talkative in an outrageous French accent.

  • Best Revival of a Warhorse: A tie: To Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic for their performance of Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, “Organ” and to Jirí Belohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic for their performance of Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.”

  • Best String Section: To the Czech Philharmonic, whose string section could give the Vienna Philharmonic’s a run for its money.

  • Best Concerto Performance: To Jean-Yves Thibaudet for his wholehearted and stunningly virtuosic performance of Liszt’s neglected Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Czech Philharmonic.

  • Welcome Back Award: To John Mangum, Fullerton-born and finally back home as the new president and executive director of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.

  • R.I.P.: Claudio Abbado, Harris Goldsmith, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Lorin Maazel, Julius Rudel, Carlo Bergonzi, Peter Sculthorpe, Lucia Albanese, José Feghali, Janis Martin, Lydia Mordkovitch, Stephen Paulus, Christopher Hogwood, Magda Olivero, Frans Brüggen, John Shirley-Quirk, Tibor Rudas, Irene Dalis, Claude Frank, Jerzy Semkow.

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Music Monday: Fantasia on Auld Lang Syne - Monday, December 29, 2014

As the world prepares to say goodbye to 2014 this week, we’d like to ring in 2015 with a “light music” interpretation of a traditional New Year’s song. The genre of “light” orchestral music originated in late 19th/early 20th century Britain, and its pieces are designed to appeal to a broad audience.

They are typically shorter than “serious” orchestral works, often taking the form of a suite, and are through-composed. This type of music was most popular in the mid-20th century due to the radio’s rise in popularity, as well as the desire for hope and joy following the end of WWII.

One of the genre’s most well-known composers is Ernest Tomlinson, MBE. Among his catalogue of works is a piece called Fantasia on Auld Lang Syne. In this twenty minute piece, Tomlinson takes the original tune and weaves it together with 152 quotations from other classical works such as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Rossini’s Barber of Seville Overture. Take a listen to the recording below by The Royal Ballet Sinfonia and see how many quotations you can find!

Happy New Year!

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Happy Holidays from the Philharmonic Society! - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It's been an incredible year for the Philharmonic Society. Every concert. Every music program we were able to provide to Orange County's youth. And it's all thanks to you.

Thanks for joining us in celebrating our 60th anniversary in 2014. We're looking forward to the amazing musical memories we'll make together in the future.

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Music Monday: Respighi’s Lauda per la Natività del Signore - Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas is just a few days away, and by now there’s a good chance most of us have seen a performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, or even a concert full of favorite traditional carols. All these pieces are wonderful and add to the spirit of the season, but it must be said that these pieces are not all that classical music has to offer for Christmas. An often overlooked, underperformed piece is Ottorino Respighi’s Lauda per la Natività del Signore, known in English as “Laud to the Nativity.”

Composed in 1930, the work is scored for flutes (one doubling piccolo), oboe, English horn, bassoons, triangle, piano (four hands), chorus and three vocal soloists. The text, written by 13th century Franciscan friar Jacopone da Todi, tells the story of the birth of Jesus through the shepherds’ perspective and utilizes the vocal soloists as the main characters: The Angel (soprano), Mary (mezzo-soprano), and The Shepherd (tenor). The pastoral mood of the piece is a perfect setting for the story, and also epitomizes Respighi’s “new old music” composition style – using more modern harmonies and instrumentation in conjunction with old forms and melodies such as madrigals, plainchant and fugues.

Take a half hour from your busy day planning Christmas dinner and buying last minute gifts, and treat yourself to this performance of Respighi’s Lauda per la Natività del Signore by The City of London Sinfonia and The Richard Hickox Singers. It’s sure to become a new holiday favorite. (Read along to the texts in translation here.)

Merry Christmas!

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Music Tuesday: Ma’oz Tzur - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Today is the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Greek Seleucid Empire was driven out of Judea. When attempting to purify the temple by lighting the menorah, the Jews discovered almost all the ritual olive oil had been tarnished--enough oil was left for only a single day.

Amazingly, that oil lasted eight days which was enough time to have new oil prepared. This miracle is recreated during Hanukkah by lighting a candle on the menorah each night of the holiday, eating foods fried in oil such as latkes and pontshkes and singing songs.

One of the traditional Hanukkah songs is Ma’oz Tzur, which translates to “stronghold of rock” in English, and is sung after prayers and lighting the menorah. Written in the 13th century by a man named Mordechai, the poetry retells occasions when God delivered the Jews from ancient enemies: Pharoah (Egypt), Nubchadnezzar (Babylon), Haman (Persia) and Antiochus (Greece).

There are six stanzas in all, but the most commonly sung is the first which thanks God for his protection:

Transliteration English
Ma'oz Tzur Yeshu'ati, lekha na'eh leshabe'ah.
Tikon beit tefilati, vesham toda nezabe'ah.
Le'et takhin matbe'ah mitzar hamnabe'ah.
Az egmor beshir mizmor hanukat hamizbe'ah.
My refuge, my rock of salvation! 'Tis pleasant to sing your praises.
Let our house of prayer be restored. And there we will offer you our thanks.
When You will have slaughtered the barking foe.
Then we will celebrate with song and psalm the altar's dedication.

Here is a recording of Ma’oz Tzur performed by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Zubin Mehta. Happy Hanukkah!

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