La Jolla, Calif. (January 15, 2015) — The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) presents the third concert of its 60th anniversary season, themed The Nature of Things, on February 7 and 8, 2015. Conducted by Steven Schick, the concert explores the nature of reflection in three works. The program begins with Osvaldo Golijov’s cello concerto, Azul, followed by Chinary Ung’s piece for unaccompanied cello, Khse Buon. Both works feature the extraordinarily gifted, Israeli-born cellist Maya Beiser, who critics have hailed as a “cello goddess” (The New Yorker) and the “post-modern diva of the cello” (The Boston Globe). The program concludes with Carl Nielsen’s earth-shaking Symphony No. 4, “The Inextinguishable.”
Azul has become one of Osvaldo Golijov’s most successful recent compositions. Written for cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony, the original version was meant to project a sense of calm and transcendence; its name, Azul (“Blue”), was inspired by the color of a summer sky. After its premiere in 2006, Golijov felt the work incomplete, too innocent. He rewrote Azul, expanding the music and changing its character to evoke a meditative energy. Influential in his rewrite was his reading of Pablo Neruda’s “The Heights of Macchu Picchu,” a long meditation of the painful history of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. Other influences were diverse: baroque music, the wrenching violence that has been so much a part of our lives in recent decades, and the composer’s sense of a larger order and beauty that run through the universe. Along with cello soloist and orchestra, Golijov includes a small ensemble that consists of a hyper-accordion (an accordion whose range has been extended electronically) played by Mark Danisovzsky, and two percussionists, Fiona Digney and Stephen Solook. Both the small ensemble and the cello soloist are amplified electronically.
Cambodian composer and UCSD music professor Chinary Ung composed Khse Buon in 1980. It was his only composition written during an 11-year period when Ung took part in an effort to preserve his native culture after the Cambodian holocaust under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Ung became deeply involved in learning, performing and transcribing much of the Cambodian court music, which accompanies traditional Cambodian ballet. Khse Buon, which translate to “four strings” – following a Cambodian tradition of naming music for the solo instrument that plays it – was Ung’s first attempt to integrate string sounds from the East into Western string playing. Ung describes the result as such: “If one can imagine Western cultural elements as blue watercolor paint and Eastern cultural elements as yellow watercolor paint, as one drips the yellow into the blue, what emerges are various shades of green.” It is the green that Ung seeks. Khse Buon was originally written for both solo cello and solo viola, it will be performed by solo cello in this concert.
Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4 (1915-16) represents “that which cannot be extinguished” -- an indomitable spirit, a sort of force -- and it was Nielsen himself who gave the symphony its unique nickname, “The Inextinguishable.” This is a powerful work. Full of violence and conflict, the music finally smashes through this discord to a triumphant close. While the symphony is in the traditional four movements, these are played without pause, and the music seems to flow in one great arc across its 37-minute span. The fourth movement includes the symphony’s most famous feature – dueling timpanists set at opposite sides of the stage. In the end, the conflicts are resolved, and the symphony hurtles to a heroic conclusion.
The performances take place February 7-8 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 on Saturday and Sunday. 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 130-person chorus perform groundbreaking orchestral and choral music along with traditional favorites from the classical repertoire. During the 60th season, maestro Steven Schick shares the podium with David Chase, LJS&C choral director, performing works by Beethoven, Berlioz, Bernstein, Ives, Mahler, Nielsen, Ung, and more.