La Jolla, Calif. (February 18, 2016) — The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) presents the fourth concert of its 61st season themed Soundscape San Diego: exploration and remembrance. The March 12-13 performances will be a multi-media concert for the senses. Music Director Steven Schick conducts the orchestra, performing with film, in Gotham -- a joint production by filmmaker Bill Morrison and composer Michael Gordon that depicts the gritty energy and contrasting landscapes of 19th century New York. On the second half, Schick leads orchestra and chorus, soloists, children’s choir and dancers in Igor Stravinsky’s opulent and rarely performed melodrama that tells the tale of the Greek goddess Persephone.
“Morrison’s evocative images, Gordon’s driving score, and Stravinsky’s Persephone – this is a concert I’m extremely excited about,” says Maestro Schick. “The elements of these two tales are so powerful that if they combust, and I’m really counting on them to combust, it will be a very powerful experience.”
Composer Michael Gordon has collaborated with filmmaker Bill Morrison on two large pieces about particular cities: Gotham about New York and Dystopia about Los Angeles. Gotham is the first in the series and was premiered by the American Composers Orchestra at Zankel Hall in 2004. The idea of both works is to capture the aura of a city through music and imagery. In Gotham, vintage black-and-white footage tells the tale of New York during the late 19th century, an urban landscape that was a mixture of heaven and hell. The spare opening music, which begins with solo violin and piano, slowly becomes majestic as strings, winds and then brass join in. Images of old New York emerge with a surprising scene of a man tending sheep in what is now Central Park. As the camera pulls back, the surrounding urban landscape is revealed. Gotham progresses to depict the restless pulse of a city that is at once exciting, dirty, noisy, and intense.
Igor Stravinsky composed Persephone (1933-1934) as a commission from Ida Rubinstein, a controversial figure of pre-WWII Parisian life who was born into wealth, trained as a singer and ballerina, and eventually formed an imaginative ballet company. Persephone is essentially a regeneration myth: captured by Pluto and taken to Hades, she becomes queen of the underworld but returns to the surface of the earth each spring, bringing rebirth and growth. Rubinstein asked Stravinsky to conceive Persephone as a melodrama – a drama with music – in which she would speak the title role (having matured past her dancing prime), with words set to a new poetic version of the myth by André Gide. Stravinsky’s vision was a grand one: it included large orchestra, narrator, tenor soloist, and two choruses. He also intended that Persephone should be danced. Stravinsky completed the score in January 1934 and Persephone was premiered on April 30, 1934 in Paris. La Jolla Symphony & Chorus performs this opulent masterpiece with guest artists tenor John K. Russell, narrator Alice Teyssier in the role of Persephone, North Coast Singers youth choir, and in their third collaboration with LJS&C, the Tijuana-based Lux Boreal Dance Company.
The performances take place March 12-13, 2016 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 $39 general, $36 senior, and $18 student. 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 box 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.