La Jolla, Calif. (October 16, 2012) — The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) 2012-2013 season opens November 3-4 with Steven Schick conducting the orchestra in Missy Mazzoli’s Violent, Violent Sea, two works by John Cage, 101 and 4’33”, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) in a concert titled Hero/Anti-Hero. The November concert is the first in a season inspired by Wallace Stegner’s great American novel, “Angle of Repose.”
“Our new season explores the themes at the heart of this quintessential story of the West,” says music director and conductor Steven Schick. “In musical terms, we ask ourselves: can we re-imagine the passions that formed the music of our past in such a way that they connect to the passions that drive our present? We begin with a concert titled ‘Hero/Anti-Hero,’ an in-depth look at the heroic impulses of the 19th century and their manifestations, or lack thereof, in the music of today.”
Young American composer and pianist Missy Mazzoli’s music has been performed all over the world. She is currently composer-in-residence with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and has been called one of her generation’s most “consistently inventive and surprising composers” (New York Times). Violent, Violent Sea, written in 2011, is a 10-minute piece of subtle harmonies and wavelike instrumental textures in the tradition of Debussy’s La Mer and other sweeping works inspired by the sea.
American experimental composer John Cage (1912-1992) challenged every assumption that underlies Western music. His work 101 was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and premiered in 1988.The numerical title denotes the number of musicians required, and Cage intended that the piece be performed without a conductor (though the conductor might participate in rehearsals and overall preparation). 101 is a study in sonority: the musicians are divided into three discrete groups, each with its own characteristic sound and responsibilities. No two performances of this music should ever be exactly the same, which is what Cage intended.
Three decades earlier, Cage composed 4’33” (1952), one of the most profoundly revolutionary pieces ever written – and certainly the quietest. In the years after WWII, Cage studied Zen Buddhism, read the I Ching, and became interested in art created outside the process of rigid artistic control. The idea of 4’33” was stark in its simplicity: the performer was to come out, seat himself at his instrument, and then do nothing for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. Cage argued that “silence” doesn’t exist and that in every performance the “silence” is full of ambient sound that is an integral part of the experience. In 4’33”, Cage invites the audience to really listen and to experience the sounds around them.
“In our performance we will open the doors of Mandeville Auditorium during 4’33” to let the outside sounds in and then, without a pause, play the Beethoven,” says Schick. “My hope is that hearing the opening chords of the Eroica out of the silence of 4’33” will help us experience Beethoven fresh. That briefly we’ll be able to hear that famous opening as it must have seemed to its first listeners: dramatic, unexpected, and jarringly loud, even revolutionary.”
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, also known as the “Eroica” (Italian for “heroic”), premiered in 1804, not long after the end of the French Revolution. There had never been a symphony like this, and Beethoven’s new direction is evident from the first instant as the music explodes to life. The second movement brings another surprise – it is a funeral march, something else entirely new in symphonic music. The “Eroica” must have stunned its first audiences, but audiences today run the greater risk of forgetting how revolutionary this music is. Freed from the restraint of courtly good manners, Beethoven found in the symphony the means to express the most serious and important of human emotions, and it remained throughout his life a personal favorite.
The performances take place November 3-4 in Mandeville Auditorium at UC San Diego. Concert times are 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. A pre-concert lecture is offered one hour prior to concert times. Individual tickets are $29 general, $27 senior, and $15 student. Group discounts are available. Parking is free. To purchase tickets or for more information, call LJS&C 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 57th season, Music Director Steven Schick shares the podium with David Chase, performing works by Stravinsky, Brahms, Bartok, Verdi, Ligeti, Lang, Adams, and more.