La Jolla, Calif. (November 11, 2015) — The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) presents the second concert of its 61st season, Soundscape San Diego: exploration and remembrance, in two performances on December 5-6. Music Director Steven Schick conducts the orchestra, chorus, and soloists in four works: John Luther Adams’ The Light That Fills the World, a premiere by this year’s Thomas Nee Commission winner Ori Talmon, Samuel Barber’s Prayers of Kierkegaard, and Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3.
The concert begins with Pulitzer-winning composer John Luther Adams’ The Light That Fills the World, written in 1999. Adams’ music, with its sense of unhurried pace and vast horizons, is known for a strong connection to the spacious landscape of Alaska, where he lived for three decades. Adams wrote about the piece, “it was written in late winter and early spring, when the world is still white but filled with new light, following the long darkness of winter. If the unrelenting texture of this music embodies stasis, I hope its prevalent tone evokes the ecstatic.”
“Our December concert is about remembrance,” says LJS&C Music Director Steven Schick. “The Light That Fills the World is a reprise, and wonderful memory, of the first piece I conducted after becoming music director, and it will be the third piece in our focus this fall on the music of John Luther Adams. We will also remember the end of World War II during this 70th anniversary year, with the Copland symphony.”
Thomas Nee Commission winner Ori Talmon was born in Israel and pursued his music studies in Germany before coming to the U.S. to complete his doctorate in composition at UC San Diego. Nefakh, “volume” in Hebrew, is composed after the abstract painting “Catamurons” (1963) by the French painter Simon Hantaï. The ten-minute piece traces the process of contemplating the painting, translating that visual experience into music. The Thomas Nee Commission was established by the LJS&C in 1997 in honor of its former music director, who encouraged young talent and the performance of new music. Talmon is the 19th recipient of this award.
Prayers of Kierkegaard is one of Samuel Barber’s finest creations. Composed between 1942 and 1954 (the lengthy interruption partly due to World War II), Prayers is an extended cantata for large chorus, orchestra, and soprano solo (with smaller roles for tenor and alto solos) set to four prayers by Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Barber greatly admired the spare beauty of Gregorian chant, and begins the first movement with a dramatic evocation of that form. The four movements, performed continuously, offer music that is full of pain, regret, hope, intensity, and finally confidence. In the finale, Barber marshals all his forces in a climactic statement of God’s strength and forgiveness before the chorus chants its final plea for mercy. Guest artist Zen Wu performs the soprano solo (performed by Leontyne Price in the work’s premiere). Latifah Smith and Brandon Elan Thibeault perform the alto and tenor roles, respectively.
When Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3 was premiered in 1946 it was a huge popular success. It also received The New York Critics Circle award as the finest new American work performed that season. Copland’s final symphony is known as the essential American symphony and fuses his distinct “Americana” style of ballets with the symphonic form. With a heroic and dignified tone, it includes his Fanfare for the Common Man (composed in 1942) as a theme in the final movement, combined with fragments of the very opening of the symphony. What sounds serene and spacious at the beginning of the piece returns in grandeur as the Third Symphony pounds its way to a knock-out close.
The performances take place December 5¬¬¬−6, 2015 in Mandeville Auditorium at UCSD. Concert times are 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. A pre-concert lecture is given by conductor Steven Schick one hour prior to concert start. 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 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.