Strauss conducts Strauss

Richard Strauss conducts his own “Till Eulenspiegel.” This is a clip from the documentary “The Art of Conducting: Great Conductors of the Past.” The first voice you hear speaking is Yehudi Menuhin’s.

Carl St.Clair conducts Strauss’s “Ein Heldenleben” this week, doubtless with more enthusiasm.

 

Special screening of ‘Ellis Island: The Dream of America with Pacific Symphony’ slated for Musco Center

Pacific Symphony announced today a free, public screening of Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America with Pacific Symphony” at 8 p.m. on June 29 at the Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University. The screening features the PBS broadcast version of “Ellis Island,” taped at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in 2017 with conductor Carl St.Clair, Pacific Symphony and a number of guest artists. The nationwide broadcast premiere is later that night, at 10 p.m., as part of the long-running “Great Performances” series. (Check local listings.)

Using texts from the Ellis Island Oral History Project and archival Ellis Island images in combination with an original orchestral score, “Ellis Island” traces seven first-hand accounts of immigrants, narrated by guest stars Barry Bostwick, Camryn Manheim, Michael Nouri, Lesley Fera, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, Samantha Sloyan and Kira Sternbach. More than 40 percent of the U.S. population can track their ancestry through Ellis Island.

“This screening of the U.S. broadcast premiere of Peter Boyer’s ‘Ellis Island: The Dream of America with Pacific Symphony’ on PBS’s ‘Great Performances’ is the culmination of a year marked with brilliant artistic milestones,” said Pacific Symphony president John Forsyte. “In April the orchestra made its Carnegie Hall debut to critical acclaim. And the following month the Symphony was warmly received during its first-ever tour of China.

“These significant landmarks, along with the national PBS special, are broadening Pacific Symphony’s audiences while increasing its national and international reputation. We thank Paul Musco and Musco Center for the Arts for providing world-class facilities to Pacific Symphony for this special occasion.”

PBS SoCal (KOCE) has also announced its broadcast schedule for “Ellis Island.” It will air first at 10 p.m. on June 29 on PBS SoCal 1, with repeat broadcasts on the same channel at 4 p.m. June 30; 7 p.m. July 4; and 1 a.m. July 5. PBS SoCal 2 will air “Ellis Island” twice on July 5 (at 7 and 11 p.m.) and four times on July 6 (at 4, 8 and 11 a.m., and 3 p.m.).

The June 29 screening at Musco is produced by Pacific Symphony in association with PBS SoCal. It will include brief interviews with composer Boyer and Nasser Kazeminy, chairman of the Ellis Island Honors Society. Free tickets are available by calling the Pacific Symphony box office at (714) 755-5799. A meet-and-greet with Boyer will be held in the Musco lobby, following the screening.

Pacific Symphony’s Roger Kalia wins Solti award

Roger Kalia

Pacific Symphony assistant conductor Roger Kalia has been named as one of the winners of the 2018 Solti Foundation Career Assistance Awards, the Solti Foundation U.S. announced Monday. This is Kalia’s third such award, having also garnered Solti career assists in 2013 and 2017. Seven other recipients from around the country were also named on Monday. The amount of the award was not made public.

“Supporting and encouraging young conductors at the beginning of their careers is the mission of The Solit Foundation U.S.,” said Penny Van Horn, board chair of the foundation.   Now in its 14th year assisting young U.S. conductors, the Foundation has awarded more than $500,000 in grants.

“The Career Assistance Awards from The Solti Foundation U.S. have been extremely valuable in helping me build my career as a conductor,” Kalia said in an email. “Due to the support from The Solti Foundation U.S., I have been able to observe rehearsals and concerts of different orchestras and conductors around the country, build and develop my score library, create high quality videos of my conducting, and network with a variety of people in the classical music field.”

The Foundation is currently the only American foundation granting these kinds of awards. Citizens or permanent residents to the United States who are career-ready artists in the field of conducting are eligible to apply. The Solti Foundation was established in 2000 in memory of the great conductor Sir Georg Solti.

Kalia began his tenure as assistant conductor of Pacific Symphony and music director of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra in 2015 and recently signed a two-year contract extension. He is also co-founder and music director of the Lake George Music Festival in New York. Previously, he was music director of the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles and assistant conductor of the Charlotte Symphony.

“I hope to use this year’s award in order to further observe rehearsals and concerts by orchestras not only in the United States but Europe as well,” Kalia said.

“I also plan on using a portion of the award to take German and Italian language courses, which are very important languages for a conductor to know, especially since I would love to conduct more opera in the future. I am most grateful to the Solti Foundation U.S. for their continued support and belief in me.

“I would also like to thank all of those who have helped make this award possible, especially my dear colleagues of Pacific Symphony and Maestro Carl St.Clair.”

Joining Kalia in the winners’ circle this year are conductors Daniel Black, Stilian Kirov, Farkhad Khudyev, Stephen Mulligan, Sameer Patel, Stefano Sarzani and Lidiya Yankovskaya. Visit www.soltifoundation.us for their bios.

Anne Akiko Meyers brings old (expensive) violin and modern attitude to Pacific Symphony

By TIMOTHY MANGAN

Anne Akiko Meyers is bringing the world’s most expensive violin to town to play with Pacific Symphony this week. It has been loaned to her for life by the owner, who bought it in late 2012 for more than $16 million, still the highest price ever paid for a violin. The instrument, made in 1741, is known as the “Vieuxtemps” Guarneri “del Gesù,” named for one of its former owners, the Belgian violinist and composer Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881). He loved the instrument so much that he wanted to be buried with it.

“Its health and security are always the utmost important factors when traveling,” Meyers said of the instrument recently in a phone interview. Nevertheless, she doesn’t seem particularly intimidated by the prospect. She’s had to care for expensive violins, on loan, for most of her career.

“Well, I’ve been really fortunate my whole life,” she said. “I’ve had to rely on the generosity of donors, patrons, foundations and have played on a number of Guarneri “del Jesu”’s and Stradivari violins my entire life. It is totally like you’re walking around with a Matisse or a Picasso or a Monet on your back. It’s our equipment but yet it’s an antique piece of history that can never be repeated again.”

She wants to pass it on to the next player in the same condition is it now, which she characterizes as near perfect, clean and crack-free and without so much as a sound post patch (common in most violins).

She describes its tone quality this way: “It’s like it has dark and milk chocolate and white chocolate all wrapped into one, and it has super deep resonance on the G string — it sounds like a cello — but yet it just has a brilliant E string and it projects like none other because it’s so healthy.”

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Stravinsky conducts ‘Pulcinella’

Composer Igor Stravinsky conducts the Toronto Symphony in the ending of his own ballet “Pulcinella.” This is in 1967, very late in his life, the latest I’ve seen him conducting on film. He would have been about 85 here. Stravinsky is sometimes criticized for having been a poor conductor. Though there is a fair amount of sloppy playing here, he reveals himself as a lively podium presence, alert to rhythm, tempo and the trenchant cue.

The composer’s acknowledgement of the applause is also affecting.

A Schubert playlist

Although Schubert tragically died young and left many unfinished compositions (not just the famous “Unfinished” Symphony), his legacy is as prolific composer. Completing his first symphony at 16, he went on to compose more than 1500 works, including seven symphonies, overtures, operas, sacred music, a plethora of chamber music and some 600 lieder, or art songs. My favorites out of all those pieces are on this playlist. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. — Erica Sharp

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