Happy 4th

As you will probably hear “Star and Stripes Forever,” or “Semper Fidelis” or “The Washington Post” or some other famous Sousa march today, I thought I’d share one of his lesser known gems, the “George Washington Bicentennial” March. Rudolf Urbanec conducts the Czechoslovak Brass Orchestra, of course. Happy 4th.

Kleiber 88

The brilliant conductor Carlos Kleiber would have been 88 years old today. One never needs an excuse to watch or listen to this great musician, but here’s one anyway. He leads the Bavarian State Orchestra in the “Thunder and Lightning” Polka by Johann Strauss, Jr.

Miscellany

A testy Riccardo Muti halts the Chicago Symphony when an audience member coughs. …

Miami is the largest city in the country without its own full-time professional orchestra. Now there’s a call for one. …

A music critic takes a crack at naming the 25 greatest American symphonies. …

New statistics show that 95 percent of classical concerts feature male composers only. …

The venerable Dallas Symphony names a new music director, a big name. …

A new book explores the topic of Leonard Bernstein as a grand and impossible father. …

An important Russian conductor — Gennady Rozhdestvensky — has died. …

The Chicago Tribune‘s music critic for 40 years writes his farewell column. …

A Chabrier playlist

Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894) is pretty much forgotten today, a one-hit wonder to most audiences, his “España” the only piece of his they’ve ever heard. There’s much more to the French composer though. He left a rich supply of orchestral music, songs, piano music and operas, much of it in a rhythmically energetic, harmonically vibrant, proto-Impressionistic style, admired by the likes of Ravel, who orchestrated his “Menuet Pompeux,” Poulenc, who wrote a book about Chabrier, Stravinsky and Satie. (An interesting aside: Chabrier owned a collection of paintings by Impressionists such as Manet —  “Un bar aux Folies Bergère,” no less — Monet, Cezanne and Renoir.) Here is my selection of some of his orchestral and piano music. At the end I have included my favorite recording of the incomparable “España,” which Gustav Mahler once called “the beginnings of modern music.” –TM

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Pacific Symphony: July concerts

This month we get fully into the summer mode, with four concerts outdoors.

Our July 4 Spectacular this year features Brass Transit, a Chicago tribute band that will perform hits such as “You’re the Inspiration,” “25 or 6 to 4,” “If You Leave Me Now,” and others along with the orchestra. Conductor Richard Kaufman and the musicians add patriotic tunes and a tribute to the armed forces. Fireworks cap the performance. Parking is free. Tickets here

The orchestra also appears at the Pacific Amphitheater at OC Fair and Event Center on July 12 with Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Tickets here

Our annual free community parks concerts, Symphony in the Cities, are in Mission Viejo and Irvine on July 28 and July 29, respectively. As always, Carl St.Clair conducts and there are lots of extracurricular activities for everyone. No tickets required.

You can also catch the musicians on PBS this month. PBS SoCal (KOCE) is running rebroadcasts of Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America with Pacific Symphony,” the orchestra’s debut on the long-running “Great Performances” series. Air times are : 7 p.m. July 4; and 1 a.m. July 5 on PBS SoCal 1; 7 and 11 p.m. July 5 and 4, 8 and 11 a.m., and 3 p.m. July 6 on PBS SoCal 2.

Symphony in the Cities program announced

This summer’s Symphony in the Cities concerts, conducted by Carl St.Clair, will be held in Mission Viejo and Irvine on July 28 and July 29, respectively. Programming for these alfresco events has now been announced. The musical fare will include selections from American musicals, patriotic songs and marches, and operatic hits. Soprano Chelsea Chaves and tenor Nick Preston are the guests.

The concert begins with the arrival of the children (who will have been coached by St.Clair) to conduct John Philip Sousa’s “Hands Across the Sea” March, a tradition on these occasions.

A set from American musicals comes next, featuring music by Gershwin (from “Strike Up the Band” and “Girl Crazy”) and Lerner and Loewe (from “My Fair Lady”).

Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” Suite (arranged by Jack Mason) and the Mambo from same transition to an operatic set that includes the Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” and famous arias from Puccini (including “Nessun dorma”) and Verdi.

The event winds up with a medley saluting the armed forces, “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America” in sing-along performances and, of course, “Stars and Stripes Forever.”