By TIMOTHY MANGAN
“Jumping in as a replacement is always scary and fun at the same time,” conductor Rune Bergmann said recently, on the phone from Calgary. The lively and amiable Norwegian musician, the new music director of the Calgary Philharmonic, has been asked to step in on short notice to replace André Previn, who withdrew from his concerts with Pacific Symphony on Oct. 19-21 due to injury. Though it was a tight fit in his schedule, Bergmann gladly accepted the offer.
“I was planning to go back to my family (in Oslo) and spend time with them, but since it was Pacific Symphony that called, of course you have to go,” Bergmann said. “Nice people calling.
“I had my first concert with Pacific Symphony in November last year, and we had so much fun.”
Bergmann agreed to not only conduct the concerts, but also to take over Previn’s identical program, which included Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 (with Garrick Ohlsson) as well the West Coast premiere of Previn’s own “Almost an Overture,” which was given its first performance in Rhode Island in July.
Pacific Symphony opens its Pops season tonight and tomorrow with a program headlined by David Foster. But conductor Albert-George Schram and the orchestra begin the program with the Overture to “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss, Jr., which for my money is one of the best things he ever wrote. Here, the piece is hit out of the ball park by the great Carlos Kleiber (watch him) and the Bavarian State Orchestra. You’re welcome.
Calr St.Clair and Pacific Symphony perform Overture to “Die Fledermaus” on demand.
Justin Freer conducts “Harry Potter” in Royal Albert Hall
By TIMOTHY MANGAN
Only a handful of people will know the answer to the following bit of extreme trivia: Who is the only musician born and raised in Orange County to have conducted the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the London Philharmonic and the Philharmonia Orchestra, just to name a few? The answer is — Justin Freer. Never heard of him? Get in line.
Freer, 37, a native of Huntington Beach, is co-founder of a company called CineConcerts, which, as the name implies, produces live concert performances of film scores synchronized with screenings of the films. He conducts these performances in darkened concert halls around the globe as audiences watch beloved movies, not him. These screenings with live music are something of a rage these days in the world of symphonic orchestras. CineConcerts currently offers such titles as “It’s a Wonderful Life” (music by Dimitri Tiomkin), “The Godfather” (music by Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola) and the “Harry Potter” series (music by John Williams and others).
We wondered about the rage, about why someone would spend $50 and up on such presentations when they could just as well stream the movie at home on a giant flatscreen with good sound.
“I think the first thing is that it’s not the same as viewing it at home, or listening to it at home, or even in a movie theater,” Freer says, seated in his glassed-walled office at company headquarters in Burbank. “It’s so radically different. People are coming to a concert. Ultimately, that’s what separates this from seeing it at home or from another concert.”
(Curated news and views from around the web. Click on the highlighted links to read the full articles.)
In The New Yorker, David Denby writes a fine summing up of the career of conductor Arturo Toscanini, on the occasion of the maestro’s 150th anniversary and the publication of a mammoth new biography by Harvey Sachs…. The Canadian guide to classical music slang intersects with our own only intermittently, but it’s still amusing…. Beethoven’s Ninth means different things to different people, including, probably, the leaders attending the G-20 summit…. Tom Service has written a guide to contemporary classical music, taking 50 composers and their music one at a time…. Italian conductors still make headlines: Riccardo Muti has led a joint concert in Tehran with the the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra and the Tehran Symphony Orchestra …. Mason Bates’s new opera “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” will have its premiere at Santa Fe Opera this month…. A new recording (well, a reissue and remastering) features the music of — gasp — music critics. Some can.
Review: A Life of Toscanini, Maestro with Passion and Principles. The New York Times Book Review, June 27, 2017.
Pacific Symphony assistant conductor Roger Kalia was named today as a recipient of a 2017 Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award, the Solti Foundation U.S. announced. Kalia, who also serves as music director of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, also won the award in 2013.
“To be recognized by an organization that is affiliated with the legacy of the great Sir Georg Solti, a conductor whom I admire greatly, is very special and meaningful to me,” Kalia said in a prepared statement. “This funding from the Solti Foundation U.S. will help me to open new doors in the field and further build my career as a conductor. I am most grateful to my dear colleagues at Pacific Symphony and Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra for their continued support.”
Kalia, 32, is one of nine conductors to receive a 2017 award. They hold positions in the United States, Canada and Brazil. He is also co-founder and music director of the Lake George Music Festival in upstate New York and has served as assistant conductor of the Charlotte Symphony and music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles. He was recently signed to a second two-year engagement with the Pacific Symphony.
The Solti Foundation U.S. is now in its 13th year assisting young conductors. Established in 2000 to honor the memory of Solti, the internationally acclaimed conductor and music director of the Chicago Symphony, the Foundation concentrated its award program in 2004 to exclusively assist young American conductors. Since then it has awarded more than half a million dollars to them. The amount of the Career Assistant Awards varies and was not announced.
For more information, visit The Solti Foundation.