When Dr. David Chase assumed leadership of the La Jolla Symphony Chorus in 1973, it consisted of 60 members. Over the succeeding years, Dr. Chase grew the chorus to 130 voices while expanding the group’s repertoire to include contemporary works as well as proven classics.
To mark his retirement after 44 years as Choral Director in June 2017, Dr. Chase assembled and conducted an eclectic program inspired by love and passion under the appropriate title, “The Lovers.” The first piece, the charming “Overture to Beatrice and Benedict,” is a concert staple from Hector Berlioz’s opera comique based on Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” Next on the bill is Arnold Schoenberg’s tone poem “Verklärte Nacht” (“Transfigured Night”), the composer’s interpretation of a German romantic poem. It is widely considered one of this modernist composer’s most accessible works. In the program’s final piece, “The Lovers,” American neo-Romantic composer Samuel Barber sets a cycle of poems by celebrated Chilean poet Pablo Neruda for baritone, mixed chorus, and full orchestra.
Taken as a whole the three pieces form a compelling examination of both the complexities of love and music’s ability to speak directly to the heart. Not coincidentally, the program also reflects David Chase’s passion for music and lifelong devotion to popularizing lesser-known works and is a fitting culmination to his tenure with La Jolla Symphony & Chorus. Dr. Chase will be ably succeeded, but he can never be replaced.
George Bernard Shaw once remarked that “the English take a creepy sort of pleasure in requiems.” I can’t speak to the truth of this statement, but there’s no denying that requiems are among the most popular works in the orchestral/choral repertoire, in England and elsewhere. Composers as diverse as Haydn, Brahms, Berlioz, Dvořák, Saint-Saëns, Fauré, and Britten have assayed the form, each bringing their own unique sensibilities to the challenge of interpreting a liturgical service in musical terms.
Arguably, the two best-known examples of the requiem are those written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (considered by many to be the template for the genre) and Giuseppe Verdi. Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, which premiered in Milan in 1874, is based on the Roman Catholic funeral mass and scored for four soloists, double (sometimes triple) choir, and orchestra. Verdi composed the piece in memory of poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni, whom he greatly admired. It consists of seven major sections, within which are several sub-sections of varying and often contrasting moods. In order to heighten the inherent drama and poignancy of the liturgical mass Verdi brought to bear the skills and devices he’d mastered as a composer of operas: expressive orchestration, assertive rhythms, beautiful melodies, vocal pyrotechnics, and dramatic contrasts over an exceptionally wide dynamic range. Indeed, following the Requiem’s premiere many traditionalist critics complained that the music was far too “operatic” in style and not appropriate for the solemn subject matter. Fortunately for us, that view has not prevailed.
Undertaking performance of such a mammoth work, involving 300+ performers on stage, requires both abundant skill and a degree of intrepidity, traits which La Jolla Symphony & Chorus have amply demonstrated in their programming choices. Under the baton of conductor Steven Schick the musicians and vocal soloists render the complexities and subtleties of the piece with both confidence and sensitivity, and if it’s not sacrilegious to say so, the result is thrilling.
Contributed by arts and humanities producer John Menier
Renowned pianist and educator Cecile Lytle has been delighting audiences with his annual Rebecca E. Lytle Memorial Scholarship Concerts for 19 years, with proceeds benefiting deserving students from the Preuss School at UC San Diego.
UCSD-TV has been along for the ride since 1998, making the performances by Lytle and his noteworthy guests, spanning 200 years of jazz, popular standards and chamber music, available to audiences on TV and online.
This year’s program features Lytle performing two late signature works by Ludwig van Beethoven: the monumental Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major (“Das Hammerklavier”) and the dramatic Piano Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Beethoven’s final composition for piano.
Every summer, a group of talented musicians, ranging in age from 14 to adult, gather together to jam … with jazz, that is.
The five-day Jazz Camp at UC San Diego offers intermediate to advance level musicians a diverse, one-of-a-kind journey into the world of jazz with group courses and workshops, plus private lessons, jam sessions, and concerts. The camp’s extraordinary faculty of leading jazz improvisers and educators help to sharpen students’ performance skills and enrich their experience of jazz as a broad spectrum of options for musical expression.
But the students aren’t the only ones to benefit. UCSD-TV cameras were at this year’s Jazz Camp Finale Concert to capture highlights of the wonderful student ensembles performing standards and new compositions. Watch it on your TV tonight, August 10, at 8pm or get a jump on your jazz fix and enjoy it online now. No jazz hands, please.
UCSD-TV is no stranger to the Telly Awards, having picked up fifteen of them since 2004. The Telly Awards honor the very best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions, and work created for the Web. Since 1978, their mission has been to strengthen the visual arts community by inspiring, promoting, and supporting creativity. The 31st Annual Telly Awards received over 13,000 entries from all 50 states and 5 continents.