UCSD-TV: What sparked your love of chamber music?
CHRISTOPHER BEACH: My grandparents and great grandmother would have dinner parties where they and their friends would play chamber music, so as a child it was the very first music I heard. I have loved it since before I could remember.
UCSD-TV: Do you have a favorite composer?
CB: Every day my favorite composer changes, sometimes two or three times a day. The Goldberg Variations is always one of the pieces at the top. A month ago I was fixated by John Ireland. Elgar reminds me of my grandfather. Liszt and Chopin remind me of my great grandmother and my mother loved Sibelius. Grieg and I share a birthday (June 15th). And then there is opera. I worked for various opera companies for more than 15 years and Rigoletto, all Verdi, Strauss, Strauss, Strauss…you see, it is impossible to answer this question.
UCSD-TV: What piece of music could you listen to over and over?
CB: All of the above, but I love the three Mozart/DaPonte operas. They tell the story of life. Having just heard again the Vingt regards sur L’Enfant Jesus by Messian, I know it is one of the great works of the 20th Century.
UCSD-TV: What is your favorite Summerfest moment from seasons past?
CB: Last summer’s performance by Jimmy and Hai-Ye Ni and John Bruce Yeh, and Christopher Taylor of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time…although Jacques Loussier’s performance and the Milone Piazzolla Suite were unforgettable.
UCSD-TV: What is the biggest challenge in putting on Summerfest every year?
CB: It is like a triple decker chess game. Artists’ availabilities, repertory artists would play well, who would play well together, what would sell tickets, and what can challenge the audience and yet not challenge them too much.
UCSD-TV: Summerfest is not just about great performances. So many of the events focus on educating the audience and sharing knowledge. Could you tell us a bit more about these activities and why they are so important to the chamber music community?
CB: Chamber music has more layers and more depth than any other instrumental music and yet, at the same time it is so transparent because it is so intimate. We have open rehearsals with the artist, Prelude lectures, artist workshops, and Encounters during the day that provide a context for all of the performances. I guarantee any of our audience members that if they partake of these free offerings they will leave the concert hall richer and with an even more memorable performance.
UCSD-TV: What can the viewing audience expect from the new season of Summerfest programs?
CB: Mendelssohn, Handel, Haydn and Purcell all celebrate anniversaries in 2009.
UCSD-TV: 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the La Jolla Music Society. How will you celebrate?
CB: With Gustavo Dudamel, four great international women pianists, more dance than ever, and champagne.