By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
When Gustavo Dudamel became music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the beginning of last season, the transition from former music director Esa-Pekka Salonen to the young Venezuelan happened so quickly that — owing to the fact that conductors’ schedules are planned years in advance — we had to wait a couple of years for the full impact of Dudamel’s tenure to take shape.
We seen this issue with Dudamel’s schedules in Hollywood Bowl. He opened his Los Angeles tenure on Oct. 3, 2009 leading the L.A. Phil, the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Master Chorale in a free concert that concluded with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Last summer he led three concerts during a weeklong residency; next summer, he’ll be at the Bowl for five programs in two weeks.
Ditto for Walt Disney Concert Hall. After conducting eight weeks in his first indoor season at Hollywood Bowl and 12 during the current season, Dudamel — whose contract was recently extended through the 2018-19 centennial season (LINK) — will be spending considerable more time with the Phil during the 2011-2012 indoor season, which was announced today.
Dudamel — who turned age 30 last month — will conduct the Phil in 14 sets of programs next season, including the first five weeks, plus the now-traditional opening gala concert (an all-Gershwin affair that will include Herbie Hancock as soloist in Rhapsody in Blue.)
In addition Dudamel will also conduct one of his other ensembles, the renamed Simón Bolivár Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, in five programs spread over seven nights, using that ensemble and the L.A. Phil for a cycle of all nine Mahler symphonies from January 13 through February 4, 2012. Dudamel and both orchestras will then repeat the cycle February 11-19 in Caracas.
During “The Mahler Project,” as it’s being dubbed, the Phil will play Symphonies 1, 4, 6 and 9, along with the Adagio from the unfinished Symphony No. 10. The Simón Bolivár Orchestra will play Symphonies 2, 3, 5 and 7. Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer, with baritone Thomas Hampson as soloist, will be on the first program, along with the fourth symphony
The two orchestras will combine on Feb. 4 for a performance of Symphony No. 8 at a locale TBD (more on that in a subsequent post). In a bid to literally produce the work’s subtitle — Symphony of a Thousand — the two orchestras will be joined by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, eight soloists and community choruses. Click HERE for more on this concert.
During their L.A. sojourn, the Bolivár and LAPO musicians will work on a series of education projects with YOLA and other components of the Phil’s attempt to recreate Venezuela’s “El Sistema” in the Southland. Members from both ensembles will also play a chamber-music concert.
Other season highlights will include:
• The world premiere of The Gospel According to the Other Mary by the Phil’s creative chair, John Adams (whose contract has been extended through the 2013-2014 season). The 90-minute oratorio for orchestra, chorus and soloists is based the New Testament stories of Lazarus and Jesus’ Passion plus contemporary Latin-American poetry. Among the soloists will be mezzo-soprano Kelly O’Connor. Dudamel will conduct on May 31, June 1, 2 and 3 to conclude the season. A staged version directed by Peter Sellars, will be performed in 2013 and the project will be taken on an international tour in later seasons.
Adams will also conduct the Phil on April 5, 6 and 7 in a program that includes the West Coast premiere of Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 9, along with Adams’ own Violin Concerto with Leila Josefewicz (for whom the work was written) as soloist.
• A semi-staged performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, with Dudamel conducting a production on May 18 and 20 that will be designed by architect Frank Gehry, whose creations, of course, include Disney Hall and who will making his first operatic effort. The Marriage of Figaro and Cosi Fan Tutte will follow in succeeding years, with different designers. Paul Curran, artistic director of Norwegian Opera, will direct all three productions.
• The world premiere of Orango, a 40-minute prelude to a satiric opera commissioned by the Bolshoi Opera from Dmitri Shostakovich in 1932. The opera was never completed; the prologue, apparently, is all that exists and it lay undiscovered in a Moscow archive until scholar Olga Digonskaya unearthed it in 2004. Esa-Pekka Salonen will conduct the premiere on December 2, 3 and 4, in the second of two weeks of concerts he will lead next season; Peter Sellars will direct.
• Among the guest conductors will be Sir Simon Rattle, who at the beginning of his career was the Phil’s principal guest conductor (beginning in 1981) but has not conducted the Phil since 2000. He will lead the LAPO on May 2, 3, 4 and 5 in a program that will conclude with Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9.
The guest-conductor list includes Los Angeles Opera Music Director James Conlon (November 4, 5 and 6). Hollywood Bowl Principal Conductor Thomas Wilkins will make his Disney Hall debut Dec. 8, 9 and 11 in a movie-music program entitled “Pacific Standard Time: The Hollywood Sound” that will be part of an area-wide festival.
One conspicuous — and regrettable — absence is Lionel Bringuer, who is finishing his tenure this season as the Phil’s associate conductor. Another former associate conductor, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, comes back to open 2012 on Jan. 5, 6, 7 and 8 in a program that includes Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3 (Organ).
• The new Piatigorsky International Cello Festival will have four concerts in three days (March 15, 17 and 18) with Neeme Järvi leading the orchestra in programs that include cello concertos by Dvorak and Shostakovich, along with Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme. The soloists will be Alisa Weilerstein, Mischa Maisky and Ralph Kirshbaum (who holds the Piatigorsky Cello Chair at the USC Thornton School of Music, where Piatigorsky taught in his later years). The fourth concert will be a recital with up to 100 cellists on stage including the above soloists and other former Piatigorsky students.
• Among the guest orchestras appearing will be the Boston Symphony, led by Music Director James Levine, on Dec. 10; Philharmonia Baroque (Nicholas McGegan) on Dec. 13; Seoul Philharmonic, led by former LAPO Assistant Conductor Myung-Wha Chung on April 19; and the New York Philharmonic (Alan Gilbert) on May 9. The L.A. Phil will travel to San Franciso’s Davies Hall on Oct. 23 and 24 to appear in the SFO’s centennial season.
Subscription renewals are underway. Season packages for new subscribers go on sale April 5. Single tickets go on sale August 5.
Season brochures will be available February 25. To find the complete media kit with downloadable files, which include the season release and a chronological listing of 2011-2012 events, click HERE
(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.
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