Classical Music Buzz > Robert D. Thomas/Class Act > Five-Spot: What caught my eye on...

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News

Each Thursday morning, I list five events (six this week) that peak my interest, including (ideally) at least one with free admission — this week there are two. Here’s today’s grouping:

• Saturday at 8 p.m. at Valley Performing Arts Center, Northridge
China Philharmonic; Long Yu, conductor, Renaud Capuçon, violin

The Southland’s newest concert hall, located on the campus of Cal State Northridge, gets its first major classical music program with this performance. Yu conducts music by Berlioz, Puccini, Borodin and Ravel; Capuçon will be soloist in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. INFO: The same program is presented Friday night at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. INFO:

• Saturday at 8 p.m. at Alex Theater, Glendale, Sunday at 7 p.m. at Royce Hall, UCLA
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Jeffrey Kahane conductor, Jon Kimura Parker, piano

The program includes John Harbison’s Gil piú usati, Dvorak’s Serenade in E Major for Strings, and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor). The Harbison piece was premiered by LACO in 1993. Parker (who was born on Christmas Day 1959 in Vancouver) won the 1984 Leeds International Pianoforte Competition and has gone on to an international career. INFO:

• Sunday at 4 p.m., Neighborhood Church, Pasadena
Pasadena Pro Musica; Stephen Grimm, conductor

In this Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday program at the beginning of what Christians call “Holy Week,” PPM presents Dietrich Buxtehude’s seven-movement work Membra Jesu Nostri, along with Grimm’s own Christus Factus Est and William Cornyshe’s Woefully Arrayed. INFO:

• Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa
Pacific Chorale, John Alexander Singers, Pacific Symphony; John Alexander, conductor, Lori Loftus, organ

John Alexander conducts his forces in the Southern California premiere of David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for music and also won a Grammy Award. The piece, based on a Hans Christian Anderson story and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, will be paired with Fauré’s Requiem. INFO:

And the weekend’s “free admission” programs …

Friday at 1 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall
Los Angeles Master Chorale’s 22nd High School Choir Festival

LAMC Music Director Grant Gershon leads a 900-voice massed choir of students from 24 Southland high schools and an 80-voice Festival Honor Choir also comprised of students from those schools. In addition to hearing some terrific singing led by one of America’s premiere choral conductors, it’s a great way to experience the magnificent acoustics of Disney Hall for free. A preconcert by the Master Chorale’s Chamber Singers, led by Assistant Conductor Leslie Leighton, will begin at 11 a.m. Tickets for each event must be arranged ahead of time. INFO: 213/972-7282;

Sunday at 3:30 p.m., Occidental College, Eagle Rock
Occidental College Chorus and Glee Club; Desiree La Vertu, conductor

The program, performed in the college’s distinctive Herrick Chapel, features music by Bruckner, Mozart, Lauridsen and Victoria, songs from Latin America, gospel selections and popular favorites. INFO:

(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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