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By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
This article was first published today in the above papers.

April and May are always ultra-busy months for classical music lovers and this year is certainly no exception. Here are a few local opportunities:

• Saturday at 7:30 p.m., La Crescenta Presbyterian Church
Music Director Jeffrey Bernstein leads his Pasadena Master Chorale in a performance of Brahms’ Ein Deutsche Requiem, using a rarely heard two-piano version that the composer created. Scott Kirchner and Alan Steinberger are the pianists; soprano Krystle Casey and baritone are the vocal soloists. Last year this concert was a sellout. Info: 626/208-2009; www.pasadenamasterchorale.org

• April 9 at 7:30 p.m., April 10 at 3 p.m., April 15 at 8 p.m., April 17 at 3 p.m. at The Woman’s Club of South Pasadena
Celestial Opera, a group about which my colleague John Farrell has written glowingly in the past, returns with a double bill of Puccini operas: Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica. These are the second and third one-act operas of Puccini’s trilogy Il Trittico (the opener is Il tabarro). The aria O mio babbino caro (Oh, my dear papa) from Gianni Schicchi is one of the opera genre’s most famous tunes. John Dennehy, Jr. will direct and Joshua Heaphey will conduct a chamber orchestra. Info: 626-628-3305; www.celestialoperacompany.org

• April 10 at 3 p.m.. Whittier High School
The Rio Hondo Symphony concludes its 78th season with “Highland Frolic,” led by Music Director Kimo Furumoto. The free concert will feature the two winners of the orchestra’s 2011 Young Artists Competition. Vijay Venkatesh, 20, from Laguna Niguel will be the soloist in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1, while Chih-Chien Lin, a 26-year-old native of Taiwan who now lives in Los Angeles and studies at USC, will perform in Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2.

Furumoto will also lead the orchestra in Mendelssohn’s Overture The Hebrides (aka Fingal’s Cave) and Sir Malcolm Arnold’s Four Scottish Dances. Info: 562/698-8626; www.riohondosymphony.org

• April 10 at 7 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall
Grant Gershon leads the Los Angeles Master Chorale, orchestra and soloists Elissa Johnston, soprano; Sanford Sylvan, baritone; and Hak Soo Kim, tenor in Haydn’s oratorio, The Creation, another pinnacle of choral music. Info: 213-972-7282; www.lamc.org

• April 16 at 8 p.m., Alex Theatre, Glendale; April 17, 7 p.m., Royce Hall, UCLA
Music Director Jeffrey Kahane leads his Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in a program of John Harbison’s Gil piú usati, Dvorak’s Serenade in E Major for Strings, and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor), with Jon Kimura Parker as soloist. 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: 213/622-7001 x 215; www.laco.org

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Philharmonic concludes its “Aspects of Ades” festival this week. Today at 2 p.m. in Walt Disney Concert Hall, British composer/conductor/pianist Thomas Ades conducts two works by Stravinsky and his own In Seven Days, a video-ballet in seven movements.

On Tuesday night at 8 p.m., Ades conducts and plays his own music with the Phil’s New Music Group in a “Green Umbrella” concert. Thursday and Friday he conducts the Phil and soloists in the world premiere of Irish Composer Gerald Barry’s opera The Importance of Being Earnest. The festival concludes Saturday with Ades leading the Phil in the West Coast premiere of his Polaris and Olivier Messiaen’s Éclairs sur l’Au-Delà.

In the midst of all of this, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble appear Monday night in Disney Hall at 8 p.m.

Info: 323/850-2000; www.laphil.com

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

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