LA Master Chorale Sets 2014-15 Season at Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC) - heralded around the globe for its unparalleled artistry and wide ranging repertoire - continues expanding and transforming the spectrum of choral music with two world premieres while also presenting Renaissance gems, a cappella masterpieces, contemporary classics and seminal large-scale works during the 2014-15 Season, its 51st, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Acclaimed Kiki & David Gindler Music Director Grant Gershon, who marks his 14th season at the choir's helm, conducts 10 programs, 4 of which are repeated, for a total of 14 performances at Disney Hall. The Grammy®-nominated Chorale displays its skills as both a virtuosic symphonic chorus and a masterful a cappella tour de force with a season of carefully curated repertoire, featuring works by some 20 composers, nearly half of whom are active today, among them Swan Family Composer in Residence Shawn Kirchner, Tan Dun, Arvo Pärt, Eric Whitacre, Nack-Kum Paik, Richard Einhorn, Ariel Quintana, Jan Sandström and Morten Lauridsen.
"I'm very proud of the fact that over half of the music we will sing is by composers of our own time," says Gershon. "We celebrate the fact that the LA Master Chorale has built an ensemble and an audience that thrives on the full panorama of great music for voices."
Season highlights include the world premiere of Kirchner's most substantial piece to date, Songs of Ascent, a lyrical seven-moment work for voices and strings. The Chorale also premieres as part of its acclaimed "LA is the World" multi-year initiative a new commission by Nack-Kum Paik for double choir, featuring the Los Angeles Chamber Choir, under the artistic direction of Chung Uk Lee. Adding to LA's reputation as the film capital of the word, the chorus opens the season with a multi-faceted program featuring the Disney Hall debut of Richard Einhorn's 1994 work Voices of Light/The Passion of Joan of Arc, inspired by and performed to the 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc, a cinematic masterpiece thought to have been lost in a fire but discovered in 1981 and now considered among the 10 best films ever made.
Notably, the Chorale also reprises Tan Dun's extraordinary Water Passion After St. Matthew, in which water plays a remarkable percussive role as it is splashed, dripped, stirred, struck and more. The choir gave the LA premiere of the piece in 2005 that was praised and remains one of most talked-about concerts in the choir's history. In a nod to Tan Dun's key inspiration for his piece - Bach's Passion According to St. Matthew - the chorus presents, in a separate concert, a historically informed performance of this influential masterwork in collaboration with two of LA's most highly regarded ensembles - Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, led by Martin Haselböck, and the Los Angeles Children's Chorus, under the direction of Anne Tomlinson.
"This is a season of passion, quite literally," states Gershon. "Bach's St Matthew Passion, Tan Dun's Water Passion after St. Matthew, and Richard Einhorn's stunning score to the silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc give this season a strong sense of unity and spiritual center."
A program of Renaissance gems features works by such masters as William Byrd, Josquin des Prez, Orlande de Lassu, John Taverner and Thomas Tallis. To close the season, the Chorale's 115 singers, accompanied by piano and organ, showcase the boundless harmonic imaginations of composer Eric Whitacre, a noted pioneer who has embraced the artistic potential of social media, and "mystic minimalist" Arvo Pärt, celebrated for his sensuous and reflective chant-like compositions.
The Master Chorale's four holiday offerings include "Rejoice! A Cappella Christmas," celebrating the 20th Anniversary of former composer in residence Morten Lauridsen's monumental O Magnum Mysterium, written for and premiered by the chorus in December 1994, which has since become one of the most frequently performed choral works in modern history. Other works on the program are 16th century Spanish composer Tomás Luis da Vittoria's radiant O Magnum Mysterium, and several works by 20th and 21st century composers, including Poulenc's Four Motets for Christmas, Franz Biebl's Ave Maria, Jan Sandström's Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming), and former assistant conductor Ariel Quintana's Hodie Christus natus est, Ave maris stella and Quem vidistis pastores. Rounding out the seasonal fare are two concert performances of Handel's glorious Messiah; "Festival of Carols," a joyous program of favorite yuletide carols sung to perfection; and the Chorale's ever-popular "Messiah Sing-Along," in which the audience itself is the choir.
The Los Angeles Master Chorale opens the doors of Disney Hall to the public free-of-charge for its 26th Annual High School Choir Festival. Serving as a vital force in training the next generation of singers and music lovers, the comprehensive yearlong program culminates with a performance conducted by Gershon of 900 high school students from more than two-dozen Southland high schools.
The Chorale, which is a founding resident company of the Music Center of Los Angeles County, continues to present "ListenUp!," a series of lively pre-concert conversations providing insight into the evening's program, with Gershon and KUSC Radio's Alan Chapman.
In addition to presenting its own concert series, this season the Master Chorale appears in three programs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Disney Hall - Beethoven's Choral Fantasy and John Adams' Harmonium, led by Gustavo Dudamel; Berlioz' Romeo and Juliet, under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen; and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.
A spectacular black-tie gala benefit celebrating the Los Angeles Master Chorale's remarkable artistry is planned for Sunday, March 1, 2015, 6 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The evening includes a special performance by the Chorale, a sumptuous sit-down dinner, dancing and an auction.