Author Mona Simpson Explores MUSIC & STORY at Westside Connections

By: Mar. 26, 2013
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Celebrated author Mona Simpson, whose 2011 novel My Hollywood features a classical composer as protagonist, joins members of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) on Monday, April 15, 2013, 7:30 pm, at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, for the final program in the Orchestra's innovative "Westside Connections" chamber music series, which this season pairs LACO's virtuosic musicians with top authors for a fascinating exploration of the relationship between "Music & Story."

Simpson offers her insights into the Beethoven Violin Sonata that inspired Tolstoy's novella The Kreutzer Sonata, which in turn inspired Janá?ek's String Quartet No. 1, both of which are performed by LACO artists as part of the evening. Janá?ek confided in a letter to his young muse Kamila Stösslová, "I was imagining a poor woman, tormented and run down, just like the one the Russian writer Tolstoy describes in his Kreutzer Sonata."

LACO Concertmaster Margaret Batjer, currently celebrating her 15th anniversary with the Orchestra, curates and hosts the series, which showcases the virtuoso talent of LACO musicians and illustrates the myriad ways music touches other artistic disciplines, society and our lives. Joining Batjer on piano for Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata is LACO Music Director Jeffrey Kahane. Principal Second Violin Josefina Vergara, Violin Carrie Kennedy, Associate Principal Viola Victoria Miskolczy, Associate and Principal Cello Armen Ksajikian are featured in Janá?ek's String Quartet No. 1.

Simpson, whose other novels include Anywhere but Here, The Lost Father, A Regular Guy and Off Keck Road, is a professor of English at UCLA and of Languages and Literature at Bard College. She has received numerous accolades, including a Whiting Writer's Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a Lila Wallace Readers Digest Writers award, a Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize and, most recently, an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is considered one of the nation's premier orchestras as well as a leader in presenting wide-ranging repertoire and adventurous commissions. Its 2012-13 season, the Orchestra's 44th, features a compelling mix of beloved masterpieces and genre-defying premieres from firmly established and notable up-and-coming composers programmed by Jeffrey Kahane, one of the world's foremost conductors and pianists, who marks his 16th season as LACO's music director.

"Westside Connections" tickets ($50) are on sale now and may be purchased online at laco.org, by calling LACO at 213 622 7001 x 1, or at the venue box office on the night of the concert, if tickets remain. Discounted tickets are also available by phone for groups of 12 or more. The Broad Stage is located at 1310 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA, 90401.

Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, MONA SIMPSON moved to Los Angeles as a young teenager with her mother. Her father was a recent immigrant from Syria when he met Mona's mother, the daughter of a mink farmer and the first person in her family to attend college, in Wisconsin. Simpson attended University of California, Berkeley, where she studied poetry. She worked as a journalist before moving to New York to attend Columbia University's MFA program. During graduate school, she published her first collection of short stories in Ploughshares, The Iowa Review and Mademoiselle. She stayed in New York and worked as an editor at The Paris Review for five years while finishing her first novel, Anywhere but Here. She followed that debut with The Lost Father, A Regular Guy and Off Keck Road. She has received several awards for her work, including a Whiting Writer's Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a Lila Wallace Readers Digest Writers award, a Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize and, most recently, an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She worked for ten years on My Hollywood. "It's the book that took me too long because it meant so much to me," she says. Simpson lives in Santa Monica with her two children and Bartleby the dog.

Equally at home at the keyboard or on the podium, JEFFREY KAHANE has established an international reputation as a truly versatile artist, recognized around the world for his mastery of diverse repertoire ranging from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven to Gershwin, Golijov and John Adams. The 2012-13 season is Kahane's 16th season as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's music director. He previously served as music director of the Colorado and Santa Rosa symphonies. He has garnered tremendous critical acclaim for his innovative programming and commitment to education and community involvement and received multiple ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming for his work in both Los Angeles and Denver. In addition to his projects with LACO, he has recently appeared at the Aspen, Mostly Mozart, Blossom, Music@Menlo and Oregon Bach festivals; performed concertos with the Toronto and Houston symphonies; guest conducted the San Francisco, National and Indianapolis symphonies; and play/conducted programs in Europe with the Camerata Salzburg and Hamburg Symphony.

Single tickets at $50 each can be purchased by phone (213 622 7001 x 1) as well as online at laco.org. For further information about the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's 2012-13 season, please call 213 622 7001, or visit www.laco.org.



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