Ben Phelps, who has been a great help to this site, suggested that we start posting tracks by LA composers and musicians. To thank him for the idea, he gets the first one. Check it out:
Leah Paul just sent me this:
Concert This Saturday!
I’m excited to perform a new woodwind quintet I’ve written, played by myself, Myka Miller, Chris Speed, Danielle Ondarza, and Christin Phelps Webb, afterwards John Kibler and Brett Hool will perform as We Are The West.
The show is at 8pm in Santa Monica, directions below. This show is in a PARKING GARAGE made super cool and fun, with romantic lighting, drinks, and a general joie de vivre party-like atmosphere. Hope to see you there!
**The show is at The Parking Garage beneath the Office building on the corner of 7th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard, the entrance is down a stairway on 7th street.
Sounds pretty awesome.
Next weekend the second annual HEAR NOW festival kicks off in Venice with two days of concerts featuring some of our little city’s best-known composers and an impressively large lineup of local players. Artistic director Hugh Levick had some time this weekend to fill us in on what’s coming up.
We’re less than a week from the festival. How’s it shaping up?
Frankly, Nick, I think we’re looking at two standing-room-only concerts. There are still tickets left, but they are going fast. With Mark Robson playing Thomas Ades, The Lyris quartet playing Don Davis, Burt Goldstein and Veronika Krausas, Don Crockett’s incredible piano trio Night Scenes performed by Joanne Pearce Martin, Shalini Vijayan & Ira Glansbeek (just to mention a few of the highlights) these are going to be two very hot concerts. 15 composers, 25 musicians – we’re all stoked!
As I understand it, this is only the festival’s second year. Tell me about how things got started.
The concept when it was initially conceived was ‘here now gone tomorrow’. Tim Loo and I had been talking about it for a couple years. Let’s hear what’s here now before it’s gone tomorrow. And we knew there was a lot here. Many composers were writing wonderful music and much of it was rarely being heard.
This brave and adventuresome music is hidden away, and the complex, intriguing, exuberant value that it offers has been more or less excluded from the common space of our culture.
Time is a choreography of ruptures, junctions, bifurcations, explosions, cataclysms, and crises. The fissures in Time break the continuum of History in which we live thus allowing the HERE NOW to be shot through with splinters of messianic hope—or, glimmers of light in the dark, which is what we hope The HEAR NOW Festival will be.
What’s different about the festival this year? Were there any things you’ve changed specifically as a result of the experience of the first year?
Except for Bill Kraft, Gernot Wolfgang and myself, all the composers are different from the ones who presented work last year. Gernot amd Gloria Cheng have joined Bill Kraft and the Lyris Quartet as artistic advisors. Ira Glansbeek, Erica Duke-Fitzpatrick, M.B. Gordy, Heather Clark, Suzan Hanson and Mark Robson did not perform last year. Experience taught us that we didn’t have to print up paper fliers–just postcard size and 12X18 posters, and that it would be better to have the 2 concerts on 2 different days rather than, as last year, one at 2PM and one at 8PM. Thanks to Eric Jacobs we have a website. Rather than a Kawai piano this year we have – thanks to Gloria Cheng – a Steinway. One thing regretfully that has NOT changed is that it looks as if – we are still trying to reverse this – the LA Times will not be reviewing the HEAR NOW Festival.
The lineup of musicians on this is really, really impressive. Have you found local performers eager to join in?
As you say, Nick, the players are simply world-class. Every one of them has enthusiastically embraced HEAR NOW. The festival is creating a community of players and composers who want to make contemporary composition and performance into a significant presence here in Los Angeles. Our city is a center of contemporary classical music – this is a simple reality. More people should know about it and have the opportunity to experience it.
I have to ask, partially because I’m a fan of his, but mainly because I’m curious about the logic here. Every single composer on the program lives or is primarily active in Los Angeles, with the exception of only one! Why Thomas Ades?
Thomas Ades now has a home in Los Angeles. He has a position, perhaps it’s ‘Composer-in-Residence’ (?), with the LA Phil.
Well then, learn something new every day. I know that HEAR NOW has curated at least one event outside of the festival. Where do you see the organization heading in the future?
The event of which you are speaking was a fund-raiser in March of this year. Mark Swed was the headliner and, interviewed by Martin Perlich, he was fascinating. It looks like we will be having another fundraiser in December, this one headlined by Esa-Pekka Salonen, who will be working with the LA Phil at that time. Eventually we would like to get to a situation where we can have the festival two weekends running – one weekend in Venice and the following weekend in a more eastern venue – downtown or Pasadena… We also envisage having,as well as the festival, one or two concerts a year which would feature the music of individual composers. First half Vera Ivanova, for instance; second half, Bill Kraft. Something like that…
That’d be rad. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Saturday the 25th, one week from today at 8 PM is the first HEAR NOW Festival concert; one week from tomorrow, Sunday the 26th at 5PM is the second HEAR NOW Festival concert. There are still some tickets available. You can purchase tickets at our website, www.hearnowmusicfestival.com.
Thank you, Nick, for asking!!
I’ll be up front about this: I didn’t know Shaun very well, but every time I met him at a show he seemed incredibly nice and willing to talk with just about anyone, and his music always impressed me. What’s Next? Ensemble recently gave a performance of his opera Nigerian Spam, and while I wasn’t able to make the concert, I heard it was a resounding success. I was hoping to interview Shaun one of these days, and it’s a very small misfortune that I won’t be able to, when compared to the loss that his loved ones are feeling, and to the loss of an important member of our city’s musical culture.
I was informed of Shaun’s death through an email from Catherine Uniack, executive director of Piano Spheres, which read as follows:
Piano Spheres is greatly saddened by the news of the sudden death of composer Shaun Naidoo and wishes to acknowledge him as a friend and creative collaborator for our series. His loss will be keenly felt by those who experienced the vitality and beauty of his compositions, the impact of his teaching and the wicked wit with which he negotiated the world. We express our sincere sympathy for all those whose lives were intimately touched by his presence as we pay tribute to his multi-faceted contributions to contemporary musical life in Los Angeles and in the international sphere. We bid you a loving farewell, Shaun…
More of Shaun’s music, along with his biography, photos, and the like, are available at shaunnaidoo.com. If anyone has a memory they would like posted here, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message in the comments.
Update, July 5
Harpist and blogger Charissa Barger emailed me with this remembrance, along with a video of Jeff Cogan performing Diaraby, one of Naidoo’s last works, at What’s Next? Ensemble’s June 1 concert:
It also seems that Shaun’s website has been taken down. If anyone knows where we can continue to hear his music, please drop me a line.
I am discovering that as soon as you’ve got anything resembling a news blog, people start asking you to review their concerts. This is totally awesome, but, as luck would have it, I’m a busy guy. I’d love to attend and review every concert in town, but there are indeed conflicts in life.
That said, I’d love to have a few more people writing for this site. If you think you can write, and are interested in getting some free tickets and maybe free CDs or whatnot, drop me a line and we’ll work something out.
As always, there are quite a few concerts over on the concert listing page. If you’d like to review one of them in particular, mention that in your message too.