Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Looking Ahead in the South Bay: Part One

Pacific Unitarian Church, Rancho Palos Verdes.

The 2019-2020 South Bay Season of Chamber Music: (1) September-December

For details of South Bay chamber concerts in the first half of 2020, click here.

Over the last few seasons LA Opus has included numerous reviews of chamber music concerts in the South Bay area—roughly encompassing the region along the Santa Monica Bay from El Segundo and Manhattan Beach in the north to Palos Verdes Peninsula and San Pedro to the south. It seemed like a good idea to, for once, not just report on what you may have heard or missed, but to take a brief survey of what, as with previous years, promises to be a richly rewarding aural smorgåsbord for the next 10 months or so.

Robert Thies.
There are no less than four of these concert series. The most senior is the South Bay Chamber Music Society, founded in 1963 by the violinist Ruth Breytspraak (1893-1986) and pianist Sidney Stafford (1918-2010), and currently under the Artistic Directorship of Robert Thies, who has performed many times in the South Bay both as soloist and leader of his Thies Consort. The SBCMS mounts seven full-length programs over the season in two venues: Los Angeles Harbor College, Wilmington (Friday evenings), and the Pacific Unitarian Church, Montemalaga Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes (the following Sunday afternoons).

Joint next in longevity are “First Fridays at First~fff” and “The Interludes”, both under the auspices of Classical Crossroads Inc., founded in the early 1990s by the organist Karla Devine who continues as Artistic Director. The original series in Manhattan Beach comprised short Friday recitals at noon and longer Sunday afternoon concerts. After a few name, time, and location changes, these concerts settled in at First Lutheran Church and School, Torrance, in 2013: hence “First Fridays at First~fff”. Each 35-45 minute recital, with complementary refreshments to follow, takes place there on the first Friday of each month from September to June.

First Lutheran Church, Torrance.

Karla Devine.
The longer ones, formerly “The Previews” at Manhattan Beach, became “The Interludes” with that 2013 move to Torrance. These 60-80 minute concerts, whose performers are selected annually at the Beverly Hills National Auditions, are also given as “Music by the Sea” at Encinitas Public Library on Friday evenings preceding the Saturday afternoons at First Lutheran; additionally the programs will be presented on the following Sunday afternoons in Beverly Hills' historic Greystone Mansion (“Music In The Mansion”) from January through June 2020.

Steven Vanhauwaert.
“The Interludes” typically happen on each month’s third Saturday afternoon, and the fact that the fourth series—the (relative) newcomer amongst them, having begun in 2009—slots neatly in as “Second Sundays at Two” is no lucky happenstance, due to co-ordination across these series. With another fine pianist, Steven Vanhauwaert, as Artistic Director, each “Second Sundays at Two” recital takes around an hour, and can be heard in arguably the finest acoustic of any of them—Rolling Hills United Methodist Church.

With this brief historical background out of the way, the really important thing is that, despite all four series being free of entry charge (donate what you can!), the huge pool of LA-area performing talent together with many distinguished visiting musicians ensures that the standard of performance has been and will continue to be remarkably high, as may be inferred from the following month-by-month listing. With the exception of the SBCMS concerts and a few others, the actual repertoire to be performed is announced shortly before the event. Jim Eninger’s weekly, and invaluable, Clickable Chamber Music Newsletter for Southern California will include these details as well as for many other events beyond the South Bay area.

Rolling Hills United Methodist Church.

September 2019

First Fridays at First~fff, 12:15 p.m., September 6
La Bella Vita Trio from Europe on a California tour—Italian pianist Jacopo Giacopuzzi, Danish violinist Aleksander Koelbel, and Finnish cellist Lauri Rantamoijanen—play Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50. This concert was reviewed here.

• Second Sundays at Two, 2.30 p.m., September 8 (note later start time for this recital only): 
Robert Thies, Gold Medal winner at the Second International Prokofiev Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia, plays Mozart's Fantasia in D minor, K. 397, and Schubert's final Piano Sonata No. 21 in B-flat major, D. 960. This concert was reviewed here.

• South Bay Chamber Music Society, 3 p.m., September 20/22: 
The Fiato String Quartet (Carrie Kennedy and Joel Pargman, violins; Aaron Oltman, viola; Ryan Sweeney, cello) play Beethoven: String Quartet No. 6 in B-flat major, Op. 18 No. 6; Ives: String Quartet No. 1 “From the Salvation Army”; and Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 3 in F major, Op. 73. This concert was reviewed here.

• The Interludes, 3 p.m., September 21:
A shared recital by Beverly Hills National Auditions winners: Pianist Nadia Azzi from the Colburn Conservatory will play Haydn's Sonata in B-flat major, Hob. XVI:41, Chopin's Barcarolle, Op. 60, Chopin's Waltz in F major, Op. 34 No. 3, Chopin's Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1; and Tom and Jerry Show by Hiromi Uehara (b. 1979). Virtuoso saxophonist Andrew Harrison and pianist Jason Lo will perform Pequena Czardas by Pedro Iturralde (b. 1929), Piazzolla's Café 1930, and the Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano by Robert Muczynski (1929-2010). This concert was reviewed here.

October 2019 

• First Fridays at First~fff, 12:15 p.m., October 4: 
Violinist Joanna Lee with fellow Los Angeles Ensemble members, cellist Bingxia Lu and pianist Feng Bian, play Mendelssohn's Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor Op. 66. This concert was reviewed here.

Second Sundays at Two, 2 p.m., October 13: 
Violinist Ken Aiso and his Ukraine-born pianist partner Valeria Morgovskaya play Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 8 in G major, Op. 30 No. 3, Falla’s Siete canciones populares españolas (transcribed by the composer and Paul Kochanski) and Ravel’s Tzigane. This concert was reviewed here.

• The Interludes, 3 p.m., October 19: 
Lukasz Yoder, piano, and Roksana Zeinapur, soprano, will present a program of solo piano and vocal works "from Bach to Weill." Mr. Yoder will play Bach's Prelude and Fugue in E-flat minor, Book 1, No. 8, BWV 853, Chopin's Étude in B minor, Op. 25 No. 10, and Nocturne in F-sharp major Op. 15 No. 2, and the first movement, Maestoso-Agitato, from Grażyna Bacewicz's Piano Sonata No 2. Ms. Zeinapur, accompanied by Mr. Yoder, will then sing Je te Veux, by Eric Satie, Violon, by Poulenc, Je ne t'aime pas, Youkali, and Speak Low by Kurt Weill, These Foolish Things by Jack Strachey, La Foule by Angel Cabral, and La Vie En Rose by Louiguy. This concert was reviewed here.

• South Bay Chamber Music Society, 3 p.m., October 25/27: 
The Hollywood Piano Trio (Inna Faliks, piano; Roberto Cani, violin; Robert deMaine, cello) play Beethoven: Piano Trio No. 7 in B-flat major, Op. 97 “Archduke”; Arensky: Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32; and Haydn: Piano Trio No. 39 in G major, Hob. XV/25 “Gypsy.” This concert was reviewed here.

November 2019 

• First Fridays at First~fff, 12:15 p.m., November 1: 
The cellist Eric Byers, founding member of the famed Calder Quartet, joins fellow USC Thornton alum, pianist Robert Thies, to perform Beethoven's Cello Sonata No. 2, Op. 5 No. 2, and the third movement, Andante, from Rachmaninoff's Cello Sonata in G minor Op. 19. This concert was reviewed here.

• Second Sundays at Two, 2 p.m., November 10: 
Belgian-born pianist Steven Vanhauwaert, Grand-Prize winner of the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, two-time winner of the Beverly Hills National Auditions, and Artistic Director of the "Second Sundays at Two" series, will play Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor Op. 37, accompanied by the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA) under conductor Charles Dickerson. Mr. Vanhauwaert will open the program with movements 1 Moderato and 3 Allegro assai of C. P. E. Bach's Harpsichord Sonata in A minor, Wq.49/1, H.30 ("Württemberg Sonata No. 1"). This concert was reviewed here.

• The Interludes, 3 p.m., November 16: 
Members of the period band Los Angeles Camerata and the five-person ensemble Oakwood Brass share the platform for a mixed recital of “Baroque and Brass.” LA Camerata will play Cancionero de Palacio, by Juan del Encina, the anonymous 16th-century Fantasia para vihuela LXIII (1557), Bartolomé de Selma y Salaverde’s Fantasia No. 5 para Basso solo, and Madre la de los primores by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Oakwood Brass then take over with Michael Kamen’s Quintet, The Sun Will Rise, by Bob Clendenen, Paul A. Nagle’s Jive for Five, Victor Ewald’s Brass Quintet No.3, and That's a Plenty by Lew Pollack.

December 2019

• First Fridays at First~fff, 12:15 p.m., December 6:
A favorite of this series, the organist of Westwood Presbyterian Church, Namhee Han, returns for her 10th appearance. Her program will comprise Sigfrid Karg‑Elert's "Valse mignonne" from Drei stücke für Orgel, Op. 142; Pieces for Musical Clocks by Joseph Haydn; Guy Bovet's "El Tango de Los Tangos" (pedal solo) from 12 Tangos Ecclesiasticos; Graceful Ghost Rag by William Bolcom (performed on piano); and finally Dudley Buck's Concert Variations on "The Star Spangled Banner." This concert was reviewed here.

• South Bay Chamber Music Society, 8 p.m., December 6 & 3 p.m. December 8: 
In Celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, the New Hollywood String Quartet (Tereza Stanislav and Rafael Rishik violins; Robert Brophy viola; Andrew Shulman cello) play the String Quartets No. 1 in F major, Op. 18 No. 1; No. 16 in F major, Op. 135; and “Grosse Fugue” in B-flat major, Op. 133. This concert was reviewed here.

If you found this round-up useful, interesting, or informative, please feel free to Buy Me A Coffee

The second part, covering January-June 2020, will be published in December.

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