Music and Concert Preview: SOUND/STAGE (LA Phil)

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by Tony Frankel on September 21, 2020

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles,Virtual


Although LA Phil and The Hollywood Bowl had to cancel this year’s performances, that doesn’t mean they’re done performing for you. Debuting September 25, 2020, is SOUND/STAGE, a 9-episode series of concert films from the LA Phil. Captured by directors James Lees and Charlie Buhler, these are all brand-new productions filmed safely for the COVID-19 era. We may not be able to be there live, but at least we can avoid the traffic and parking at the Bowl! And you don’t have to worry about how much wine you’ve consumed, so you can enjoy more than responsibly. Even better is that we are up close and personal, and the sound is phenomenal. Performances range from orchestral concerts featuring Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic — nominated for Orchestra of the Year 2020 by Gramophone magazine — to sets from jazz titan Kamasi Washington, powerhouse singer-songwriter Andra Day and LA’s own genre-defying Chicano Batman, offering performing selections from their new album Invisible People.

The concert films will be available online at LA Phil. Each film will be accompanied by essays, interviews, artist playlists, and exclusive performances from the Hollywood Bowl and The Ford. This material is designed to provide context to the individual musical pieces and broader concert themes. Contributors include Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Pico Iyer, Herbie Hancock, Rian Johnson, Gabriela Ortiz, and Alicia Vera among others.

EPISODE 1: FRI, SEPT 25 Love in the Time of COVID

With the help of J’Nai Bridges, Gustavo and the orchestra explore the many expressions of love – from the familial in George Walker’s elegy for his grandmother, to a musical love letter from Gustav Mahler and Peter Lieberson’s setting of romantic poetry from Pablo Neruda.

LA Phil
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
J’Nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano

WALKER  Lyric for Strings
LIEBERSON  Neruda Songs: “Amor mio, si muero y tú no mueras”
MAHLER  Adagietto, from Symphony No. 5

EPISODE 2: FRI, OCT 2 Salón Los Ángeles

Featuring two composers who adapted popular dance music for the symphonic concert hall, this episode offers pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in Rhapsody in Blue and Arturo Márquez and Gustavo Dudamel paying tribute to the history of Salón Los Ángeles, the oldest dance hall in Mexico City.

LA Phil
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

Arturo MÁRQUEZ  Danzon No. 1
GERSHWIN  Rhapsody in Blue

EPISODE 3: FRI, OCT 9 Power to the People!

A continuation of the LA Phil’s Power to the People! festival that was cut short by COVID-19, this episode pays tribute to Black voices and excellence, ranging from William Grant Still’s expression of pride to Jessie Montgomery’s reimagining of the national anthem for a 21st century America to Andra Day’s “Rise Up,” which has become an unofficial anthem of the Black Lives Matter movement.

LA Phil
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
Andra Day

Jessie MONTGOMERY  Banner
STILL “Sorrow” from Symphony No. 1, Afro-American
“Rise Up” performed by Andra Day

EPISODE 4: FRI, OCT 16 Andra Day

Soul, jazz, and R&B singer Andra Day has been compared to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone – both among her musical heroes – for her ability to weave a narrative with masterful musicality and raw emotion. This set includes Day’s debut hit “Gold” and a rendition of Simone’s powerful protest anthem “Mississippi Goddam.”

EPISODE 5: FRI, OCT 23 Beethoven

Richard Wagner called Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony the “apotheosis of dance.” Gustavo Dudamel describes Beethoven as pure beauty and joy. Watch as the orchestra channels that spirit as it comes back together for one of the first time to perform this timeless and exuberant masterpiece.

LA Phil
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
BEETHOVEN  Symphony No. 7

               Excerpt from episode 6, Kamasi Washington’s Becoming

EPISODE 6: FRI, OCT 30 Original Score from Becoming

One of the most inventive and respected voices in modern jazz, Los Angeles’ own Kamasi Washington comes to SOUND/STAGE to perform his original score to Becoming: An intimate portrait of Michelle Obama – a new documentary based on the former First Lady’s bestselling memoir.

EPISODE 7: FRI, NOV 6 Solitude

While the physical toll of the global pandemic is measured in a mountain of data, the emotional impact of our separation from family, friends, and neighbors is not as obvious. In this episode, Dudamel explores the essence of solitude, from one of Duke Ellington’s classic songs to the US premiere of a work by Thomas Adès – composed specifically for a socially distanced orchestra.

LA Phil
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
Thomas ADÈS  Dawn (US Premiere)

EPISODE 8: FRI, NOV 13 Chicano Batman

Since 2008, Chicano Batman has blended the many sounds of the L.A. into a genre-bending mix that offers both societal critiques and an unabashed dance party. The band’s SOUND/STAGE set features songs from their latest album, Invisible People, which has been called “their funkiest political statement yet.”

EPISODE 9: FRI, NOV 20 Finales

Claude Debussy once wrote, “There is nothing more musical than a sunset.” Endings are crucial in music, but they are often one of the hardest elements for a composer to do well. The closing SOUND/STAGE episode offers three masterful finishes from Beethoven, Ravel, and Gabriela Ortiz and a conversation between Dudamel and Alejandro G. Iñárritu on the nature of finales.

LA Phil
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor

BEETHOVEN  Finale from Symphony No. 7
Gabriela ORTIZ  Corpórea: “Ritual Mind – Corporeous Pulse”
RAVEL  Mother Goose: “The Fairy Garden”

Excerpt from episode 9, Ravel’s Mother Goose

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