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On Friday, January 30, 2015, at 8:00 p.m., harpist Maria Casale, who has been a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and L.A. Chamber Orchestra, joins the Pasadena Community Orchestra in concert. In addition to Casale’s performance of the elegant Handel Harp Concerto in B-flat Major, the orchestra, led by Music Director Bethany Pflueger, performs American composer William Grant Still’s Symphony #1, the “Afro-American” (a 1930 gem with melodies from the blues, ragtime and jazz), as well as overtures by Arthur Sullivan (yes, that Arthur Sullivan!) and Mozart. Admission is free.
A rare concert performance of classic coloratura arias caps a gala evening of dramatic music written for the stage. Lori Ann Fuller Piscioneri, who has soloed with both L.A. Opera and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and has performed with numerous opera companies and symphony orchestras throughout the U.S. and Europe, joins the orchestra for four gems of coloratura opera literature November 11, 2014. Showing her versatility, Fuller Piscioneri is by turns passionate, ecstatic with love, melancholy, giddy with excitement, and seductive. The vehicles for this expressivity (as well as for virtuoso vocal acrobatics) are “Regnava nel silenzio” from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, “Je veux vivre” from Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and “Musetta’s Waltz” from his La Boheme. The orchestra performs four additional works, each expressing a distinctive setting and story. Rossini’s William Tell Overture isn’t just the music from “The Lone Ranger,” but a depiction of the beautiful Swiss Alpine countryside. The overture from the original Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera, Hansel and Gretel, evokes the Grimm’s classic fairy tale. The “Polka” from Smetana’s opera, The Bartered Bride, is a celebration of Czech musical nationalism. And Finland’s favorite son, Jean Sibelius, created one of the most important national songs of Finland in his epic Finlandia. Audience members may meet the soloist and other musicians at a reception following the concert in November!
On Friday, March 28, 2014, pianist Chie Nagatani, who has performed extensively throughout Canada, the U.S., Japan, Italy and Poland, and also on several recordings, joins Pasadena Community Orchestra to perform one of George Gershwin’s most successful fusions of jazz and classical music, his Piano Concerto in F Major. Unlike the earlier Rhapsody in Blue, this work is structured like a classical concerto. But the all-American themes and rhythmic patterns are unmistakably Gershwin. Alternately playful and soulful, the work’s first movement centers around a lively Charleston-rhythm theme; the slow movement, with its languid trumpet solos, embodies what Gershwin called “the poetic, nocturnal atmosphere. . .which has come to be referred to as the American blues”; and, as he described it, closes with a wildly energetic finale that Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Chie Nagatani enjoys an active career as a solo pianist, having received numerous top prizes and awards including the Grand Prize at the IBLA International Music Competition in Italy (with performances at New York City’s Lincoln Center and Tokyo’s Opera City Hall). Her piano duo (with pianist Timothy Durkovic) was awarded Best Duo Piano Performance at the IBLA competition as well as First Prize at the San Diego National Piano Duo Competition. Nagatani has also appeared as soloist with orchestras including the Burbank Philharmonic, Newport Symphony Orchestra and the USC Symphony. Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite contains some of the composer’s best-known and most beautiful melodies.
If you close your eyes, the music will vividly bring to mind the action of the play (by Henrik Ibsen, based on a Norwegian fairy tale). The lovely opening movement, “Morning,” is instantly recognizable as one of the most effective depictions of dawn in music, and you will surely picture dancing trolls during the familiar final movement, “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” The concert opens with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #3 for strings alone. Splitting the violin, viola and cello sections into three parts each lends richness to the orchestra’s sound. It also means that you will be involved not only in listening but also in watching, as the themes pass from part to part like a sonic volleyball. PCO has been bringing fine classical music to the community for over 30 years. Concerts are free (donations are welcome at the door). Well-trained musicians provide a high-quality musical experience. First Church of the Nazarene is located at 3700 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., one block west of Michillinda Ave. Parking is free and wheelchair accessible. Immediately following the concert, audience members will have the opportunity to meet the soloist and the other musicians at a reception (refreshments will be provided).
Concerts are made possible in part by the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division, LA County Arts Commission, Pasadena Community Foundation, and Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts.
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