La Jolla Symphony to perform Mahler No. 4

The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) will present the third concert of its 63rd season Feb. 10-11 in Mandeville Auditorium at UC San Diego. Concert times are 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Music Director Steven Schick will conduct Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 4,” with soprano Tasha Koontz, and the world premiere of “M.Alone,” a theater and percussion concerto for Fiona Digney, written by French composer-circus artist Roland Auzet. Percussionist Digney, who commissioned the piece, solos.

The program, titled “Cross Winds,” is the final event in the San Diego Symphony’s “It’s About Time” Festival, which is curated by Schick.

At just an hour in length, the opening work is the shortest of Mahler’s 10 symphonies. Much of its charm comes from the text sung by the soprano in the last movement. Taken from Mahler’s 1892 composition “Das himmlische Leben” (“The Heavenly Life”), the song conveys a wide-eyed child’s vision of heaven. That sense of wonder, innocence and radiance touches the entire symphony.

Soprano Koontz, a graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and Northwestern University, solos. Koontz was first place winner in the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus 2016 Young Artist Competition, and third prize All-Around Winner in the Musical Merit Foundation of Greater San Diego Competition. She teaches voice and sings with the San Diego Opera Chorus.

The second half opens with a concerto like no other! This theatrical concerto requires improvisation and virtuosity as the percussionist/actor/dancer moves between traditional and “found” instruments.

“In working with Roland, my aim was to create something that was truly me, a piece that allowed me to be who I am as a performer on stage,” said Digney, who hails from Australia. She is a doctoral candidate, completing her percussion studies with Schick. In addition to her performance career, she is associate producer for the 2018 Ojai Music Festival and on the faculty of the Banff Summer Music programs.

The non-profit La Jolla Symphony & Chorus is San Diego’s oldest. Its 110-person orchestra and 130-person chorus perform groundbreaking orchestral and choral music along with traditional favorites from the classical repertoire.

IF YOU GO: Tickets are $35 general, $30 senior, and $15 student at (858) 534-4637 or lajollasymphony.com and parking is free. Schick gives a pre-concert lecture one hour prior.

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