Magnificent Music: La Jolla Presbyterian concert series offers scholarship winners

The 2017 La Jolla Presbyterian Church concert series — now 56 years strong — opens with a first-of-its-kind presentation of budding musical talent 4 p.m. Oct. 15 with the Young Artists Showcase in the church sanctuary at 7715 Draper Ave. For the first time, the Church welcomes Musical Merit Foundation of San Diego scholarship winners baritone Nicholas Newton, violinist (and Torrey Pines High School grad) Erica Hwang and pianist Jason Kim.

Ron Bolles, La Jolla Presbyterian Church concert series manager, said the Young Artists Showcase is something “we are particularly proud of” and that the quality of talent is “phenomenal.”

He explained, “We thought partnering with the Musical Merit Foundation would bring some new fresh faces to the concert series and give audiences a chance to see tomorrow’s stars today. The vocalist, Nicholas Newton, is so fun to listen to because he can do so much with his instrument. Then we have Jason Kim whose abilities are out of this world. And Erica (Hwang) travels all over the world performing; she’s incredible.”

Erica Hwang
Erica Hwang (Courtesy)

While the season opener is considered a standout, the concert series as a whole is “high quality entertainment, and in many cases, a transcendent experience,” he said.

“Lovers of music will fall in love with this concert series and our magnificent sanctuary. We encourage people to bring the family, explore The Village and then check out the sunset on the beach. It’s a destination experience as much as anything else,” Bolles said. “And they are not paying anything. A concert that charges $25 admission would be more than $100 for a family of five. We take a collection of donations, but there is free admission and a free reception with the musicians afterwards, which is a highlight. It’s neat to thank the musicians for what they’ve shared. It’s also outreach for the church.”

The series continues 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 with the “Many Moods of Christmas” concert — considered the feel-good show of the year. Performers include the La Jolla Presbyterian Church chancel choir, children’s choir, La Jolla Brass and hand-bell choir. Collectively, the choirs tell the story of Christmas through song, including carols and works by Vivaldi.

“The Many Moods of Christmas is a standard at churches across America, and ours in particular has become iconic,” Bolles said. “We have to have two shows each year because our sanctuary always fills up.”

The next concert, “From Sea to Shining Sea,” celebrates the history of America, 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. Songs include rousing renditions of patriotic music and selections from the Great American Songbook, presented by a to-be-announced ensemble.

The one solo show of the year, the Chelsea Chen Organ Concert is 4 p.m. Sunday, March 11, 2018. A fan favorite at La Jolla Presbyterian, Chen is a La Jolla native and organist known for her original compositions and adapted music. She has performed in the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia.

“Ours is the first organ on which she learned to play,” Bolles said. “Chelsea grew up in the church, so we consider her a homegrown star. In an instrument that is not of this century, she is regarded as a rising star. She’ll play the Mario Brothers theme, which I’m told is one of her most requested songs, to the classics. She is so fun.”

The series closes with a tour through Italy, 4 p.m. Thursday, June 10, 2018 with “An Italian Itinerary.” The Chancel Choir will travel to Northern Italy in June to perform in some of Europe’s cathedrals and churches. In preparation for their trip, will share the music they plan to play. The concert is considered a “musical send off.”

To learn more about the concerts: (858) 729-5511.