Now in its 58th year, the 2019 La Jolla Presbyterian Church’s annual concert series presents a unique opportunity for the youth of La Jolla. The program rotates every few years to perform some of the best-known pieces of classical music and make them available to children and families as a means of early exposure.
“The intent is for the children growing up in the community to see these pieces performed in such a special venue during their childhood,” said La Jolla Presbyterian worship and arts director Ron Bolles.
“Oftentimes, to be honest, families and parents won’t take their children to see a concert because it costs so much money. In this case, they are seeing high-quality performances for free. The parking is free, the reception with the artists is free. Kids can shake the performer’s hands, which can be a game-changer for a young person in the community with musical aspirations.”
The five-concert series opens with the Young Artists Showcase, featuring three of the Musical Merit Foundation 2019 winners: pianist Andrew Zhao, soprano Véronique Filloux and baritone Anthony Whitson-Martini. The concert is considered a congregation favorite and is 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13 at 7715 Draper Ave.
Filloux, a part-time La Jolla resident, said exposure to music when she was young was crucial to her developing interest in the field.
“My mom was in the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, so I grew up loving classical music and I grew up on musicals and stumbled into opera in high school,” she said. “It’s a funny thing. It’s the kind of art form that is not so mainstream that you find yourself seeking it out. I went to see it and didn’t know what to expect and fell in love with it.”
And with a diverse repertoire of songs, she said, the Young Artists Showcases contains “some of my favorite things to sing” and is “an opportunity for the community to hear musicians perform music we really love.
“I always sing music that brings me joy, but this collection is central to my identity. I have baroque arias all the way to contemporary pieces. It gives the audience an evening of spectacular music with diverse pickings.”
Filloux concluded: “Whether you are a seasoned, music nerd or someone stepping into it for the first time, this concert gives the audience a chance to see young passionate people performing what might be a new type of music for them.
“Maybe they haven’t seen people their age singing something they are really passionate about, and this isn’t some large opera house. We are right there. We want to leave people moved and inspired.”
The series continues 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 with “Handel’s Messiah,” a celebration of the season that has gotten so popular, it has had to expand from one concert to two.
Touted as the “greatest story ever told through some of the most majestic music ever conceived,” the concert includes Handel’s celebrated work “The Messiah,” traditional and contemporary holiday carols, and concludes with Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”
To kick off the New Year, violinist Annelle Gregory and pianist Bryan Verhoye perform 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Gregory has performed with numerous symphonies across the United States and abroad, performing in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Hall and the Kennedy Center. Verhoye has won ﬁrst-prize awards from the International Piano Recording Competition and has been featured numerous times with the San Diego Symphony and is the accompanist for the San Diego Master Chorale.
In addition to winning the most number of consecutive Musical Merit Foundation awards, Gregory was also a participant in the first Young Artist Showcase the Church produced.
Theseries next features organist Jaebon Hwang, 4 p.m. March 22, 2020. In addition to serving as Associate Director of Music at First United Methodist Church of San Diego, in 2014, she participated in the recording of the first album of the “Hollywood Epic Brass” with in-demand studio musicians in Los Angeles and maintains an active performance schedule as a recitalist and collaborative artist.
The series concludes with Mozart’s Requiem, 4 p.m. Sunday, June 7, 2020, complete with a professional orchestra and the La Jolla Presbyterian Church chancel choir. In previous years, the Church presented Bach’s Requiem, but Bolles said this year offered an opportunity for something new and that Mozart’s Requiem “has an entirely different flavor to it.”
According to church material, Mozart was commissioned to write this funeral service in 1791, but after starting it, he fell ill. As his increasing sickness drove him to bed, he came to wonder if he was writing the music for his own funeral. Consequently, the resulting music is of both an intensely personal and universal nature.
“We have a great line-up once again,” Bolles said. “We have a long history of putting these concerts together, so there is an expectation of high-quality talent. But this year is going to be special.”
IF YOU GO: La Jolla Presbyterian Church’s concert series opens with the Young Artist’s Showcase, 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13 at 7715 Draper Ave. Freewill offering suggested. Concerts continue Dec. 15; Feb. 23, 2020; March 22, 2020; June 7, 2020. (858) 454-0713. ljpres.org/concert-series/