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‘Do things the audience has never seen’: La Jolla Music Society finds innovation in winter season

Double-bass player Xavier Foley will play Sunday, Feb. 27, at La Jolla's Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center.
Double-bass player Xavier Foley will perform Sunday, Feb. 27, with pianist Kelly Lin in the Baker-Baum Concert Hall at La Jolla’s Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center.
(Courtesy of Young Concert Artists)

When double-bass player Xavier Foley takes the stage — which he will do as part of the La Jolla Music Society’s winter season — audiences are likely to hear something they’ve never heard before. The Georgia native composes music for the bass as a solo instrument, influenced by musical genres across the spectrum.

“I know how the bass works, so I take to the edge and do things the audience has never seen,” Foley told the La Jolla Light. In his upcoming concert, he said, “there are going to be traditional cello suites by Bach and Vivaldi, but there is also going to be pieces they have never heard.”

Foley started playing bass in middle school, when the instrument was “twice the size of me.” But he took to it and began the complex process of composing pieces.

“The training for the bass is to set someone up for the orchestra; there is not much for solo bass,” he said. “So you can either transcribe from other instruments or write your own. I play the music to see if it works and then write it down. You have to try to not let the bass get in the way as far as limitations but figure out some solutions to problems that nobody has solved before.”

For his concert on Sunday, Feb. 27, at La Jolla’s Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, Foley will be joined by pianist Kelly Lin at the Baker-Baum Concert Hall.

His performance is one of many that the La Jolla Music Society will present this month that embrace the concept of newness.

From innovative tap dancing and Nordic folk to dinosaur discoveries and Irish jigs with a twist, the programs will allow the audience to “surprise themselves,” said LJMS Artistic Director Leah Rosenthal.

“We opened The Conrad in April 2019 … and the whole mission and purpose was to expand and broaden what we were able to present,” she said. “Now that we have our wonderful space, we have been able to engage artists that aren’t on people’s radars. We have artists that are early or mid-career and established artists, some of which are able to blend artistic genres. For example, the opening concert brings together two art forms you don’t normally see side by side. It’s a cross-disciplinary series that gets people thinking and seeing new.”

Pianist and composer Conrad Tao and choreographer and tap dancer Caleb Teicher will perform Feb. 4 in La Jolla.
Pianist and composer Conrad Tao and choreographer and tap dancer Caleb Teicher will perform Friday, Feb. 4, in the Baker-Baum Concert Hall in La Jolla.
(Courtesy of La Jolla Music Society)

That opening concert is Counterpoint, a collaboration between acclaimed pianist and composer Conrad Tao and choreographer and tap dancer Caleb Teicher on Friday, Feb. 4, in the Baker-Baum Concert Hall. The program will include the aria from Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” Art Tatum’s stride piano and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Other highlights include Dreamers’ Circus, which draws inspiration from the traditions of folk music in Scandinavia and will reshape them into something new in two shows at The JAI theater at The Conrad on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

On Thursday, Feb. 10, the Nat Geo Live Speaker Series will continue with the tale of spinosaurus, a prehistoric giant that was nearly lost to science before Nizar Ibrahim, a young paleontologist, discovered it. With video and photography, Ibrahim will appear in the Baker-Baum Concert Hall to tell the story of spinosaurus’s discovery, loss and rediscovery and explain what makes the ancient monster unique.

The Irish quintet Goitse (pronounced “go-wit-cha”) will bring a mix of classic Irish jigs and tunes, along with original compositions, for two shows at The JAI on Friday, Feb. 25.

“People surprise themselves when they experience something they weren’t familiar with, and I think it opens their eyes and creates this growth,” Rosenthal said. “They come in thinking they might not like it and see a change in themselves. It’s like when people from different walks of life come together and realize they have a lot in common. People can be so resistant to what they don’t know, and when you experience something so new and innovative, you see how incredible it is.”

The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center is at 7600 Fay Ave. Winter season subscription packages start at $35. Single-show tickets start at $15. For the full schedule and more information, visit ljms.org. ◆