A little bit of this and a little bit of that … La Jolla Music Society adds some spice to its new season

By Marti Gacioch

The La Jolla Music Society’s Season 43 stands ready to dazzle the senses with its program of 26 virtuoso performances beginning in early November. Havana’s sizzling Kings of Salsa will kick off the 2011-12 program with a spirited music-and-dance performance of mambo, rumba and cha, cha, cha moves. The entertainment will continue throughout the season with performances from symphony orchestras, chamber music ensembles, pianists, modern dance groups (like the body-twisting, moves of shape-shifting Pilobolus), and a premier selection of pop, classical, cabaret and salsa music artists.

Christopher Beach, the society’s president and artistic director, chose to once again open the season with a high-voltage world music performance.

“For the first time last year, we began presenting world music and dance with the Koto drummers of Japan,” he said. “It was immensely successful, and the Kings of Salsa is a big, festive high-energy, hot show — another great season opener.”

According to Beach, the society actually has two openings this season.

“We also have the opening of the Revelle Chamber Music series, and that’s the first La Jolla concert,” Beach said. “Then we go in what you would think was just the opposite direction with a Venetian baroque chamber music ensemble, but I promise you that Interpreti Veneziani is as thrilling as Kings of Salsa is hot.”

For Beach, a highlight of Season 43 is the opportunity to present three great American orchestras: The Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

“It’s very rare that these orchestras will tour to the West Coast, much less all three of them,” Beach said. “We traditionally present European and Asian orchestras, but to have these three orchestras all in one season was irresistible.”

This season, the society adds new energy to its lineup with performances by Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, and the Kings of Salsa.

“Herb Alpert is popular music, and Kings of Salsa is world music and dance, and this is expanding the La Jolla Music Society’s motto ‘Bringing the world to San Diego,’ ” Beach said. “That’s the very essence of what we do.”

Beach found it challenging to name his three “don’t miss” performances for the season.

“Which of your three children do you love the most?” he asked.

“I love Riccardo Muti, the music director and conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, so that’s pretty exciting,” Beach said. “I’m of an age where if you say Herb Alpert to me, I remember those Tijuana Brass songs, and although this won’t be Tijuana Brass, this will be Herb Alpert with his wife Lani Hall and a quartet. I think that’s going to be a great show.”

A highlight of every season is the Winterfest Gala. This year’s March 2012 event will showcase German cabaret singer Ute Lemper paired with the string mastery of the Vogler Quartet.

“Although the concert tickets are available to everyone, gala tickets are $1,000, which includes not only the concert, but dinner and cocktails at Anthology,” Beach said. ”You rarely get to hear the music of Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel and Kurt Weil, especially by someone as extraordinary as she is, and Ute Lemper is the real thing.”

Beach finds that the perfect venue is essential to every performance, whether that be dance, a piano recital, a chamber ensemble or an orchestra. After he moved to San Diego six years ago, he visited the city’s available theater venues and determined the best for each of the different disciplines the society presents.

“I then focus on scheduling the performances so that all of piano recitals happen in Sherwood Auditorium at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Friday nights, and all the dance happens at North Park on Saturday nights, and all the chamber music happens at Sherwood on Saturdays night,” he said.

As for future seasons, Beach said he’d love to present world-renowned pianists Mitsuko Uchida and Martha Argerich and expand the society’s dance presentations.

If you go

What: La Jolla Music Society,

Season 43, 26 performances


Nov. 6-May 19


Sherwood Auditorium at MCASD; Birch North Park Theatre, Neurosciences Institute and Copley Symphony Hall

Series within

: Frieman Family Piano Series, Latin Jazz Series, Discovery Series, Celebrity Orchestra Series, Dance Series, Revelle Chamber Music Series, Special Events



Box Office:

(858) 459-3728