La Jolla Music Society celebrates the artistry of chamber music with SummerFest concert series and modern-art posters
••• SummerFest 2015 to salute composer Dmitri Shostakovich
Besides stellar musicianship, what do the artists of La Jolla Music Society’s (LJMS) SummerFest 2015, both returning favorites and notable newcomers, have in common?
“All of them have that same ability to move an audience,” said Christopher Beach, LJMS president and artistic director.
SummerFest, now in its 29th year, is, of course, a festival of chamber music, which Beach calls “the most fulfilling, gratifying, enriched form of classic music because it’s small enough that you can see the notes, but it’s complex enough to inspire and engage you.”
And in the intimate SummerFest concert settings, “You see them (musicians’) breathe. You’re up close and personal,” Beach said.
SummerFest 2015 begins Aug. 5 and runs through Aug. 28, with most but not all performances at MCASD’s Sherwood Auditorium.
This year’s lineup, assembled by SummerFest music director Cho-Liang Lin, is star-studded as always, with scheduled performances by artists including violinists Augustin Hadelich and Kyoko Takezawa, percussionist Steven Schick and the San Diego-based ensemble red fish blue fish, two resident string quartets (the Escher and the Borromeo) and three programs of works by the festival’s featured composer, Dmitri Shostakovich, that star, among others, pianist Vladimir Feltsman and violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky.
“We kept saying that we should do Shostakovich,” Beach said, recalling longtime festival programming discussions. “We needed an expert, and we got two.” Feltsman and Sitkovetsky “are men who have breathed this music since they started playing as children in Russia.”
The Shostakovich programs will be held Aug. 21-23 in Sherwood Auditorium and will feature three of the composer’s string quartets as well as trios, octets, sonatas and more. A lecture, “Dmitri Shostakovich: Some Post-Centennial Reflections” by scholar-in-residence Richard Taruskin on Aug. 20, will precede the three concerts at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.
Beach said he was excited about this year’s SummerFest from the get-go, however, he called the Aug. 7 “Souvenir de Florence” a “fabulous, big, rich opening night.” That program of works by Janacek, Mozart and Tchaikovsky brings back German, Italian-born violinist Hadelich, who first performed in La Jolla as part of LJMS’s Winter Discovery Series and has appeared at SummerFest multiple times since. You can see and hear Hadelich in the evening’s performance of Mozart’s “Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major, K.493.”
Among other highlights of the SummerFest schedule:
• The festival’s “Baroque Virtuosi” program on Aug. 11, with works by Telemann, J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, Tartini and Geminiani, boasts British Columbia-born violinist Aisslinn Nosky, who performed at SummerFest last year and who Beach says “electrifies the stage.”
• Steven Schick, who heads the Aug. 12 program, is also “an exhilarating performer,” said Beach. He promises “An Evening with Steven Schick,” which will also feature red fish blue fish, violinist Michelle Kim and cellist Ralph Kirshbaum, will be a provocative musical experience.
• So too should be the SummerFest debut of Time For Three on Aug. 19. These three graduates of Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music (violinists Zachary De Pue and Nicolas Kendall, and double bassist Ranaan Meyer) offer a repertoire that morphs from classical to jazz to bluegrass — even hip-hop.
• The festival concludes on Aug. 28 with “Strings, Glorious Strings!” which Beach calls an “all-star” SummerFest Chamber Orchestra performing pieces by Mozart, J.S. Bach, Grieg and Tchaikovsky.
For many SummerFest attendees, seeing these performers on stage will be far from their first encounters with them. So many participating artists spend a week or longer in residence during the festival.
“These guys are here, living in the (La Jolla) Village, living in people’s homes, shopping at Vons,” said Beach. “Every time someone walks on stage there are at least 100 people in the audience who’ve met them. They have a bond with them.”
— To view the complete SummerFest 2015 lineup and accompanying programming, visit ljms.org
••• Modern-art posters guarantee SummerFest is visual/aural affair
Nearly as iconic as the many talented musicians who have performed at La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest over the years are the festival’s posters — almost all featuring a work from the collection of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
The man responsible for personally selecting the images for the past 10 years is LJMS’s president and artistic director, Christopher Beach. Among the artists whose works have graced the posters, as well as festival brochures and programs, are Robert Irwin, Roy Dowell, Ryan McGinness and, this year, Feodor Voronov.
Beach came to La Jolla with a background of festivals that had featured images by notable artists on their posters. Given the relationship between LJMS’s SummerFest and the MCASD, he said, “I thought, ‘What could be more appropriate?’ ” He immediately began working with the museum’s curatorial staff to select works from the MCASD’s collection that would reflect the spirit and artistry of SummerFest.
“You can’t just do anything, because this is a summer music festival by the sea,” Beach explained. “The posters have to be bright and optimistic.”
That’s not the only requirement. The images must be visually striking but also conducive to being reproduced at posture and program-brochure size, and they must maintain their impact. “You hold them in your hand for two hours, sometimes for many nights, and they have to be sufficiently complex to sustain repeated viewing at arm’s length for a long time.”
Nine of the 10 SummerFest poster images since Beach’s tenure began came from the MCASD, with one by the late Manny Farber the exception. Most of the images have been used free of charge. “It’s an honor to have your work seen by thousands of people in a different context,” Beach said.
The posters are not available for sale, though they are given as gifts to the Music Society’s major donors.
Beach said LJMS staff members all have their favorites among the 10 posters, and he does, too. But he’ll go no further. “It’s like trying to say which of your children is your favorite,” he smiled.
••• SummerFest At A Glance
■ When: Aug. 5-28, 2015
■ Where: Various locations in La Jolla, including Sherwood Auditorium at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect St. and Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St.
■ Tickets: Single-event ticket prices vary; season subscriptions $445-$860 at (858) 459-3728 or ljms.org
■ Free Kickoff Concert: SummerFest Under the Stars, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015 at Scripps Park, La Jolla Cove
■ SummerFest Gala: Echoes Across A Continent, 6 p.m. Aug. 15, home of Joan and Irwin Jacobs. For tickets, contact Ben Guercio (858) 459-3724, ext. 216 or email@example.com
■ Complete Schedule: ljms.org