La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest 2009 is ready to dazzle

More than 70 artists, including virtuoso pianists, violinists; an evening with actor Michael York; and an annual gala will top La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest 2009.

SummerFest’s event-filled season of 15 diverse concerts, led by music director and acclaimed violinist Cho-Liang Lin, will feature chamber music, concertos and newer contemporary works. The season, which begins with a sold-out Piano Extravaganza on July 31, will include a free concert “Under the Stars” on Aug. 13 and the society’s “A Midsummer Night” SummerFest Gala 2009 on Aug. 14.

The festival will conclude with a celebration of Baroque Masters on Aug. 23.

SummerFest’s “Evening With” series, held every Wednesday of the festival, highlights the three weeks of entertainment.

First up in the series will be the Aug. 5 evening with pianist Menahem Pressler, who will present works by Mozart, Beethoven and Dvorak. This will be followed by an evening with German pianist Andreas Haefliger and actor Michael York on Aug. 12.

“Haefliger will play the piano as Michael York reads and performs the Tennyson poem ‘Enoch Arden,’ ” said Christopher Beach, president and artistic director of the La Jolla Music Society. “This tale of romantic love has been made into many movies and adaptations, and it was so popular that Richard Strauss wrote a piano piece for it.”

Then on Aug. 19, Grammy award-winning virtuoso folk fiddler Mark O’Connor will perform a program of his work.

“We’ll have string quartets and piano trios, and he’ll be featured with our other chamber musicians,” Beach said.

The Aug. 16 “Poetry and Divinity” presentation is also of special note for this festival.

“This will feature one of the great masterworks of chamber music written by Franz Josef Haydn called the ‘Seven Last Words of Christ,’ ” Beach said. “Rev. Eleanor Ellsworth, priest-in-residence at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, will narrate a series of poems based on the ‘Seven Last Words of Christ,’ and each one of these will be accompanied by a musical selection by the Miró Quartet.”

That same evening, the festival will also premiere a horn quintet by Gunther Schuller.

The society commissioned three composers to write new works for the festival this year. Stewart Copeland, former drummer for the Police, is among that group.

“He wrote a chamber music piece for us, and we’ll do four pieces by him,” Beach said.

Everyone who attends Copeland’s concert will receive a free ticket to a film that Copeland made about the Police, which will be shown the night before his chamber music concert.

All SummerFest concerts will be presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla, with the exception of the free outdoor concert.

SummerFest tickets are available at the box office, which is at 7946 Ivanhoe Ave., Suite 103, La Jolla; by calling (858) 459-3728; and at


SummerFest Gala: “A Midsummer Night”

  • 6 p.m. Aug. 14
  • Robert Paine Scripps Forum at Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Features dinner by Jeffrey Strauss’ Pamplemousse Grille, a concert and dancing.
  • Proceeds will benefit education, outreach and the society’s artistic programs.
  • Tickets: (858) 459-3724, ext. 206

SummerFest Concert Highlights

  • Aug. 12: Evening with German pianist Andreas Haefliger and actor Michael York performing Tennyson’s “Enoch Arden.”
  • Aug. 13: 7:30 p.m. Free SummerFest “Under the Stars” concert at Ellen Browning Scripps Park. The program (subject to change) includes selections from Dvorak, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Tchaikovsky.
  • Aug. 16: “Poetry and Divinity,” a presentation of Franz Josef Haydn’s chamber music, the “Seven Last Words of Christ.”
  • Aug. 19: Grammy award-winning virtuoso folk fiddler Mark O’Connor performs a program of his work.