The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) will perform the third concert of its 61st season “Soundscape San Diego: Exploration and Remembrance,” 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016 in Mandeville Auditorium on the UC San Diego campus.
Music director Steven Schick will conduct the orchestra and guest pianist Lisa Moore in a transcendental program featuring György Ligeti’s “Atmosphères,” Philip Glass’ “Piano Concerto No. 2,” the premiere of Erik Griswold’s “Jeux à la fin du monde,” and Debussy’s “La Mer.”
Film director Stanley Kubrick used Ligeti’s revolutionary “Atmosphères” (composed in 1961) in the film 2001 “A Space Odyssey.” This work of dense sound textures destroys any notion of the traditional language of music — there are no themes, no harmony and virtually no rhythm. There are, instead, huge blocks of sound evolving slowly over time. Kubrick used excerpts from two other Ligeti works — “Lux Aeterna” and “Requiem” — in the movie and did all of this without asking Ligeti’s permission. The effect was that a struggling avant-garde composer suddenly found himself world-famous.
Glass’ second piano concerto (2004) celebrates Lewis and Clark’s pioneering 1803-1806 expedition from the Missouri River to the Pacific. It was commissioned for one of many bicentennial observations held early in the 21st century along the expedition’s route. Each of its three movements has a name that reflects an important aspect of the journey, and the second movement, “Sacagawea,” features a duet for piano and Native American flute. New York-based pianist Moore, who The New Yorker called “New York’s queen of avant-garde piano” and “visionary,” solos. Moore has gained an international reputation performing with a diverse range of musicians and artists, and in some of the world’s greatest concert halls.
Griswold fuses experimental, jazz, and world music to create his works, which have been performed at major festivals and venues throughout Australia, Asia, Europe, the United States, and Canada. His colorful orchestral work “Jeux à la fin du monde” (“Games at the end of the world”) expands upon Debussy’s “Jeux” and Lutoslawski’s “Jeux Venitiens.”
Griswold holds a Ph.D. from UCSD and is adjunct professor at Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, in Australia. The composer will be in attendance for this world premiere.
Debussy’s magnificent “La Mer” (composed from 1903 to 1905) was inspired by his feelings about the sea. He was not interested in musical scene painting, but in writing music that evokes the way we feel in the presence of the ocean. This approach was misunderstood by some early critics who anticipated a more literal sound experience, but soon “La Mer” became one of the composer’s most admired orchestral works. The understated Debussy concludes “La Mer” with a roar of savage power as the music hurtles to its tremendous climax.
• IF YOU GO: A pre-concert lecture by Schick will be given one hour prior to concert times. Tickets are $29-$15 at (858) 534-4637 or lajollasymphony.com