La Jolla Symphony & Chorus to launch its 54th season


Offering what music director Steven Schick and choral director David Chase describe as a set of experiences that will enhance the appeal of classical music to new audiences and expand the sensory enjoyment of performances to longtime lovers of the genre, the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus will launch its 54th season Nov. 1.

This year’s theme, “The DNA of Music,” will be reflected throughout the season’s six concerts, which will feature guest artists, composers in residence and multimedia performances.

“I’m incredibly excited,” Chase said. “I’ve been with this organization for a long time and this is the most excited I’ve been about a concert series.”

Just as physical DNA reveals the building blocks of life, Schick said the concert series will explore the fundamental building blocks of the musical experience. Individual concerts will express the musical components of time, motion, home, perspective, passion and hope.

Blending traditional and contemporary music, cultural dance, classical adaptations of written works, modern composers, visually stimulating surroundings and other elements, the concerts will combine to leave audiences with a cohesive picture of what music, as a whole, has to offer.

“It seems to me that people want something beyond the momentary sensation, beyond entertaining,” said Schick, a longtime percussionist and music instructor at UCSD.

This year’s theme was proposed by Schick, and developed with him by Chase and a conductor’s committee, which helped plan the series.

“Since Steve has come on board, the concerts have been more themed,” said Symphony & Chorus executive director Diane Salisbury.

“We’re looking for concerts and a series that have a sense of unity,” Schick said. “In developing this year’s theme, we asked the questions, ‘what is music and why do we need it?’ ”

The concerts break down the components of music, he said, which are united as an overall experience during the series.

“The goal is multiple,” Schick said, “a chance for people to hear great works of music, using pieces people have known for years, and to make them aware of things they don’t know. But it’s not so much a learning experience as it is a heightened experience. People often think they should hear classical music because it is good for them, like cod liver oil. It’s not Brussels sprouts, it’s exciting. They shouldn’t think of going to a concert as going to see a rusty old relic.”

Chase, also a Palomar College music instructor, agrees.

“I hope people have a sense that (the music) is a living form of art and that it is not a museum,” Chase said. He believes the mix of performances at the concerts will appeal to young people not accustomed to classical music.

On Nov. 1-2, with Schick conducting the concert titled “Time,” the Symphony & Chorus will perform Bedrich Smetana’s “Vltava (The Moldau),” Toru Takemitsu’s “From Me Flows What You Call Time,” and Johannes Brahms’ “Symphony No. 2.” The special guest is the La Jolla percussion group “red fish blue fish.”

The second concert, Dec. 6-7, offers the theme “Motion” with Schick conducting. It will feature the West Coast premiere of “Frog’s Eye,” Evan Ziporyn’s Balinese-inspired piece, followed by the Tijuana dance troupe Lux Boreal, with choreography by UCSD’s Allyson Greene. Margaret Zhou, 16-year-old 2008 Artists Competition winner, will perform one of the great cello concertos of the 20th century, “Concerto No. 1 for Cello and Orchestra” by Shostakovich. The program concludes with Stravinsky’s ballet, “Petrushka.”

New this year to the concert series are “informances,” which are sessions that feature many of the season’s guest artists in concert previews that are part performance and discussion, held before each concert at The Loft at UCSD.

The season runs through June 7. Concerts will be held at the Mandeville Auditorium at UCSD. More information: (858) 534-9974,