La Jolla Symphony to present concert of 20th-century music

From LJS&C Reports

The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) presents its fourth concert of the 58th season, “Angle of Repose,” which was inspired by Wallace Stegner’s 1971 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.

The March 16-17 concert, titled “Repeat/Move On,” will provide a spectrum of music from the 20th century — from minimalism to rock- infused experimentalism.

“Repeat/Move On is the conundrum,” conductor Steven Schick said. “It is one of the main questions a composer, or anyone, asks of himself: ‘How do I know when this piece has played out and when it’s time to go on to the next thing?’ In this concert, we will experience how this question produced remarkably different approaches to musical language in the 20th century.”

The program features Philip Glass’ “Overture to La Belle et la Bête” (“Beauty and the Beast”); the regional premiere of Paul Dresher’s “Concerto for Quadrachord & Orchestra,” with Dresher as soloist; the 2012-13 Thomas Nee commission by Yiheng Yvonne Wu; and Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring.”

■ One

In 1994, Philip Glass created a complete re-imagining of Jean Cocteau’s 1946 film, “La Belle et la Bête,” a theater-piece the composer called “an opera for ensemble and film.” The “Overture” is brief (just over three minutes), and its pulsing, shifting music fuses a certain innocence and freshness with a darker current of menace, a perfect prelude to the tale of magic, wonder and self-exploration.

■ Two

Bay Area-composer Dresher is noted for his ability to integrate diverse musical influences into his own style. A 2006-2007 recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition, he has been commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, San Francisco Symphony and many others.

“Concerto for Quadrachord & Orchestra” is in three movements, following the conventional concerto movement sequence of fast- slow-fast. But beyond this large-scale formal connection, the similarities to common practice are more difficult to define, starting with the featured solo instrument, the quadrachord. This very large, stringed instrument (four strings, each nearly 14-feet long) was invented and constructed by Dresher and long-time collaborator Daniel Schmidt.

The quadrachord plays in an entirely different tuning system than that of the orchestra, and during the first two movements, the Concerto will appear at times, to be alternately at odds and in conversation with the orchestra.

In the third movement, the quadrachord, which can be plucked, bowed or hammered, becomes entirely a percussion instrument.

■ Three

Thomas Nee Commission recipient Yiheng Yvonne Wu was born in Taiwan and raised in Virginia. She received her B.A. in music from Yale and an M.A. in composition from UC San Diego, where she is a doctoral student. Her compositions have been performed in the United States, Canada, Taiwan and Germany. “When I began planning ‘Transcriptions of Place’ for the La Jolla Symphony, I was excited about the magnitude and range of the ensemble,” Wu said. “As I considered the possibilities, I wanted this piece to draw from what surrounds me. The orchestra’s forces are too great to be confined to a single space. I wanted to celebrate its potential for breadth and multiplicity.”

■ Four

Copland’s classic composition for ballet, “Appalachian Spring” is a flowing essay on eternal growth and renewal. Premiered in 1944 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the score was awarded a Pulitzer Prize the following year.

The ballet, a commission for Martha Graham, tells of “a pioneer celebration in spring around a newly-built farmhouse in the Pennsylva- nia hills in the early part of the last century. The bride- to-be and the young farmer- husband enact the emotions, joyful and apprehensive, their new domestic partnership invites.”

If you go

■ What: La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Concert

■ When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 17

■ Where: Mandeville Auditorium at UC San Diego

■ Tickets: $15-$29

■ Box Office: (858) 534-4637

■ Website:

■ Parking: Free

■ Pre-Concert Lecture: One hour prior to concert times.