La Jolla Symphony/Chorus to open season with eclectic program, ‘Hero/Anti-Hero’

From LJS&C Reports

The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus’s 2012-13 season debuts Nov. 3-4 with Steven Schick conducting the orchestra in Missy Mazzoli’s “Violent, Violent Sea,” two works by John Cage, “101” and “4’33”, and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 3” in a concert titled “Hero/Anti-Hero.”

The concert is the first in a season inspired by Wallace Stegner’s American novel, “Angle of Repose.”

“Our new season explores the themes at the heart of this quintessential story of the West,” said music director Schick. “In musical terms, we ask ourselves: Can we re-imagine the passions that formed the music of our past in such a way that they connect to the passions that drive our present?

“We begin with an in-depth look at the heroic impulses of the 19th century and their manifestations, or lack thereof, in the music of today.”

‘Violent, Violent Sea’

American composer and pianist Missy Mazzoli’s music has been performed all over the world. She is composer-in-residence with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and has been called one of her generation’s most “consistently inventive and surprising composers” (

New York Times

). Her “Violent, Violent Sea,” written in 2011, is a 10-minute piece of subtle harmonies and wavelike instrumental textures in the tradition of Debussy’s “La Mer,”and other sweeping works inspired by the sea.

She will join LJS&C for this concert.

‘101’ and ‘4’33’

American experimental composer John Cage (1912- 1992) challenged every assumption that underlies Western music. His work “101” was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and premiered in 1988. The numerical title denotes the number of musicians required, and Cage intended that the piece be performed without a conductor (though the conductor might participate in rehearsals).

“101” is a study in sonority: the musicians are divided into three groups, each with its own characteristic sound and responsibilities. No two performances of this music should ever be exactly the same, which is what Cage intended.

Cage composed ‘4’33’ in 1952. It is one of the most profoundly revolutionary pieces ever written — and certainly the quietest.

In the years after World War II, Cage studied Zen Buddhism, read the I Ching, and became interested in art created outside the process of rigid artistic control. The idea of “4’33” was stark in its simplicity: the performer was to come out, seat himself at his instrument, and then do nothing for 4 minutes and 33 seconds.

Cage argued that “silence” doesn’t exist and that in every performance the “silence” is full of ambient sound that is an integral part of the experience.

“In our performance, we will open the doors of Mandeville Auditorium to let the outside sounds in and then, without a pause, play the Beethoven,” Schick said. “My hope is that hearing the opening chords of the ‘Eroica’ out of the silence of ‘4’33’ will help us experience Beethoven fresh. That briefly we’ll be able to hear that famous opening as it must have seemed to its first listeners: dramatic, unexpected, and jarringly loud, even revolutionary.”


Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, aka “Eroica” (Italian for “heroic”), premiered in 1804, not long after the end of the French Revolution. There had never been a symphony like this, and Beethoven’s new direction is evident from the first instant as the music explodes to life.

The second movement brings another surprise — it is a funeral march.

If you go

■ What: LJS&C season opener

■ When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4

■ Where: Mandeville Auditorium at UCSD

■ Pre-concert lecture: One-hour prior

■ Tickets: $15-$29. Parking is free.

■ Box Office: (858) 534-4637

■ Website: