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Music society season opens Saturday

By Gloria Tierney

Contributor

The 200th birthday of Frederic Chopin commences next year. Everyone is celebrating, but none quite as audaciously as the La Jolla Music Society. During the course of the 2009-10 season, it plans to present the great romantic’s entire repertoire.

The festivities will involve not only the La Jolla Music Society, but also the San Diego Symphony, the California Ballet, SummerFest and the San Diego Youth Symphony. It all begins on Jan.15 with Garrick Ohlsson, who is considered to be the finest interpreter of Chopin’s music and the first American to win the Frederic Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw.

Since Chopin wrote primarily for the piano, it is fitting that some of the world’s finest pianists will appear this season, not just to celebrate Chopin, but to perform other great music. Many are familiar names, old friends who have appeared many times in San Diego — Lang Lang, Richard Goode and Peter Serkin. Others may not be as familiar, but are no less gifted — Marc-Andre Hamelin, Haochen Zhang and Eroica Trio.

Hamelin has been called a “true avatar of the piano,” for his originality and technical brilliance. The International Piano Quarterly called him “One of the most adventurous and certainly the most courageous pianists of recent times.” He performs on Dec. 18.

Zhang is this year’s Van Cliburn Gold Medalist, and at age 19, the youngest winner in the competition’s 41-year history. “He is a charming, unassuming young man who plays like a titan,” Beach said. Zhang closes out the Discovery series on May 23.

Eroica Trio, one of the music dynamic ensembles in the world, appears on May 1. The Grammy-nominated group is known for its technical virtuosity and sensual style.

But the season begins with chamber music. Lynn Harrell and the Shanghai Quartet usher it in at 8 p.m. Oct. 17 with the music of Schubert and Glazunov at MCASD Sherwood Auditorium, 700 Prospect in La Jolla. “The Revelle Chamber Series is the core of what we do best,” said artistic-director Christopher Beach.

The series also features Tafelmusik performing “The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres.” The ensemble specializes in historical performance and is considered one of the finest baroque orchestras in the world, Beach said.

Gotta dance

Then there is dance. Initiated three years ago, the Dance Series has become “the most popular thing we do,” Beach said. It’s become so popular that Beach decided to add a matinee for each ensemble — MOMIX (Jan. 16), Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (April 24) and the legendary Paul Taylor Company (May 8).

Founded in 1981 by Moses Pendleton, MOMIX is known for its innovative, imaginative, almost surreal movements. Pendleton also co-founded Pilobolus and his new company has a similar artistic vision. “If you like Pilobolus, you’ll love MOMIX,” Beach said.

But the ensemble not to miss is Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. Named Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2008, the company makes its San Diego debut on Jan. 16. Under the direction of Benoit-Swan Pouffer, it has distinguished itself by showcasing works by some of world’s most innovative choreographers. At the behest of Beach it will perform Angelin Preljoca’s “Annunciation.”

“It’s for San Diego only. No other city on their tour will get to see it,” Beach said of the dance he called “thrilling and beautiful.”

Latin flavors

Arturo Sandoval (Feb. 27), Eddie Palmieri (April 20) and Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band (May 15) bring a Latin flavor to the Jazz Series. That all three are legends and Grammy winners makes this season series even more special.

As usual the Celebrity International Orchestra Series presents rich lush music fitting that only talents of 100 musicians can perform. Each features a gifted pianist — YuJa Wang with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (Nov. 19), Denis Matsuev with the Mariinsky Orchestra (March 19) and Lang Lang with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra (April 17).

As it did last year, the Discovery Series will present the latest crop of international prizewinners. Besides Zhang it features two winners from 2006 violist David Aaron Carpenter (Jan. 31), who won the Naumburg Competition and pianist Jean-Frederic Neuburger (March 7) who took first prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions.

Former wunderkind violinist Joshua Bell, who made his debut at age 14 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, has matured into a classical music superstar. He appears on Feb. 19.

Details

For ticket information and a complete schedule of artists, concerts and venues, call the LJMS box-office at (858) 459-3728 or visit www.LaJollaMusicSociety.org