Symphony & Chorus announces a season of contrasts for 2012-13


If you go

• Performances in the UCSD Mandeville Auditorium

• Saturday concerts: 7:30 p.m.

• Sunday concerts: 2 p.m.

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“Angle of Repose,” inspired by themes in Wallace Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, will also be the name of the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) 2012-13 season. The quintessential novel of the West asks us to look at where we come from and understand our relationship to the past.

“In musical terms, we are talking about what it feels like to be at the start of a new century with the century just passed still in sight,” said music director Steven Schick. “In each concert, we are illuminating an oppositional relationship, something to do with a cross-generational or historical interaction.”

• The season opens Nov. 3-4 with Maestro Schick conducting the orchestra in a program themed “Hero/Anti-Hero.” Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica,” the ultimate heroic piece in the classical repertoire, will be heard along with a dramatic and turbulent work by contemporary composer Missy Mazzoli, “Violent, Violent Sea.” Mazzoli will join LJS&C this West Coast premiere.

Also on the program are two works from 20th-century anti-hero John Cage that are meant more for contemplation than to stir deep and heroic emotions: “101,” for 101 musicians and no conductor; and in honor of the 100th anniversary of Cage’s birth year, his infamous/famous “4’33”, where silence reigns.

“For Cage’s ‘4’33’ we will open the auditorium doors and let the sounds waft in – birds, people talking, leaves rustling – and we will sit and listen carefully. It is amazing what the world sounds like. And then we will start the ‘Eroica’ without a pause,” Schick said. “We arrive at the concert hall these days through a welter of noise: horns, radios, cell phones. But wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear Beethoven out of the quiet that one might have heard 200 years ago?”

• On Dec. 8-9, the theme of “Dark/Bright” offers five different visions of musical color and texture. The program is framed by two works of intense brightness, Handel’s “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” and Brahms’ “Triumphlied” for chorus and orchestra. Three works in the middle contain a framework of their own. Dark orchestral color is heard in Brahms’ “Nänie,” with chorus, and in Luigi Dallapiccola’s “Piccola Musica Notturna” (A Little Night Music). At the center of the program is Arnold Schoenberg’s “Five Pieces for Orchestra,” one of the most colorful pieces of the 20th century.

• The Feb. 9-10 concert, “Inside/Outside,” offers a program of music designed or evocative of both internal and external spaces. The program begins with an intimate work by Ralph Vaughan Williams, “Fantasy on a Theme” by Thomas Tallis, followed by Luciano Berio’s “Folk Songs,” featuring soprano Jessica Aszodi. The concert ends with Scandinavian composer Carl Nielsen’s “Symphony No. 3, Espansiva,” that transports to the wide-open northern spaces of his homeland.

• On March 16-17 LJS&C offers a collage of opposites in “Repeat/Move On.” It is the conundrum that is one of the main questions a composer asks himself, and a theme that occurs over and over again in “Angle of Repose”: How do I know when this has played itself out and when it’s time to go on to the next thing?”

Philip Glass, the American master of repeating phrases, begins the concert in his “Overture to La Belle et La Bête” (“Beauty and the Beast”), a contrast to the concluding work, Aaron Copland’s flowing essay on eternal growth and renewal, “Appalachian Spring.” The two works frame the rhythmic vitality of Bay Area-composer Paul Dresher’s “Concerto for Invented Instruments and Orchestra,” featuring Dresher as soloist. Also on the program is a premiere work by Yvonne Wu, commissioned by LJS&C through the Thomas Nee Commissioning Fund.

• In the May 4-5 concert, “Old Worlds/New World,” the audience will hear vivid images by the eminent Chinese composer Chou Wen-chung in his composition “Landscapes,” paired with Franco-American composer Edgard Varèse’s tribute to his adopted home in Amériques. From the backdrop of Europe comes Richard Strauss’s “Horn Concerto No. 2,” with 2011 Young Artists Winner Nicolee Kuester as soloist.

• Choral Director David Chase concludes the season June 8-9, with “Earth/Peace,” the works of three 20th-century composers contemplating peace – globally, personally, and spiritually. Benjamin Britten’s “Sinfonia da Requiem,” is a work inspired by his intense pacifism. Chorus and orchestra combine for Arnold Schoenberg’s “Friede auf Erde” that pictures mankind evolving from a murky past to a bright future. The concert ends with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ choral-orchestral work, “Dona Nobis Pacem,” based on the war poetry of Walt Whitman and excerpts from the Bible.