UCSD-TV wins Emmy for concerto premiere

By Kirsten Adams


UCSD-TV won its 13th Emmy award at a ceremony June 13 for a program featuring the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus and the North American premier of the Philip Glass Cello Concerto.

The concert, which was directed by Steven Schick and featured cellist Wendy Sutter, was performed in 2007 and broadcast during the 2008 season. Besides the performance itself, the broadcast incorporated interviews with Schick, Glass and Sutter. It was also the first time Glass had heard his piece performed live, which Schick said gave extra significance to the performance.

“The award itself is nice, but it’s gravy,” Schick said. “We were very, very happy with the project to begin with. To have a composer of the stature of Philip Glass coming to the La Jolla Symphony is an extraordinary thing.”

Diane Salisbury, executive director of the La Jolla Symphony, said that having Glass present during the actual rehearsal process was an added bonus.

“When you have the composers here it gives a really unique opportunity to the musicians to explore the piece further,” Salisbury said.

The program represented the Symphony’s mission to play more contemporary pieces along with their usual classical repertoire. John Menier, UCSD-TV Arts & Humanities producer, said the Symphony’s adventurous nature is one of its most appealing qualities.

“This program was particularly special to me because I’ve been a longtime fan of Philip Glass, Wendy Sutter as a cellist, and the cello as an instrument,” Menier said. “It was attractive on several levels.”

The Glass premiere was not the first collaboration between UCSD-TV, and Schick said it will not be the last.

“The beautiful thing about a piece of music is that you do learn from your mistakes, but much more fascinating than that is the way it changes,” Schick said. “We look forward to the variety of experiences that music offers.”

Upcoming programming includes Evan Ziporyn’s “Frog’s Eye” and Elgar’s Cello Concerto featuring cellist Maya Beiser.

Eventually, Schick said the Symphony hopes to include more multi-media in its performances, including visual imagery, dance and actors.

“We’ll always do the classics but we’re looking into more visual media as well,” Schick said. “I think that would be very appealing for TV.”

Salisbury said the broadcast took about four days to shoot, including rehearsals on stage with the full symphony and behind-the-scenes interviews. The cost of the project was underwritten by UCSD-TV.

“It was something our organization has done for many years and wanted to do again,” Salisbury said. “The whole thing just really came together.”