Here’s an unexpected analogy: The six ensembles that comprise Chamber Music LA are akin to Marvel’s Avengers.
Yes, it’s a stretch. But Maia Jasper White, executive director and co-artistic director of one of the groups, Salastina, has given this enough thought that it’s worth hearing out.
“I would describe Salastina as Iron Man: plucky, resourceful, technologically savvy, nerdy yet charismatic,” she explained. “I would compare Pittance Chamber Music to Black Widow; it brings the glamour and drama of the opera stage to the concert hall. Jacaranda is Hawkeye, with spectacularly precise vision.
“Camerata Pacifica is the Hulk — lots of passion and energy. The Colburn School is Thor — a musical powerhouse. Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is Captain America, our fearless, do-gooding leader.”
Audiences will have an easy way to see how well each label fits, as well as enjoy some world-class music-making, on Aug. 28 in the Colburn School’s Zipper Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The collective will present Music Box 2022, its first in-person concert featuring all six groups, as a preview to their individual seasons.
“The concert is a lovely manifestation of something which is significant — a working collaboration of six chamber music organizations that share a unified vision for chamber music in downtown L.A. and work collaboratively towards realizing that vision,” said Camerata Pacifica Artistic Director Adrian Spence. “Normally spread all over the city, in this concert we gather in one place, when the audience can get a hopefully interest-piquing taste of what we do separately.”
“It’s historic for so many artists to be sharing a stage for the purpose of amplifying each other,” added White. “That’s the reasoning behind the collective. We discovered there was shockingly little crossover between our ticket buyers. The purpose is to make it as easy as possible for fans of one organization to become acquainted with the others.”
That said, she and co-curator Patrick Scott, Jacaranda Music’s artistic and executive director, strove for artistic integrity via the choice of works and the order in which they were played. “I hope it will help people feel that all the moving parts of this cultural engine are connected,” White said.
“What was really important to me was that each of the performances should reflect as concisely as possible the virtuosity of the musicians and the personality of the organization.” Each program had to be short and to the point — 15 minutes, tops.
“Since this is our first time sharing a stage together, it felt appropriate to open it with a kind of invocation — something ethereal, with a spiritual bent,” she added. So Salastina is first up, with Benjamin Smolen’s performance of Claude Debussy’s Syrinx for solo flute.
The Colburn School will be represented by the Olive Trio, recent winner of the prestigious Fischoff Competition, playing music of Shostakovich. Then, representing Jacaranda, pianist Steven Vanhauwaert will perform The Messenger by Valentin Silvestrov, Ukraine’s best-known living composer.
A fan of Silvestrov’s music for decades, Vanhauwaert said the piece “basically sounds like you’re hearing echoes of a Mozart sonata someone is practicing late at night. It feels a little bit like someone is just dreaming it up.
“I thought it would be really nice to pair Jacaranda with this piece,” he said. “It signifies what they stand for, which I am also a fanatic about: taking the less-beaten path and finding unseen jewels of classical music.”
A string quartet made up of players from Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra will perform works by Caroline Shaw and Maurice Ravel. More Ravel follows from Camerata Pacifica, when pianist Soyeon Kate Lee performs La valse. The program concludes with Pittance Chamber Music performing Schubert’s The Shepherd on the Rock, featuring soprano Liv Redpath.
Founded in 2017, Chamber Music LA produced its first joint recital online one year ago. One hope for this concert is that it will prove interesting and unusual enough to entice people who fell out of the concertgoing habit during the pandemic.
“We’re all collectively feeling it’s even harder than it was before to get people to attend in person,” White said. “There are various reasons for that, but inertia seems to be the biggest one. Some people are still skittish about being around strangers for an extended period. Others are no longer skittish, but they decided they like staying home!”
So will Music Box, which is dedicated to the late philanthropist Warner Henry, become an annual event? “If we have good attendance, and if we show a bump in ticket buyers or at least web traffic for our organizations as a result, I think it will,” White said.
Of course. Every successful superhero flick demands a sequel.