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Boston Court Pasadena Welcomes Five Emerging Artists

September 28, 2020

Five up-and-coming musicians are on the calendar at Boston Court Pasadena. The venue’s annual Emerging Artist Series starts this week, and each performance brings together young talent, world-premiere pieces, and musical mentors from around the Los Angeles area.

In 2020, of course, audiences will have to tune in online. But Boston Court is otherwise keeping the series, now in its fourth year, remarkably true to form: the Emerging Artists perform live, from the Boston Court Main Stage, and the collaborations with composers and coaches are still going strong.

Sopranos Angela Riley and Julia Metzler, baritone Justin Birchell, and pianists Andrew Anderson and Yevgeniy Milyavskiy are this year’s class of Emerging Artists.

The singers, drawn from top opera programs in the area (this year, they’re all UCLA graduates), auditioned for the series back in February. They’ve since been planning their recitals, in collaboration with coaches — Paul Floyd, Brett McMunn, and Lisa Sylvester — and Boston Court’s producer for the series, Mark Saltzman.

Early in the process, Saltzman, along with the three mentors, matched the singers with commissioned composers, building on the recital programs that were taking shape. Riley’s recital is bookended by two new pieces from L.A. composer Nicolas Lell Benavides (Oct. 2). Birchell debuts a song cycle by Michael Welsh (Oct. 10). And on the program for Metzler: a premiere from pianists Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff (Oct. 16). That’s in addition to music by Samuel Barber, Alexander Zemlinsky, William Grant Still, Jake Heggie, and more.

L.A. new-music series Piano Spheres takes over for the pianists on the schedule. Two of Piano Spheres’ leading lights — Vicki Ray and Gloria Cheng — mentor the Emerging Artist pianists. Unique to these concerts, Ray and Cheng join their mentees in conversation — Ray with Anderson and Cheng with Milyavskiy. Of course, there’ll be plenty of music too: Anderson plays a program of 20th- and 21st-century works, including a new piece by Matt Sargent (Oct. 4). Milyavskiy’s recital has lots of Shostakovich and a world-premiere work from UCLA student composer David Ghesser (Oct. 18).

For more information, and to register for the series, visit Boston Court Pasadena’s website. Each concert is free and will stream for one week after its premiere.

Update (Oct. 2): Piano Spheres will also present Anderson’s and Milyavskiy’s programs in full, on Oct. 6 and Oct. 20, respectively. The links to these free broadcasts will be available on Piano Spheres’ website.

Peter Feher is an editor at SFCV. He can be reached at [email protected].