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LA Master Chorale Mixes Good News With the Bad

July 24, 2020

The Los Angeles Master Chorale is coupling the bad news with some good. The chorus announced the postponement of its entire 2020–2021 season on Wednesday. But despite the curtailed year ahead, the Master Chorale is committing to projects, promotions, and programming for seasons to come.

That postponement covers the LA Master Chorale’s concerts at Disney Hall through May 2021, one of the farthest-reaching cancellations made so far by any major ensemble. (Choirs might be the last among musical groups to resume normal rehearsals and performances; the CDC published a report in May on one choir practice as a superspreading event.) The season won’t be lost entirely — the postponement pushes everything on the schedule back a year, so 2020–2021 becomes 2021–2022 — but it’s a full year without concerts.

The LA Master Chorale was also slated to play a big role in the LA Phil’s upcoming season. As of the now, the LA Phil has canceled concerts through December 2020, though several performances with the Master Chorale are on the calendar for early 2021.

The good news from the LA Master Chorale is that music is still in the works. The chorus has set gears in motion for two commissioning projects — one from artist Doug Aitken, the other from composer Reena Esmail, who joins the Master Chorale as Swan Family Artist-in-Residence this year. A new album is also on the way: Eric Whitacre’s The Sacred Veil, which the Master Chorale premiered in 2019, coming out on Signum Classics next month.

And while plans are being made, the LA Master Chorale is holding steady to its leadership. Also announced on Wednesday, Grant Gershon will stay on as artistic director through 2024–2025, and Jenny Wong, formerly the group’s assistant conductor, will take on the position of associate artistic director. Gershon says his vision for seasons to come includes more diverse programming, with a promise of “reserving at least 50 percent of each future season for works by composers from historically underrepresented groups” — an aim in line with many current initiatives at arts organizations around the country.

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