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Monday Evening Concerts Taps Into Avant-Garde History in 2019–20

October 15, 2019

“New music” is a bit of a misnomer for Monday Evening Concerts. The Los Angeles-based concert series has been presenting new music since 1939, when Schoenberg was teaching at UCLA and Europe’s cultural elite were relocating en masse to the city. What this means in 2019: Monday Evening Concerts has as much at stake in history as in the avant-garde.

The series’ 2019–20 season, announced on Thursday, confirms as much. Seven Monday programs traverse a history of 20th- and 21st-century classical music, from John Cage to Philip Glass to Caroline Shaw. At a time when many classical institutions are reorienting to the new, it’s intriguing that Monday Evening Concerts can take an approach both classical and contemporary.

The result is programming with knowledge and authority. A Nov. 25 concert tracks the affinity between percussion and electronics in 20th-century music with performances of Bernard Parmegiani’s De Natura Sonorum and Iannis Xenakis’s Pléïades. A free program, on Feb. 6, pairs the concert hall experiments of Yves Klein’s proto-minimalist Symphonie Monoton and John Cage (Speech). And the season’s final concert, on May 18, toggles between text, movement, and music, with works by Samuel Beckett, Anne Carson, and Philip Glass.

Bass-baritone Davóne Tines sings a recital on April 13, debuting that same month at Carnegie Hall; he sticks to a standard Baroque-to-contemporary program, but with stops to Julius Eastman and Harry Burleigh along the way. A showcase of two contemporary composers, Jan. 13’s “New Voices” concert, features two works each by Trevor Bača and Caroline Shaw. And a mini-festival of pieces by 87-year-old French composer Éliane Radigue begins on April 6, with three additional programs that week to be announced.

With persevering concertgoers in mind, Monday Evening Concerts’ 2019–20 season picks up Nov. 11, with a performance of Morton Feldman’s five-hour long For Philip Guston, in collaboration with an exhibition dedicated to Guston at the art gallery Hauser & Wirth. Tickets are free, but reservations are required.

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

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