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LA OPERA CELEBRATES BRITTEN 100

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James Conlon Observes the Benjamin Britten Centenary with Performances Across Southern California Celebrating the Composer

Presentations are part of Mr. Conlon’s multi-year Britten tribute

Musicians and institutions around the world are celebrating the 2013 Benjamin Britten centenary. LA Opera’s Music Director, James Conlon, whose lifelong fascination with Britten is reflected in his personal three-year performance cycle of the composer’s works in America and Europe, is the inspiration for LA Opera’s Britten 100/LA: A Celebration.

Spearheaded by Mo. Conlon, the yearlong festival is a countywide collaboration among a host of organizations. It features performances, conferences and exhibitions centered on Britten and his legacy. As part of the Britten 100/LA celebration, from November 22 through December 6, Mo. Conlon leads a series of Britten performances in Los Angeles, Orange County and Santa Monica. According to Mr. Conlon, “Several years ago, I realized that by taking advantage of the centenary of Britten’s birth I could motivate many people to try a sustained diet of his music.”These performances highlight Maestro Conlon’s commitment to educating the community about Britten’s music. Throughout his career, in addition to maintaining his rigorous conducting schedule, Mo. Conlon has focused on educating the public, including children, students in public and private schools, at conservatories and universities about the works of important composers. He has done this through collaborations with singers, musicians, teachers, professors, directors, and community institutions.

britten-conlon-BBKO057-275One of today’s preeminent conductors, James Conlon has cultivated a vast symphonic, operatic and choral repertoire. Since his 1974 New York Philharmonic debut, he has been a guest conductor with virtually every major North American and European orchestra and a frequent guest conductor at the Metropolitan Opera where he has conducted over 270 performances. In addition to being Richard Seaver Music Director of LA Opera, he is music director of both the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (since 2005), and the Cincinnati May Festival (since 1979). He was principal conductor of the Paris National Opera (1995-2004); general music director of the City of Cologne (1989-2002); and music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic (1983-1991).

In an effort to raise public consciousness about composers suppressed by the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s, he has devoted himself to extensive programming of their works in North America and Europe. He has been honored with the Zemlinsky Prize, the Music Institute of Chicago’s Dushkin Award and the Anti-Defamation League’s Crystal Globe, and he has received honorary doctorates from the Juilliard School, Chapman University and Brandeis University. He was awarded France’s highest distinction, the Légion d’Honneur, by then-President Jacques Chirac. In 2005 he was one of five recipients of the inaugural Opera News Awards. In 2009, he won two Grammy Awards (Best Classical Recording; Best Opera Album) for LA Opera’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, released on DVD by EuroArts.

He is engaged in a three-year homage to Benjamin Britten in observation of the 2013 centenary of the composer’s birth, conducting symphonic and choral works and six operas, including the Metropolitan Opera’s October performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, LA Opera’s upcoming Billy Budd, and a cycle of Britten’s three church parables in collaboration with the Rome Opera.

Mr. Conlon returns to Los Angeles after leading a revival of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Metropolitan Opera. The New York Times said, “Just a revival, yes, but an exciting one. Superbly cast and beautifully conducted by James Conlon, this Midsummer makes a persuasive case for a work both exquisite and exhausting…[Mr. Conlon] gave the score clarity and weight.”

The festivities continue well into 2014, culminating with LA Opera’s spring production of Billy Budd staged by Francesca Zambello and conducted by Mr. Conlon.

Below is a recap of the November/December activities:

On Friday, November 22, Britten’s birthday, Mr. Conlon will conduct an afternoon Britten Birthday Bash presenting the composer’s Friday Afternoons, Ceremony of Carols and Simple Symphony performed by students from the Santa Monica–Malibu Unified School District at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica. Kimberlea Daggy, national classical radio host and musicologist, is coordinating and hosting the presentation. The program will begin with the Elementary Honor Choir singing Friday Afternoons. The Middle School Trebles will sing choruses from Ceremony of Carols, and the Santa Monica High School Chamber Orchestra will conclude the concert with Britten’s Simple Symphony. Mr. Conlon, following in Britten’s footsteps, is bringing emphasis to music written for young people by the English composer. The concert coincides with Aldeburgh Music’s international singing project, Friday Afternoons, where on November 22, children throughout England will be singing the same Britten’s songs.

Mr. Conlon will conduct another centenary celebration that evening at St. James’ in the City Church. He will lead the Choir of St. James and the UCLA Camarades String Ensemble in performances of Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb (Op. 30, 1943), Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (Op. 31, 1943) and Cantata Misericordium (Op. 69, 1963). The performance features soloists Joseph Kaiser, tenor, Philip Addis, baritone, and Steve Becknell, horn.

The Choir of St. James’ led by James Buonemani, music director, is made up of amateur and professional adult musicians from the Los Angeles metropolitan area. It is the first American choir to have sung with the Choir of Westminster Abbey, where it has held three residencies. The St. James’ Choir has also been host to some of the world’s finest choirs including: The Sixteen, the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, the American Boychoir, the Gloriae Dei Cantores, the Choir of Canterbury Cathedral, the Choir of the Royal Holloway, and the Choir Abbey.

The Camarades String Ensemble, under the musical direction of Neal Stulberg, is one of the flagship projects of UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Camarades participants are given the unique pedagogical opportunity of performing with their faculty mentors at prestigious venues. Camarades highlights include 2012 appearances in Italy and Armenia. Locally, the Camarades appears regularly on LACMA’s “Sundays Live” Series, and at Zipper Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall.

On Sunday, November 24, Mr. Conlon will conduct Britten’s War Requiem at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, presented by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. On Monday, November 25, as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Sounds About Town series, Mr. Conlon will conduct War Requiem at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

One of music’s greatest anti-war statements, Britten’s masterpiece poignantly combines the moving First World War poetry of Wilfred Owen with the Catholic Mass for the Dead. The performances will feature soprano Tamara Wilson, tenor Joseph Kaiser and baritone Phillip Addis. The performance also features the full 95-piece Colburn Orchestra, and includes members of the USC Thornton Symphony, the USC Chamber Singers and Concert Choir, the Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir from CSU-Long Beach, CSU-Fullerton Singers, Chapman University Singers, New Zealand Youth Choir and Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. War Requiem performances are produced by The Colburn School.

On Friday, December 6, Mr. Conlon will lead members of the USC Thornton Symphony and Opera, and a cast of professional singers, in a performance of the church parable The Prodigal Son at First Congregational Church, Los Angeles, directed by Ken Cazan, Chair of Vocal Performing Arts and Opera and Resident Stage Director for the USC Thornton School of Music. The cast includes baritone Phillip Addis (Elder Son); bass Valentin Anikin (Father); tenor Vladimir Dmitruk (Younger Son); and tenor Joshua Guerrero (Tempter). Jacqueline Saint Anne is the costume designer and Azra King-Abadi is the lighting designer. The program also features eight singers from the USC Thornton Opera Program, members of the USC Thornton Symphony and singers from the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus.

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CALENDAR LISTINGS

Friday, November 22, at 2:00pm
THE BRITTEN BIRTHDAY BASH:
James Conlon conducts students from the Santa Monica-Malibu School District
The Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica
Host: Kimberlea Daggy

Program:
Friday Afternoons, Elementary Honor Choir
Ceremony of Carols, Middle School Trebles
Simple Symphony, Santa Monica High School Chamber Orchestra

Tickets: Admission is free; reservations are required. For information, email Kimberlea Daggy
The Jonathan Beach Club is located at 850 Palisades Beach Road, Santa Monica, CA 90403.

BRITTEN AT THE CHURCH OF ST. JAMES’ IN THE CITY
Friday November 22, 8:30pm

James Conlon, conductor
Program features:
Choir of St. James’, James Buonemani, music director
UCLA Camarades String Ensemble, Neal Stulberg, musical director
Joseph Kaiser, tenor
Philip Addis, baritone
Steve Becknell, horn
Program:
Rejoice in the Lamb (Op. 30, 1943)
Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (Op. 31, 1943)
Cantata Misericordium (Op. 69, 1963)
This event is free. Advance tickets are required (maximum of 4 per order).
Tickets
St. James’ Church is located at 3903 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010.

BRITTEN’S WAR REQUIEM
Maestro Conlon will conduct Britten’s War Requiem (Op. 66, 1962) on Sunday, November 24, at 8:15 pm, at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, in Costa Mesa presented by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. A pre-concert talk with Dr. William Hall will take place at 7:00 pm. Mr. Conlon will also conduct the War Requiem at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Monday, November 25 at 8:00 pm, as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Sounds About Town series. A pre-concert talk with Mr. Conlon will take place at 7:00 pm.
Sunday, November 24, 8:15pm
War Requiem
Presented by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
James Conlon, conductor

Tamara Wilson, soprano
Joseph Kaiser, tenor
Phillip Addis, baritone
The Colburn Orchestra, Yehuda Gilad, music director
Members of the USC Thornton Symphony
USC Thornton Chamber Singers, Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe, conductor
USC Thornton Concert Choir, Dr. Cristian Grases, conductor
Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir from CSU Long Beach, Dr. Jonathan Talberg, director
CSU Fullerton University Singers, Dr. Robert Istad, conductor
Chapman University Singers, Dr. Stephen Coker, director
Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Anne Tomlinson, artistic director
The performance is produced by The Colburn School.
Tickets: starting at $20. To purchase, visit:
the Philharmonic Society website
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall is located at 615 Town Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Monday, November 25, 8:00pm
Pre concert talk at 7:00pm
War Requiem

Part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Sounds About Town Series
Walt Disney Concert Hall
James Conlon, conductor
Tamara Wilson, soprano
Joseph Kaiser, tenor
Phillip Addis, baritone
The Colburn Orchestra, Yehuda Gilad, Music Director
Members of the USC Thornton Symphony
USC Thornton Chamber Singers, Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe, Conductor
USC Thornton Concert Choir, Dr. Cristian Grases, Conductor
Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir from CSU Long Beach, Dr. Jonathan Talberg, Director
CSU Fullerton University Singers, Dr. Robert Istad, Conductor
Chapman University Singers, Dr. Stephen Coker, Director
New Zealand Youth Choir, David Squire, Music Director
Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Anne Tomlinson, Artistic Director
The performance is produced by The Colburn School.
Tickets: $15.99 to $41.50
PURCHASE TICKETS
Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Friday, December 6, 8:00pm
First Congregational Church, Los Angeles
The Prodigal Son

James Conlon, conductor
Ken Cazan, director
Cast:
Baritone Philip Addis (Elder Son)
Bass Valentin Anikin (Father)
Tenor Vladimir Dmitruk (Younger Son)
Tenor Joshua Guerrero (Tempter)
Costume Design: Jacqueline Saint Anne
Lighting Design: Azra King-Abadi
The program also features eight singers from the USC Thornton Opera Program, members of the USC Thornton Symphony and singers from the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus.
Tickets: Free, but reservations required.
Doors open at 7:30pm for general admission seating.
First Congregational Church is located at 540 South Commonwealth Ave, Los Angeles.

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