As part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series, Los Angeles-based composer and conductor Donald Crockett leads the USC Thornton Contemporary Music Ensemble in a concert titled, “Blizzard in Paradise.” The program highlights two of the most prominent female composers of our time – Finn Kaija Saariaho and American Augusta Read Thomas – and garners its name from one of the evening’s West Coast premiere performances, Thomas’ Blizzard in Paradise. The concert also boasts another first for the area with Saariaho’s Neiges, in its West Coast premiere. In addition, locally based tenor Jonathan Mack offers vocal talent in Bernard Rands’ Canti del Sole.
Performing concerts at Zipper Hall – across the street from the soon-to-be-completed Walt Disney Concert Hall – the Green Umbrella series allows audiences the chance to hear virtuoso performances from 20th century and living composers. Remaining concerts in this series include performances by the CalArts New Century Players (March 18) and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a special tribute to Toru Takemitsu at UCLA’s Royce Hall on May 8.
Kaija Saariaho’s Neiges opens the program. The work was written in remembrance of a winter the composer spent in Helsinki. The second premiere, also a winter-themed piece, is Thomas’ Blizzard in Paradise. This composition was commissioned by the Kindler Foundation in the Library of Congress, in memory of Hans Kindler and received its premiere by the National Symphony Orchestra in October of 2001. Presenting unique instrumental experiences, both pieces were written exclusively for an octet of cellos.
Also on the program are She Who Sleeps with a Small Blanket and Pulitzer Prize-winning Canti del Sole, by Kevin Volans and Bernard Rands, respectively.
DONALD CROCKETT is Professor of Composition and Director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at the University of Southern California, where he joined the faculty in 1981. From 1991-97 he was composer-in-residence with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and served in the same capacity with the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra during 1984-86. He composed seven works for the two orchestras during his residencies. Throughout his career, Crockett also has received commissions from the Kronos Quartet, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Stanford String Quartet, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Debussy Trio, Core Ensemble, California E.A.R. Unit and the concert bands of the Big Ten Universities. He is the only composer to receive two national Kenneth Davenport Prizes for orchestral works and in 1998, was recipient of the Aaron Copland Award. Also active as a conductor of new music, Crockett has presented many world, national and regional premieres with Xtet, USC’s Contemporary Music Ensemble, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Monday Evening Concerts, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and Cleveland Chamber Symphony.
Tenor JONATHAN MACK was recently seen with the Los Angeles Opera as Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro and as a notary in Don Pasquale. He has performed in numerous productions with the group since 1986, including roles as Narraboth in Salome, Cassio in Otello, Vanya in Katya Kabanova, the principal tenor in Handel’s Alcina, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Ferrando in Così fan tutte, Jaquino in Fidelio, Red Whiskers in Billy Budd and Reverend Horace Adams in Peter Grimes. He has also appeared with the Opéra de Montréal, Netherlands Opera, Kentucky Opera, Opera Columbus and Long Beach Opera. In Europe, Mack was resident lyric tenor in Dortmund and Kiel. Mack is an avid concert artist, performing with major symphony orchestras across the country.
The USC THORNTON CONTEMPORARY MUSIC ENSEMBLE was founded in 1976 by Robert Wojciak. Donald Crockett has directed the ensemble since 1984. Comprised of some of the finest student musicians of the Thornton School of Music, the CME presents an annual series of concerts at the University of Southern California. The ensemble also has appeared on the Monday Evening Concerts and Green Umbrella series, with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and on tour in Berlin, Paris and Lyon. Under Crockett, the CME has presented number premieres and has been coached and/or conducted by such renowned composers as Witold Lutoslawski, John Harbison, Donald Erb, Henryk Gorecki, Joan Tower and Steven Stucky, among many others.
EDITORS - PLEASE NOTE:
Monday, February 25, 8 PM
BLIZZARD IN PARADISE
Zipper Hall at the Colburn School of Performing Arts, 200 South Grand Avenue
USC Thornton Contemporary Music Ensemble
Donald Crockett, conductor
Jonathan Mack, tenor
Saariaho: Neiges (West Coast premiere)
Volans: She Who Sleeps with a Small Blanket
Thomas: Blizzard in Paradise (West Coast premiere)
Rands: Canti del Sole
Tickets ($26) are on sale now at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office, all Ticketmaster outlets (Robinsons-May, Tower Records, Ritmo Latino, Tu Música, and selected Wherehouse locations), and by credit card phone order at 213/365-3500. Tickets are also available on-line at www.laphil.com. For further information, please call 323/850-2000.
Elizabeth Hinckley, (323) 850-2047