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  • WDCH
  • Peter Sellars Directs Soprano Dawn Upshaw and Violinist Geoff Nuttall in Staged Production of Kafka Fragments
  • Nov. 18, 2008
  • Performance Kicks Off the LA PHIL’s 2008/09 Green Umbrella Series

    TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2008, AT 8 PM

    Media Sponsor: Los Angeles Magazine

    Cutting-edge director Peter Sellars, acclaimed soprano Dawn Upshaw and violin soloist Geoff Nuttall open the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2008/09 Green Umbrella series with a staged production of Györy Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Tuesday, November 18, at 8 p.m. The performance marks the beginning of both Sellars’ and Upshaw’s LA PHIL On Location residencies, as well as a reprise of the 2005 performance of Kafka Fragments featuring Upshaw and Nuttall with Sellars directing at New York’s Zankel Hall.

    In Sellars’ conception of this staging, the performance is a drama shared by Upshaw, as a housewife performing daily tasks, and Nuttall, as a street musician, as they play out their acts of musical expression in the Kafka texts, which range from miniature parables to imagistic snapshots. Kurtág’s musical profiles, derived from decades of collecting fragments of Kafka’s notebooks, diaries and letters, go beyond attempts to illustrate the texts, but create parallel universes with their own recurrent patterns of imagery.

    As LA Phil On Location artists, close collaborators with Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, and celebrators of the maestro’s final season, this performance is one of several for Sellars and Upshaw at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Upshaw was part of the LA Phil Opening Night benefit concert and both return in January to join Salonen for the West Coast premiere of Saariaho’s oratorio La Passion de Simone, a work written for Upshaw and co-commissioned by the LA Phil. In April, Sellars returns to direct Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms, led by Salonen, and concludes his residency for the 2008/09 season in May by directing A Flowering Tree, created and conducted by John Adams.

    Nuttall, co-founder of the world-renowned St. Lawrence String Quartet, last performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2006 during the LA Phil’s Minimalist Jukebox festival.

    The LA Phil’s groundbreaking Green Umbrella new music series is a tribute to adventurous, open-minded and curious music lovers. The series, with a more-than-20-year history, offers five concerts during the 2008/09 season, most featuring the LA Phil New Music Group led by Esa-Pekka Salonen and guest conductors. Remaining concerts for the 2008/09 season are: the New Music Group presenting Stockhausen and Music of the Future (Dec. 9); LA Phil Assistant Conductor Lionel Bringuier leading the New Music Group, special guest Susan Narucki and members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (Jan. 20, 2009); Salonen conducting the New Music Group in a program of four Philharmonic-commissioned new works and his own Floof (April 7, 2009); and John Adams leading a Composer’s Choice program featuring an LA Phil-commissioned new work (May 12, 2009).

    An Upbeat Live pre-concert event takes place in Walt Disney Concert Hall’s BP Hall one hour prior to the concert, and is free to all ticket holders. Steven Stucky, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and Consulting Composer for New Music for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, hosts.

    Renowned theater, opera, and festival director PETER SELLARS is one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the performing arts in America and abroad. A visionary artist, Sellars is known for ground-breaking interpretations of classic works. Whether it is Mozart, Handel, Shakespeare, Sophocles, or the 16th-century Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu. Sellars strikes a universal chord with audiences, engaging contemporary social and political issues. Sellars has staged operas at the Chicago Lyric Opera, the Glyndebourne Festival, the Netherlands Opera, the Opéra National de Paris, the Salzburg Festival and the San Francisco Opera, among others. Following his iconic stagings of Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte in the 1980s, Sellars established a reputation for bringing 20th-century and contemporary operas to the stage, including works by Olivier Messiaen, Paul Hindemith and György Ligeti. Inspired by the compositions of Kaija Saariaho, Osvaldo Golijov and Tan Dun, he has guided the creation of productions of their work that have expanded the repertoire of modern opera. He has been a driving force in the creation of many new works with longtime collaborator John Adams, including Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, Doctor Atomic and, most recently, A Flowering Tree, which premiered in Vienna in 2006. Other Sellars’ projects have included a Chicano version of Stravinsky’s The Story of a Soldier; an Antonin Artaud radio play coupled with the poetry of the late June Jordan, For an End to the Judgment of God/Kissing God Goodbye, staged as a press conference on the war in Afghanistan; and a production of the Euripides play The Children of Herakles, focusing on contemporary immigration and refugee issues and experience. Sellars has led several major arts festivals, including the 1990 and 1993 Los Angeles Festivals, the 2002 Adelaide Festival in Australia; and the 2003 Venice Biennale International Festival of Theater in Italy. He was artistic director of New Crowned Hope, a month-long festival for which he invited international artists from diverse cultural backgrounds to create new work in the fields of music, theater, dance, film, the visual arts and architecture for the city of Vienna’s 2006 Mozart Year, celebrating the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. Sellars is a professor in the department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA and a resident curator of the Telluride Film Festival. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Erasmus Prize, the Sundance Institute Risk-Takers Award and the Gish Prize, and he was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    DAWN UPSHAW has achieved worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today. Her ability to reach to the heart of music and text has earned her both the devotion of an exceptionally diverse audience, and the awards and distinctions accorded to only the most distinguished of artists. In 2007, she was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, the first vocal artist to be awarded the five-year “Genius” prize, and in 2008 she was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Her acclaimed performances on the opera stage comprise the great Mozart roles (Pamina, Ilia, Susanna, Despina) as well as modern works by Stravinsky, Poulenc and Messiaen. From Salzburg, Paris and Glyndebourne to the Metropolitan Opera, where she began her career in1984 and has since made nearly 300 appearances, Upshaw has also championed numerous new works created for her including The Great Gatsby by John Harbison; the Grawemeyer Award-winning opera L’Amour de Loin and oratorio La Passion de Simone by Kaija Saariaho; John Adams’ nativity oratorio El Niño; and Osvaldo Golijov’s chamber opera Ainadamar and song cycle Ayre. Upshaw’s 2008/09 season includes the U.S. premiere of Peter Sellars’ production of La Passion de Simone at Lincoln Center, a role she reprises with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in January, and at the Paris Opera in June. She opened Carnegie Hall’s season in an all-Bernstein program with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony (broadcast on PBS). She also sings world premiere performances of two new works written for her, by Michael Ward-Bergeman (with Ensemble ACJW at Zankel Hall, commissioned by the Terezin Foundation) and Maria Schneider (commissioned by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, where Upshaw is an Artistic Partner). Upshaw returns to Lincoln Center with violinist Geoff Nuttall in György Kurtag’s Kafka Fragments in a staging by Peter Sellars that also travels to Los Angeles and Berkeley. She tours Australia with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and Germany with the Knights. It says much about Upshaw’s sensibilities as an artist and colleague that she is a favored partner of many leading musicians, including Richard Goode, the Kronos Quartet, James Levine and Salonen. In her work as a recitalist, and particularly in her work with composers, Upshaw has become a generative force in concert music, having premiered more than 25 works in the past decade. From Carnegie Hall to large and small venues throughout the world she regularly presents specially designed programs composed of lieder, unusual contemporary works in many languages, and folk and popular music. She furthers this work in master classes and workshops with young singers at major music festivals, conservatories and liberal arts colleges. She is Artistic Director of the Vocal Arts Program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Center. A four-time Grammy Award winner, Upshaw is featured on more than 50 recordings, including the million-selling Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Gorecki. Her discography also includes full-length opera recordings of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro; Messiaen’s St. François d’Assise; Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; John Adams’ El Niño; two volumes of Canteloube’s “Songs of the Auvergne,” and a dozen recital recordings. Her most recent release on Deutsche Grammophon is “Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra,” the third in a series of acclaimed recordings of Osvaldo Golijov’s music.

    Violinist GEOFF NUTTALL began playing the violin at the age of 8 after moving to London, Ontario from College Station, Texas. He spent most of his musical studies under the tutelage of Lorand Fenyves at the Banff Centre, the University of Western Ontario, and the University of Toronto, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1989, Nuttall co-founded the St. Lawrence String Quartet. As first violinist of this world-renowned foursome, he has performed over 1,800 concerts throughout North and South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. This season celebrates the St. Lawrence in their 20th year together. Since winning the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Young Concert Artist Auditions in the early 90’s, the St. Lawrence String Quartet has become a regular at some of North America’s most esteemed music festivals, including Mostly Mozart Festival, Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, Bay Chamber Concerts, Chamber Music Albuquerque and Spoleto USA. Their busy touring schedule has seen them in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum, Kennedy Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, Royal Concertgebouw Hall in Amsterdam, Theatre de Ville Paris, Tokyo’s Suntory Hall and the White House for President Clinton and guests. In January 2005, Nuttall performed György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments for soprano and violin in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall with Dawn Upshaw, staged by Peter Sellars. The New York Times called Nuttall’s playing “intensely dynamic” with “stunning technique and volatility.” He returned to Zankel Hall in February 2006 to perform at the In Your Ear Too Festival, performing works for solo violin by Biber and a newly commissioned work by Chris Paul Harman. Nuttall was also soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2006, performing Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa for Two Violins with Barry Shiffman during the Minimalist Jukebox festival. The revival performance of Kafka Fragments with Upshaw and Sellars, in addition to Walt Disney Concert Hall, will also be performed in New York and Berkeley. With the St. Lawrence Quartet, Nuttall served as Graduate Ensemble-in-Residence at the Juilliard School, Yale University and Hartt School of Music, acting as teaching assistants to the Juilliard, Tokyo, and Emerson String Quartets, respectively. He is now on faculty at Stanford University, where the St. Lawrence Quartet has been Ensemble-in-Residence since 1999, and makes his home in the Bay Area with his wife, violinist Livia Sohn, and their young son Jack. Nuttall can also be heard on a Naxos American Classics CD entitled Miracles and Mud, featuring works by Jonathan Berger.

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, presents the finest in orchestral and chamber music, recitals, new music, jazz, world music and holiday concerts at two of the most remarkable places anywhere to experience music – Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. In addition to a 30-week winter subscription season at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the LA Phil presents a 12-week summer festival at the legendary Hollywood Bowl, summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the Association’s involvement with Los Angeles extends to educational programs, community concerts and children's programming, ever seeking to provide inspiration and delight to the broadest possible audience.


    TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2008, at 8 PM

    WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

    Green Umbrella series

    DAWN UPSHAW, soprano

    GEOFF NUTTALL, violin

    PETER SELLARS, director

    DAVID C. MICHALEK, photography

    JAMES F. INGALLS, lighting design

    KURTÁG Kafka Fragments

    Media sponsor: Los Angeles Magazine

    An Upbeat Live pre-concert event takes place one hour prior to the concert in BP Hall at Walt Disney Concert Hall, and is free to all ticket holders. Steven Stucky, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and Consulting Composer for New Music for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, hosts.

    Tickets ($24 - $49) are on sale now at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office, online at, or via credit card by phone at 323.850.2000. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full time students may be available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office two hours prior to the performance. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person; cash only. Groups of 12 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. For information, please call 323.850.2000.

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  • Contact:

    Lisa White,, 213.972.3408; Photos: 213.972.3034