Star Trek Takes Off In Irvine With Help From An Orchestra

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Star Trek screening at Irvine Meadows. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
No matter how brilliant and familiar live classical music may be, unless the audience member is thoroughly versed in the genre or that particular piece of work, his 21st century attention span is probably going to wander off a bit during a concert. However, given the hyper-Romantic stylings of a film score (film scores usually focus on one to three themes, which are repeated over and over with variations), along with a screening of the film for which it was written, it is easy to keep an amphitheatre full of people rapt for two hours -- especially when that film is J.J. Abrams's Star Trek and the audience is full of Trekkies.

For someone who has not experienced an orchestral music performance (high school recitals don't count), the acoustics of a live orchestra put your embarrassingly overpriced Beats headphones to shame. Add an emotionally engaging score, and the effect is as enveloping as a siren song. In this case, the song was performed by the Pacific Symphony under the direction of Richard Kaufman. The symphony's resident musical director, Carl St. Clair, took the night off as the Grammy award winning Kaufman is the man for the job when film scores are to be conducted; Kaufman is frequently a guest conductor for orchestras around the world, where he leads orchestras in both traditional orchestral presentations as well as in synchronized film performances. This concert was part of the principal pops programming series, for which Kaufman has been the conductor for 25 seasons.

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Watch Amadeus Before It's Erased From Netflix

Categories: classical

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Warner Bros.
Amadeus
If you have a Netflix streaming subscription and enjoy music, chances are your queue has a little film in it called Amadeus. It seems like the movie's been a part of Netflix forever and, being how critically heralded it is, is one of those films that seems to fall into everyone's "always wanted to see" territory. Well, your window of easy access Mozart is coming to a close as this Saturday, June 20th, Netflix will be removing the film from its streaming library.

Yes, we're as shocked as you. Amadeus being available on Netflix's streaming service just seemed like one of those things that would always be there, like that restaurant you have all those childhood memories at, or that local news anchor who you feel you can just always trust. Sadly, it seems like we may have taken Amadeus on Netflix for granted, but fortunately this is a case of "don't know what you got until it's almost gone," keeping the memory of Mozart out of Cinderella territory...for now.

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Judy Morr Is the Spark Plug of the Segerstrom Center

Categories: classical

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Photo by John Gilhooley
And we didn't even get to talk about the White Sox...

Theaters tend to get named after performers, cities, donors, spouses of donors, children of donors and--every once in a while--the parents of donors. It's a fact that Segerstrom Center for the Arts executive vice president Judy Morr has learned in her 30 years at the complex, during which she's seen the center grow from nothing into the 14-acre campus it is today, with the names of OC's richest benefactors on everything from walls to marquees.

So imagine her surprise in December when the Segerstrom Center's board of directors announced it was changing the name of Founders Hall to the Judy Morr Theater. "I was in awe of the kindness and generosity of the people who made it happen," Morr says, her joy still palpable months later. "And it speaks to why I've been here so long."


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Kevin Kwan Loucks Brings Chamber Music to the Masses Through Chamber Music | OC

Categories: classical

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Photo by John Gilhooley
But can he play Bach backwards?

In 2013, Kevin Kwan Loucks was at the Irvine Barclay Theatre performing the piano parts of Mozart's "G Minor Piano Quartet" and Schumann's "Piano Quintet in Eb Major" with Trio CĂ©leste, his chamber-music ensemble, and other musicians. After the curtain fell, the three musicians congratulated one another on a job well-done--yet they felt they could do more with their talents, something that would benefit the larger community.

"We thought we had something we could build from," says Loucks. "That realization was amazing."


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Does Classical Music Sound Better When You're High?

Categories: classical

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Eric Gruneisen
Red Rocks on a "High" Note
By: Chris Walker

"Do you have anything that goes well with Beethoven?"

The clerk at the Denver Wellness Center looks at me strangely, before motioning me over to a display case full of various THC-infused candies and baked goods.

"Well," he says. "We got weed cookies, gummies, lollipops, chocolate...I think any of them should work fine."

"Right," I say, squinting and pointing towards a tin-foil wrapped chocolate bar. "So you're sure that one pairs nicely with classical music?"

I want to have the proper goods. Tonight I'm going to Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver to see the Colorado Symphony Orchestra's end of summer concert. Normally that wouldn't require a visit to a pot dispensary beforehand, but this show is the symphony's first public performance in partnership with the cannabis industry, which ponied up nearly $130,000 to sponsor the Symphony's "Classically Cannabis" series.

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Gershwin's Americana at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

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Photo by Scott Feinblatt
Pacific Symphony
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
7/20/14

From alt rock acts to classical orchestras, the cozy and scenic Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, formerly (and more dignifiedly) known as Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, has hosted many types of concerts and musical festivals. And although music appreciation depends upon the taste of the individual, it is difficult to imagine that the strains of George Gershwin's most popular compositions would not command respect from anyone who heard them performed -- much less all in one program. On the evening of Sunday, July 20, Carl St. Clair opened his 25th season as the Musical Director and Conductor of the Pacific Symphony with performances of An American in Paris, Rhapsody in Blue, selections from Porgy and Bess, and the "Overture" from Strike Up the Band.

Gershwin is popularly regarded as one of the prototypical American composers. He synthesized classical music with jazz and yielded wonderfully theatrical music, which has become hallmark Americana. Gershwin referred to Rhapsody in Blue (1924) as "a musical kaleidoscope of America." It has been influential on numerous musicians and has featured prominently in many movies -- most notably as Woody Allen's theme for New York in Manhattan and in Baz Luhrmann's recent film adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

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The Axl Rose of Japan Comes to OC to Play Classical Music

Categories: classical

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Press Photo
Usually when you catch up with a rock star at 4 a.m., it's hardly ever a good thing. But in the case of Japanese rocker Yoshiki, it's just an average evening. No, he wasn't partying hard. Instead, he was in the midst of preparing for his upcoming tour of very special shows across the globe. He'll be starting his tour at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa this Friday night.

While some in the States may not be familiar with the singer, in his native Japan, he's debatably the biggest rock star in the land fronting metal band X Japan. In fact, he's been nicknamed the "Bono of Japan," but a better comparison, at least in terms of sleeping habits, could be Axl Rose. But he's awake because he's working on something that very few accomplished rockers would even dare to do: a classical tour.


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Inspiring Story of Anaheim's First Children's Orchestral Program in 30 Years

Categories: classical

Photo by Brian Brooks for Anaheim City School District
In times of economic hardship, it is a given that school arts programs are the first to get the shaft. Naturally, the three R's are paramount, and, typically, sporting events are shown greater respect due to the social customs that accompany their practice; however, it is tragic that the arts, which offer the greatest contributions to humanity and the enrichment of culture, can be so dishonored that when a small battle is won to bring back what should already exist, the key players are nothing less than saints.

Anaheim City School District (ACSD) is the sixth largest elementary school district in California. Its 24 schools provide education for over 19,300 students; 74% of those students speak Spanish in their homes, and 85% of them qualify for free or reduced rate lunches. According to Dorothy Rose, the executive director of Orange County Symphony (OCS), there had not been an instrumental music program in the district for somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 years. Evidently, this was not to her satisfaction.

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Mike Garson's New Symphony Literally Heals Mind, Body and Soul

Categories: classical

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A screen drops from the rafters, obscuring a section of the concert hall stage in the midst of a 44-piece orchestra and 50-member children's choir. As the musicians play the opening strains of an Argentine tango, two ballroom dancers appear in silhouette, moving gracefully behind the screen as the music swirls around them. The song ends, the screen slides away, and a septuagenarian couple, Bob and Nancy Dufault, are revealed as the dancers. Nancy, afflicted with Parkinson's disease, has trouble moving without a walker and is often confined to a wheelchair. But while the music plays, she can dance. While the music plays, she is healed.

The Argentine tango is just one of 12 movements in the "Symphonic Suite for Healing," a music therapy project that will premiere Saturday, March 1st, at the Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Composed by former David Bowie pianist and rock star emeritus Mike Garson, each of the movements in the symphony was selected for the beneficial effect it produces in patients with brain-based illnesses. The Foundation for Neurosciences, Stroke and Recovery (FNSR) is sponsoring the concert with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.


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Ottmar Liebert: A Flamenco Guitarist Who'd Rather Listen to Horns

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Matt Callahan
Ottmar Liebert is one of the most popular flamenco-style guitarists, yet he doesn't like to place himself in that genre. Instead, Liebert infuses flamenco techniques with his own style that borrows from non-stringed instruments and genres you'd never imagine he'd listen to. The Grammy-nominated and platinum-selling musician relies on touring and record sales to make a living, which would seem to have given him a practical, unromantic outlook on the art form, but it's actually become his guide for how he interprets the world and finds his way through it.

He plays with his trio at the Coach House on Thursday, and even if you're not into flamenco or its fusions, he shares some sound advice for aspiring musicians in all genres.More »
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