About Life in Flow:Flow in Life

Monday, August 31, 2015

IHS Los Angeles, Memorable Performances

It is said that people who spend money on experiences instead of things are happier. My husband, daughter, and I attended the International Horn Symposium in Los Angeles at the beginning of August. We all agreed it was an amazing musical experience, sometimes overwhelming, but inspiring. There were so many different aspects of the week that I want to write about that I decided to focus on one aspect at a time. Today, performances.

There was an incredible line-up of horn players at IHSLA. The Berlin Philharmonic horn quartet, Dale Clevenger, Andrew Bain (who was also one of the hosts), Tim Jones (principal of the London Symphony), Arkady Shilkloper, Gail Williams, Julie Landsman, Jeff Nelsen, The American Horn Quartet, and on and on ...

Dale Clevenger is, in my opinion, one of the finest musicians alive today and his part in a recital that he shared with two others was a highlight of the week. He performed the Strauss Nocturno and several Mahler songs. These are not showy, virtuoso pieces - not technical, high, or fast. My husband described the performance as "transcendent" and "stunning." It was both. Dale is possibly the most musical musician I know. His son Jesse once said that when Dale plays, he lets the audience see into his soul. That was certainly the case in this recital. I feel very lucky to have been in the audience for this recital.

On Tuesday night we all trekked from the Colburn School to the Hollywood Bowl to hear a Los Angeles Philharmonic concert titled "Hail, the Mighty Horn." The program was the world premiere of Fanfare for 16 Horns by Bruce Broughton, Schumann's Konzertstuck, Der Rosenkavalier Suite, and Til Eulenspiegel. A big horn night! The soloists in Konzertstuck were Stefan Dohr, Andrew Bain, Tim Jones, and Sarah Willis. They were all wonderful. It was an exciting concert, especially sitting amongst scores of horn players. Conductor James Gaffigan announced to the audience that LA had been taken over by horn players and asked all the horn players in the audience to stand, which everyone did with great enthusiasm and loud whoots. I had never been to the Hollywood Bowl before (or to Los Angeles). It's a unique performance venue. We were sitting quite high up, so the sound was distant. I still think that Tanglewood is the ultimate in summer concert venues, but I'm glad to have experienced the Hollywood Bowl and very happy that I was at this concert!

The first night of the Symposium Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band played a concert at Cal Plaza Watercourt. This outdoor site is very attractive, with water fountains and plantings, and the weather was perfect for an outdoor concert. The program featured a number of horn players. The one who made the biggest impression on me was Arkady Shilkloper, a Russian jazz musician who plays horn and alphorn. The alphorn is a very long instrument, made of wood, that can only play the natural overtone series. This would seem to be very limiting, but Arkady does amazing things with it. The band was also excellent - a really fine big band. Here is a short example of Arkady on alphorn:

Friday night of the Symposium was the final concert of the American Horn Quartet. (Sadly, the Quartet is disbanding because of scheduling difficulties.) The concert was in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown LA. It is a huge, modern cathedral and the quartet looked quite small in the big, open space. We were fortunate to find seats near the front, and the sound was very good. The program was a variety of pieces from their repertoire, which includes everything from Bach to contemporary pieces they commissioned to Broadway and Mancini. They are an impressive ensemble - so tight, exciting, musical, and stylish. I feel very fortunate to have heard them. It was a bittersweet evening.

On Wednesday evening, the IHS took us all to the Los Angeles Theatre, an old movie theater from the 1930s. It seats 2,000 people and is a beautiful example of theaters of the time. It's very ornate. The ladies room in the basement features a round mirrored room (where I guess you would comb your hair?) and a nannies room, where parents would leave their children with the nanny while they watched the movie upstairs. The nannies room is decorated with a circus mural. We were at this particular theater to celebrate "The Horn in Hollywood." All the performers in this program were or had been studio players in Hollywood. The concert was a variety of horn ensemble pieces, some with additional musicians, interspersed with clips from Hollywood Horns of the Golden Years, a documentary. Both the concert and the theater itself made this a special evening.

I feel like I have included an awful lot of superlatives, but it was that kind of a week. There were many other memorable concerts and recitals - some I missed and some I heard. These are the ones, with one exception, that stand out the strongest in my memory. I will write about that exception in my next post!

The interior of the Los Angeles Theatre

The Stage for the concert.