For an alternative to attending the crowded Hollywood Bowl summer concerts, consider attending Muse/ique’s Summer Nights. This relatively new musical organization based in Pasadena, offers eclectic muti-media musical events that are attracting quite a following.
Muse/qiue presented their second of three summer concerts on Saturday, July 27, 2013, in Pasadena. This family friendly event, took place outside on the lawn of Pasadena’s beautiful Cal Tech’s Beckman Auditorium. Parking was plentiful and free.
Muse/ique employed a raised outdoor stage and multiple big screens enabling audiences to see clearly. “Moving Pictures” was the theme of the concert that honored well-known composers of great film scores. Muse/ique’s expert sound engineers beautifully amplified the orchestra and featured soloists, delivering a stunning mix and balanced sound.
Begining at 5:30 pm, and sitting by tables with festive colored table cloths, over 800 people from young to old enjoyed an early picnic dinner (available for purchase or bring your own). At 7:30 pm, the audience then enjoyed an evening of 20th century film music, performed by the Muse/ique orchestra conducted by Artistic director, Rachael Worby. The concert also featured cellist Matt Haimovitz.
Israeli born, Harvard and Juilliard educated, Haimovitz has appeared with many of the world’s major orchestras and distinguished conductors. His soulful and glorious toned cello-playing in his various solos was a pleasure to witness.
After opening with the Chariots of Fire theme by Vangelis, along with projected scenes from the movie on side screens, the orchestra performed Erich Korngold’s impeccable film score for the movie Deception, with the poignant solo playing of cellist Matt Haimovitz.
The evening’s program continued with more romantic film scores from movies Jane Eyre, Summer and Smoke, and Russia House from movie composers Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams and Elmer Bernstein. A refreshing change of pace in the evening’s rather slow pace, was in Elmar Bernstein’s upbeat and jazz inspired score for the movie, “Summer and Smoke” which gave cellist, Matt Haimovitz a chance to show off his amazing jazz style.
Rachael Worby, Artistic Director, conducted her orchestra with simple gestures and elegance, her excellent tempos always moving the music forward. Commanding the stage as easily as the orchestra, she gracefully made transitions from the baton to the microphone, as she spoke to the attentive audience about each work.
The Muse/ique Orchestra, dressed in colorful evening clothes, stood rather than sat on the stage, which made for a nice departure from the traditional. The orchestra consistently performed each work with lush tones and articulate playing. Especially appealing was the violin section, for the purity and sweetness of their tone. Lead oboists, Leslie Reed and Chris Bleth were also standouts.
Included in the evening was one vocalist, Los Angeles native and an American Idol finalist, Allison Iraheta, in what was billed as a “blues-infused performance” of Les Miserables’ Bring Him Home. This well-known Tenor solo sung by the character Jean Valjean in Act 11 of the famous musical, failed to catch fire as an Alto torch song. In the strained and constricted alto voice of Allison Iraheta, who over acted and struggled with the lyrical phrases and words, it was the only sour note of the evening.
The world premiere of Peter Golub’s orchestral work, Sleepwalking, for orchestra and cello solo, followed. Golub composed an enjoyable piece of music that held no surprises. The work’s atmospheric sounds, soothing and repetitive musical motifs were lovely, and the passionate playing of cellist Matt Haimovitz was once again a delight.
For this piece, Rachael Worby had asked Peter Golub to also create a movie to accompany the music. Projected on the side screens, the film was a pastiche of clips from silent films, black and white classics, and classic American cartoons of various Sleepwalkers. It seemed more of a cute gimmick and detracted from the excellence of the music.
The 90-minute concert without intermission concluded with a crisply articulated performance of Benjamin Britten’s lively, Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Britten’s work showcased the talents of various soloists of the orchestra, including the excellent Percussion of Jason Goodman, and the work of Timpanist, Theresa Dimond. Actress Wendie Malick’s lovely voice and stage presence reading a new introduction, seemed superfluous. Her talents could have been more effectively used in the original role of “Narrator” for Britten’s work.
Despite these minor flaws, this was a first class concert. The professional staff and ushers helped make this outdoor multi-media musical event, along with the wonderful musicians under the inspired vision of Rachael Worby, a refreshing and welcome addition to the Los Angeles classical music scene.
For more information on the final concert of Muse/iques summer season see: http://www.muse-ique.com