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The emerging young musicians of iPalpiti

July 17, 2010 |  9:30 am

Conduct

Too often when classical music organizations think big, especially in these tough economic times, they run the risk of unmet expectations and financial difficulty. (Given a recently announced $6-million deficit, supporters of L.A. Opera might worry about its "Ring" being the textbook example.)

It’s the smaller groups that can afford to think flexibly and creatively and even thrive. The iPalpiti Festival of International Laureates, which this year celebrates its 13th anniversary, would seem to belong in that latter category.   
 
The summer festival, which began on Thursday and continues through July 25 with concerts throughout the Los Angeles area, features emerging young musicians rather than expensive virtuosos, and chamber ensembles instead of brassy symphonic programs.
 
According to festival founder, conductor and violin pedagogue Eduard Schmieder, “it’s risky to put on a festival like this. It’s safer to put on big names.”
 
Yet with iPalpiti, Schmieder, 62, has been able to attract a loyal following of listeners and donors. The festival’s culminating concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall, which has all 26 participants coming together as the iPalpiti Orchestra, has regularly received positive reviews and enthusiastic audiences. This year’s Disney Hall program on July 24 includes music celebrating the birth bicentennials of Chopin and Schumann -- Chopin’s First Piano Concerto with pianist Luiza Borac and Schumann’s Cello Concerto featuring cellist Julius Berger -- in leaner orchestral arrangements than what is usually heard today.
 
For some chamber music connoisseurs, the format of iPalpiti might recall the heyday of the Marlboro Music Festival in Marlboro, Vt., when cellist Pablo Casals would lead chamber musicians in orchestral programs. For Martin Chalifour, the principal concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and iPalpiti artistic advisor, this festival reminds him of the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, where top string players form an orchestra.
 
“For these young musicians, any performance opportunity like this is good for them at their stage of development,” Chalifour said. “Los Angeles is a welcome place to hone their skills and see where they fit.”

To read my profile of iPalpiti, click here.

-- Matthew Erikson

Photo: Edward Schmieder conducts as Luiza Borac plays piano during a rehearsal. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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