Category: Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Conductor Jeffrey Kahane suffers minor injuries in crash

March 28, 2012 |  9:44 am

Jeffrey Kahane
Jeffrey Kahane, music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra since 1997, suffered minor injuries in a car accident in Santa Rosa on Monday night and has withdrawn from appearances with the Hawaii Symphony next week, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Details of the injuries were not disclosed.

The spokeswoman said that Kahane and his wife, Martha, who was with him at the time, would be fine.

He plans to lead the Chamber Orchestra as scheduled for local engagements on April 12, 19 and 21, she said.


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The L.A. and Brooklyn new music scenes, competition or love-fest?

Nazi-looted art trove discovered in Germany?

-- Lee Margulies

Photo: Jeffrey Kahane at his Santa Rosa home in 2011. Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Kahane suffers injuries in crash

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From a Times Staff Writer

Jeffrey Kahane, music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra since 1997, suffered minor injuries in a car accident in Santa Rosa on Monday night and has withdrawn from appearances with the Hawaii Symphony next week, his spokeswoman said Tuesday. Details of the injuries were not disclosed.

The spokeswoman said that Kahane and his wife, Martha, who was with him at the time, would be fine. He plans to lead the Chamber Orchestra as scheduled for local engagements on April 12, 19 and 21, she said.

The L.A. and Brooklyn new music scenes, competition or love-fest?

March 26, 2012 |  5:24 pm

Timothy AndresReviewing a rousing concert by the Los Angeles new music collective wild Up in November, I expressed pleasure that a faction of young L.A. composers retain the kind of cutting edge that can get smoothed over in other emerging scenes. Brooklyn, N.Y., in particular is a happening arts center where mixology extends not just to cocktails but also to a too easy throwing together of different kinds of music in a way that waters them down.

But there is also a more bracing Brooklyn, and one to which L.A. feels both close to and competitive with. We on the West Coast jealously watch many of our promising composers flock there. We also do our best to be Brooklyn on the Pacific. We’ve got the Dodgers and good Brooklyn bagels. And we play Brooklyn music, as wild Up and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra proved over the weekend.

At Beyond Baroque on Saturday afternoon, wild Up devoted the first half of a program to Brooklyn, the second half to L.A. One of the Brooklyn composers was Timo Andres, whose feisty piano solo, “How Can I Live in Your World of Ideas?” was on the program.

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Piatigorsky Cello Festival blends learning with performance

March 14, 2012 |  8:15 am

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson’s YouTube tastes are admittedly a little bit different from his peers at Santa Monica High School.

“I search cellists on the Internet and whatever pieces I’m interested in hearing, and I’ve created a library of my favorite cellists,” says Ferguson, a senior.

The 17-year-old recently added himself to the cellists on YouTube as part of an audition for a spot in the inaugural Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, a 10-day extravaganza that began Friday night. Ferguson will be one of 110 cellist performing at Walt Disney Concert Hall in the finale of the festival.

“This is the first time I’ve ever put anything of myself playing solo out there for the world to see,” says Ferguson, dressed in a pressed black button-down shirt and matching trousers before a chamber music performance at the Colburn School. “You upload those two pieces, and they watch it, and you hope you get it.”

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Music review: Jeffrey Kahane recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall

March 8, 2012 | 12:32 pm

Jeffrey Kahane
Pianist-conductor Jeffrey Kahane’s combination recital and chamber music concert on Wednesday at Walt Disney Concert Hall took a delightful detour when he performed his son Gabriel’s “Django: Tiny Variations on a Big Dog.”

Commissioned by Kahane père in 2008, the score was inspired by the family dog, named after the great jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Programmed between major works by Bach and Chopin, this rigorously inventive six-minute set of variations remarkably held its own.

Sounding hoarse from hay fever, Kahane told the Disney Hall audience it took him months to learn his son’s breakneck perpetual motion variation, “Mechanized Django.” He dazzlingly conveyed Django’s different moods, including a ragtime section evoking goofy canine charm.

Since becoming music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in 1997, Kahane hasn’t been seen much in recital. But he began his career as a pianist, winning a gold medal at the Arthur Rubinstein competition in 1983. Kahane opened with Bach’s French Suite No. 5 (BWV 816), performed with expressive warmth and fleet-fingered high spirits. His occasional ornamentations gave due consideration to Baroque performance practices without becoming precious, and he crisply articulated the ebullient concluding Gigue.

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Tchaikovsky finalist Nigel Armstrong to play with L.A. Chamber Orchestra

January 19, 2012 | 11:20 am

Violinist Nigel Armstrong, who won fourth prize in last year's 14th International Tchaikovsky Competition, will make his debut with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra this weekend.

Armstrong, 21, a graduate of the Colburn School Conservatory of Music, will play Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major in concerts Saturday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale and Sunday at UCLA's Royce Hall. The program, which will be conducted by principal cello Andrew Shulman, also includes Mozart's Symphony No. 29 in A major and Walton's Sonata for Strings.

LACO booked Armstrong before he gained attention at the Tchaikovsky, the prestigious quadrennial competition held in Russia. Music director Jeffrey Kahane says he first met Armstrong several years ago when Armstrong, who is from Sonoma, played for him at his home in nearby Santa Rosa. "I was enormously impressed," he recalls.

Last spring, Kahane asked a friend at Colburn if she knew any students who could perform a Mozart concerto with the orchestra. "She told me there was a young violinist named Nigel Armstrong and I said, 'Oh, I know Nigel!'" 

Kahane and concertmaster Margaret Batjer arranged to hear Armstrong play. "We were just knocked out," Kahane says. "Great Mozart playing is the most demanding kind of playing there is. Every single note is exposed and has to be perfect in so many ways, has to be felt and thought and cared for. He's one of many violinists with technique to burn ... but to find that depth of musicianship in a young person is very unusual."

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Composer Andrew Norman joins Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

January 12, 2012 |  5:13 pm


Composer Andrew Norman will be joining the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as its new composer-in-residence. Jeffrey Kahane, the orchestra's music director, has appointed Norman to the post for a three-year period starting in July.

Norman, 32, will succeed Derek Bermel as the orchestra’s eighth composer-in-residence. As part of his appointment, the composer will work on a new commission from the orchestra and assist Kahane on a number of tasks, including visiting select local high school and college composition classes. His music will also receive performances by the orchestra.

The composer, who was raised in central California and lives in Brooklyn, has worked with some of the country's top music organizations. In 2011, he presented his piece "Try" at Walt Disney Concert Hall, with members of the L.A. Philharmonic conducted by John Adams.

Norman's "Gran Turismo" was performed at Disney Hall in 2010, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

The composer studied at the University of Southern California and Yale University. In addition to his new appointment, he also serves as composer-in-residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.


Music review: Jeffrey Kahane conducts the L.A. Chamber Orchestra

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-- David Ng

Photo: Composer Andrew Norman at a 2011 concert of the L.A. Philharmonic's New Music Group. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Music review: Jeffrey Kahane conducts the L.A. Chamber Orchestra

December 11, 2011 |  3:21 pm

Cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and conductor Jeffrey Kahane
At the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Saturday, Jeffrey Kahane led the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in works by Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Adès and Respighi. It was a night of musical and artistic tributes that brought the 17th and 18th centuries into the 21st.

Kahane and the orchestra fully conveyed the pathos in Ravel’s four-movement orchestrated version of his six-movement piano suite, "Le tombeau de Couperin," which opened the program. Begun by Ravel just before World War I as a tribute to the spirit of 18th-century French music, the score became a memorial to friends killed or wounded during that cataclysm. In the taxing oboe part, Allan Vogel supplied a poignant underpinning throughout, especially in the Menuet.

Tchaikovsky’s "Variations on a Rococo Theme," inspired by Mozart’s Classical elegance, gave listeners a chance to hear Texas-born cellist Ralph Kirshbaum, founding artistic director of L.A.’s upcoming inaugural Piatigorsky International Cello Festival. The cellist gave a technically uneven account that was nonetheless persuasive. Kirshbaum performed as if by feeling alone -– he never looked at his hands -- but his natural phrasing and poetry in the slower variations won out over moments of uncertain intonation and rough spots in technically demanding faster passages. His encore was an introverted reading of Bach’s Sarabande from the Suite No. 3.

KahaneAfter intermission, Kahane called Thomas Adès “already one of the greatest composers ever.” And based on his vibrant and colorful reading of the composer's "Three Studies From Couperin," it was hard to argue. The middle movement, which wittily deconstructs Couperin’s music, showcased LACO’s rhythmic suppleness.

While the string sections were being reconfigured -- Adès’ score required a double string orchestra -- violinist Julie Gigante honored the 20th anniversary of artist Kent Twitchell’s eight-story LACO tribute, “Harbor Freeway Overture,” which overlooks the northbound 110 Freeway downtown. Gigante, who is in the mural with fellow active ensemble members Vogel and principal violist Roland Kato, had Twitchell take a bow.

Then, Kahane and the orchestra gave an eloquent, songful rendition of Respighi's “The Birds.”


Kent Twitchell's L.A. Chamber Orchestra mural turns 20

-- Rick Schultz
Top photo: Cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and conductor Jeffrey Kahane. Credit: Ken Hively / For The Times. Lower photo: Kahane. Credit: Ken Hively / For The Times.

Kent Twitchell's L.A. Chamber Orchestra mural turns 20

December 8, 2011 | 11:03 am

Kent Twitchell, an artist known for thinking big, got the chance to think really big two decades ago when the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra asked him to paint a mega-mural to help raise its profile.

His 11,000-square-foot “Harbor Freeway Overture,” which overlooks the northbound 110 Freeway downtown, fills three parking-structure walls with a dozen figures in concert dress standing beneath a cloudy sky.

The eight-story "Overture" is the largest installed work by a man famous for his super-sized portraits, which has made it a cultural point of interest as well as a roadside landmark.

"The mural is an icon," says LACO's general manager Andrea Laguni, one that, he notes, has survived the years in good shape, having outlasted graffiti vandals, encroaching eucalyptus trees and attempts to replace it with billboards.

As LACO prepares to mark the artwork's 20th anniversary with a brief program at this weekend’s concerts, the three current ensemble members seen in the mural posed for a photograph (above) near their larger-than-life likenesses.

Julie Gigante, a first violin, is featured on the left wall. Principal oboe Allan Vogel and principal viola Roland Kato are part of the group in the middle. (On the right wall is Ralph Morrison, who was concertmaster from 1988 to 1996.)

"Kent did more than create a pretty picture," says Gigante. "It's an intriguing piece of art that makes people stop and look and think."

Click here to read the full story about “Harbor Freeway Overture.”


Jeffrey Kahane brings team spirit to L.A. Chamber Orchestra

-- Karen Wada

Photo: Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra musicians Julie Gigante, left, Allan Vogel and Roland Kato in front of Kent Twitchell's mural "Harbor Freeway Overture." Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times.

Music review: Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra opens season

September 26, 2011 |  3:15 pm

Hijmans and Kahane
Once the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra was on stage at UCLA’s Royce Hall Sunday night, longtime principal oboist Allan Vogel came forth to pay tribute to Jeffrey Kahane. The concert marked the start of Kahane’s 15th season as music director, and Vogel called this LACO’s golden age. He has some authority in that regard, having joined the ensemble as a young second oboe 39 years ago. Still, the proof was in the playing.

Kahane ended the program doing something he does supremely well, which is conduct Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto from the keyboard. There was a gripping theater to be experienced in the back-and-forth tug between a rhythmically incisive orchestra and Kahane’s molten, eloquent, urgent piano playing. The symphonic picture was large, while the drama was personal.

That’s one side of Kahane. There are others. Like the fact that he played guitar in a rock band as a kid growing up in L.A. in the ‘60s. And on the first half of the program, Kahane conducted the West Coast premiere of Derek Bermel’s Ritornello, which the composer describes as a “concerto grosso” for electric guitar and orchestra. This -- along with the West Coast premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s short “Sidereus” -- was the news of the night.

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L.A. Chamber Orchestra's Jeffrey Kahane: Wunderkind to maestro

September 10, 2011 |  8:45 am


Jeffrey Kahane
Jeffrey Kahane, the widely respected music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, was able to launch his career as a result of placing high in international piano competitions, like many concert pianists of his generation. In 1981, Kahane reached the finals of the Van Cliburn Competition. He received first prize at the 1983 Rubinstein Competition.

“It would be extremely disingenuous of me if I didn’t acknowledge that winning these competitions was critical to my career,” Kahane said in a recent interview at his home in Santa Rosa.  “Doing well in the Van Cliburn competition when I was 25 enabled me to get management, which then allowed me to get concerts outside the Bay Area. In 1983, when I won the grand prize in the Rubinstein competition, I managed to get more orchestral dates.”

But acing major contests isn’t the be-all-and-end-all for a young virtuoso’s burgeoning career. “If I take a look at the most successful young pianists around today, like Jeremy Denk and Lang Lang, a lot of them have never been in major international competitions,” Kahane said. 

According to Kahane, the overall visibility of competitions has decreased, owing to their exponential growth. “There are 10 times the number of competitions today than there were 25 years ago,” Kahane said. “Competitions have proliferated around the world so much that some someone could win the top prize and scarcely anybody would take notice.”

So what does it take for a young pianist on the make to get noticed today?

“Increasingly, we’re seeing that the really special talents are heard because there is a network of people in world of music who have their ears tuned to listen out for what’s really special,” Kahane said. “Word of mouth is really important.”

Read the Arts & Books profile of pianist/conductor Jeffrey Kahane.

-- Chloe Veltman

Photo credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times



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