Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood Bowl’

Extra! Extra! Ticket Giveaway to see All-Star George Gershwin Tribute!

george_gershwinBy far one of the greatest opening sequences of any film ever made is Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Yes, it’s the photography, the voice-over narration, the shots of New York City at its finest, but more than anything, it’s George Gershwin’sRhapsody in Blue.” The undertow of buzzing clarinet and twinkling piano, combined with the slow, celebratory build of the entire orchestra induces a simultaneous feeling of hopeful anticipation and relaxed confidence. In Gershwin’s own words: “I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, our metropolitan madness.”

No, no. Too expected. Too pretentious. Calls too much attention to the movie. Try it again.

By far one of the best pieces of music to completely and flawlessly capture the essence of an entire season is “Summertime,” by George Gershwin. Originally conceived for the ‘folk-opera,’ Porgy and Bess, the aria—which has been covered more times than “Blackbird”—manages to somehow smell like summer. You need an iced tea when you hear it. And what better time, what better place than the Hollywood Bowl

No. Just get to the point, Josh. You’re supposed to be giving away tickets. That’s all people care about. Just do your job.

This Wednesday, August 25th at 8:00 PM at the Hollywood Bowl, the LA Philharmonic presents Gershwin Across America, an all-star, all-genre tribute to the legendary composer and upcoming CD of the same name. Artists include Jason Mraz, Monica Mancini (daughter of film composer Henry Mancini), gospel singer Bebe Winans, Grammy Award-winning Nancy Wilson), St. Vincent (for the hipster fetishists among us), and an accompanying big band and strings section feautring the Shelly Berg Trio, Gordon Goodwin, Tom Scott, Arturo Sandoval and more.

To win two tickets to this summertime rhapsody of sorts, all you have to do is enter your first name, last name, and e-mail address into the form below,and you will automatically be entered into the running for this concert, as well as our next three ticket giveaways.

I guess that’s good enough. Why make a blog longer than it needs to be? Why even write these things? God, it’s hot out… I wish I could play the piano…

- By Joshua Morrison

(required)

(required)

                       (valid email required)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Art, Classical Music, Extra! Extra!, Hollywood, Jazz, Music, Musical Theatre, Neighborhoods, Performance, Personalities, Tickets No Comments »

Jewphony!

LAJS10-Ford-ORCHef48c13GuyMadmoni-1024x682The Ford Amphitheatre, located not a stone’s throw away from the Hollywood Bowl off the 101, is a good venue to stage a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or possibly Into the Woods. The sandstone sloped arena, where the audience sits, collides onto a central platform—to be had by the performers—which is backed by a lush, green, jungle-like mountain-side. It’s a little like one of those alternate dimensions you see characters in science fiction movies walk into, and it provides a sense of imminent danger. It’s perfect for Shakespeare, for fairy tales, and as was evidenced in the case of this past Sunday night, for Jews.

As a card-carrying member of Jewish tribe, who has attended my fair share of family Passover dinners, I know all too well the importance of a real or perceived threat (historical oppression, a gentile daughter-in-law, an infamously inedible recipe, etc.) in accommodating the success of a large-form, Jewish get-together. It creates unity. And the effect was no different on Sunday evening at the Ford Amphitheatre when the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony performed their latest melange of classical numbers, entitled “Cinema Judaica,” for a sold out audience of almost all geriatric Jews.

A woman two rows in back of me: “It wouldn’t be a Seder without Bubby’s kogl.”

Another woman holding two fingers together: “Our daughters and Sherri are like this!”

About the conductor: “She let her hair grow longer.”

And indeed the conductor, Dr. Noreen Green—also the founder and Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony—did have long locks of blonde hair that bounced neatly atop her shoulders as she walked casually out to the central, elevated plank, and initiated a  rousing rendition of Alfred Newman’s20th Century Fox” theme, arguably the best known musical score in cinema. It was after the piece finished, however, that Dr. Green started in with her second role of the night (equally integral), which was quiz master and all-around emcee.

“What movie won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1956?” she asked aloud to the crowd, following a brief introduction of the program on bill.

The Ten Commandments,” screamed back some sporadic (though passionate) voices from the audience. But they were wrong. Cecille B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments did not win Best Picture that year; it was just nominated. But it was first up on the night’s listing of Jewish-composed/themed film scores—the composer of this piece being the great Elmer Bernstein.

He was supposedly hired by DeMille after another composer dropped out, and is still credited with changing the face of music for cinema. Hearing his epic “Ten Commandments Suite” played live by truly professional musicians—depsite the summer-camp vibe—I could make out the roots of Laurie Johnson’s Dr. Stangelove score, or even early John Williams.

Bernstein’s composition for The Chosen was next was on the agenda (after, of course, a second round of the ever-more-crowd-pleasing Quiz Show with Dr. Green.) This film demanded both jazz and traditional klezmer, in addition to Bernstein’s classical model. What emerged on stage was a swirling mixture of all three genres. Like a practiced jam band, the bass-players plucked swinging jazz riffs, while the clarinet and synthesized harpsichord snapped along with the klezmer, allowing for improvised sax solos and piano doodles. Never before had I considered the obvious connection between jazz and klezmer; they both rely on similar tools, such as off-key sharps and flats, to attain a colorful, upbeat music of the oppressed.

“There’s so much stuff up here,” kvetched Dr. Green once her second finely-conducted number was finished. The audience laughed, and watched her fiddle with cue-cards, batons, and god knows what else before launching into the most complex piece of the whole night: Jerry Goldsmith’s suite from the six-and-a-half-hour miniseries QB VII. Quick, unexpected changes in tempo, along with diverse instrumentation—congas, xylophones, electric guitars, and the entire Ford Festival Choir—combined for what I can only describe as Sciezmer, a perfect combination between between sci-fi and klezmer. Where the string section appeared semi-bored during the last Bernstein bout, their eyes were locked onto their music stands for this piece. Finishing off the suite with Goldsmith’s purposefully fragmented version of the Mourner’s Kaddish, the music was mesmerizing to say the least.

But just in case it wasn’t exactly a “greatest hit,” the orchestra went on to perform the instantly recognizable theme from Schindler’s List, as composed by John Williams, with Mark Kashper, Associate Principal Second Violinist for the L.A. Philharmonic, playing the solo. This piece was so moving, the couple sitting next to me (who must have been in their 70’s) started holding hands. And they kept them held together all through Charles Fox’sVictory at Entebbe Suite,” a powerful, pop-y, Phillip Glass-inspired melody, as well as Israeli pianist Andy Feldbau’s own solo arrangement of Alan Menken’sA Whole New World” from Aladdin. All this before intermission. No one ever said the Jews didn’t know how to squeeze in a good show.

However, Dr. Green and the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony’s directors must have been counting on the majority of the audience falling asleep during the second half, because it simply was not up to par.

First was Danny Pelfrey’s suite from Joseph: King of Dreams, which was rousing if only because it seemed like one long crescendo of music. After that came the song “Trinkt L’Chayim” from Elmer Bernstein and Sylvia Neufeld’s score for Thoroughly Modern Millie. This piece was sung by Ariella Vaccarino, who’s gift lies in her voice, not in her fashion sense (she was wearing a sparkly, red strapless dress that was a bit too Broadway for the event).

And what kind of Jewish symphony would it be without the conductor’s own daughter performing a solo? That’s right: Hannah Drew, the gorgeous (and might I add, finely dressed), 13-year-old seed of Maestra Green sung the title song from Disney’s The Prince of Egypt, as composed by the legendary Stephen Schwartz. I hesitate to critique her performance, because, after all, she’s only 13. But then again, why is her mother hoisting her up on stage at such a fragile age? All I’m going to say is that while Hannah was, for the most part, brave and astonishing, she was clearly a product of intense coaching. In other words, she’s in training, as she should be at 13.

Luckily, the most inspired and fun composition of the night, written by Yuval Ron for the Oscar-winning short film West Bank Story, came next. Ron, himself, played the oud live with the orchestra, and his passion for the Arabian/klezmer/Israeli/show-tune music was palpable. Along with his colleague Jamie Papish on drum, he was on fire.

Lastly and appropriately, the show ended with a reprise of Jerry Goldsmith, this time from his score for the film Masada. It cleanly showed off the overall unity of the orchestra, the immense responsibility it takes from each and every musician to come together as a cohesive and beautiful whole. I looked around the audience, and not a seat was empty. Everyone, even the oldest and the youngest, were still present and awake. I realized that a symphonic piece of music like Goldsmith’s is not a bad metaphor for Masada, or even Jewishness in general. Because group unity (borne from individuality) is what’s it’s all about.

- By Joshua Morrison

Photography by Guy Madmoni.

For more information about Ford Amphitheatre events, please visit www.fordamphitheater.org, or call 323-461-3673.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Art, Classical Music, Film, Hollywood, Music, Neighborhoods, Performance, The Social Scene, Theatre No Comments »

Extra! Extra! Win Tickets to Not Pay For Rent!

rent_415x150I have mixed feelings about Rent.

On one hand, the wildly popular, Tony Award-winning musical turned major motion picture seems to have climaxed to the level of bubbly pop non-sense—Joey Fatone playing no small role in this symbolic transformation. (Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America: World Police decidedly contains the best satirical take on Rent to date: a group of overjoyed actors on a Broadway stage, clapping their hands to the lyrics, “We’ve all got AIDS!”—the bourgeois audience happily joining in).

On the other hand, Rent is a great show. It reinvented the musical genre and operatic concept for a younger audience, told a worthwhile and relevent story, had some excellent numbers that I still find myself singing in the shower, and originated from the genuine heart and soul of a true artist: Jonathan Larson.

In a weird way, the on-going legacy of Rent has begun to reflect its central theme, which, to me, is the struggle between the intentions of romantic integrity and the compromises of life’s daily realities. Where Larson once insisted on casting actors with little or no experience, the role of Mimi in the film adaptation was handed over to Rosario Dawson. Where the production was once a simple staged reading at the New York Theatre Workshop, the latest tours have ventured as far as Slovakia and Guam. And where the first two rows of every Broadway show were once reserved for the homeless (or at least whoever stood in line the whole day), tickets now sell upwards of $200 a pop.

(required)

(required)

                       (valid email required)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Art, Dance, Extra! Extra!, Hollywood, Music, Musical Theatre, Neighborhoods, Performance, Theatre, Tickets No Comments »

Extra! Extra! Win Tickets to Legendary Count Basie Orchestra!

count-basie-orchestra-0011Jazz remains one of the few indigenous, American art forms, in that nothing quite like it ever existed before Buddy Bolden and Jelly Roll Morton started mixing up ragtime with the blues in an early 1900’s city called New Orleans. And to understand the history of jazz, as well as its incredible influence on our culture, is to understand the history of America and American music from slavery on up. Simply put, no artist you listen to today could exist without jazz. Which is why the genre makes its sudden flares of resurgence from time to time, and why you can still walk into most hip coffee shops around the city—notably, the Downbeat Café on Alvarado—and find a slick laptop-er or two subconsciously tapping their heels to the likes of Duke Ellington or Count Basie.

This Wednesday, July 28th at 8:00 PM at the Hollywood Bowl, jazz proves its not dead with the internationally renowned Count Basie Orchestra—still going after eighty years. Known for popularizing the Kansas City-style of big band jazz, as well as initiating some of the greatest artists in history (including Billy Holiday, Jo Jones, and Charlie Parker), Basie, himself, passed away in 1984, but his band plays on under different direction and with a regenerating cast of musicians. The current Orchestra doesn’t strictly adhere to its Kansas City roots (i.e. rhythmic riffs under improvised solos), but instead incoporates more of the East coast, neo-classisist style of big band jazz, with complex arrangements by director Bill Hughes.

That’s not to say, however, that such Count classics as “One O’Clock Jump” or “April in Paris” won’t be bouncing through the Bowl on Wednesday—along with the Dave Holland Big Band, the Dave Douglas Big Band, and yes, maybe you. Due to the overwhelming response of our last giveaways, FineArtsLA.com is once again raffling off two tickets to the Hollywood Bowl to see the Count Basie Orchestra live at 8:00 PM. Just enter your first and last name into the form below, as well as your e-mail address, and you are automatically entered into the running to win not just Wednesday night’s tickets, but also the next three FineArtsLA.com giveaways. So brush up on your two-step, and dust off those dancing shoes; even if you don’t win our contest, you can still buy tickets here.

(required)

(required)

                       (valid email required)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Dance, Extra! Extra!, Hollywood, Jazz, Music, Neighborhoods, Old School, Performance, Personalities, Tickets No Comments »