Gloria Cheng’s solo flight @ Piano Spheres

Music

LAT-gloria-cheng

photo credit: Los Angeles Times

We’ve cruised through many chamber-music concerts spellbound by the exceptional artistry of pianist Gloria Cheng whose nearly demonic dedication to contemporary classical music invariably ramps up the entire evening … and she only plays with the best. But we’ve never enjoyed the pleasure of the Great Gloria in solo concert.

This problem will soon be remedied when Piano Spheres 2014-15 season comes to an close with Gloria Cheng delivering a program of 21st century repertoire including a world premiere by Steven Stucky’s Sonata, along with works by Ingram Marshall, Karen Tanaka, Eric Nathan, Brett Dean, Unsuk Chin, Pierre Boulez, and Jonathan Harvey.

Don’t be afraid! Cheng has selected “Lyric Modern” as her program theme, presenting composers with distinctive approaches to an affective lyricism in their music, in conflict with reputations as severe modernists.

Among the offerings, Sonata, from Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Steven Stucky, was commissioned by Piano Spheres with support from New Music USA. Steven Stucky is one of America’s most highly regarded and frequently performed living composers. ”

French composer, and-multi Grammy winner, Pierre Boulez is one of the most influential composers and conductors of our time. He draws a comparison between his music Une page d’éphéméride and fish in an aquarium “the fish hover motionless for a long time…then all of sudden take fright at something and flit like an arrow.”

Jonathan Harvey was a British composer who was influenced by cathedral music, Britten and the Schoenberg School; he drew inspiration as well from Messiaen and Stockhausen. Tombeau de Messiaen expresses Harvey’s deep feelings about the loss of this great composer who had died in 1992.

Gloria Cheng | Piano Spheres | Zipper Concert Hall, Colburn School | April 21, 8 pm

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Oh Samuel Lee Roberts, you beautiful Alvin Ailey dancer

Dance

Samuel-Lee-RobertsNarrow-Paul-Kolnik-copy-462x1024The pleasure of watching the splendid and just-gorgeous dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre at the company’s opening night performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion drove home how much time I have been spending looking at images of dancers on a computer.

And how that is not the real deal. To get the full brunt of dance, you gotta see it in the theater, in real time, with an audience.

One special sequence brought particular joy: the looong opening moments of Ohad Naharin’s dance pastiche, Minus 16, which last night benefited from the excellence of one man’s solo improvisation.

His name, Samuel Lee Roberts, his Ailey company bio here.

This gentleman’s silken wriggling and loose and confident presence, clad in a dark business suit alone on stage while pulsing to Nahrin’s lounge-lizard score (replete with mambo music), was a joy to behold. His low-key, deadpanned manner, his killing of time in a dancerly fashion with house lights half-dimmed… is it the show? is it still intermission? On and on he plodded. But when dance doyenne Glorya Kaufman entered the hall and took her seat, “Minus 16″ kicked in, in earnest. And the mayhem that broke loose is captured in the photo below.

minus-16-ailey
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre | Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center | Dorothy Chandler Pavilion | thru Sunday

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The great Graham’s California roots

Dance · featured

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In my “pre-talk” prior to Martha Graham Dance Company‘s performance at Valley Performing Arts Center this Saturday night, I make the case that the impact and duration of Graham’s career start-up in Los Angeles has gone woefully under reported. Here Graham poses with her first partner, Ted Shawn, in “Malaguena” (1921) — in a California setting.

After we set the historic record straight, I will have the privilege of interviewing Graham company Artistic Director Janet Eilber. Please attend.

Martha Graham Dance Company  | Valley Performing Arts Center | April 18, pre-talk, 6:45 pm

graham photo, merci leclownlyrique

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Dance Camera West to spool classic ballet flick, “The Unfinished Dance”

Dance · featured · Film
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Everything is beautiful at the ballet. Except at the movies. In the movies, for some confounded reason, the world of pretty-in-pink turns blood red. It’s a parade of backstage drama awash in envy, rage, depression, jealousy, backstabbing, unkindness — and that’s just the light stuff. At worst, there are full-on murderous attacks, vengeful fits and ...

George Chakiris brings “West Side Story” to the wild west

Dance · featured · Film
George Chakiris, star of West Side Story, Debra Levine
Just returned from a wonderful screening of the majestic movie musical from 1961, “West Side Story,” seen in an unusual setting, The Ellen Theatre, a rare, preserved vaudeville theater in Bozeman, Montana. The movie’s Academy Award-winning star, the actor-singer-dancer George Chakiris, took part in a long interview and audience Q & A session. The enthusiastic ...

How now, Shirley MacLaine @ TCM Fest 2015

Film
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Shirley MacLaine made a few appearances at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival, and she enthralled audiences with her candor. She revealed that when she first received the script for the Oscar-winning film, The Apartment, it was only 29 pages long. Director Billy Wilder and his longtime writing partner, I.A.L. Diamond, continued writing as filming ...

High-profile Los Angeles showcases for choreographer Andonis Foniadakis

Dance
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We’ve not yet experienced the ballets of Andonis Foniadakis, born in Crete and dance-educated in Athens. But on an upcoming April weekend we’ll get a very good opportunity. Two recent works by Foniadakis will be delivered by world-class dance companies, each performing at Los Angeles’s distinctively beautiful new theaters from April 16 – 18, 2015. ...

Billie Holiday in Los Angeles: the blues were brewing

featured · Music
by 
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Billie Holiday and her dog Mister, New York, c. June 1946, William P. Gottleib One of the greatest jazz singers who ever lived had a small voice, never more than 15 notes at her disposal, and recorded many throwaway tunes. But Billie Holiday (1915-1959) was great by virtue of her sure-footed musical gifts: behind-the-beat phrasing, ...

Catch fresh, new musicals as they emerge … at “Musi-Cal”

Music · Theater
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Did you ever have the feeling you got dropped into a world that’s really rich and interesting — and as an extreme outsider, your brain is racing to keep up? You’re in a mild state of shock, i.e., where have I been while all of this has been going on? That was much how I ...

Ann Miller, in KISS ME KATE 3-D, too darn hot!

Dance · Film
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It was awfully fun, during TCM Fest 2015, to run into Jon Olivan who heads up the TCM Classic Movie Fan Club in Los Angeles. We mixed and mingled in Club TCM, sipping (complementary) Humphrey Bogart gin surrounded by Mike Kaplan’s great dance-movie posters exhibited in that lounge. Olivan shared a special memory of “Kiss ...