Maurice Ravel, meet Billy Childs

Music · Reviews
One of better-kept secrets of Los Angeles cultural life is Pacific Serenades, the chamber music series now 23 years in existence, but who knew? I was the privileged guests of artistic director Mark Carlson at an utterly civilized outing that combined a ripping string quartet, well-chilled chardonnay, and little fruit tarts. What could be better on ...

Thelonious Monk’s piano 4

Music
Amidst the brouhaha over Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman’s anti-U.S. protest during a recital at Disney Hall, arts•meme was struck by this information nugget in Mark Swed’s L.A. Times story: Zimerman is a magnificent obsessive.  He travels with his own Steinway, is his own piano technician, and even his own truck driver.  He typically spends half a year ...

A very cool cat: Burt Bacharach 3

Music · Reviews
We got a lot of joy from “Back to Bacharach and David,” the retrospective of the songs of composer Burt Bacharach and his lyricist Hal David dating from 1960-70. Originally produced off-Broadway in 1992, the revue had its first Los Angeles showing at the Music Box, an old vaudeville house located on a tough stretch of Hollywood Boulevard.  ...

Aretha Franklin for president 2

Fashion · Music
The editorial board of arts•meme — that would be me — loved the Inauguration. So did every single person in the entire world. We loved each of the show’s art events.We loved the fashion, the poetry, and we loved the multi-ethnic classical quartet of Jew, black, Asian, and Latina.(In post-racial America, we notice this less.) ...

Hungarian goulash in Los Angeles 1

Film · Music
We enjoyed an impromptu Hungarian arts festival in Los Angeles over the past month. First was a Disney Hall recital by Hungarian pianist Andras Schiff known for his Bach interpretation, but lately he is performing all the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas. Schiff is a sublime artist — except when he is glowering at the audience for coughing or rustling programs, ...

The incomparable Lou Reed at RedCat

Music
Last night Benoit and I sat in the small theater in the basement of the Disney Concert Hall as Lou Reed and his art-school buddies bombarded our ears with a wall of electronic sound. Lou Reed is a very tough minded and uncompromising artist. The music (two extended pieces lasting 1.5 hours) invaded our senses, sounding alternately like avant-garde ...

Jimi Hendrix hung out in Los Feliz 1

Fashion · Music
Urban legend has it that after a druggy night at a hippie crash pad in Los Feliz, Jimi Hendrix composed “Purple Haze.” According to the story, Hendrix was inspired by a psychedelicly painted bathroom.  The erstwhile hippie house — now a designer’s emporium and yet another L.A. real estate event — sits atop a hill overlooking my apartment building. That means that ...

Los Angeles Philharmonic: Adieu, Esa-Pekka Salonen! 6

Music
Friday night I watched Esa-Pekka Salonen conduct the LA Phil for perhaps my last time. Esa has had a huge impact on my life, as I entered the symphony world under his tutelage. He is retiring as the Phil’s conductor after this season. Renowned for his special touch with 20th century music, he conducted Stravinsky and ...