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 a Saturday afternoon?
Saturday’s premiere was by Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist Billy Childs, a Los Angeles native who’s just been awarded a 2009 Guggenheim award for music composition. His prodigious talent roams the map, from soloist to band member (Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis) to accompanist/arranger (Diane Reeves) to, now, composer for string quartet.
Childs’s polished and accomplished String Quartet #1 progressed organically through its three movements; memorable especially were the stretched-out notes in the grippingly emotional second movement (largo lacrimoso), with ghostly hints of blues roots.