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Soprano Danielle Talamantes and Tenor Derek Chester

Handel’s “Messiah”, a “Rediscovered” Concerto, and a World Premiere

La Jolla CA— La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) continues a season-long exploration of the theme “Lineage” with its second concert of the 2018-19 series. On December 8-9, Steven Schick will conduct orchestra, chorus and soloists in a celebration of the holidays with Handel’s “Messiah,” featuring the rarely performed arrangement by Mozart for large orchestra. The program begins with the West Coast premiere of Florence Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2 — a recently re-discovered gem written more than 65 years ago! Also on the program is the world premiere of this year’s Thomas Nee Commission, Between Clouds and Streams, by Chinese-American composer Qingqing Wang.

Florence Price was a remarkable African-American composer that history nearly forgot. Born in 1887 in Little Rock, she spent most of her career in Chicago, achieving some success when her work was championed by the Chicago Symphony in the 1930s. During her lifetime, she wrote over 300 works, including four symphonies, two violin concertos, a piano concerto, piano music, and a large number of songs and choral compositions. Yet, most of these remain unpublished. Price’s music is only now being discovered by audiences. The Violin Concerto No. 2, composed in 1952, received its orchestral premiere in February of this year by the Arkansas Philharmonic, with Er-Gene Kahng soloing. The 14-minute concerto is romantic, sweeping and melody-driven, with brilliant passages for the violin soloist, performed in this concert by LJS&C Concertmaster David Buckley.


2018 Thomas Nee Commission recipient Qingqing Wang

Between Clouds and Streams, composed by 2018 Thomas Nee Commission recipient Qingqing Wang, is a two-movement work for orchestra inspired by nature and the Chinese ink wash painting technique call Gouliu that combines blank spaces and blurred outlines with clearly sketched detail. The piece incorporates new sounds and, at times, an experimental conducting technique called “conduction” to express an inner world of energy and motion. Wang is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at University of California, San Diego, studying composition with Lei Liang.

George Frideric Handel premiered Messiah in Dublin on April 13, 1742 to stunning success. For the following two-and-a-half centuries it has remained a staple of Christmas celebrations. Messiah is structured on Christianity’s three holy days — Christmas, Good Friday and Easter. The text, by Handel’s long-time friend Charles Jennens, does not cast the work as a drama — there’s no narrative line, rising action or climax. Instead, Jennens chose texts about specific incidents in the life of Christ. Handel’s music is magnificent, and he blesses the soloists with some of the most appealing melodies ever written. Originally scored for a very small orchestra (two oboes, two trumpets, timpani, and strings), Mozart’s re-orchestration in 1789 is for much larger orchestra, including some instruments that Handel would not have known. The present performances offer Part I of Messiah – the “Christmas” section – and conclude with the Hallelujah Chorus from Part II. Messiah is usually heard in the edition prepared by the English musicologist Watkins Shaw in 1959, but at these concerts it is presented in the orchestration by Mozart. Soloists are soprano Danielle Talamantes, mezzo-soprano Mindy Ella Chu, tenor Derek Chester, and bass-baritone Kerry Wilkerson.

The performances take place in Mandeville Auditorium at UC San Diego on Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9, 2018. Concert times are 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. A pre-concert lecture by Steven Schick is given one hour before concert start. Tickets are $15-$35. Parking is free on weekends. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 858-534-4637 or visit lajollasymphony.com.

The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, San Diego’s oldest and largest community orchestra and chorus, is a non-profit musical performing group dedicated to inspiring San Diego with the joy of music. Its 90-person orchestra and 110-person chorus perform groundbreaking orchestral and choral music alongside traditional favorites from the classical repertoire. During the 64th season, Music Director Steven Schick leads the ensemble in music by Bernstein, Beethoven, Handel, Stravinsky, Barber and more. Founded in 1954, LJS&C has been an affiliate of UC San Diego since 1967.