As a salute to the UC San Diego Department of Music, La Jolla SummerFest’s host for most of the 2018 music festival’s concerts, Music Director Cho-Liang Lin featured two of the university’s resident composers in his festival’s annual program of contemporary music: Rand Steiger’s new work “Tropes” and Lei Liang’s 2005 “Serashi Fragments.”
Even if the classical music community were not observing Leonard Bernstein’s centennial year, Nina Bernstein Simmons’ program “Late Night with Leonard Bernstein” for La Jolla SummerFest would have provided a well-spent evening.
After Friday’s uplifting, beautifully crafted opening night SummerFest concert, I was shocked to experience such a tasteless, aggressive musical assault attending SummerFest’s second concert on the following night, August 4, in UC San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Concert Hall.
If you are going to produce a rarely staged G. F. Handel opera, it is a good thing to have a few Handel operas under your belt. Opera NEO’s vibrant, superbly sung “Partenope” this past weekend (August 3 & 5) revealed how confidently this company has succeeded in making these Baroque operas as dramatically engaging as the popular verismo warhorses.
This season of La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest brings down the curtain on Music Director Cho-Liang Lin’s superb 18-year tenure with the festival. Friday’s opening concert offered sublime chamber works by Bartók and Villa-Lobos, as well as wit and charm in Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals.”
Opera NEO launched its summer season with a flashy, kinetic, cleverly updated production of that warhorse of operettas, Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow. Forget about Paris of 1905–the widow returns to Las Vegas of today.