Saturday’s La Jolla SummerFest program, “Songs of Heaven and Earth,” clustered major sacred works by J.S. Bach, Olivier Messaien and Gustav Mahler, a combination of composers I cannot recall appearing together on a previous SummerFest program, Both the musical progression and the spiritual journey proved unusually compelling.

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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.”

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Festival programming that runs out of pleasant surprises is likely to overstay its welcome, so SummerFest Music Director Cho-Liang Lin came up with a pair highly unusual offerings by Britten and Elgar for Sunday’s (August 20) afternoon concert at the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall . . .

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