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Santa Monica's Jacaranda Music Series Kicks Off with Harrison, Glass Compositions

 

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By Jorge Casuso

October 19, 2017 -- Santa Monica's adventurous Jacaranda music series kicks of Saturday with a concert featuring microtonal works by modern masters of unusual tuning Lou Harrisaon and Ben Johnston.

The six concerts this year explore "conscience and consciousness" and focus on six "program ideas" -- environment, power, solidarity, sensuality, science and identity, concert organizers said.
Lou Harrison
Lou Harrison

The season opens with performances that feature both equal temperament (the standard tuning system that divides the octave into twelve equal parts) and unusual tunings to create unique sonic environments.

The exotic sounds of microtonal tuning are on full display in Lou Harrison's Varied Quintet, a 1987 composition that reflects the West Coast composer's fascination with Javanese gamelan forms.

Also on the program is Johnston’s Quartet No. 9, which was composed the following year and will be performed by Lyris Quartet. The Georgia composer's works use the just intonation system pioneered by the eccentric 20th century composer Harry Partch.

The concert also features works in traditional tuning that achieve an edge using elements that include unusual rhythmic structures.

Such is the case for Philip Glass' Symphony No. 3, a 1995 composition scored for string orchestra that uses the New York composer's trademark pulsing rythms to create a hypnotic effect.

The program includes Japanese composer Karen Tanaka's 1989 composition "Jardin des Herbes" written for harpsichord and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky's "Two Holy Sonnets of John Donne," a 1982 setting for mezzo soprano of two of the metaphysical Renaissance poet's works.

Now in its 15th season, Jacaranda presents music "mostly missing from the cultural life of Los Angeles in compelling performances that make you wonder why," according to the non-profit organization's website.

Jacaranda's concerts take place at the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, 1220 2nd Street. For more information and to purchase tickets click here

 


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