If you see the history of music as a continuum, imagining, for instance, a train route with stops at towns A, B and C and cities L, R and X, then putting concert programs together comes down to the simple matching of contrasting stops in a journey of optional length.
Murry Sidlin, music director and conductor of the Long Beach Symphony, sees programming that way, and balances his orchestral agendas accordingly.
About the program he has assembled for the Long Beach orchestra to play Thursday night in Terrace Theater, Sidlin insists, from his home in Connecticut, that the lineup of Ned Rorem's "Lions," Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony and Arnold Schoenberg's orchestral transcription of Brahms' G-minor Piano Quartet does not end in a detour.
"These are all mainline works," the 46-year-old conductor says. "What makes Schoenberg's transcription particularly intriguing is that Schoenberg wrote it as an homage to Brahms, whose work he adored. He wasn't trying to make it better, or bigger, just to express his admiration for it."
In the process, Sidlin says, Schoenberg created "quite a different piece, different in its sound and in its perspective," and one worth hearing for itself.
Equally intriguing, the conductor thinks, is Rorem's 24-year-old "Lions," which Sidlin says expresses "a Cocteau-like sentiment in a Cocteau-like dream. It contains, in its 14 minutes, a jazz quartet, tangos, and what Rorem calls 'a terror joyous.' What could be better for opening a symphony program?"
Now in the concluding months of his seventh season as music director of the Long Beach ensemble, Sidlin says he expects the orchestra's long-term debt (which had been reduced to $400,000 from $758,000 by the beginning of 1986-87) to be retired within the next two years. And by the 1988-89 season, he thinks, "we can begin to offer our subscribers five concerts played by the full-size orchestra."
In the long-range plans being considered by the leadership of the orchestra, Sidlin says, "we are still addressing how the Long Beach Symphony, a regional orchestra, fits into the larger picture.
"Is there really an audience out there to support this orchestra? We think so, and we are still very encouraged by the response in this present season.
"It has been a hardship for some members of our audience, having our concerts on Thursday nights. Next season, we have been able to return to all Saturday nights. But, even with problems, our audience has grown, and our former supporters have stuck with us."
Will Sidlin stick?
"My commitment remains. And, I figure, since I have now been through all these difficult times, it would be nice still to be here when the fun arrives."
DANCEWISE: Presented by the UCLA Center for the Arts, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs seven times at the Wiltern Theatre, Tuesday night through next Sunday afternoon. Included in the repertory will be four West Coast premieres, as well as revivals and recent works. The opening night program: "Night Creature," "Pas de Duke," "Caverna Magica," "Witness" and "Bad Blood." See our listings for subsequent programs. . . . Roberto Amaral, Angelita and her Concierto Flamenco, Lola Montes, Benito Palacios, Bruce Patterson, Carolina Russek & Co., Pepita Sevilla, Juan Talavera and Luisa Triana are among the artists appearing in a "Tribute to Cruz Luna" to be given in Sexson Auditorium at Pasadena City College, April 12 at 3 p.m. Proceeds from the event will benefit medical expenses for the ailing Luna, who formerly danced with Luisa Triana. . . . Rudolf Nureyev & Friends appear one night only, Saturday at 8:30 p.m., in Shrine Auditorium, under auspices of the Ambassador Foundation. . . . Cynthia Strang, a former member of Los Angeles Ballet, has joined the ranks of Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle.
OJAI: For the sixth time in three decades, Lukas Foss will serve as music director of the Ojai Festival, this year in its 41st season, May 29-31. Again, the irrepressible Foss, now 61, will display his talents as conductor, composer and pianist. Over the course of five concerts, four of Foss' compositions will be heard. They are his "Renaissance" Concerto, in which flutist Carol Wincenc will be soloist; his Concerto for percussion and orchestra, with soloist Jan Williams; "Three Early Pieces," as arranged for flute and piano, and "De Profundis" for a cappella choir.
As conductor, Foss will lead three chamber orchestra concerts; at the piano, he will appear as soloist in Bach's Fifth Concerto in F minor.
Among other composers to appear at the 1987 festivities will be Joan La Barbara, who, as singer, will give the United States premiere of her "Helga's Lied"; David del Tredici, who will participate in the presentation of his "Haddock's Eyes," and Rand Steiger, who will attend the world premiere of his now-extended (from three to four sections) "Tributaries."
Also performing at the 41st festival will be singers Susan Narucki and Leroy Villanueva, violinist Mayumi Ohira and the Pacific Singers, conducted by John Alexander.
For information or festival brochure: (800) 554-OJAI.