Though it will be Halloween and the musicians will be in costume, don't expect "Night on Bald Mountain" or "Danse Macabre" from the Los Angeles Musical Heritage Orchestra Saturday.
Instead of the usual fright-night fantasies, the chamber orchestra--and members of the audience, if they so choose--will don costumes of the 1890s, as the dinner/concert at the Biltmore Hotel is part of a three-day conference on the musical heritage of Los Angeles.
The conference, which involves organizations ranging from the Huntington Library to the International Congress on Women in Music, seeks to dispel some of the common myths and misconceptions about our musical past--or presumed lack thereof.
Ways and means of preserving this heritage is another focus of the event. "Someday we should have a major library here for the performing arts," says conference coordinator Jeannie Pool.
Nicholas Slonimsky, the often acerbic musicologist much honored in reference and quotation, opens the proceedings this morning with the keynote address. "Images of Los Angeles Music in the First Half of the 20th Century" draws on Slonimsky's own experiences conducting at Hollywood Bowl.
One big change since those days that Slonimsky sees is the stable organization and assured financial footing of groups like the Los Angeles Philharmonic: "In my time the Philharmonic was financed by deaf old women, but now it's quite different. Music is supported for its own sake. I was a victim of this rule by deaf old dowagers, who didn't want me to play modern music."
Other elements of the very busy conference include a special edition of the Los Angeles Conservancy's Broadway Theaters Walking Tour on Saturday morning, a discussion of wax cylinder recordings of Mexican-American music from 1904 and a concluding panel discussion of "The Future of L.A.'s Musical Past" Sunday afternoon.
The past will also be made audible for the conferees, with two performances. Tonight longtime theater organist Gaylord Carter accompanies the "Phantom of the Opera" film at Pasadena City College Auditorium, with proceeds benefiting the organ installation fund of the Los Angeles Theater Organ Society.
Saturday evening, Michael Kibbe leads the 15-member Musical Heritage Orchestra in a gala dinner-concert in the Roman Room at the Biltmore. His program, illustrated with slides, features music that was popular locally before the turn of the century.
For recorded information about the conference calendar, call (818) 248-1249.