In four previous summers, since 1986, a chamber music mini-festival-training institute at Cal State Los Angeles has kept alive the names of two distinguished American musicians: violinist Carroll Glenn and pianist Eugene List. In 1996, with funds from the California Lottery, the List-Glenn Institute continues in a fifth session.
Music professionals, academics and gifted students make up the 22-member chamber orchestra, heard Saturday night in the Luckman Theater on the Cal State L.A. campus. Guest conductor Saim Akcil, a veteran musician from Istanbul, led a provocative program strongly, with results both impressive and scrambling.
Best and first was a perfectly affectionate, mostly transparent performance of Mozart's familiar masterpiece, the Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364, in which the soloists were two members of the Cal State resident Anderson String Quartet, violinist Marisa McLeod and violist Diedra Lawrence. The featured string players produced an atmosphere of spontaneity, articulateness and mellow tone, which the orchestra, under Akcil's quiet but demanding leadership, matched.
The premiere of a work from composer Chun-Ping Hsu, Four Taiwanese Folk Songs for Pi-pa and Orchestra, showed the ensemble game but scrappy. The soloist, pi-pa player Jane Chin, appeared to make the most of the instrument's color-range and her own considerable virtuosity, in movements defying the cliches of a mostly pentatonic idiom and produced handsome contrasts, vivid activity and poetic moods.
Two short works by the prominent Bulgarian composer Pantcho Vladigerov closed the evening, making all too clear the ad hoc nature of this little orchestra, which struggled valiantly to unravel the musical issues, but only sporadically succeeded.
* The Festival Chamber Orchestra appears in a different, full-length program, under Akcil, Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State L.A. (213) 343-4091. Tickets: $10-$20. The orchestra plays an admission-free, one-hour concert on the Sundays at Four series at the L.A. County Museum of Art Sunday at 4 p.m.