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Summer Splash: Ventura County | SOUNDS

Off-Season Offerings

Classical music and jazz concerts are worth searching out.


Come summertime, as the regular concert season draws to a close, classical and jazz offerings may dwindle and slip off the beaten path. In truth, the music is down but hardly out. You just have to know where to look, and listen.

The official classical season segues into summer fairly gracefully around these parts. The New West Symphony closes its season with concerts on May 30 at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center and May 31 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza with a program that includes Ravel, Mahler and a premiere of Joe Curiale's "Gates of Gold." Both concerts are at 8 p.m. (643-8646).

Two weeks later, the 51st Annual Ojai Festival assumes its place in the Libbey Bowl, with five concerts from June 6 to 8. This is the premiere classical event of the year in Ventura County, the one that puts the region on the international map.

Following last year's contemporary-geared program led by Pierre Boulez, a grand 50th-anniversary fete, this year's festival is headed by pianist Emanuel Ax. Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman will also be in Ojai, and the program again takes a kindly look at 20th century, as well as Romantic-era, icons Schumann and Schubert, born 200 years ago (646-2094).

The Los Robles Master Chorale concludes its season with the program "From America With Love" at the Moorpark College Performing Arts Center on June 7 at 8 p.m. and June 8 at 4 p.m. (482-2866). The chorale is heading off to tour Germany this summer.

Cal Lutheran University will present "Three Evenings of Early Music," starting Wednesday with a recital by Susanne Shapiro on the fortepiano. The series continues June 14 with the Ensemble Bella Musica and concludes June 20 with the Schubertian Players. All performances are at 7 p.m. in the university's Samuelson Chapel (493-3151).


Classical Music: On July 4, the fledgling Channel Islands Symphony, conducted by Paul Polivnick, comes to Libbey Bowl.

The orchestra had planned to start a concert season last year but decided to wait for the right moment. For the Independence Day program, they'll go both light and serious, performing Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B minor, featuring Ojai's Virginia Kron on cello, as well as music by Bernstein, Sousa, and pop songwriter Amanda McBroom. The concert starts at 6 p.m. (497-1902).

Meanwhile, some of the best summertime classical music in Southern California is likely to be performed as part of the Music Academy of the West's summer program.

The renowned classical summer academy offers several concerts by faculty and students, on campus and at the Lobero Theater. In celebration of the academy's 50th anniversary, there will be concerts at the Lobero on June 27, with Marilyn Horne, and on June 28, featuring academy alumnus baritone Thomas Hampson. Wrapping it up will be a concert at the Santa Barbara County Bowl on Aug. 9, with guest Garrison Keillor (963-0761).

For good sounds outdoors, check out the annual "Under the Stars" concert series up at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, 1101 Peppertree Lane in Simi Valley (582-4450).

This year's concerts cover a typically wide range: "Life Is a Cabaret," June 29; noted jazz vibraphonist Terry Gibbs, July 20; music by film composers in a program called "Classical Hollywood," Aug. 3; and singer-songwriter Debbie Friedman, Aug. 24. All shows are at 7:30 p.m.


Jazz Scene: Jazz fans are always well-advised to proceed to 66 California, where bassist Henry Franklin's house band hosts special guests every weekend. On other nights, locally based jazz talents keep the place warm and inviting.

On the jazz concert front, vocalist Bill Henderson will perform at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Forum Theatre on June 1 at 7:30 p.m., with pianist Mike Melvoin (449-2787). The Jazz Crusaders will play a free concert on Aug. 17 at 5 p.m. in the Conejo Community Park, as part of the Summer Concerts in the Park series (381-2747).

The Ojai World Music Festival takes place Saturday in Libbey Bowl, with the Bay Area-based E.W. Wainwright & African Roots of Jazz playing Afro-reggae music and Oxnard's own Latin-jazz heroes (and now Milestone recording artists), the Estrada Brothers. Maile's Island Tropic Dancers will represent Hawaiian culture, and the daylong festival will also include the Native American Singers and the Mideastern sounds of Merhaba (646-7230).

An unusual festival will take place in Santa Maria's Waller Park on June 14, from noon to 10 p.m. (925-2582). Titled the Santa Maria Valley International Friendship Festival, it will include food, crafts and continuous music, leading up to the keynote performance by a group called the Bridge.

The band, which has just finished an album for a Japanese label, is led by Michael Sembello, a guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer who worked with Stevie Wonder for years and scored a hit with the song "Maniac" from the movie "Flashdance."

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