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Cover Story | Classical

Where you should be in 2003

January 02, 2003|Mark Swed

"Songs of Innocence and Experience." (Pacific Symphony, Orange County Performing Arts Center, Feb. 5, 6). Only a composer as eclectic as visionary British poet William Blake could hope to find a way to set Blake's complete "Songs of Innocence and Experience" to music. William Bolcom -- commander of an enormous stylistic arsenal that includes, rock, country and opera -- is that man. The result is a budget-busting masterpiece for large orchestra, several choruses and vocal soloists, seldom performed since its premiere in 1984.

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"The Flying Dutchman." (Los Angeles Opera, L.A. Music Center, March 22-April 12). Julie Taymor's first go-round with Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" for L.A. Opera in 1995 was a mess of good and bad ideas, further hindered by a recalcitrant cast. But the flying was great. With a chance to rethink it, and with the authority of her recent success ("Lion King" on Broadway, "Titus" and "Frida" on the big screen), she could really offer something to see this time around when she remounts the production.

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"El Nino." (Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, March 13-16). With a text inspired in large part by Latino poetry, John Adams' "El Nino" is the new "Messiah." Already widely celebrated through a fine Nonesuch recording of its Paris premiere two years ago, the opera-oratorio comes home with Peter Sellars' fully staged version, which includes scenes from East L.A. Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts, and Dawn Upshaw, Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and Willard White are to be the soloists.

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Pierre Boulez & L.A. Philharmonic. (Ojai Festival, May 29-June 1). In 1967, outspoken and controversial French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez made his first pilgrimage to Ojai, that blissful valley of "pink moments." He returns to the annual festival to lead the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a typical mix of his music and other important 20th century works, including his dazzling three-piano, three-harp "Sur Incises" and Mahler's Ninth Symphony.

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"Sun Rings." (Eclectic Orange Festival, Nov. 1). A few thousand years ago, Pythagoras proposed a music of the spheres. Other philosophers and music theorists have mulled the notion, and occasionally a composer has tried to imagine such a thing. But now Terry Riley has realized in it an epic, astonishing string quartet, "Sun Rings," for the Kronos Quartet, prerecorded space sounds and chorus. It was commissioned by NASA and receives its local premiere, complete with rock-music designer Willie Williams' visual projections.

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Walt Disney Concert Hall. (Los Angeles). Oct. 23 is the date that the Walt Disney Concert Hall opens with the first of three gala programs by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Will this be the dawn of a new cultural age for the Southland? Los Angeles holds it breath. The world will be watching our collective exhale.

-- Mark Swed

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