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Concert series moves downtown

December 09, 2006|Chris Pasles | Times Staff Writer

Monday Evening Concerts, the internationally esteemed music series that for decades showcased or premiered works by such major 20th century composers as Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Stockhausen and Cage, begins new life in a new location Monday -- REDCAT in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex.

The series lost its home at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in May after 40 years of support when the museum reduced its support of classical music.

The decision sparked outrage in the music community, rallying supporters from local musicians and fans to such international figures as composer Pierre Boulez.

Appropriately, Monday Evening Concerts will reopen with a program dedicated to Dorrance Stalvey, the music director who steered the series from 1971 until his death at 74 in 2005, earning six awards for adventurous programming from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and the gratitude of numerous composers and musicians.

"It's a sad occasion, but a beautiful one," said Justin Urcis, director of the MEC committee. "Personally, I wish Dorrance was still around. I wish we didn't have to have this. But the fact of the matter is he's not here. The next best thing we can do is keep the series going."

After opening at REDCAT, the series will move to the Colburn School's Zipper Concert Hall for concerts Feb. 19, March 19 and April 16.

Urcis heads up a dedicated group of 15 prominent music figures, including composers Boulez, William Kraft and Morton Subotnick and former Los Angeles Philharmonic General Director Ernest Fleischmann.

The committee has raised more than $75,000 for the first season, acquired nonprofit status for MEC, opened an office in Culver City and picked three curators to plan this season: Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, composer Steven Stucky and conductor Kent Nagano.

"We're really up and running," Urcis said. "The adrenaline is running."

The Stalvey tribute will open with his final completed work, "Stream," a 15-minute piece for violin and piano new to Los Angeles, composed in 2002. That will be followed by an MEC classic, Berio's "Circles," premiered in 1962, and Gerard Grisey's "Vortex," also an L.A. premiere.

For the future, MEC faces questions about whether to seek a new music director or continue to work as a committee.

"This is an unusual situation where a venerable and well-established series suddenly has no infrastructure," said bassoonist John Steinmetz, another committee member. "We're both starting over and continuing. It's funny to have a baby organization and a very, very mature artistic project."

Support has been so strong Steinmetz advises people to get tickets beforehand.

He said, "I'm surprised how many people have bought tickets for the whole series and for this event as a single."

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chris.pasles@latimes.com

Monday Evening Concerts

Where: REDCAT, Walt Disney Hall complex, 631 W. 2nd St., L.A.

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Price: $50

Contact: (213) 237-2800

www.redcat.org

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