Sunday night, music director Grant Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale presented a program at Walt Disney Concert Hall devoted to music written within the last 10 years -- and no one seemed to bat an eye. But it should also be noted that these pieces were mostly extraordinarily audience-friendly, and none more so than David O's sassy new "A Map of Los Angeles," the second of the chorale's three "L.A. Is the World" commissions.
It has been a long-standing joke that Los Angeles doesn't have a theme song -- a real song of praise -- nor is it easy to find any love letters to L.A. in so-called concert music. Something about the city more readily inspires mockery, such as Randy Newman's "I Love L.A.," or jaundiced depictions of urban madness, such as J.J. Cale's "Downtown L.A." or Michael Gordon's recent, hyper-frenzied "Dystopia."
"A Map of Los Angeles" seemed to fall into the mockery category at first. David O took us on a snapshot tour of a handful of sites, making fun of their weird misuse of the English and Spanish languages, having his singers proclaim with angelic pomp the redundant new name of a local baseball team, Los Los Angeles Angels . . . of Anaheim! He did so with terrific verve, grooving Latin rhythms, canny use of crescendos, the rippling Mexican harp of Sergio "Checo" Alonso and -- most crucially -- good, simple melodic ideas.