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May 17, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
What do we do with the Duke? He was, most agree, the greatest jazz composer who ever lived. And more. Duke Ellington was the soul of American music. David Schiff has just written a brilliantly illuminating book, "The Ellington Century," that places the Duke at the center of it all. Academic Ellington studies are extensive. Terry Teachout has an Ellington biography on the way. And yet Ellington remains an outsider. A handful of his compositions are standards. But his large-scale symphonic works, his opera, his this and his that - he broke boundaries - are significant rarities.
May 10, 2013 | By Gary Giddins
It's no big thing to play the music of Duke Ellington. That's done all the time: in cabarets, concert halls, movies, Broadway theaters and anywhere jazz musicians assemble. Ellingtonia, a word coined by admirers who realized that no existing musical category could contain him, is virtually inexhaustible: some 2,000 pieces, many in multiple versions and settings, often to the point of recomposed variations. Overall, he offers the modern musician those qualities that never wilt, from lavishly distinctive melodies to the richest harmonic palette in jazz or popular music to a rhythmic variety, reminding us that swing is infinitely supple and can be as uplifting, witty, fierce or romantic as a good tune.
May 8, 2013 | By Michael Miller
Singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt will be among the artists joining the Pacific Symphony this summer in a new series intended to bridge the symphony's regular crowd with non-classical audiences.   The series, titled the Wavelength Festival of Music, is scheduled for Aug. 22-25 at the Pacific Amphitheatre at the OC Fair & Event Center. The shows will begin shortly after the OC Fair ends.   "The idea for Wavelength sprang from a desire to serve Orange County and the region with a new and distinct popular music experience which demonstrates the versatility of the musicians to collaborate with a wide range of artists,” Pacific Symphony President John Forsyte said in a statement.
March 25, 2013 | By Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times
The morning commute was like any other - almost. As cars flew by on the northbound 710, I hit "play" on my iPod and a melody swept over me. Rush hour melted away. "Ah-vey, ah-vey, veh-room corrrr-pooose," the choir began. The Latin words open "Ave Verum Corpus" (Hail true body), a choral composition that has captivated listeners for more than two centuries. I sang along, and I wasn't doing it alone. At that moment, two friends in New Jersey and Georgia were singing the words as well.
March 8, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Spring is, as always, a season for festivals. The big one in Los Angeles this year is the ongoing celebration of the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth, initiated by Los Angeles Opera. The Los Angeles Philharmonic's weeklong Brooklyn Festival in April is an investigation into how the New York City borough has become a hot spot for young composers. But while festivals take up a lot of the oxygen on the performing arts calendars, there is much else: Christian Wolff As a teen in the early 1950s, Wolff was taken under John Cage's wing and soon became a prominent member of Cage's New York School.
February 22, 2013 | By Richard S. Ginell
As it did last season, the Pacific Symphony tried to fill the gap left by the demise of Opera Pacific with a helping of semi-staged opera Thursday night in Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.  Once again, the choice was extremely safe and popular - Puccini's “Tosca.” Once again, there was a playful attempt to involve the audience beyond the usual program notes, with handouts in the lobby elaborately detailing choices that Tosca makes...
June 1, 2012 | By Rick Schultz
Since its premiere in 1824, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony has been used to celebrate major historical events such as the opening of the United Nations and the fall of the Berlin Wall. But it works just as well for personal ones, including birthdays and anniversaries. Pacific Symphony conductor Carl St.Clair celebrates his 60th birthday this week, and John Alexander marks his 40th anniversary as artistic director of the Pacific Chorale. On Thursday, those  organizations gave a stirring account of the Ninth at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa.
May 18, 2012 | By Jamie Wetherbe
The Pacific Symphony performs music for an unlikely audience -- gamers battling the hellish underworlds of Diablo III. The symphony teamed up with Irvine-based game developer Blizzard Entertainment, known for the Warcraft and Starcraft franchises, for the long-awaited third installment in the Diablo series. More than 100 musicians recorded the score live last July in Costa Mesa's Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall under the baton of Eímear Noone. “It was important to give Diablo III its own sound - - not only via the compositions, but even in the manner in which it was recorded,” Blizzard Entertainment's audio director Russell Brower said in a news release about the project.
May 10, 2012 | Ed Stockly
“The Wendy Williams Show” 11 a.m. Thursday, Fox: Broadway: actress Audra McDonald. “Open Call” 9 p.m. Thursday, KCET: Live at the Ford-Grandeza Mexicana: Hosted by mezzo-soprano opera singer Suzanna Guzman, Open Call features a wide variety of productions from profiles of artists. “Gospel Music Presents: Great Performances” 10 a.m. Saturday, CBS: Shirley Murdock performs with guests Regina Belle, Beverly Crawford and Kelly Price. From Fort Mill, S.C. “Louis CK: Live at the Beacon Theatre” 10 p.m. Saturday, FX: “Great Performances at the Met” 1 a.m. Saturday, KVCR: "Madama Butterfly": Patrick Summers conducts Puccini's tale of a Japanese geisha betrayed by an American lover.
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