Saturday, March 24

UCLA Philharmonia to debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall in 'A Celebration of World Music'

UCLA Philharmonia
Saturday, 8 p.m.
Walt Disney Concert Hall, $15

David Goodman was first taken by classical music while watching ethnomusicology Professor James Newton play at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Eight years later, Goodman, now a second-year music and political science student, will experience what he called a dream come true as he joins the UCLA Philharmonia for its debut performance at the world-renowned Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m.
“To play there is a great honor for any musician,” Goodman said.

The performance, titled “A Celebration of World Music,” is part of a yearlong celebration of 50 years of ethnomusicology at UCLA.

The celebration, sponsored by the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and the Latino Museum of History, Art and Culture, began last spring and will end later this quarter.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall is home to the prestigious Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The UCLA Philharmonia will be featured as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Sounds About Town” series.

The concert hall is known for its innovative architecture and rich acoustics. Neal Stulberg, professor and director of orchestral studies, said the hall’s acoustics make for a crisp and impressively resonant musical experience.

The set list is an unusual mix of world music for the Philharmonia, which plays Western music more often than not.

The program will feature works from the UC Regents’ Lecturer Arturo Márquez, ethnomusicology Professor A.J. Racy, Chinese composer Ge Gan-Ru and Newton.

The Philharmonia will also be joined by the Grammy-winning Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, led by ethnomusicology lecturer Jesús Guzmán.

According to Stulberg, who will also conduct the Philharmonia, the concert will open with a piece written by Márquez, “Danzón No. 4.” The work incorporates traditional Cuban, French and Mexican music.

“It is a very elegant but also spirited dance that features many different solo instruments in the orchestra and has the whole orchestra moving together in a very complex, rhythmic feel,” Stulberg said.

Racy’s “Arab World Suite: A Sea of Memories” will follow. The piece will feature Racy, an expert on Arab music, playing two solos alongside the orchestra: One solo will be played on the nay, a reed flute, and the other on the buzuq, a long-neck lute.

“It is a very attractive and moody series of songs and dances from the Middle East,” Stulberg said.

The Philharmonia will then play Gan-Ru’s piece, titled “Chinese Rhapsody.” Stulberg described it as a virtuosic show piece for the orchestra and an amazing piece for percussion.

“It’s a piece that uses Western classical instruments, but it uses them in the service of creating the mood and atmosphere of traditional Chinese music,” Stulberg said. “The textures and the colors of the piece are extraordinarily interesting.”

Goodman, who will play the timpani for the evening, said this was one of the best pieces for percussionists because they are encouraged to play loud and are not held back by the ensemble.

Rhea Fowler, a graduate student in violin, said Newton’s piece, “A Line of Immortality,” will be the evening’s most challenging piece.

“It’s almost like putting a puzzle together because it’s so difficult and intricate,” Fowler said.

The work will feature a small jazz ensemble and orchestral ensemble.

Stulberg said there are moments in which the two play together, separately and improvise.

The evening will finish with two orchestral arrangements in the style of mariachi, “Huasteco Suite” and “España,” which the Philharmonia will play with the Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano.

According to Theodosia Roussos, a fifth-year music and comparative literature student, the students in the Philharmonia had the rare opportunity to work with the composers of the pieces they will be performing and with distinguished faculty members.

Goodman said he avoids the intimidation of working with prestigious musicians through humanizing the composers. He noted that they once had to start where he did, and in learning from them he can one day be where they are standing.

Roussos said the chance to work with talented composers is a means of inspiration for herself and many of the Philharmonia’s musicians.

“It’s going to be fun and a source of pride to be able to present our art and what we do to the community in such a renowned hall,” Roussos said.

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