A Performance Worthy of a Michelin Star

Yes, we'll have some more of that, please.

3 mins read
A group of people holding wine glasses
Music Director Jaime Martín conducts The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on May 25, 2024. Photo: Brian Feinzimer/Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

“Because this evening, I have learned, my dear, that in this beautiful world of ours, all things are possible.”

Lorens Loewenhielm, Babette’s Feast

Like the 1967 adaptation of Isak Dinesen’s short story, Babette’s Feast, it was a veritable Michelin Star menu for all musical appetites at the closing performance of the 2023-24 Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) season superbly presented by Jaime Martín, music director/conductor. And while we don’t typically write music reviews here at LNP, the performance was so beautifully curated against the local backdrop of the Art Deco Alex Theater in Glendale that we felt we had to comment.

With the musical menu ranging from Nina Shekhar’s Sound Investment World Premier of Glitter Monster to Gabriela Montero’s flawless rendition of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor, K. 491, and returning to the full orchestra’s breathless marathon of Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944, the audience experienced the full tasting menu of modern to improv to classics.  

Martín, whose conducting style oscillates between partygoer and party giver, invites the audience and the orchestra to his perfectly prepared event, swaying with movements that modern dancers might envy, to elicit the best notes from concertmaster Margaret Batjer and Principal Cello Andrew Shulman throughout the evening. He often uses a “come hither” raising of the eyebrows with them, asking for forceful performances that then fall into quiet echoes as scripted, smiling all the while at the rest of the orchestral ensemble to include them in what appears to be a private conversation with his favorites but that soon devolves into a discussion with the entire room.

“Through all the world, there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me leave to do my utmost!”

Achille Papin, Babette’s Feast

Martín’s worldwide musical credentials are too numerous to outline in this article, but suffice it to say his Web site is chock full of professional accomplishments, awards, appointments and appearances with accolades from major reviewers that are the envy of any musician.

Nina Shekhar – Video Contains Flashing Lights

The innovative concert’s opening offer was from Nina Shekhar, a self-described “composer and multimedia artist,” who is just as likely to be featured in the style section of a magazine as receive a critical musical review (witness her fire engine red lamé pants outfit with the oversized bow when she took her multiple curtain calls). She was granted a commission to create Glitter Monster, a work for LACO’s Sound Investment Program for Young Composers and world premiered by LACO on May 24.

A group of people performing on a stage
Composer Nina Skekhar takes a bow celebrating the performance of her work, Glitter Monster. Photo: Brian Feinzimer/Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

The rhythmically workshopped piece is imaginative and risk-taking, a free-roaming trip through India-born Shekhar’s consciousness, juxtaposed between a dream-like sound that is a cross between a traditional (female) Tibetan sound bowl performance and the cinematic background music of a scary (male) forcefulness, like the Disney film when Bambi is lost in the stormy forest, terrified yet finally resolved in safety. The audience swooned over the sensual and spiritual aspects of the work.         

Gabriela Montero – The act of creating is transformative

A group of people
Pianist Gabriela Montero performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491. Photo: Brian Feinzimer/Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

While the audience was overjoyed at the exceptional performance of critically acclaimed pianist Gabriela Montero’s musical gift of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor, K. 491, her contribution to the ongoing evening’s feast was her willingness to return to the stage for a curtain call improv performance. 

Requesting a prompt from the audience (like from “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”), Montero accepted a shoutout of the first five notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in C Minor as the inspiration for an extended adlibbed composition that incorporated her talents ranging from classical to jazz to humor and back again. At its conclusion, her inventiveness was received with shouts of joy from the audience and a standing ovation.

“You have enough talent to distract the rich and to comfort the poor.”

Achille Papin, Babette’s Feast.

You can read more about this unique world-stage and Latin Grammy award-winning, Grammy-nominated Venezuelan performer at her Web site.

Though Montero sets aside June 1 to August 31 as her time for composition, commissioned works, and devotion to her Gabriela Montero Piano Lab fellows, the best thing you can do for yourself is follow her calendar and see when you might be able to catch her next local visionary performance. Until then, pick up her recent albums on the Orchid Classic label.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

A group of people performing on a stage
Jaime Martín shows his appreciation for Concertmaster Margaret Batjer and Principal Cello Andrew Shulman. Photo: Brian Feinzimer/Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

The only thing more interesting than this year’s LACO calendar is the upcoming 2024-25 season when Jaime Martín returns as music director/conductor to this accomplished top musical ensemble.

Some of next year’s highlights include two dozen orchestral, chamber and baroque concerts as well as a slate of distinguished guest artists, including Conductors Matthias Pintscher and Jeannette Sorrell; Violinists Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Tessa Lark, and Nemanja Radulović; Pianists Lara Downes, Juho Pohjonen, and Awadagin Pratt; Trumpeter Paul Merkelo; Mezzo-Soprano Michelle DeYoung; Countertenor Reginald Mobley; and Thomas Bauer, Baritone.

The LACO-commissioned works for next year include works by Jeff Beal, 2024/25 Sound Investment Composer Laura Karpman and the West Coast premiere of Beal’s Body in Motion for Violin and Orchestra.

More information is available at LACO.

The short URL of this article is: https://localnewspasadena.com/3ddj

Sheryl Turner

Sheryl is Local News Pasadena's Publisher and Pasadena Media Foundation's Founder. When not saving local news, she devotes her spare time to finding the best meatloaf in town.
Email: [email protected]

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