LAMusArt’s Winter Music Concert: Birth of the Cool featured pleasantly chilling performances by student members of the Tuition-Free Music Ensembles this past Sunday, December 16, 2018 at the East Los Angeles College Performing Arts Center.
Inspired by the wintry theme of “cool,” the Winter Music Concert featured student renditions of songs from classical, jazz, and contemporary music geniuses of their time, whose musical experimentations contributed to the diversification of their genres and made them the “cool” trailblazers they are known as today.
The concert included musical selections from Jean Sibelius, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Gil Evans, and George Frederic Handel. More contemporary artists from stage and film included Lin Manuel Miranda and Howard Shore.
Music Ensembles Director and LAMusArt Teaching Artist, Austin Chanu, said that in selecting repertoire for the Winter Music Concert, his goal was to “expose both the students and audience members to staples of repertoire within the classical and jazz communities.” “I wanted to create a palatable program,” he adds, “that included world and film music.”
The opening number featured the LAMusArt Choir, with a reprisal of their Winter Benefit Dinner performance of “In the Bleak Midwinter,” the Spanish songs “Ay! Mi Palomita” and “Niño Preciosa,” and the Hamilton favorite, “Dear Theodosia.”
New this year was a performance from the Advanced Choir, which was started at the request of several members of the inaugural choir who wanted the opportunity to tackle more complex choral arrangements. Their performance included the Russian melodic poem “Nochka” by Sergei Rachmaninoff and the “Hallelujah Chorus” by George Frideric Handel.
LAMusArt’s youngest ensemble members performed next as part of the Strings Ensemble with their charming renditions of musical classics, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Silent Night.”
The Jazz Ensemble followed their performance, influenced heavily by the Miles Davis album Birth of the Cool, which was hailed as a trailblazing album at the time of its release for its mix of innovative musical arrangements and classical music techniques.
Their set included “Boplicity” by Miles Davis and Gil Evans and “Godchild” by Gerry Mulligan, among other selections from the Birth of the Cool album.
Keeping with a more traditional and cultural sound, the Mariachi Ensemble performed crowd favorites such as “Besame Mucho and “Mi Burrito Sabanero” by Hugo Blanco.
With a mixture of classical and contemporary orchestral performances, the Youth Orchestra’s repertoire included the infamous “Finlandia” by Jean Sibelius, the “Lord of the Rings Symphonic Suite” by Howard Shore, and “A Christmas Festival” by Leroy Anderson.
Lastly, the Winter Music Concert paid homage to one of the coolest music figures of all, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with the Youth Orchestra’s performance of “Padre, germane, addio” from his classic opera, Idomeneo.
The Winter Music Concert: Birth of the Cool was made possible thanks to the support of the California Arts Council, the Colburn Foundation, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and special support from the East Los Angeles College Department of Theatre Arts.
For more information on LAMusArt’s Tuition-Free Music Ensemble Programs or to sign-up to join, visit lamusart.org.
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Photography by CBGRAPHY