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Michele Hunter
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Josh Herz


Music in On the Web
Date(s): 05/07/2021
Day(s): Friday
Time(s): 6:30 pm (PT)
Address: Premieres Online
Phone: 213-622-7001
Cost: free

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Jessie Montgomery, one of America’s most relevant and sought-after composers, provides musical curation for two back-to-back episodes of Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s (LACO) lauded CLOSE QUARTERS interdisciplinary digital series that melds musical and visual arts premiering on Fridays, April 23 and May 7, 2021, 6:30 pm. The broadcasts feature the creative and collaborative interweaving of classical music with elements of social justice, language and improvisation, spotlighting the music of Montgomery as well as contemporary composers Alvin Singleton, Mazz Swift, Alyssa Weinberg, Marcos Balter and Anna Meredith. Guest conductor Christopher Rountree leads both musical programs, which are produced by Anna Meredith, with artist Will Kim providing original animations for the first episode and multi-GRAMMY-winning mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard making her directorial debut in the second episode with creative direction by LACO Creative Director of Digital Content James Darrah. Thanks to the generosity of individual donors, the new episodes are available to the public at no cost and can be streamed on demand following its premiere at https://www.laco.org/close-quarters/, LACO’s YouTube and Facebook live channels. Digital pre-broadcast discussions begin at 5:30 pm (PT) via Zoom.

Montgomery, whose profoundly felt works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life” (The Washington Post), is also an acclaimed violinist and educator. She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Montgomery’s music, infused with elements of vernacular music and social justice, places her squarely as one of the foremost interpreters of the 21st-century American sound and experience.

EPISODE 12: “Beyond the Horizon”

“Beyond the Horizon,” the second LACO CLOSE QUARTERS episode musically curated by Montgomery, features three works she describes as “driven by improvisational elements, where each performer has a voice that is in spontaneous communication with the composer and the listener.” They include Alvin Singleton’s Be Natural, Mazz Swift’s The End of All That Is Holy, The Beginning of All That is Good, and Montgomery’s own Break Away, encompassing a wide range of the American concert music tradition from the lens of Black composers, including influences of jazz harmonies and rhythm, extensions of European modernism with graphic notation and the idea that the interplay between the player and the listener is dynamic and reflects agency and purpose. Montgomery is working closely with Isabel Leonard, in her directorial debut, and CLOSE QUARTERS’ production designers Yee Eun Nam and Yuki Izumihara to craft an original work of video art incorporating the composer’s eclectic program with cinematic footage of the orchestra.

CLOSE QUARTERS’ “digitally native” programs, created specifically for streaming and hailed as “musically and artistically compelling” (Los Angeles Times), have drawn more than one million views to date since debuting in November 2020. Between 30 and 40 minutes in length, they are safely filmed at The Colburn School’s Olive Rehearsal Hall. Additionally, Darrah has established a creative hub for developing artistic media content with L.A.-based artists and filmmakers at a first-of-its-kind LACO digital studio at Wilhardt & Naud: a film studio and multidisciplinary arts campus located in Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles. The artists, inspired by the Orchestra’s musical programming, will create new visual works in a variety of mediums that will factor into the broadcasts and endure long after the season concludes. CLOSE QUARTERS builds upon the highly successful LACO SummerFest series, the Orchestra’s first foray into streaming that concluded in September and featured five digital chamber music concerts that have attracted nearly 250,000 views to date.

Subsequent CLOSE QUARTERS episodes premiere on Fridays, May 21, and June 4, 2021, at 6:30 pm (PT).

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