A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

Jump into the cool sounds of the summertime — the L.A. scene is hot.  Ah, these summer days, these summer days!

Here are a few highlights that we think you will enjoy from the summer music calendar for August in Los Angeles.

LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl

The LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC at the Hollywood Bowl is always a great night out.  The entire set of concert programs on Tuesday and Thursday evenings is fantastic. The big screens and sound reinforcement bring the soloists close, sometimes very close — one of the unique attributes of Bowl performances.  So for me, Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Copland’s unforgettable Appalachian Spring and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique should pair superbly with the Bowl sound; and Ravel’s Daphnis & Chloe on Slatkin’s Aug. 23 program will be sweet.

See the full details of each concert at the LA Phil website. The August highlights include:

July 28:             Dvorak’s New World

Aug. 2:              Pianist JUGA WANG

Aug. 4:              Copland’s Appalachian Spring

Aug. 9 & 11: Violinist JOSHUA BELL

Aug. 16:             Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique

Aug. 18:             Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Aug. 23:             SLATKIN and ANDRE WATTS perform Liszt

Aug. 25             Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody with pianist OLGA KERN

All performances start at 8 p.m.

Hollywood Bowl, 2301 North Highland Ave., Hollywood

Skirball Cultural Center Sunset Concerts

The 2011 Sunset Concerts season features musical influences from around the world.  This 15th summer season spans six consecutive Thursday evenings from July 21 through Aug. 25.  The 8 p.m. concerts are free of charge and outdoors in the Skirball courtyard.

All Skirball galleries (except Noah’s Ark) are free and open until 10 p.m. during Sunset Concerts, including the popular exhibitions Houdini: Art and Magic and Masters of Illusion: Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age.

The concert season began on Thursday, July 21, with MARIA de BARROS and the musical traditions of her native Cape Verde. The remaining concerts of the season include:

July 28: West Coast premiere of RED BARAAT.  MC and master dhol (North Indian drum) player Sunny Jain founded the group to infuse the sounds of India into rock and ska styles.

Aug. 4: Yemenite Israeli vocalist RAVID KAHALANI and arranger/bassist OMER AVITAL and the YEMEN BLUES plays a mix of traditional Yemenite Jewish melodies with West and North African rhythms and American blues.

Aug. 11: NURIYA combines Spanish vocals with rumba, flamenco, Afro-Cuban drumming, Arabic melodies, Gypsy brass, and rhythms from the Middle East and the Caribbean.

Aug. 18: “Lion of Zimbabwe” THOMAS MAPFUMO brings his very personal Chimurenga (“revolutionary struggle”) music to the Skirball, in his unique mix of traditional Shona mbira (thumb piano) with Western styles.

Aug. 25: JORGE VILLARREAL (a.k.a. Mr. Vallenato), renowned Mexican American accordion virtuoso who brings cumbia and vallenato to the stage with his love of Colombian folk music.

Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles

Free admission; no reservations (310) 440-4500.  Limited seating on a first-come, first-served basis. $10 per car (cash only).  Carpooling is encouraged.  Street parking is strictly prohibited. Consider taking Metro Rapid 761.

Henry J. Bruman Summer Chamber Music Festival

The UCLA Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies presents a series of free afternoon chamber music concerts made possible by the Henry J. Bruman Trust.

Wednesday, Aug. 3, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., ENSEMBLE In PROMPTU will present a lively program of winds and harp.  The ensemble players are PAMELA VLIEK MARTCHEV (flute), RONG-HUEY LIU (oboe), BENJAMIN LULICH (clarinet), VALENTIN MARTCHEV (bassoon), TEAG REAVES (horn), and MARIA CASALE (harp).


• Jacques Ibert: Trois Pièces Brèves for wind quintet

• Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No.6 for flute and bassoon, A392

• Louis-François Dauprat: Sonata for horn and harp

• Handel (transcribed by Marcel Grandjany): Prelude and Toccata

• Claude Arrieu: Quintette en ut

Thursday, Aug. 4, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., the FIATO STRING QUARTET will play Mozart’s “Hunt” and Dvorak’s “American” quartets.  The quartet players are CARRIE KENNEDY and INA VELI (violins), MIKE WHITSON (viola), and RYAN SWEENEY (cello).


• Mozart: Quartet No.17 in B-flat Major, K458, “Hunt”

• Dvorák: Quartet No.12 in F Major, Op.96, “American”

Both Events are in the Glorya Kaufman Hall on the second floor, UCLA (due west of Royce Hall and the Fowler Museum).  These events are free; however seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Call (310) 206-5078.

Parking is available for $11 in Lot 4. Enter the campus at Westwood Plaza (off Sunset Boulevard).  Self Service Pay Stations are available in UCLA Lots 2, 3, and 4.

Summer Festival at the Huntington

Southwest Chamber Music continues its extraordinary series of Mozart quintets.  Read Culture Spot LA’s review of the opening concert of the series.  The sound on the lawn is better than one would expect, and the loggia is simply a wonderful space for an outdoor concert.  The views are pastoral, the air is cool, the stars gradually brighten as the night envelops the music — this is a great summer event.

Artists for the 2011 Summer Festival at The Huntington: ALISON BJORKEDAL (harp), JIM FOSCHIA (clarinet), LORENZ GAMMA (violin), PETER JACOBSON (cello), JAN KARLIN (viola), ANDREW PELLETIER (horn), TOM PETERS (double bass), LIMOR TOREN-IMMERMAN (violin), LYNN VARTAN (conga drums), SHALINI VIJAYAN (violin), with JEFF VON DER SCHMIDT (conductor).


Saturday & Sunday, Aug. 6 & 7, 7:30 p.m.

• Mozart: String Quintet in C Minor, K406

• Charles Wuorinen: Spinoff for violin, double bass, and conga drums

• Mozart: String Quintet in D Major, K593


Saturday & Sunday, Aug. 20 & 21, 7:30 p.m.

• Mozart: Quintet in E-flat Major for horn and strings, K407

• Wadada Leo Smith: Ten Thousand Cereus Peruvianus for harp and string quartet

• Mozart: String Quintet in E-flat Major, K614

Bring your own picnic or dine in The Huntington Tea Room. The box office opens at 5:30 p.m. for picnicking patrons and 6:30 p.m. for concert-only patrons. Dining at The Huntington Tea Room is an additional $55 per person; advanced reservations are suggested.

Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino

Tickets: Art Gallery Loggia $45; lawn seating $28

For information and to order tickets, call (800) 726-7147.

Norton Simon Museum

The CALIFORNIA STRING QUARTET musicians KATIA POPOV (violin), LORAND LOKUSZTA (violin), ALMA-LISA FERNANDEZ (viola), and VANESSA FREEBAIRN-SMITH (cello) created a program to remember the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.


• Puccini: Crisantemi (Chrysanthemums)

• Mozart: String Quartet in C Major, K465, “Dissonance”

• Verdi: String Quartet

Friday, Aug. 12, 7 p.m.

Theater, Norton Simon Museum, 411 West Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

Free with museum admission ($10 / $5 seniors). Parking is free.

For information, call (626) 449-6840.

~Theodore Bell/Culture Spot LA

Culture Spot LA recommends Jim Eninger’s Clickable Chamber Music Newsletter, an extensive calendar of upcoming music events, large and small, happening all around Los Angeles.