When the Los Angeles Master Chorale opens its 49th season on Sunday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m., Music Director Grant Gershon will lead a program showcasing the magnificent pipe organ at Walt Disney Concert Hall — with the exception of one piece: Welsh composer Paul Mealor’s Ubi caritas, composed for the nuptials of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton. The only a cappella work on the program, Ubi caritas promises to bring a little bit of the royal wedding allure to L.A.
“Paul Mealor has taken a beautiful text, which has been set by many composers before him, and found something new in it,” said Gershon. “This piece is both deeply tranquil and rhapsodically ecstatic.”
Heard by some 2.5 billion people who tuned in to the televised royal wedding in April 2011, Ubi caritas will be instantly recognizable. It is no doubt a standout in contemporary choral music. As Gershon pointed out, it will also showcase the glorious voices of the Master Chorale.
“Although it’s relatively brief at four minutes, Ubi caritas uses the full range of the Master Chorale,” Gershon said, “from the lowest bass notes to high sopranos resonating like overtones in fantastically complex harmonies.”
Mealor, who lives in Scotland, is traveling to L.A. for the concert and will participate in “Listen Up!,” the pre-concert talk at 6 p.m. with Gershon and KUSC’s Brian Lauritzen. He will discuss the piece and its role in the historic wedding.
The rest of the program, spotlighting the organ, will feature two West Coast premieres by Nico Muhly and Judith Weir. Special guests include organists Paul Meier and Kimo Smith and the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, under the direction of Anne Tomlinson. The evening will end with a gala in BP Hall, with entertainment by the Master Chorale and Tony Award-winning composer, pianist and playwright Jason Robert Brown.
“We did not set out to make a ‘contemporary concert’ with this program,” Gershon said, “but after I had selected the perfect pieces to showcase the Chorale with Disney Hall’s incredible organ, I realized that almost the entire concert is from the 20th and 21st centuries.
“I think this illustrates how old boundaries between ‘new music’ and every other kind of classical music have vaporized,” Gershon added. “It’s just damn good music.”
—Julie Riggott, Culture Spot LA
Los Angeles Master Chorale “Organ Extravaganza”
Sunday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m. (Listen Up!, pre-concert talk, 6 p.m.)
ARVO PÄRT The Beatitudes
TARIK O’REGAN Dorchester Canticles
HUBERT PARRY I Was Glad
conducted by LAMC Associate Conductor Lesley Leighton
PAUL MEALOR Ubi caritas
NICO MUHLY A Good Understanding [West Coast Premiere]
with special guest Los Angeles Children’s Chorus
NICO MUHLY Bright Mass with Canons
DAVID WILLCOCKS Psalm 150
performed by Los Angeles Children’s Chorus
conducted by LACC Artistic Director Anne Tomlinson
JUDITH WEIR Ascending Into Heaven [West Coast Premiere]
KURT WEILL Kiddush
GERALD FINZI God Is Gone Up
Tickets range from $29 – $134. Group rates are available. Gala tickets are $500 per person (concert ticket is separate). For tickets and information, please call (213) 972-7282, or visit www.lamc.org. (Tickets cannot be purchased at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office except on concert days starting 2 hours prior to the performance.) Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 S. Grand Ave. at First Street in downtown Los Angeles.
For a schedule of the entire season’s concerts, please visit www.lamc.org.