A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

In Classical Focus, Theodore Bell selects highlights from Jim Eninger’s Clickable Chamber Music Newsletter.

The chamber music spotlight is focused on the much-anticipated Ascending Dragon Music Festival and Cultural Exchange this week. Jeff von der Schmidt and the Southwest Chamber Music ensemble are flying high with concerts featuring new music of American and Vietnamese composers.

The U.S. State Department grant that Southwest Chamber received for its Ascending Dragon Festival is certainly an impressive professional honor, bringing national and international distinction to the ensemble and the chamber music scene in Southern California generally. The festival is the largest cultural exchange between the United States and Vietnam and includes concerts and other events here and abroad in 2010.

Kurt Rohde and Alexandra du Bois are the American composers-in-residence for the Ascending Dragon Festival.  In a preview concert we reviewed in October,  Rohde (b. 1966) explained that the title of “Under the Influence” refers to the influence of other works Rohde had been working on during his time in Berlin, a hotbed of artistic activity.  When du Bois (b. 1981) was chosen from among more than 300 composers from 32 countries as the inaugural recipient of the Kronos Quartet’s “Under 30 Project” in 2003, she wrote her string quartet, “An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind,” which she cites as a protest of the invasion of Iraq. Her work is hauntingly beautiful and elegiac.

Saturday’s concert program at the Armory Center for the Arts features the aforementioned works by du Bois and Rohde as well as Vu Nhat Tan’s “Trang“ (U.S. premiere) and “Meditation & … ABC,” Nguyen Thien Dao’s “A Mi K Giao Tranh” (U.S. premiere), and Tôn Thât Tiêt’s “Mémoire de la Rivière” (U.S. premiere).

Monday’s concert program at Zipper Concert Hall features Nguyen Thien Dao’s “Dôi for bassoon and percussion” (U.S. premiere), Olivier Messiaen’s “Quatuor pour le fin du temps,” and Tôn Thât Tiêt’s “Les jardins d’autre monde” (U.S. premiere).

Saturday, Feb. 27, 8 p.m.
Pre-concert talk at 7:30 p.m.

Armory Center for the Arts, 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

Monday, March 1, 8 p.m.
Pre-concert talk at 7:30 p.m.

Zipper Concert Hall, The Colburn School, 200 S. Grand Ave., LA

Tickets: $38 / $28 seniors / $10 students