A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

People have always looked forward with excitement to a new release from the latest hot musician — even in the 18th century with Mozart at the piano. In that sense, classical was no different than contemporary rock. Perhaps Falco said it best when he sang, “Come on and rock me, Amadeus.”

More than 200 years later, you can still hear Mozart performed probably any weekend you choose, but how many music fans do you know flocking to hear the latest works of contemporary classical composers? Did you even know there are a lot of them? Well, there are, and Southern California’s Mark Carlson, founder and artistic director of Pacific Serenades, is one.

Carlson has personally received more than 40 commissions . And he’s obviously a champion of new music: By the end of this season, Carlson will have commissioned and premiered 94 works from 51 different composers with the chamber music ensemble he founded in 1982.

Pacific Serenades’ latest world premiere — to be presented March 21, 22 and 24 — is a composition by Carlson called “View From a Hilltop,” a piece for clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, cello and piano (no flute, though that is Carlson’s instrument) that is all about family and friends. He was commissioned by extended family members (owners of Leavens Ranches in Ventura County) to write the piece in honor of his 81-year-old aunt. And longtime Pacific Serenades musicians/friends will perform. Clarinetist Gary Gray has been with the group since 1987, violinist Roger Wilkie since 1988, cellist David Speltz since 1989. Pianist Joanne Pearce Martin has been on the board for 15 years.

In the tradition of the ensemble’s programming classics from the chamber music repertoire along with new works, the “Music Among Friends” concert will include Brahms’ Clarinet Trio in A Minor, Op. 114, and Ravel’s “Sonata for Violin and Piano.”

Get out there and experience Carlson’s new release. You can say you knew him when…

Sat., March 21, 8 p.m.: private home in Tarzana ($55)
Sun., March 22, 4 p.m.: Neighborhood Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena ($32). The Gamble House, next door to the church, offers a discounted tour at $8/person to Pacific Serenades patrons on concert dates only. One-hour tours begin promptly at 2 and at 2:40 pm. Reservations are required at least 48 hours in advance of the concert date by calling (626) 793-3334, ext. 16.
Tues., March 24, 8 p.m.: UCLA Faculty Center, 405 N. Hilgard Ave., on the UCLA campus in Westwood ($32). Parking is available for $9 in Lot 2. Pacific Serenades patrons can dine at the UCLA Faculty Center prior to the concert. Reservations can be made by calling (310) 825-0877.

Student tickets available for $5 March 22 and 24.
For more information, (213) 534-3434, www.pacser.org.