The Long Beach Symphony (LBSO) will offer four free chamber-music performances at various community locations throughout Long Beach through June. The performances are part of the symphony’s Sounds and Spaces program, which was originally conceived by a group of musicians from the orchestra as a means for the symphony to better connect with the diversity of the Long Beach community.
To assure convenience for a broad spectrum of the population, including families, the series will take place on Sunday afternoons at 4pm, and venues span a wide geographic and cultural focus: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Feb. 23, Temple Israel on March 23, Homeland Cultural Center on May 18, and F&M Bank on June 8. Programming will run the gamut, from Bach to Cuban jazz.
“The Symphony wants to deepen its relationship with the diverse neighborhoods of Long Beach,” said LBSO Executive Director Kelly Ruggirello. “We want to take classical music outside the concert hall to venues that people know and love, places where they like to gather, and places for which they have an affinity. We also want to extend our commitment to music education beyond the confines of our school programs and make it possible for families to experience great music together.”
The atmosphere at Sounds and Spaces is casual, and seating is on a first-come-first-served basis. Since concerts usually fill up quickly, people are urged to arrive early to claim a seat and enjoy light refreshments at pre-concert receptions with the musicians, according to LBSO. Everyone who attends and signs the Symphony mailing list will receive a voucher for two free balcony-seating tickets at an upcoming Long Beach Symphony Classical or POPS! concert of choice.
The first performance, on Sunday, Feb. 23 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 525 East 7th St., will celebrate the venue’s newly rebuilt Austin organ with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Acclaimed soprano Elissa Johnston will join St. Luke’s music director and organist Dr. Johannes Müller-Stosch, the Symphony’s principal flutist Heather Clark, trumpeter Marissa Benedict, and an intimate string ensemble led by Mei Chang.
On March 23, Sounds and Spaces will celebrate Temple Israel’s new facility with music inspired by 1,000 years of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. David Schiff’s Divertimento for Violin, Clarinet, Cello and Piano is drawn from his acclaimed opera Gimpel the Fool, based on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story.
Long Beach Symphony will then partner with the Homeland Cultural Arts Center on May 18 to celebrate diversity at the Manazar Gamboa Community Theater at MacArthur Park, near Cambodia Town. To accommodate as large an audience as possible in this intimate space, musicians will present two back-to-back performances, one at 3pm and another at 5pm. The program is drawn from music honoring Hispanic, Cambodian and African-American communities featuring works by Cuban jazz artist Paquito D’Rivera and award-winning Cambodian composer Chinary Ung’s Khse Buon for solo viola. Also, the Bob Cole Conservatory at CSULB World Percussion Ensemble, with director Dave Gerhart, will be performing West African-style works for Ewe Orchestra by local composer Derrick Spiva.
The 2014 Sounds and Spaces season will culminate with a performance at Farmers & Merchants Bank’s main location in downtown on June 8. Listeners will hear Joseph Haydn’s “Quartet in G, Opus 76, No. 1,” written during Haydn’s return to supervising musical life at Prince Esterhazy’s gilded Austrian palace, and Antonín Dvořák’s lyrical “String Quartet No. 12, The American.”
Sounds and Spaces performances are made possible by funding from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Hennings Fischer Foundation, Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Association and individuals who pledged their support after experiencing the program last year. For more information, visit lbso.org .