Coming home

Coming home

Conductor Jeffrey Kahane moves LA Chamber Orchestra’s new season from the Alex Theatre to Ambassador Auditorium starting Saturday

By Carl Kozlowski 09/19/2013

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In his 25-year career as a conductor and keyboardist, Jeffrey Kahane has given recitals from San Francisco to New York, guest conducted orchestras in such cities as Chicago, Baltimore and Dallas, and collaborated with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and the Emerson Quartet. Add in the fact that he made his Carnegie Hall debut 20 years ago, and it’s clear that Kahane knows a great classical performance venue when he sees — and hears — one. 

That’s why his decision to bring the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra to Pasadena’s Ambassador Auditorium for much of his 17th season on Saturday night as its conductor is particularly notable. While LACO had a long history with the Ambassador prior to the start of its lengthy hiatus as a venue in 1995, it has been a goal of Kahane’s to bring the ensemble back to the esteemed venue ever since its reopening in 2004. 

“It’s one of the great concert halls on the West Coast, and I always love to play there because it’s a beautiful hall that people love to come to, with great acoustics,” says Kahane. “For many years it was the orchestra’s home until it was closed, and since it reopened a few years ago, we started a relationship of one concert a year there. Our main series in recent years is at the Alex Theatre on Saturdays and UCLA’s Royce Hall on Sundays, but the Alex is closed this season, so we were fortunate that they let us come here more.” 

Indeed, with Glendale’s Alex Theatre undergoing extensive renovations into the fall, LACO will be performing its first two shows at the Ambassador on Saturday and Oct. 19, in addition to another show on Feb. 22. 

Saturday’s show will feature guest violinist Benjamin Beilman joining the orchestra for a program of works entitled “Beethoven, Mozart, Lutosławski & Kodály,” with the 24-year-old violinist performing “Turkish,” also known as Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219. 

Kahane will also conduct Beethoven’s “Twelve Contredanses for Orchestra,” composed after Beethoven studied the art of dance music with Haydn and which contains fragments that appear in some of the composer’s later great masterworks. The program concludes with Kodály’s “Dances of Galánta,” filled with folk melodies reflecting the composer’s childhood in the Hungarian countryside in Galánta, and Lutosławski’s “Chain 2,” the title of which is based on a musical form invented by the preeminent Polish composer and consists of two structurally independent strands linked together like chains. Beilman is also the featured soloist on “Chain 2.” 

“Benjamin is one of the most extraordinarily gifted young violinists in America,” says Kahane. “I’ve heard him play and he has a gorgeous sound, a wonderful sense of style and a tremendous insight into the music. As a music director, I choose all the shows I conduct and I thought these were particularly festive since they’re based on dances, and a festive atmosphere is a great way to start a season.” n 

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra performs “Beethoven, Mozart, Lutosławski & Kodály” at 8 p.m. Saturday at Ambassador Auditorium, 131 S. St. John Ave., Pasadena. Tickets are $25 to $110. Call (213) 622-7001 or visit laco.org.

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