Offering a “fearless fusion” of music, dance, film and theater, Boston Court Performing Arts Center will be ground zero for creativity in Pasadena as it debuts its eight-night performance series DuoFest on Saturday.

Duets are the theme of this summer festival, starting with the opening night world premiere of “Beauty and the Beast or the Enormous Wound.” The performance features Teresa Barcelo of the Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, accompanied by saxophonist Joe Berry and narrator Paula Rebelo, to relate a classic Portuguese tale of a woman embracing the beast within her.

Other nights feature pianist duos putting new twists on multiple-keyboard concerts, and a “speed-dating”-style workshop in which composers and performers can team up and create new works on the spot in front of audiences.

The “Potential Energy” show on Tuesday brings together violin-viola and flute-cello duos to perform works by six composers. The evening will also feature the world-premiere of the micro-opera “Any Excuse Will Serve a Tyrant,” teaming soprano Justine Aronson and baritone Scott Graff in their first-ever joint performance.

“Duofest is the genesis of Mark Saltzman, our artistic director for music,” says Boston Court Executive Director Kyle Clausen. “We had performed our summer music series on the main stage last year and it was a great success.

“Mark re-envisioned this year’s series as a weeklong festival, built around pairing exciting performers from around Los Angeles together, performing new work and re-imagined classics to see how collaborations can bring about new ideas.”

All the Duofest musicians come together with a deejay on the last night for the grand finale, a rarely performed multimedia tribute to Beethoven by Mauricio Kagel called “Ludwig van.” The performance will create improvisational twists on some of the legendary composer’s greatest works, set against a backdrop featuring excerpts of Kagel’s eponymous film.

“It’s a huge tribute to Beethoven in traditional and unusual ways,” says Clausen. “It’s like a kaleidoscope, never performed the same way twice, written in a way that the artists who perform it make it their own each time.”  


Duofest runs from Saturday through July 15 at Boston Court Performing Arts Center, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. Tickets are $30 for all individual shows and $88 for festival passes covering all performances. The Monday and Wednesday events are free workshops. Call (626) 683-6883 or visit bostoncourt.com.