There are plenty of great traditions in every SoCal summer, from cookouts and beach trips to Dodger games and concerts. But Pasadena has its own sources of musical magic, including MUSE/IQUE, an orchestra which combines classical music with jazz, pop and an assortment of dance troupes each year for an exciting three-show season of fun.
This year’s theme for the series — held at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens — is “Music in Motion,” and it kicks off Saturday with a show titled “Moving/Pictures.”
Playing off the idea that “a ticket to the movies has always been a ticket to our wildest dreams,” the show features some of the most popular tunes from classic movies and also boasts a performance by three-time Tony Award nominee Joshua Henry.
“We were inspired largely by The Huntington, because when I walk among their world famous plantings and paintings, I am struck by the fact that these fixed objects, lovingly preserved, move people on a global scale and their inspiration will surely transform hearts not yet born,” says MUSE/IQUE founder and conductor Rachael Worby. “I think of The Huntington as a place that spins the globe, and I think of music the same way.
“We begin the series with this exploration of the art of the film score as an interplay between music, motion, character and ideas,” she adds. “But we also go beyond the film score to examine all sorts of images that move us, and we imagine together the music that comes to mind when we encounter beautiful imagery. Because it is the weekend of Independence Day, we will be paying particular homage to the moving images and music that underpin the American Spirit.”
One major element of Saturday’s show will be “the art of John Williams.” The famed composer has 51 Oscar nominations and his score for “Star Wars” was named by the American Film Institute as the greatest American film score of all time, but Worby is keeping things interesting by spotlighting some of his lesser-known but still compelling works.
“Any program focused on the way music and images work together must include the original genius of the genre,” says Worby. “In so many ways, Williams invented the way our imagination works today. We will be playing scores not frequently featured in John Williams tribute evenings, such as his scores for “Lincoln” and “Memoirs of a Geisha.” We’re interested in illuminating the way he builds characters through music.
“We will also be performing songs that define certain eras and feelings within America, and yet seem to have the timeless ability to move us forward,” adds Worby. “These include ‘Soliloquy’ from ‘Carousel,’ Gershwin’s ‘Summertime,’ and the Louis Armstrong standby ‘What a Wonderful World.’”
The next show of the season is “Train/Glory” (which pays tribute to trains from the Transcontinental Railroad to toy trains) on Aug. 3, with guest soprano Liv Redpath and the dance troupe Body Traffic. The third and final show is “Band/Together,” which features the American Ballet Theatre and the “daring piano duo” Anderson and Roe to pay homage to the idea that music can move people together in a way that creates a divine outcome.
MUSE/IQUE performs “Moving/Pictures” at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. Tickets are $50 to $130. Call (626) 539-7085 or visit muse-ique.com.