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Monday Evening Concerts: King of New Music

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If you like classical new music, then why aren't you coming to Monday Evening Concerts? This is the real deal and a one of the kind music series in Los Angeles.

Last Monday night's concert was our Classical Pick of the Week and there was good reason for it. The nearly sold out concert of the young and elderly gathered at Zipper Hall at Downtown's Colburn School of Music. The night started with the US premiere of Horatiu Radulescu's "Agnes Dei," an antiphonal-like duet for two violas that felt rock climbers scaling a wall, but never ever making it to the top. Rich, deep and dark in sound, Igor Stravinsky's "In Memoriam of Dylan Thomas" received "bravos" from the audience among a few shouts of "do it again" and "I love that piece."

Ending the first half of the program was something of a love/hate relationship. The young tall and lanky violist Vincent Royer masterfully played the West Coast premiere of Radulescu's "Das Andere." To someone fresh to new music, the piece mostly full of screeching strings like fingers on a chalk board mixed with beautiful frenetic moments on open strings would put off many. To this audience, Royer earned himself the only standing ovation of the night.

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After intermission, percussionist Steven Schick walked onto stage. The audience began to clap as he cut them off by aggressively striking the first notes of the powerful "Rebonds" by Iannis Xenakis. Looking at the sheet music for this piece and it looks like a mess. Hearing Schick Monday night gave final definition and clarity.

"Eonta" by Xenakis finished off the night. The piece for piano, three trombones and two trumpets carries instructions for stage movement for the brass players. At one point, they wander the stage; at another, play into the piano eliciting vibrations on the piano strings. "Eonta" is a perfect example of "stochastic music," where a combination of many tiny events make up the whole. The program notes rightfully note that the piece is a 20-minute eruption of energy.

Monday Evening Concerts will continue with their tour de force new music programming onJanuary 7th with a program entitled Exercises En Route featuring soprano Susan Naruki, XTET and conductor Donald Crockett.

Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist