April 16, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

California Philharmonic Opens Season with “By George!”

SAN MARINO, Calif. In the 1965 film My Fair Lady, Professor Henry Higgins cries out, “By George, I think she’s got it!†after his pupil Eliza Doolittle learns to speak with a proper British upper crust accent. On Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28, the California Philharmonic will present “By George!†featuring works by three composers who have definitely ‘got it’ when it comes to communicating through music. All just happen to be named George as well: George Gershwin, George Handel and George M. Cohan.

On the program – which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Cal Phil Festival on the Green at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia and at 2 p.m. at Cal Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall the following Sunday – are works ranging from Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks to Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm, The Man I Love, and Embraceable You as well as excerpts from Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess. Cal Phil will also get a head start on celebrating July 4 when it presents a “Salute to George M. Cohan†featuring such instantly recognizable hits as Yankee Doodle Dandy and You’re a Grand Old Flag.

“Cal Phil’s mission since its inception has been to bring great music of every genre and from every era to the community,†says Dr. Victor Vener, Founder and Music Director of the orchestra. “And By George! is a perfect illustration of our commitment to this.â€

Joining the orchestra are renowned guest artists soprano Henrietta Davis – who performed the role of Bess in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess on Broadway and on tour with Houston Grand Opera across the US and Europe – and Cal Phil audience favorite, bass baritone Cedric Berry.

“I can’t think of a more perfect artist to bring the beauty of Gershwin’s vocal music to life than Henrietta,†says Vener. “She not only performed Bess to rave reviews but is a versatile performer who is a three time winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, has appeared in operas like La Boheme and The Marriage of Figaro, and sung gospel on the ‘Hour of Power.’ â€

Berry, a first place winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Auditions-Western Region, also appeared in Porgy and Bess – playing the role of Jake in a concert version of the production in Spain with the Mid Atlantic Orchestra. As a resident artist with Los Angeles Opera, he sang roles in The Barber of Seville, La Boheme, Samson et Dalila, Faust, La Rondine and Billy Budd and, in addition, appeared as a guest artist with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Pacific Symphony.

“To say that Cedric is an audience favorite is an understatement,†says Cal Phil’s composer in residence, Roger Allen Ward, whose symphony no. 1 will receive its World Premiere when Cal Phil presents “Basically Beatles†on July 11 and 12. “We are thrilled to welcome him back for yet another performance with Cal Phil and look forward to introducing him to those who have not yet had the incomparable pleasure of hearing him sing. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.â€

Cal Phil’s tribute to George Gershwin will also feature a choir under the direction of Cal Phil’s Chorus Maestra, Marya Basaraba. Organizations with which Basaraba has worked include the Redlands Bowl Festival Opera, the Nevada State Opera, the San Diego, Victoria, Texas, Vancouver, Newfoundland, West Coast and Montreal Symphonies, Toronto Operetta Theater, L’Opera de Montreal, and L’Opera du Chambre de Quebec.

“Audiences who have joined us in the past are well aware of Marya’s artistry, whether they joined us last summer for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 or this past December for Handel’s Messiah,†says Vener. “The contribution she’ll make to Cal Phil’s presentation of Porgy and Bess will be equally extraordinary.â€

The fun at Cal Phil Festival on the Green at The Arboretum begins prior to the performance. Patrons are encouraged to arrive at 5:30 p.m. when the gates at The Arboretum open, and picnic beforehand. “You’re more than welcome to pack your own picnic,†explains Lin. “Or you can purchase food from several vendors.†Orders can even be made in advance online at www.calphil.org. Live jazz will be performed prior to the concert as well.

This year, for the first time at Cal Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall, pre-concert lectures with Dr. Victor Vener will take place at 1 p.m.

Tickets for Cal Phil Festival on the Green at The Arboretum start at just $20 and can be purchased by calling the Cal Phil box office at 1120 Huntington Drive in San Marino at 626.300.8200 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday or by visiting the website, www.calphil.org. The Arboretum is located at 301 No. Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets for Cal Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall are available by calling TicketMaster at 213.363.3500, Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or online, 24 hours daily, at www.ticketmaster.com. Prices range from $35 to $90/person. Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles.

ABOUT HENRIETTA DAVIS:
When soprano Henrietta Davis performs before an audience of over 4000 at The Arboretum and over 2000 at Walt Disney Concert Hall as a guest artist at Cal Phil’s “By George!†, she probably won’t suffer from stage fright. Davis – who has earned rave reviews in musical productions ranging from Phantom of the Opera to La Boheme – is used to large audiences. An award winning opera diva who leads a double life as a gospel singer, Henrietta often performs onstage before the 20,000 member West Angeles Church of God in Christ and 10,000 member Faithful Central Bible Church in Los Angeles. She was also a regular soloist on Robert Schuller’s television program “Hour of Power,†broadcast worldwide.

Davis’s performance as Bess, in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, while on tour with The Houston Grand Opera, earned her accolades throughout the US and Europe. The Georgetowner raved that “Davis’ Bess is earthy, slinky-sexy, a brass trumpet of a women with a perfect voice” while the San Francisco Examiner claimed “Henrietta Davis was the lustrous standout from Gershwin’s grand opera.” Additional companies with which Henrietta has appeared include the San Francisco Spring Opera, Brown Bag Opera and the Oakland Opera.

The soprano is equally at home on the concert stage – having performed with such leading orchestras as the San Francisco Symphony, the Oakland Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Luckman Jazz Orchestra and the Orlando Symphony. Davis also appeared in Duke Ellington’s “Sacred Mass†during the World Festival of Sacred Music – LA and with the LA Master Chorale at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

A graduate of San Francisco State University, Davis was accepted into San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera program. In addition, she has won awards in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Opera Auditions program three times and was a second place winner in the San Francisco Opera Auditions.

ABOUT CEDRIC BERRY:
A First Place winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions –Western Region, bass baritone Cedric Berry has appeared at opera houses nationwide in a variety of roles including the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust, Falstaff in Nicoli’s Merry Wives, Lepporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Sarastro in Mozart’s Die Zauberflote, Collatinus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and Shaunard in Puccini’s La Boheme. He has also long been a favorite with local audiences – appearing as a Resident Artist with the Los Angeles Opera in productions of The Barber of Seville, La Boheme, Samson et Dalila, Faust, La Rondine and Billy Budd. Cedric’s voice is filled with “passion and power,†raved the Pasadena Star-News.

Acclaim for the bass baritone is now spreading “across the pond,†however. Berry made his European stage debut in Spain, as Jake in a concert version of Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess and recently performed with Los Angeles Opera at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Savonlinna, Finnland. He was also invited to sing at a concert in tribute to Paul Robeson for the Banlieurs Bleues festival in Paris, France.

In addition, Berry has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra as part of its Community Concerts series, singing selections from Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs, and with the Los Angeles Master Chorale for a performance of works composed by Mary Lou Williams. He has appeared as well as a soloist with the Pacific Symphony, Arizona Symphony, Bakersfield Symphony, Fresno Philharmonic, Santa Fe Symphony, New West Symphony, The Pasadena Pops, the Luckman Jazz Orchestra and the California Philharmonic.

ABOUT MARYA BASARABA
Cal Phil Chorale Chorus Maestra, Marya Basaraba, is originally from Montreal, where she studied Orchestral Conducting with Maestro Alexander Brott and Choral Conducting with Wayne Riddell at McGill University. She has an eclectic performance background as an actor, television and radio host, operatic and symphonic soloist, vocal coach and choral conductor. She was the Co Founder of the Southern California Chamber Orchestra and is the Director of Music and Performing Arts Ministries at Grace Lutheran Church and Chorus Master at Temple Akiba, both in Culver City and the Music Director of the Spirit Alive Fellowship in Irwindale.

Maestra Basaraba is the Chorus Master of the Redlands Bowl Festival Opera for which she prepared the chorus for The Barber of Seville, Tosca, La Traviata and Madama Butterfly. She was the Artistic Director of the 2007 and 2008 Peace Through Music concerts presented by the Pasadena Human Relations Commission and, as the Artistic Director of the Nevada State Opera, she produced La Bohème, Carmen, Madama Butterfly and Don Giovanni.

Basaraba is also a highly acclaimed soloist with an extensive repertoire of both soprano and mezzo soprano roles in Aida, La Traviata, Un Ballo in Maschera, Il Trovatore, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Gianni Schicchi, Carmen, Cavaleria Rusticana, I Pagliacci, Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, The Magic Flute, Cosi fan Tutte, Die Fledermaus, Der Rosenkavalier, The Mikado and the Mothers in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Hansel and Gretel and Albert Herring. Her symphonic repertoire includes Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and the soprano and alto solos in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Ms. Basaraba’s oratorio repertoire includes the Mozart, Duruflé, Fauré and Verdi Requiems, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonelle and both the soprano and alto solos in Handel’s Messiah and the Vivaldi Gloria.

The long roster of artistic organizations with which Basaraba has performed includes the San Diego, Victoria, Texas, Vancouver, Newfoundland, West Coast and Montreal Symphonies, the Strauss Symphony of America and the Torrance, Marina del Rey/Culver City, Rio Hondo, Bellflower, Los Angeles Doctors, San Bernardino, Pacific Palisades, Inland Empire and Channel Island Symphonies; the San Fernando Valley, Antelope Valley and Riverside Master Chorales, the Tudor Singers and Le Studio Ancienne de Montreal, the Toronto Operetta Theater, L’Opera de Montreal, L’Opera du Chambre de Quebec, Grand Theatre de Geneve, Bel Canto Opera, Mukungwha Opera, Arizona Opera, Nevada State Opera, Opera East (Nova Scotia), Santa Clarita Light Opera, Redlands Bowl Festival Opera and the Long Beach Opera.

ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA PHILHARMONIC:
In 1995, Music Director and Conductor Victor Vener and a small group of enthusiastic, dedicated music lovers based in Pasadena, California founded The CalPhil Foundation. The Foundation, a nonprofit community benefit organization, supports the California Philharmonic in its quest to expand awareness of classical music, thus increasing the interest and support for great timeless music with wide audience appeal, from the classical and operatic repertoire to diverse genres of jazz, pops, Hollywood and Broadway. Also, with a strong commitment to new music and to expanding the symphonic repertoire, the California Philharmonic has presented numerous world premieres of both orchestral and chamber works.

The California Philharmonic began in 1997 with a five-concert inaugural summer season of Cal Phil Festival on the Green on the grounds of the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia. Now, Cal Phil presents twenty-four concerts per year in five different, but equally impressive, venues throughout Los Angeles County. These series include Cal Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall (downtown Los Angeles), Cal Phil at the Ambassador (Pasadena), Cal Phil Music, Martinis and the Maestro (Castle Green Hotel in Pasadena), Cal Phil Festival on the Green, and Cal Phil at The Mill (The Old Mill in San Marino). For more information, visit www.calphil.org or call 626.300.8200.

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