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UCLA Philharmonia and Chorale Present Handel’s “Judas Maccabaeus” to Packed House

December 11th, 2015 · No Comments

On Sunday, December 6th, the UCLA Philharmonia orchestra and the UCLA Chorale gave a performance of a seldom performed work — G.F. Handel’s Judaas Maccabaeus. It was performed at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple with an almost full house. Here are some photos from the concert.

Enthralled audience

Photo from the back of the hall

Conductor Neal Stulberg in action

Concert program

The six soloists with Professor Michael Dean and Professor Neal Stulberg to the right.

Closeup of chorale singers

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El Norte reviews pianist Inna Faliks

November 24th, 2015 · No Comments

We have received from Prof. Faliks news of another great review from El Norte. Critic Gabirel Rangel has reviews a November 11th performance by Prof. Faliks in New York, and translated, says “Grand temperament, sound and precision. Concert pianist of the highest order, with the mastery to do anything she wants.” The entire review, in Spanich may be found HERE.


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Voice student Tyler Houston in cast of “It Gets Better” at the Wallis Theater

November 2nd, 2015 · No Comments

Professor Peter Kazaras (Director of Opera UCLA) has shared the following photo and information:

“It might be nice to post this photo on the blog. This was a bunch of UCLA students, staff and faculty at a performance of “It Gets Better” produced by the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus at the Wallis Theater in Beverly Hills. UCLA sophomore Tyler Houston was in the wonderful cast.

The performance was on Saturday October 10, 2015.”

Retired staff member Mona Lands is at left front row, and Prof. Juliana Gondek is at right front row. Prof. Kazaras is next to the end on the right of the top row.

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Music Graduate composition Student Shares Summer Activities in Croatia and Hungary

October 30th, 2015 · No Comments

Graduate composition student Glen Llorente has sent us an update on last summer’s activities, which include studying at the Upbeat! International Summer School for Composition (July 25 – August 5, 2015), and an orchestral collaboration project with the Danube Symphony Orchestra in Budapest, Hungary.

With regard to the Upbeat! experience, he says:

“This summer, I was accepted into the Upbeat! International Summer School for Composition (July 25 – August 5, 2015).

I studied with Joel Hoffman, and composed a new piece, “A Dream within a Dream” for soprano, alto saxophone, and found percussion. (You may hear and see the performance of this piece at this link: It
had an excellent premiere, performed by the participating composer-performers in the festival. I was also able to create lasting connections from the international performers and composers in the course.

This summer course consisted of a series of daily group seminars with Professor Joel Hoffman, and daily rehearsals of each composer-performer’s work. All of us participated and I learned so much about being a composer-performer—that we, as both composers and performers, are greatly interdependent upon each other. I also learned much about performance and rehearsal practices, having been involved in six pieces’ rehearsals and performances.

I also learned so much about the culture in Croatia, having gone to several cultural events and outdoor group activities in Milna and nearby on the island of Brač. The course culminated in a final concert by all of us composer-performer participants. All of us had our pieces well performed. It was such a tremendous experience and I am so grateful for your support for this opportunity!

Here’s the info of the summer school:

Upbeat! International Summer School
Joel Hoffman

Here’s a photo of the Upbeat! participants:

Glenn went on to share this information with the experience of working with the Danube Symphony Orchestra:

“I had a wonderful experience, working with the Danube Symphony Orchestra in Budapest, Hungary, and with guest conductor, Samer Hatoum from Dublin, Ireland. I was introduced to the orchestra via Samer Hatoum, and had two of my orchestral scores read and recorded: my piano concerto, David and Goliath–of which is piano solo was beautifully performed by Kitra Pess from Vienna, Austria; and Solace for orchestra.

Having been introduced to the orchestra, being an upcoming new music composer, the Danube Symphony is thrilled to partner with me, Samer, and other new music composers, to put together a concert series in Europe, to premiere my work!”



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October 29th, 2015 · No Comments

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We have received the following very full activities update from Prof. Inna Faliks:

“I just got back from three concerts in NY 22nd, 23rd and 24th: Music/Words with the renowned poet Deborah Landau in the Meisel Series in Soho. The performance was recorded by Yamaha as a DVD release. (An article/link about this was posted on the home page of the Music Department website at

Then I did a solo recital in the Parrish Museum in South Hampton, then another Music/Words, with award winning poet LB Thompson, in St Luke’s Series in East Hampton. here is a link to a newspaper blurb about that, it mentions UCLA .

I played music of Clarice Assad, Brahms, and Mozart – here is, also a picture of me with Deborah Landau and Clarice Assad.

Then, 1 1/2 weeks from now, I go to the Festival Internacional de Piano in Mexico, in Monterrey and Torreon.”

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Reviews for recent Philharmonia CDs–Performances of Fairouz and Zeisl

October 28th, 2015 · No Comments

Professor Neal Stulberg, Director of Orchestral Studies and Chair of the UCLA Department of Music, passed along these recent reviews from Opera News and OZ Arts Review, an online music review journal from Australia.

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FAIROUZ: Symphony No. 3, Poems and Prayers
Sasha Cooke; David Kravitz; David Krakauer (clarinet); UCLA Chorale, University Chorus, and Philharmonia, Stulberg.
Texts and translations. Sono Luminus DSL-92177

by Joshua Rosenbaum
Opera News
December 2014

It is startling, to say the least, to hear a large choral symphonic work by an Arab-American composer begin with an urgent, galvanizing setting of the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. The piece in question is Mohammed Fairouz’s grandly ambitious Symphony No. 3, subtitled Poems and Prayers. By alternating between settings of Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew poetry, Fairouz’s work pleads for peace between two perennially warring peoples — Palestinians and Israelis — by bearing musical and poetic witness to their horrifying mutual suffering and, consequently, making plain what unites them as human beings, despite their deep and obvious differences. The last couplet of the Kaddish, “Oseh shalom bimromav,” recurs between the symphony’s four larger movements as a rondo-like refrain with different musical settings, returning at the very end in close to its original form. Throughout the work there are clear elements of both Jewish and Arabic musical traditions, as well as evocations — both overt and implicit — of illustrious Western works like Beethoven’s Ninth, Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony, and John Adams’s Nixon in China. Fairouz’s quest is clearly for something universal, and he achieves exactly that by showing that these diverse strands can be woven into a coherent, original, and quite moving musical tapestry.

The especially distinctive second movement (“Lullaby”), for clarinet and soprano with delicate orchestral accompaniment, was originally composed in 2008 upon the death of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, from whose State of Siege the text is drawn. The wailing, sinuous melodic lines are very self-consciously Middle Eastern, with clarinet and voice shadowing each other in unison, thirds, and octaves. The text sounds like a love poem, but we learn in a wrenching twist at the end that it’s a woman speaking to her son at his funeral. Mezzo Sasha Cooke shows mournful, idiomatic brilliance interacting with virtuoso clarinetist David Krakauer in this movement. (Krakauer also brings his astonishing klezmer stylings to bear in Tahrir, or “Freedom,” the riotous, Arabic-flavored work for clarinet and orchestra that opens the disc.) The third movement, “Night Fantasy,” draws from a work written by Palestinian poet Fadwa Tuqan just after the 1967 Six-Day War, which marked the beginning of the Israeli occupation. Here, Cooke partners with UCLA violinist Nicole Sauder to weave a quasi-Mahlerian spell of lamentation that cuts deeply.

The sprawling fourth movement sets Israeli poet Yehudi Amichai’s “Memorial Day for the War Dead.” Fairouz covers a great deal of ground here: we encounter yearning, resonant melodies, both Hebraic and otherwise, as well as violent eruptions featuring scattered choral chanting and frenzied orchestral scampering; military march music; and an obsessively repeating instrumental figure that takes us inside the tortured brain of a man who has lost his son and wanders the street “like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb.” There’s also a gigantic, nearly atonal vocal fugue, with a long, complex subject that creepily dies away each time at the very end upon reaching the word “death.” Fairouz, in addition to his obviously deeply felt desire for Middle East peace, brings a considerable amount of knowledge and skill to bear; one can also note that while his modernist credentials are frequently in evidence, he also occasionally reveals a soft spot for a good old-fashioned, easily graspable melody.
Baritone David Kravitz is an extroverted and impassioned presence for extended passages, quite capably embodying the frightfully high stakes of the proceedings. In one of the “Oseh shalom” passages, tenor James Callon sings fervently but with a certain tranquility that seems to offer the possibility of peace. Much of the heavy lifting, however, is done by university-level forces: the UCLA Philharmonia, Chorale, and University Chorus. They have clearly risen to the protean demands placed on them, performing with sturdy musicianship and considerable emotive power. Conductor Neal Stulberg has an impressively sure grasp of this challenging and multi-layered work, imposing discipline where it’s needed, and unleashing chaos where it’s demanded.

* * * * * * *

ERIC ZEISL: UCLA Philharmonia cond. Neal Stulberg
Antonio Lysy (cello)
Yarlung Records 96820
by Neville Cohn
Australia’s online independent specialist music review journal
October 28, 2015

During intermission at a recent concert, I asked a number of people at random if they knew who Eric Zeisl was. Two looked at me blankly and shrugged their shoulders, saying they’d never before heard the name. Another thought he had something to do with the Bauhaus Movement – and one wondered if he was a research scientist. No-one got it right – and for this reason alone, this compact disc is timely and certainly worth listening to.

Quite apart from his credentials as a composer, Zeisl was connected to Arnold Schoenberg via the marriage of his daughter Barbara to Ronald, Schoenberg’s son.

(As is increasingly known these days, Barbara and Ronald’s son E. Randol Schoenberg is an attorney specialising in the recovery of art works stolen by the nazis. His most celebrated case relates, inter alia, to the famous painting The Woman in Gold by Gustav Klimt which inspired a recent movie in which Helen Mirren portrays Maria Altmann, the legal owner who, in spite of the Austrian government’s determination not to give up its ill gotten gains, secured, as a result of Randol’s powerful advocacy, the return to her of the Klimt portrait.)

Despite a good familial relationship between the two composers, Zeisl and Schoenberg inhabited strikingly different aesthetic and philosophical worlds. Schoenberg’s music rocked the then- musical establishment and for decades afterwards. Although most of Schoenberg’s works have been recorded, this is far from the case in relation to Zeisl’s oeuvre. So this compact disc is invaluable. It will bring to a new generation an appreciation of music that needs to be far better known.

Zeisl’s Kleine Sinfonie ‘after pictures of Roswitha Bitterlich’ makes for gripping listening. Bitterlich, now in her nineties and living in Brazil, was extraordinarily precocious, a mere 14 years old at the time of creating the four paintings which so inspired Zeisl. In fact, after viewing them for the first time, he hurried home and got down to work, completing the four-movement work, based on the four paintings, in four days!

Perhaps this accounts, if only in part, for the vividness of the music which doesn’t so much attract the attention as seize it.

Its first movement – The Madman – is couched in harsh, abrasive terms, radiating a sense of disorder, urgency and conflict. Much of it could be thought of as a gritty, in-your-face march macabre – and conductor Neal Stulberg takes the young players of the UCLA Philharmonia through a riveting reading. There is as well a sad, romantic violin melody.

Fascinating liner notes include images of three of the four Bitterlich paintings which inspired the first three movements; this visual prompt makes a real difference in a first encounter with the music. I’d have liked to see, as well, an image of Expulsion of the Saints which inspired the finale.

Bitterlich’s Dead Sinners inspired Zeisl to write music that eerily suggest lost, hapless souls in torment and Neal Stulberg takes the UCLA Philharmonia impressively through its doom-laden measures. And trombone and horn give point and meaning to the picture showing two mourners gorging themselves with food and liquor at a wake.

And in the final movement, the players do wonders in focusing on Zeisl’s many evocations of spiritual anguish.

Zeisl’s Concerto Grosso has about it the sonic aura one associates with, say, some of Ernest Bloch’s Hebraic-themed works – or a soundtrack one might associate with a Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic. As well, there’s the occasional grating dissonance that sets the teeth on edge. Throughout, Antonio Lysy is in impressive form, the solo line beautifully shaped and confidently stated, his bowing a model of its kind. Certainly, both soloist and UCLA Philharmonia respond to Neal Stulberg’s direction in a consistently meaningful way. Horns are especially fine.

Whether articulating the nimble, darting utterances that make of the central scherzo a rather wild and perhaps drunken dance – or articulating the variations that comprise the finale with complete mastery – it’s clear that all concerned are at the top of their game. Zeisl reserves some of his most satisfying ideas for the variations which are the sonic equivalent of the contents of an Ali Baba’s cave.

Sadly, Zeisl never heard his Concerto Grosso which he wrote in 1955/1956; it was dedicated to Gregor Piatigorsky. Its first airing was at the Zeisl Memorial Concert in 1959 in Los Angeles. Thereafter, it returned once more to limbo until 2012 when it was the prime work at a performance described as a Celebration of Eric Zeisl concert.

I hope this fine recording is heard by many. It certainly deserves to be.


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India Carney sings for Lady Gaga and Herbie Hancock at Americans for the Arts Awards Ceremony

October 26th, 2015 · No Comments

Lady Gaga at the Americans for the Arts awards ceremony. Credit Joe Schildhorn/BFA

UCLA Music Department Graduate India Carney continues to make headlines–last week she performed some of her dance hits for awardees Lady Gaga and Herbie Hancock (who is also a professor at UCLA in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz), and others.

David Brooks, Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, uses this event to write a thorughtful article about passion and art. You can read the whole article by CLICKING HERE.

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Professor Antonio Lysy Discusses Performing and Teaching in LAX Magazine

October 23rd, 2015 · No Comments

Lysy 09092015--B_500pProfessor Antonio Lysy

Cello Professor Antonio Lysy has shared with us an article from a recent issue of LAX travel magazine, in which he discusses his philosophy of teaching and which incorporates a discussion of his latest work and upcoming performances. The magazine also has coverage of some of the art scene in Los Angeles.

Please enjoy this article by CLICKING HERE.

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Professor Kenny Burrell Receives Los Angeles Jazz Society’s 7th Annual L.A. Jazz Treasure Award.

September 9th, 2015 · 4 Comments

On September 4th, 2015, UCLA’s own jazz legend Kenny Burrell received the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s 7th Annual L.A. Jazz Treasure Award. In the audience, and playing, were other UCLA faculty members like Charley Harrison, A.J. Racy, and Justo Almario. Those at the event were also entertained by Prof. Burrell’s Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra Unlimited. Prof. Travis Cross shared the following photos from the event.

Kenny Burrell Receiving Award

County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl

Tommy Hawkins

Prof. Charley Harrison

Prof. A.J. Racy

Prof. Justo Almario

Kenny Burrell playing jazz guitar.

For other events presented by Jazz at LACMA, CLICK HERE.

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Monk Institute Board Member Dee Dee Bridgewater appears with Irvin Mayfield on Tavis Smiley Show

September 2nd, 2015 · 3 Comments

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The Thelonious Monk Institute’s Advisory Board member, singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, appeared on the Tavis Smiley show, which aired September 1st. Read more HERE.

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