La Jolla Music Society's SummerFest returns

By Monica Unhold

SummerFest will begin on a high note tomorrow with a night of "Fire and Passion" at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla.

The performance will include the world premier of a newly commissioned piece, "Piazzolla Suite for Four Violins," by Philharmonic Opera violinist Julian Milone. Another highlight of the show will be a new arrangement of Piazzolla's famed "Death of an Angel."

SummerFest has been gracing La Jolla with masterful performances of chamber music since 1986. This year's month-long lineup of 70 artists and 16 performances continues through Aug. 24 at various locations.

New this year is an open-air event - to be held at Scripps Park at the La Jolla Cove - that will appeal to a broader audience. On Aug. 14, "SummerFest Under the Stars" will consist of performances of better-known compositions and will be free to the public.

With their backs to crashing waves, musicians will perform pieces by Felix Mendelssohn, George Gershwin, John Williams and John Philip Sousa. Music director and master violinist Cho-Liang Lin will participate in the picturesque performance by playing a range of five violins, he said.

Since pop and symphony music is the usual fare for outdoor concerts, the chamber music at the event is somewhat of an experiment, Lin said. Members of the La Jolla Music Society hope the event will be successful, but worry about the possibility of a parking fiasco like those during the firework displays on the Fourth of July.

The night is a way for the festival to give back to its host community, said Lin, who often goes by Jimmy.

Each year, La Jolla residents take world-class musicians into their homes. Eating and rehearsing with their host families breeds a strong connection between musicians and the community, Lin said.

"The musicians are thoroughly integrated into the La Jolla community," Lin said. "The great thing about music is that feeling of camaraderie."

One of the most popular series is likely to be the three nights of Brahms at Sherwood Auditorium. "Brahms I - Friendship Among Masters," Aug. 5, will showcase the works of Brahms and his mentor, Robert Schumann. Works will include "Adante and Variations for Two Pianos" and "Two Cellos and Horn." The second performance, entitled "Brahms II - Unrequited Love," is inspired by the relationship between Brahms and Schumann's wife, Clara, for whom Brahms felt a deep, unrequited love. The final night in the series, "Brahms II - Intimacy and Grandeur," Aug. 19, showcases the rich style of Brahms' work. Tokyo String Quartet joined by former SummerFest Music Director Heiichiro Ohyama will perform "String Quartet No. 1 in F Major, Opus 88."

Another notable series is the three concerts to be performed at the historic Birch North Park Theatre. The performances offer less traditional classical fare and are aimed for "the more adventurous" festival-goers willing to trek out of La Jolla.

The Aug. 8 concert will include music composed within the last decade. Jazz at SummerFest, Aug. 15, will showcase the work of French jazz legend Jacques Loussier and will feature his variations on the work of classic composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.

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