This week, on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 the Jacaranda chamber music series offers a holiday concert that features the angelic voices of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus with guest soloists, in a program that ranges from J.S. Bach, Benjamin Britten, and Mahler to Phillip Glass.
One of the most celebrated composers in our day, Glass is also known to movie audiences for his film score of Koyaanisqatsi, as well as for his operas such as Akhenaten and Satyagraha. This special holiday concert also features the Jacaranda Chamber ensemble with the LA Children’s Chorus and three narrators in Knee Play V, a shorter section from Phillip Glass’s monumental opera “Einstein on the Beach.”
Performing as one of the narrators, is LA based writer/performer, and radio personality, Sandra Tsing Loh. Loh first performed as narrator for this work by Phillip Glass, with Jacaranda in 2009 along with the classical music radio host, Gale Eickenthal. No stranger to classical music herself, Sandra Tsing Loh began her multifaceted career as a concert pianist and has also composed for film and piano.
In a phone interview held this week, the sharp-witted Ms. Loh, speaking with compact speed and charm, said that “this year, Patrick Scott (Jacaranda’s Artistic Director) is asking the narrators to be very conversational and speak in more intimate style. The directors want to create a more sonically smooth effect to blend with the music. It’s fun stuff because I tend to be more manic and dramatic – so for me this is a good change and an interesting acting exercise.”
Alongside her writing books and contributing articles for The Atlantic, or hosting her science radio show, The Loh-Down on Science, this year she performed again as a classical pianist in concert. Amidst all of this, she is the mother of two young daughters. Excerpts from the interview follow.
Would Jacaranda’s holiday concert be a good introduction for people new to classical music? Would children enjoy the kind of music that Phillip Glass writes?
Yes. I have two daughters. They are always delighted with pieces like this that have text or running dialogue. I find with my children today are pretty fascinated by any formality of concerts, even walking into a hall and with everyone in black concert dress.
This piece (Knee Play V) goes by fairly quickly. It has ritual and movement to it, so it’s interesting to watch and you need to kind of puzzle out, and you have just enough time to realize you can’t. I think that they will like mystery of the piece. Hopefully the way we are doing it will make it kind of fun.
In terms of your career now, is performing in classical music concerts something you’d like to do more of ?
Yes, it’s always so energizing. Recently I also did a Boston Court Theater concert this past May, of all piano music, in a piano trio. I’ve been a writer for such a long time now, but I began as a musician.
Part of this is that I turned 50 years old this year and made myself a list. One of my goals was to practice 6 hours a day piano, and do a really difficult piano concert, which I did…And, I’m always so energized to be with Jacaranda. I always get excited when I get a call from them because they are so terrific.
They just keep putting it out there. They are bold, they are inspired, and just being near that energy is wonderful. Jacaranda adds a lot to the cultural life of LA and is worth supporting. And that is what is so great about Los Angeles.
Jacaranda’s Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 concert, at 8 p.m. Where: The First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, 1220 Second Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Concert tickets, $40 general; $20 students. For more information: www.jacaranda.org