The Los Angeles Master Chorale will celebrate the big 5-0 with a season of old favorites and new music. It also plans performances of Zappa and Glass with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The ensemble, which has sung in New York and Europe, benefits from “a unique legacy,” says music director Grant Gershon. “We were founded in 1964 as an independent professional resident company of the Music Center — not merely an orchestra’s chorus — and are known both for our own artistic projects and collaborations.” Some highlights (and fun facts) from the last half-century and upcoming season.
By Karen Wada
Singers’ survival guide
Music directors Roger Wagner, from left, John Currie, Paul Salamunovich, Grant Gershon. (Los Angeles Master Chorale)
The Chorale starts its season with a Sept. 22 program of works associated with its four music directors. Included are Renaissance, French and popular pieces for founder Roger Wagner (1964-1986), Scottish songs and Mozart for John Currie (1986-1991), Gregorian chant and Morten Lauridsen for Paul Salamunovich (1991-2001) and Tallis, Ellington and world music for Grant Gershon. More than 100 alums are expected to join 115 current choristers in Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia” — which the ensemble sang to test the sound in Walt Disney Concert Hall, where it moved from its first home, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, in 2003.
Composer Morten Lauridsen sits near the piano in his Hollywood Hills home in April 1999. (Robert Gauthier / The Los Angeles Times)
Morten Lauridsen wrote this lush work for the Chorale, featured on its Grammy-nominated 1998 recording devoted to its first composer-in-residence, whom it will honor March 16. The ensemble’s 46 commissions include anniversary pieces by David Lang, Esa-Pekka Salonen and current composer-in-residence Shawn Kirchner. The Chorale has made seven other albums and sung on film soundtracks such as “License to Wed.”
A program guide and a marked-up vocal score. (Stefano Paltera / The Los Angeles Times)
Handel’s “Messiah” has been presented more times — 67 — than any work in the group’s history. The record will rise to 70 with the 56th audience singalong Dec. 11 and the 13th and 14th concert performances Dec. 15 and 22.
Singers’ survival guide
The not-so-secret tidings: cough drops and some hot toddy. (BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images / Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times)
Among choristers’ tips for preserving voice and body:
Drink lots of room-temperature water. Keep Airborne and cough drops handy. (Avoid menthol, which can affect vocal cords.) Soothe the throat with a post-show hot toddy. Wear comfy shoes.
Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Chorale and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Verdi’s Requiem at the Hollywood Bowl in August 2013. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Number of years tenor Jody Golightly has sung with the ensemble, making him its longest-serving current member. About 60% of the choristers are full-time musicians. Others’ occupations include professor and chef. Golightly is a theatrical fabric flame-proofer.
The Master Chorale sings with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in October 2002. (Lori Shepler / The Los Angeles Times)
Production cost for Bach’s Mass in B minor at the Master Chorale’s first concert Jan. 27, 1965, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Equal to about $83,000 today when adjusted for inflation.
Grant Gershon conducts the Los Angeles Master Chorale in Bach’s Mass in B minor at Walt Disney Concert Hall in March 2008. (Lawrence K. Ho / The Los Angeles Times)
Estimated cost to present the same piece 49 years later — Jan. 25, 2014 — at Disney Hall. (The program will be repeated Jan. 26.)
More information on the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s 50th anniversary season is at www.lamc.org; tickets also available at (213) 972-7282. Opening concert: 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Credits: Produced by Christy Khoshaba / Programming by Anthony Pesce.