Arts & Entertainment

Pasadena’s Mt. Wilson Observatory Presents a Classical Music Concert

Mt. Wilson Observatory’s 100-inch telescope. – Courtesy photo/ Tracie Hall (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The quartet will perform in the dome of the 100-inch telescope

On Sunday, August 5, Mt. Wilson Observatory will present the fourth in its summer season of concerts in the 100-Inch Telescope Dome on Mount Wilson above Pasadena. The Lyris String Quartet will perform music by David Hertzberg, Joseph Haydn and more.

The Lyris Quartet is a Los Angeles based string quartet, created from a conversation between violinist Alyssa Park, who has enjoyed an illustrious career as an international soloist and is the youngest prizewinner in the history of the Tchaikovsky International Competition and violinist Shalini Vijayan who has built a career as an advocate of modern music as a member of Grammy nominated groups, Absolute Ensemble and Southwest Chamber Music.

Drawing on their diverse backgrounds, these musicians chose to form a string quartet that could encompass their love for both standard and modern repertoire and commission works from living composers.  Violist Luke Maurer and cellist Timothy Loo, both highly esteemed performers in Los Angeles joined the group, and Lyris was formally founded in 2008.

On the program will be the Haydn Quartet, Op. 76, No. 2, also known as the “Fifths” referring to a falling pattern of perfect fifths at the start.  This quartet is composed in four movements and is predominantly in the key of D minor.

Eric Tanguy Duo Sonata for Violin and Cello is a work by one of the most widely performed and broadcast French composers of our day.

David Herztberg, Meditation Boreale for string quartet is described as “a magical stroll through an enchanted forest.” The composition was premiered at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival by the Flux Quartet in the summer of 2013

Ben Jonston, Amazing Grace.  Jonston’s  7- Limit String Quartet No. 4 “Amazing Grace” was commissioned by the Fine Arts Music Foundation of Chicago, and was first recorded by The Fine Arts String Quartet on Nonesuch in 1980 (and reissued on Gasparo as GS205). The String Quartet No. 4, perhaps Johnston’s best-known composition, has also been recorded by the Kronos Quartet.

The identical program will be offered in two performances, one at 3 P.M. and one at 5 P.M. There will be a reception with the artists following each performance.

The 100-inch telescope is the instrument with which astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered our place in an expanding universe and so expanded our comprehension. The dome for the telescope is a 20th century temple to science whose acoustics rival the great cathedrals of Europe and provides a unique setting for this ambitious music series.

Albert Einstein wrote that, “There exists a passion for comprehension, just as there exists a passion for music.” This extraordinary venue energizes that passion for music.

In addition, concert-goers will be treated to an exhibition featuring rare scientific artifacts, drawings, and illustrations from the Observatory’s collection.

Tickets for these concert events may be purchased online.

All proceeds go to support the Mt. Wilson Institute in its mission to preserve, protect and promote the Observatory and the science accomplished there.

About the Composer

David Hertzberg, Composer

David is the son of San Fernando Valley State Sen. Bob Hertzberg and is composer-in-residence for Opera Philadelphia and Music-Theatre Group. Hertzberg has two degrees from Juilliard (where he studied under the tutelage of Jewish composer Sam Adler)  His music has been performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and by the likes of the New York City Opera, the Kansas City Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Hertzberg was named one of 30 under 30 young people by the Jewish Journal.

About the Artists

Alyssa Park, Violin

Alyssa Park established an enviable international reputation at age sixteen for being the youngest prizewinner in the history of the Tchaikovsky International Competition. She has made numerous appearances in this country since her professional debut at age eleven with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. Other notable credits include the Ravinia Festival Series, Kennedy Center Recital Series, Oregon Bach Festival, and Rockefeller University in New York City.

Ms. Park performs extensively every season throughout Europe. She has performed with Sir Colin Davis and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra as well as appearances with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, and the Czech Philharmonic.

Ms. Park is a founding member of the Lyris Quartet which is based in Los Angeles. Lyris curates the “Hear Now” new music festival which is dedicated to performing the works of living Southern California composers. The quartet is also the resident quartet for the Jacaranda music series in Santa Monica. This year they performed as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series and will also be featured at the Hollywood Bowl this fall.

Shalini Vijayan, Violin

Violinist Shalini Vijayan is an established performer and collaborator on both coasts. Shalini was a founding member and Principal Second Violin of Kristjan Jarvi’s Absolute Ensemble, having recorded several albums with them including 2001 Grammy nominee, Absolution.

A member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida from 1998-2001, Shalini served as concertmaster for Michael Tilson Thomas, John Adams, Reinbert de Leeuw and Oliver Knussen. In Los Angeles, Shalini is featured regularly with Grammy Award winning Southwest Chamber Music and can be heard on their Grammy nominated Complete Chamber Works of Carlos Chávez, Vol. 3.

Luke Maurer, Viola

Violist Luke Maurer, a native of Santa Barbara, California, began his musical studies on the violin with his father. He received his B.M. and M.M. degrees in viola performance from the University of Southern California studying with Donald McInnes and Ralph Fielding.

Maurer is a member of the Pacific Symphony and performs regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. As a chamber musician, Mr. Maurer has performed in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. Mr. Mauer is member of the Pacific Symphony and performs regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has also served as guest principal violist with Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa in Japan.

Timothy Loo, Cello

Cellist Timothy Loo is a member of the Lyris Quartet, founded in 2008.  This quartet is the resident ensemble at both Jacaranda and Hear Now Festivals and has been featured numerous times on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series at The Walt Disney Concert Hall.

A passionate chamber musician, he founded his first quartet, the Denali Quartet, in 1999 while pursuing his Advanced Studies in Cello with Ronald Leonard at the University of Southern California. As a member of the Denali quartet, he participated in masterclasses with the Julliard, Vermeer, and Takacs Quartets.

Mr. Loo has performed in masterclasses for Yo-Yo Ma, Ronald Leonard, David Geringas, Natalia Gutman, Franz Helmerson, and Bernhard Greenhouse.

In January 2018, Mr. Loo made his concerto debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Walt Disney Concert Hall performing the fiendishly difficult Concerto for Cello and Orchestra by Bernt Zimmermann, under the direction of conductor Susanna Mälkki.

July 12, 2018

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