Peanut Says Check Out Camerata’s Upcoming Season!

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 9.32.11 PMThe Long Beach Camerata Singers has announced its 2016-2017 Season, its best ever as it spends the year celebrating the accomplishments of Artistic Director, Rob Istad.  Here are the highlights:

THE MUSIC OF DOWNTON ABBEY:  IMG_3403If you loved the PBS series and crave English Choral Music, this is the show for you!  You will hear the series theme plus many other familiar and important pieces.  Chuckle as our own “Lady Violet” trades barbs with Rob Istad!  Sunday, October 2, 4:30pm, Beverly O’Neill Theater

HANDEL’S MESSIAH:  A Holiday tradition for Long Beach.  One of the most important and enduring pieces in the choral repertoire is performed with an orchestra and top soloists.  Sunday, December 4, 4:30pm, Beverly O’Neill Theater

A CAMERATA CHRISTMAS:  Our Christmas gift to you!  This family-friendly concert will feature your favorite holiday songs and sing-a-longs, Santa Claus and a big cookie reception after.  Saturday, December 17, 3:00pm, Los Altos United Methodist Church

MONTEVERDI’S VESPERS OF 1610:  IMG_3409Rarely performed, this piece shattered the traditions of the past and propelled western music into the future.  Accompanied by Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra.  Sunday, April 2, 4:30pm, Beverly O’Neill Theater

BACH AND JAZZ AT THE SKY ROOM:  Hear local favorite Anne Walsh perform variations on Bach pieces plus Jazz Standards at the Iconic Sky Room.  Ticket includes wine and hors d’oeuvres.  Sunday, April 9, 5:30pm

CAMERATA GOES BROADWAY:  Rob Istad is sure to have a few surprises at this, his last concert with Camerata.  Wine, buffet, silent auction included.  Saturday, June 3, 6:30pm

Use this link to purchase subscriptions or single tickets:

Use this link to sign up for auditions:

Rob Istad Speaks About Long Beach Camerata Singers

Since 2009 Long Beach Camerata Singers has had the pleasure of singing under the baton of Rob Istad.  We will have much to say about his accomplishments on our behalf during this, his final year with the organization.

However, with auditions coming up next week, we thought you might like to hear Rob speak about Camerata, the arts in Long Beach and choral music in general.  Here is a short video we produced in honor of our 50th season last year:

Auditions will be held Tuesday, August 9 and Wednesday August 10.

Use this link to sign up for auditions:


Five Big Reasons to Audition for Long Beach Camerata Singers

661c657b084aa35269aad4102a4bba73There have been hundreds of articles written about the benefits of singing, but today I want to give you 5 reasons why you should be singing with the Long Beach Camerata Singers.  We are the professional-quality choral ensemble serving Long Beach and its surrounding communities.

  1.  Sing with Artistic Director Rob Istad — IMG_1442Rob’s reputation as a fantastic choral conductor is well established.  He is also an all-around nice guy, respectful of talent and hard working.
  2. Be Part of Rob’s Last Season with Camerata — We have planned a fantastic season to celebrate Rob’s final year with us.  Our repertoire includes English choral music, Handel’s Messiah, a fun-filled Christmas concert, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and a toe-tapping Broadway extravaganza.
  3. Perform in the Beverly O’Neill Theater — We are moving to the Beverly O’Neill Theater (formerly the Center Theater) in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center this year.  Improved acoustics and a professionally managed theater will make your performance experience very enjoyable.
  4. Collaborate with Top Quality Musicians and Soloists —
    Sarah Goodwin channels Monica in "The Medium"
    Sarah Goodwin channels Monica in “The Medium”

    Rob very carefully selects our soloists and accompanists.  For example, organist Christoph Bull will be part of our Downton Abbey concert.  Musica Angelica will provide our orchestra for the Monteverdi program.

  5. Collaborate with other Arts Organizations — This year we will be singing with both the Long Beach Opera (The Perfect American, March 2017) and the Long Beach Symphony (Mozart’s Requiem, April, 2017).  This is your opportunity to be part of these fantastic performances.

In summary, we provide an excellent creative environment with unique performance opportunities.  Our professionally managed organization will make your singing experience worry free!

Auditions will be held Tuesday, August 9 and Wednesday August 10.

Use this link to sign up for auditions:

The Music of Downton Abbey

While we’re on the subject of TV Shows, let’s not forget the Grande Dame of PBS, Downton Abbey.  db29f9-20151229-downton-abbey-series-sixThe Downton Abbey theme song is one of the most recognizable themes on television today, and sends a shiver of anticipation down my spine each time I hear it.  The period drama, developed and written by Julian Fellowes, is set in the years 1912 to 1925.

A little research turns up a great many interesting facts.  The composer is John Lunn, a Scot, who studied music in Glasgow and at MIT.   images-25The soundtracks are recorded with a 35 piece orchestra, including Lunn on the piano.  As he says in an interview with NPR, “You could almost imagine it [the orchestra} fitting into their house itself.”  Here is a link to that interview:

The main theme is just one of many distinctive melodies used in the show.  Most of the characters had one or, in the case of Matthew and Mary, images-42several themes that were linked to them.  Lunn composed a short piece for Bates that portrays his Boar War limp in the music.

Another reason for the theme’s appeal is that it is melodic and tonal, as well as simple and logically structured.  Listeners can easily follow the melody and recognize it in the development and variations.

Although the music is played as an orchestral theme in the show, it also has lyrics.  They were written by Don Black, who also wrote the lyrics for “Born Free” and several James Bond movie themes.  The song’s official title is “Did I Make the Most of Loving You?”

Not surprisingly, the song won an Emmy in 2012 for Original Score for a Series.


Endeavor and Opera: Two Birds with One Stone

I recently wrote about the fantastic score that graced the season finale of Game of Thrones (click here to read:  EndeavourOSTWe also love the show “Endeavor,” which includes opera and other classical music selections in every episode.  The show is a prequel to the “Inspector Morse” series, featuring the title character as a puppy.  Who knew his first name was Endeavor?  What a beautiful name!  In the show he is always referred to as Morse.

Like “Inspector Morse,”  “Endeavor” is one of those charmingly eccentric British who-done-its that combine intelligence with action as only the Brits can do.  Our main character  won a scholarship to study at St John’s College, Oxford, but lost the scholarship as the result of poor academic performance resulting from a failed love affair.   Forced to leave the University, he entered the Army and later joined the police.  The show is set in Oxford and features beautiful shots of the city.

23The music director/composer for the show is Barrington Pheloung, who has been associated with original Inspector Morse series, as well as the Inspector Lewis and Endeavor shows.  Here is a short but interesting youTube recording of an Abbey Road studio session recording the Endeavor theme:

I am fascinated with Pheloung’s choices of Opera and other music to help build Endeavor’s character in the viewer’s mind.  20For example, as the first episode of the current season opens, a disillusioned Morse, suspended from duty, was living in a lakeside shack in the woods, listening to Mozart’s Requiem and chopping logs for firewood.  Other episodes include treats such as Faure’s “In Paradisum,” the “Flower Duet,” Verdi’s “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves,” the Adagio from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concert No. 2 and much more.

My recommendation is to watch this fantastic series.

5 Reasons I LOVE Working with Rob Istad

IMG_1442As the Board President for Long Beach Camerata Singers, I have had many opportunities to work with our Artistic Director, Dr. Robert Istad.  It has been absolutely wonderful to partner with Rob to bring top-quality choral music to the public.  Here are some of the ways that Rob makes making music magical:

  1.  Rob is a GREAT Musician — It is a joy to work with a quality choral conductor, and Rob certainly fits that profile.  His conducting is easy to follow and he makes it very clear how he wants pieces and passages sung.   He brings out the best in his singers and has a particularly sensitive ear to what is going on in the group
  2. Rob Treats Everyone with RESPECT — When you have a conversation with Rob you come away with the feeling that he really valued what you had to say.  He consistently and deliberately lets people know that he respects them.
  3. Rob is a Very Astute BUSINESSMAN — Camerata maIMG_5043-3614286392-Oy be a choral organization, but it is still a business.  The budget needs to balance at the end of the year, and Rob is very aware of this fact.  He is careful to make sure that his programming appeals to the public while still using our resources wisely.
  4. Rob Plans Fantastic PROGRAMS — Because of his wide knowledge of repertoire and a certain sense of playfulness, Rob has consistently planned great concerts.  He strikes a balance between traditional choral repertoire and exciting contemporary trends.   His astute judgement means that when risks are taken, they pay off.
  5. Rob is a Wonderful COLLABORATOR — 141220_LBCS-6406 The circle is drawn larger when you work with Rob.  He reaches out to the musical community and forms partnerships.  Besides being a practical way to run an organization, this enhances the creative input and results in creative vitality.

The 2016-2017 Season will be Rob’s final year at Long Beach Camerata Singers.  We have a great season ahead of us and will share information and anecdotes as they happen.  I am proud to call Rob my friend and partner in this enterprise and I plan to enjoy every moment of the coming year!

Game of Thrones Stuns with Finale Theme

12743916_10153508807537734_8161301982084798315_nWe are still agog over the season finale of “Game of Thrones” — the surprises, the brutality, the green goop and yes, the emergence of women as the dominant protagonists.

Underpinning the drama, 160418_r27999-320however, was one of the most beautiful scores to hit the TV screen in a long time.  GOT is already known for its compelling theme.  This piece starts with a minimalist piano solo, adds cello and later voice.  As the plot thickens, so does the music.  The piano gives way to organ and  the main theme emerges.  At times a haunting dirge, at times thick and dramatic.

Ramin_DjawadiThe piece is entitled “(Winds of Winter) Light of the Seven” and was composed by Ramin Djawadi, born in Germany and educated at Berkelee School of Music.  He has a robust discography, including the score for the Marvel-inspired movie, “Iron Man.”  Here is a link to a wikipedia article about Djawadi:

Here is a link to a recording of the score, which is almost 10 minutes long, and well worth the listen.  Sorry about the ad that comes on first!


Observations and anecdotes about classical music in Southern California


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