Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.

My Photo
Location: Fear City, Ca., United States

"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sejong Soloists with Orli Shaham April 22, 2011

Sejong Soloists with Orli Shaham at Cerritos: the Future and Seasons Are Bright

                               By Glen Creason

       After much classical Sturm and Drang this season at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts the Sejong Soloists came to town and provided the hall with genuine happiness in the form of Felix Mendelsshon, Michael Haydn and the suddenly Cerritos star Astor Piazzola. It is amazing that so much young talent could be assembled on one stage but these soloists put an honest-to-goodness all-star team to work and their youthful enthusiasm mixed with superior talent make for some very beautiful music. These musicians hail from all over the globe and together they speak the same sweet language of classical music. If only the people of this messed up planet could operate like these young artists and work together in harmony we could listen to Mendellshon and Piazzola instead of watching battles in the streets. Most of these young men and women are the cream of the crop from schools like Julliard but their egos seemed not to show on this night as they worked together delightfully.
     The fourteen-member troupe filled the hall with joy from the first note of Michael Haydn’s “Notturno in F Major” that got the audience upright in their seats and ready for more. Despite being in his more famous brother’s shadow Michael Haydn’s work is wonderful and influential on later composers such as the great Mozart. This piece was cake in the hands of Sejong,  producing a bright and energetic tone throughout. The second part of the program featured the demanding and somewhat eccentric “Four Seasons” of Astor Piazzola that was divided between four excellent soloists. The violinists: Adam Barnett-Hart, Ji In Yang, Emilie-Anne Gendron and Ana Park were uniquely wonderful, reflecting not so much the change of seasons but the emotions of the people of Piazzola’s native Buenos Aires. To hear the four parts done as a suite was fascinating since they seemed to fit together perfectly despite the fact that the composer wrote them as separate entities. With the four soloists shining in each segment it seemed this might be hard to beat but there was a very special second half ahead.
     The audience needed a little breather after Piazzola’s intricate Seasons but the concert just got better and better.  When pianist Orli Shahan put her slender fingers to the big Steinway worries seemed to melt away and the audience was transported to the Romantic period where the true genius Felix Mendelssohn wrote this “concerto in d minor for violin, piano and string orchestra” back when he was barely a teenager! This is not to short the superb work of violinist Daniel Cho who matched Ms. Shahan’s perfect playing and this sweet synergy made for some marvelously stirring moments. It was not the back and forth that this piece could be but a cooperation that elevated the music to blessed heights.  Orli Shahan is in a handful of the best pianists heard in this hall’s history and it would be very nice to see her back on this stage some night in a recital. As it was she was very humble and thankful to play with this fine young group who demonstrated over and over again that the future is bright for serious music around the world. The rather refined and well turned out crowd said their farewells to the Sejong Soloists with a long and strong standing ovation. 

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Pink Floyd Experience April 2, 2011

Pink Floyd Experience: Very Close to the Real Animal

By Glen Creason

Cover bands may always be the source of hipster and hater ire since they are not the original of whoever they cover. Even if that “whoever” is dead and gone or refuses to perform the popular music there are always those who hold their breath waiting for the return of their heroes. In some cases that will be a long wait and often the actual hearing the music performed live is the greatest compliment to the artists who are not willing or able to do the same anymore. So, there will always be skepticism about such groups and the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts is an apt venue for such concerts where groups have covered the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Frank Sinatra and in some shape or form Creedence Clearwater, the Temptations, the Kingston Trio and even Mark Twain. They may have not been the originals but they were certainly entertaining. On Saturday night one of the more challenging covers in hall history took a flying leap at the huge and complicated feat of a Pink Floyd concert which actually turned out to be great fun and certainly a compliment to the greats who created these songs.

The key to the success of “the Pink Floyd Experience” who performed a dozen gems from the 1970’s songbook was the fact that these guys are terrific musicians who really seem to worship the tunes they brought back to live life. On this night it was a spirited send-up of “Animals,” the strangely appropriate concept album of 1977 and some greatest hits that were presented in a colorful river of sound accompanied by an old-fashioned psychedelic light show and multi-media extravaganza that took you back to the carefree days of your misspent youth. Considering the current struggles between labor and big capital the album Animals makes perfect sense but most in the Cerritos crowd seems to be focusing on the lush organ platform, the huge baselines, a truly exceptional drummer, the occasional wild sax outer voyages and at the center the wondrous guitar solos once played by the incomparable David Gilmour.

Actually it is fair to say the Gilmour may be incomparable but the playing of Tom Quinn of “the experience” was absolutely astounding and created a Pink Floyd reality that made the show all about music and not memory. Quinn is the star here but the others in this band are excellent: John Cox on keyboards, Gus Beaudoin on a really big bass, Howard Pattow on difficult vocals, young Jesse Malloy on saxophone and John Staten, one of the best drummers heard in this hall in any show. The technical folks made the hall a changing, multi-colored phantasmagoria but the music was just a full, flowing river of sound, curving around the hall and sometimes raging to high points that made you completely forget what year it was and who was playing what. There was also a gigantic, inflated pig floating above the sometimes mind-boggled crowd that punctuated the three Pigs songs of the Animals set. There was more treats in the second half including “Money,” “Run Like Hell,” “Comfortably Numb,” “Brain Damage,” and even a brick from “the Wall.” All in all, the “ Pink Floyd Experience” did Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason and even Syd Barrett proud.