Impeccable elegance marks the opening of the Conrad by La Jolla Music Society


The interior of the Conrad shortly after its official opening. Courtesy of La Jolla Music Society

Impeccable elegance are the words that can be used to describe the opening gala weekend of The Conrad, the La Jolla Music Societythe new musical and cultural center bringing heart and soul to the center of the tiered village.

Inaugural concerts and building dedications almost never succeed, but not this time. The highest quality – due to the architecture, sound design and musical performance – was exactly what was offered in the courtyard and inside of the magnificent new Baker-Baum concert hall at Conrad Prebys Performing Arts. Center on Friday evenings and throughout the weekend.

The entire complex was named in honor of the late Conrad Prebys, who said music was his passion and who, along with his partner, Debbie Turner, donated most of the $ 83 million for the new center.

Almost like a dream after perfect hospitality in drink bars and splendid catering tables, on this most beautifully designed and perfect acoustically perfect stage, world famous violinist Hilary Hahn has appeared in solo performances by Bach, giving the passion of opening up to an unforgettable 80-minute evening.

Guests were then treated to an electronic ukulele performance of compositions by Schubert and Queen by Jake shimabukuro, the great Hawaiian recording artist. This was followed by an incredible dance performance by Lil Buck in “The Swan” at Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals”. The dancer was joined by brilliant pianist and the company’s new SummerFest director, Inon Barnatan, and cellist Joshua Gindele.

Then Barnatan returned with a rapid fire part of a piano sonata by Prokofiev.

One of the highlights of the evening came next with four former SummerFest directors performing a Brahms quartet. It has been an exciting reunion for those who have followed SummerFest concerts for many decades.

Almost before customers could catch their breath, they must have been in awe of the world premiere of a multimedia piece for violin by Lalo Schifrin, “Letters to my Father,” starring Cho-Liang “Jimmy” Lin, beloved of the company, accompanied by a production on the big screen by Osman Koc.

For 18 years Lin had directed SummerFest, but this intriguing premiere was followed by Barnatan, the company’s new musical leader, brightening up the new venue with his magical fingers on ivories, in a dynamic piece by Stravinsky. You can hardly wait the few months until August when Barnatan takes over the musical direction of SummerFest, recognized around the world as a premier festival.

The crowd at the Friday night gala. Photo by Barry Jagoda

Also splendid on this opening night, another world-class pianist, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, who has produced more than 50 albums, in Liszt’s piece “Consolation n ° 3”. In total, there were 13 delightful musical performances.

Friday night’s grand finale was an Octet Mendelssohn, which included the first string performers as well as the famous Miro Quartet. As a reminder, 18 musicians from San Diego and international youth orchestras joined us to perform a charming version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

Now this, and many other musical productions, will delight audiences in the company’s own venue. The Conrad has materialized in recent years under the architectural brilliance of the New England-based company Epstein Joslin Architects, with perfect sound design from Yasuhisa Toyota, President of Nagata Acoustics America.

On Saturday night, as the opening events continued, multi-platinum singer-songwriter Seal held on. Then on Sunday, the Conrad’s other great venue – JAI, named after donors Joan and Irwin Jacobs – was the jazz scene for the eight-member New York ensemble, The Hot Sardines, which occur under the influence of early 20th century swing and blues.

Those in attendance until the climax of the three-night opening weekend concerts will be grateful for many more world-class productions, starting Tuesday with The Jerusalem Quartet, known worldwide for the brilliance of classical music.

Award-winning broadcast journalist Barry Jagoda was President Carter’s special assistant for media and public affairs. He graduated in 1967 from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and lives in La Jolla.

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