Plan A? Plan B? Plan C? Or plan D?
The Jolla Music Society was determined to avoid taking risks when designing this year’s SummerFest, especially after the coronavirus pandemic forced last year’s 18-concert chamber music marathon to be canceled – which was then reconfigured as a six-concert live-only event with no live audience.
In January, the nonprofit arts organization had four different fully prepared plans for the 2021 edition of SummerFest, which will run from the July 30 “Ode to Joy” opening night to the “A Love Composed” finale. August 20. Each option was designed to keep the same exploratory theme, “Self and Sound,” as the 18-gig SummerFest iteration reluctantly dropped last year – but with a few changes and some new additions (including the Russian piano star Daniil Trifonov and the Texas Kings Revenir Gospel Vocal Quartet).
Plan A would repeat last year’s no-audience live stream format, but with 16 gigs, not six.
Plan B would be to organize the 16 performances – for a small number of socially distant spectators – in the intimate courtyard of the society’s two-year-old child, $ 82 million Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center. Some of these concerts would be broadcast live. All would take place without an intermission and with a reduced amount of music to play.
Plan C would offer two reduced performances without an intermission per night in the Baker-Baum concert hall in the center, but with a capacity reduced by 60%, from 504 to 201.
And Plan D would see all 16 SummerFest concerts take place in their entirety at Baker-Baum and the adjacent JAI cabaret, with intermissions, in front of a full audience. Nine of those 16 concerts would also be broadcast live.
“The third plan, with the two nightly reduced-capacity indoor concerts seemed most likely until recently,” the company said. CEO / Chairman Todd Schultz, who took office in January.
“We had several scenarios,” added Leah Rosenthal, artistic director of the company. “I’ve always thought we should plan pretty conservatively. ”
It wasn’t until early this month, after careful consideration and evaluation of the latest city, county, and state health guidelines, that the company decided which plan would make the most sense.
His decision to present SummerFest as a 16-day indoor event at the Baker-Baum and the adjacent JAI Cabaret, if all goes according to plan, will revive the event and the company itself.
Not a reimagination
It’s still not a reinvention of the abandoned festival from last year, a point that Inon Barnatan, Music Director of SummerFest is quick to stress.
“I think we’ve become immune to the word ‘reinvented’ because we had to reinvent a lot last year,” Barnatan said. A highly sought-after pianist, he will perform at eight of this year’s SummerFest concerts.
“For example, I changed the original concept of our opening night last year,” Barnatan continued, speaking of a recent concert in Seattle.
“It was supposed to be called ‘When We Were Young’ and present transformative music to the composers whose music we were going to play – Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff and de Falla.
“Considering what has happened since with the pandemic, I thought we couldn’t resume SummerFest without acknowledging the great happiness we all feel in being able to come back to play and experience the music live. So our opening night is now called “Ode to Joy” and will feature music by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Grieg, Falla, John Adams and (43 year old Norwegian composer) Ola Gjeilo.
“We keep our fingers crossed to keep things as they are, and we are really able to have a festival that feels – for lack of a better word – ‘normal’.”
But postponing the 2020 “Self and Sound” edition of SummerFest and moving it to this August is anything but normal.
Participants will be asked to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results no later than 72 hours before the show they are attending. The need to wear a mask will be determined by the health protocols in place in July and August.
About 10 percent of the artists booked for last year’s SummerFest are not available for the new edition. However, some that were booked elsewhere last year are now free to perform here in August.
One happy constant is that Gabriela Lena Frank will host two concerts at SummerFest 2021 and perform as a featured pianist, just as she was to do in last year’s edition.
The native of Peru, who is almost completely deaf without the use of special hearing aids, runs a Bay Area music academy. She has gained international fame for her skills as a keyboardist and her singular ability to skillfully incorporate the folk music traditions of her native country into vibrant contemporary classical compositions.
“I only discovered Gabriela and her music in the last few years,” Barnatan said. “And the more I learn about her, the more fascinated I become.”
After streaming last year’s six SummerFest concerts live, nine more will be broadcast live this year. This time, the public will be present. Live broadcasts will allow those near and far who cannot attend in person – or are not yet comfortable doing so – to participate.
“With what we’ve all had this shared (pandemic) experience with over the past year and more, it will impact how we listen collectively, how artists perform and how we absorb music,” Rosenthal said. .
“Thus, it greatly deepens the meaning of SummerFest’s ‘Self and Sound’ theme. We will all have a lot more to say about our travels than just the music. “
SummerFest 2021 schedule and ticket information
All concerts take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Baker-Baum Concert Hall at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, unless otherwise noted. Concerts marked with an asterisk will also be broadcast live.
July 30: Opening night: “Ode to Joy” – Beethoven, Mozart / Grieg, Adams, de Falla, Gjeilo and Mendelssohn *
July 31 : American Perspectives I: “Goin ‘Home” – Dvorak, Marsalis, Price and Perkinson *
1st of August : “The Artist as a Muse” – Debussy, Britten, Stravinsky and Mozart, 3 p.m. *
August 4: “Notes on Freedom” – Brahms and Andrew Norman
5 August : “History of Life” – Sibelius, Shostakovich, Schubert and Smetana
August 7: American Perspectives II: “Idealized Landscapes” – Ives, Caroline Shaw, Copland and Gabriela Lena Frank *
August 8: American Perspectives III: “Rhapsodies in Blues” – Ravel, Schuller, Milhaud, Williams, Bernstein and Gershwin, 3 pm *
August 10: “For a great artist” – Berio and Tchaikovsky *
August 11: “Symphonic dances” – Enescu and Rachmaninoff
August 12: “A Song By Mahler” – A new chamber opera by Marc Neikrug
August 15th : American Perspectives IV: “The Silver Score” – Hermann, Glass, Corigliano, Barber, Williams, Zigman, Korngold and Britell, 3 p.m. *
August 15th : Takeover @ The JAI I – curated by Gabriela Lena Frank, 7:30 p.m.
August 17: Takeover @ The JAI II – curated by Gabriela Lena Frank
August 18: “Intimate letters” – Janacek and Franck
August 19: “Grands Duos” – Mozart, Tamar Muskal and Chausson *
20 August : Final: “A Compound Love” – Wagner, Schumann and Brahms *
SummerFest 2021 season ticket packages go on sale at noon today. Solstice subscription packages are priced from $ 574 to $ 838 for 10 concerts. Celestial subscription packages are priced from $ 759 to $ 1,106 for 14 concerts. Concerts without a JAI subscription cost $ 60 and $ 75 per ticket.
Subscription renewals began May 30 and end June 18. Single concert tickets, which range from $ 45 to $ 96, go on sale June 23. Tickets and more information are available at the La Jolla Music Society box office, by phone at (858) 459 -3728 and online at ljms.org.