Tenor Jon Lee Keenan and St. Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra Perform This Friday


Tenor Jon Lee Keenan

The St. Matthew’s Music Guild continues its 37th season, “Spotlight on Strings,” at 8 p.m. this Friday with a concert featuring The Chamber Orchestra at St. Matthew’s and tenor Jon Lee Keenan. The conductor is Dwayne S. Milburn.

The concert will include music composed by Benjamin Britten, Heitor Villa Lobos and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Keenan, a frequent soloist with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the L.A. Philharmonic, will be heard in Britten’s stirring Serenade for Tenor, Horn and String Orchestra.

The Serenade, composed in 1943, is a setting of six poems by English poets on the subject of night, including both its calm and its sinister aspects. Teag Reaves will be featured on horn.

Brazilian composer Heitor Villa Lobos considered the music of JS Bach “the most sacred gift to the world of art.” Because Bach expressed his work in a manner unique to Germany, Villa Lobos sought to create work that not only honored, but sought to “understand, love, and cultivate the music that is born and lives…from our own land, and make it also universal with faith and good conscience.”

Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9, originally conceived for chorus and later arranged for string orchestra, is the last in a series of works with varying instrumentation that made subtle connection between the Baroque master and his 20th Century artistic descendant.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is a unique figure in classical music. Born in London to a white English woman and an African father from Sierra Leone, his family history encompassed both sides of the Atlantic.

Coleridge-Taylor began to play violin and compose music at a young age and was eventually championed by such famous composers as Sir Edward Elgar and Charles Villiers Stanford. He developed a style that earned him the sobriquets “African Mahler” and “Black Dvorak.” Keenly interested in the traditional spirituals and new music produced by African Americans, his compositions reflected a skillful combination of this fascination and his European training. Composed in 1902, Four Novelletten is a charming representation of his intercontinental style.

The concert begins with Aaron Copland’s rousing “Hoedown” from the landmark 1942 ballet, “Rodeo.”

Music Guild concerts take place at St. Matthew’s Church, 1031 Bienveneda Avenue. For tickets ($35 at the door) and more information, visit MusicGuildOnline.org or call (310) 573-7422.


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