With only a handful of days left in 2011, it’s naturally a time to reflect and think about the coming year. And in 2012, there’s already a lot of very exciting things to consider and plan for on the preforming arts scene. So while I'm packing for London and before my January preview comes to light next week, I’ll leave you the following music, theater, and performance highlights for the year ahead. Let’s start with L.A.’s biggest classical music organization, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which will continue its current season with a wide variety of works from late 20th-century composers including Louis Andriessen, John Adams, Steve Reich and others. Probably the most important shows coming up for the L.A. Phil will be the world premiere of a new oratorio from Adams entitled The Gospel According to the Other Mary, which will be seen in late May/early June under Gustavo Dudamel, just weeks after Adams himself leads a program with the West Coast premiere of Glass’s latest Symphony No. 9 in April. And as for older music, the most enticing programs of the spring will be a string of recitals from Matthias Goerne accompanied by the L.A. Phil under Christoph Eschenbach and with the conductor alone on piano in works of Schubert the week of April 16. And don’t forget the long-awaited return of Simon Rattle in early May when he’ll lead Bruckner with our local orchestra as well.
And speaking of Adams, the other major living composer with that name, John Luther Adams will have his Inuksuit receive its West Coast premiere along with many other pieces at the 66th Ojai Music Festival starting June 7th. This year’s artistic director is Leif Ove Andsnes and he’s scheduled to appear alongside fellow pianist Marc-André Hamelin and clarinetist Martin Fröst over this first-rate weekend. Back in town, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra will be celebrating music director Jeffrey Kahane’s 15th anniversary with the group by performing a new commission from Brooklyn-based composer Timothy Andres on March 24 and 25 as well as one from Gabriel Kahane on April 21. LACO, along with the L.A. Philharmonic and both the Colburn and Thornton music school will also host the first Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in Los Angeles beginning on March 9 for 9 days of concerts, master classes and recitals with over 20 of the world’s best known cellists including Alisa Weilerstein, Miklós Perényi, Steven Isserlis, and Mischa Maisky. These performances take place in multiple venues with a variety of different music so be sure to check the schedule. Oh and done forget L.A.'s rebelious Wild Up collective that will present "a compendium of hipster music" from both East and West coast young composers on March 23 and 24.
On the opera front, the biggest thing to talk about in Los Angeles prior to the announcement of the 2012/2013 season for Los Angeles Opera next month will likely be Placido Domingo’s performance in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra starting February 11. Long Beach Opera, of course, has assembled another season of rarities from the likes of Poulenc, Martinu, Piazzola, and Osvaldo Golijov. Out of town the two most exciting things on the schedule are Karita Mattila taking another swing at Janacek’s The Makropulous Case at The Metropolitan Opera starting April 27 and Mariusz Kwiecien’s scheduled appearances in the title role of Szymanowski’s King Roger at Santa Fe Opera starting in July. (I’m also crossing my fingers that I may make it to London in late June for the Royal Opera House’s new production of Berlioz’ Les Troyens with Jonas Kaufmann, Eva-Maria Westbroek, and Anna Caterina Antonacci. Stay tuned.) There will be Ring cycles everywhere, of course, on this anniversary year including new stagings at both the Metropolitan Opera and in Munich to name just a few.
The theater offerings are no less interesting. Center Theater Group has planned major West Coast runs of the critically well-received recent New York productions of Sondheim’s Follies in May and Jon Robin Baitz’ Other Desert Cities before the end of 2012. But before all this, L.A.’s largest theater producer will bring concurrently running productions of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park to the Kirk Douglas and Mark Taper Forum stages respectively. The Broad Stage will bring Helen Hunt in Thornton Wilder's Our Town starting January 14. And then there's the exciting line-up at REDCAT which has too many interesting things to detail here but I would not skip the return of the Netherlands' Wunderbaum on April 28 and 29 with Songs at the End of the World. This just scratches the surface so stay tuned for the monthly performance previews and have a great New Year.