Go For Baroque: LACO’s Sublime Sounds Soothe Seething Souls
For David Washburn photo: PHOTO CAPTION: LACO Principal Trumpet David Washburn PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of David Washburn

According to its website, “Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s mission is
to enrich and connect our community through intimate and
transformative musical experiences which exemplify and foster artistic
excellence, education and innovation.” Based on its Jan. 17 Baroque
Brass III performance at The Huntington, which included works by
Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, Scarlatti, Bach, etc., lucky listeners could add,
to coin a term, “transport-ative” to LACO’s mission statement. In that
the ensemble’s conservatory-trained players transport world weary
audiences far from the workaday domain of routine daily existence,
with all its cares and woes, to a more serendipitous, sonorous higher
realm of bliss.
The evening opened with a quartet enticing German composer Johann
Melchior Molter’s serene 1696 “Symphony in C Major” out of their
brass instruments, setting the stage, so to speak, of a tranquil night
with an exceedingly peaceful six minutes. The four musicians - three
men, one woman - clad in elegant black outfits, played horns and
trumpets, issuing a clarion call for calm in our whirligig, troubled
The ensemble changed things up for George Frideric Handel’s “Eternal
Source of Light Divine,” adding soloist Elissa Johnston, whose soprano
voice complemented the trumpet. Alto Jessie Shulman took the stage
to perform with Johnston a duet for voices of the third movement of
Henry Purcell’s ode “Sound the Trumpet.” Johnston went on to perform
a solo aria, singing Alessandro Scarlatti’s “Mio Tesoro Per Te Moro.”
Mezzo soprano Shulman sang the aria “Va Tacito” from the “Julius
Caesar” opera by Handel, which was originally rendered by castrato.
(Talk about suffering for one’s art!)
Throughout the evening, the all-brass team was also joined by
​Principal Keyboard artist Patricia Mabee, who enhanced the evening’s
“Part of Baroque Conversations” by tickling the ivories of a harpsichord
that looked as if it had once held forth in the chamber of a 17 th century
Viennese castle, Venetian palace or French chateau. Mike Magatagan
arranged Bach’s instrumental “Fugue in B Minor” to be played by a
brass quartet.

The chamber music performers included LACO’s Principal Trumpet and
co-leader, David Washburn, who has played on the soundtracks of
blockbusters including Godzilla, Avatar, and the Star Wars and Spider-
Man film franchises - which could help explain why this concert was so
super. Co-leader Michael Thornton was Principal Horn, with Jaime
Martín as LACO’s Music Director.
Each angelically delivered piece was short and, including an
intermission, the entire performance was just about 90 minutes. The
374-seat Rothenberg Hall at The Huntington Library, Art Museum and
Botanical Gardens offered exquisite acoustics and was nearly entirely
sold out. The Rothenberg’s lobby features colorful, delightful tapestries
by Alexander Caldwell. Overall, via this all too brief excursion to
Valhalla, a splendiferous time was had by all - if, alas, only
Upcoming Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra performances include:
In Focus: Beethoven + Strauss
Thursday, February 20, 2020, 7:30 pm, First Presbyterian of Santa
Monica, ​1220 Second Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Friday, February 21, 2020, 7:30 pm, Rothenberg Hall, The Huntington,
​1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108.
STRAUSS “Metamorphosen” for String Septet (arr. Rudolf Leopold),
BEETHOVEN “Septet for Winds and Strings”.
Margaret Batjer, curator
Carrie Kennedy, violin
Joel Pargman, violin
Erik Rynearson, viola

For Michael Thornton photos: PHOTO CAPTION: LACO Principal Horn Michael Thornton PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Michael Thornton