Looking back at classical music in 2022: Hitting more high than low notes in San Diego

There’s an easy way to put a positive spin on what 2022 has been like for San Diego’s classical music scene. A comparison with the previous year. Unpredictable and canceled, his 2021 has been a nerve-wracking challenge for music presenters, musicians and audiences alike.

It’s true that some smaller or less established classical music organizations here have struggled this year. .

Many classical music organizations here have renewed their education and outreach efforts, which are essential to increasing interest in classical music and expanding the demographic of their audience.

While classical music builds on and rightfully honors the work of dead white male composers, 2022 will see local organizations include music by people of color and women, past and present. It was Hopefully, it’s a trend that will continue.

Internationally, classical music is growing in popularity, including among millennials and Gen Z, thanks to streaming services and increased listening activity during pandemic restrictions. Some people, if they’re lucky, become concert fans.

Choirs have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Singing with a mask is no fun.

John K. Russell, Music Director of the San Diego Master Chorale

(Courtesy photo by Gary Payne)

So it was thrilling to hear a full-throated San Diego master chorale perform Verdi’s Requiem with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra under the stars at The Rady Shell in October. Music director John K. Russell told me Chorale is in better financial shape than it was pre-pandemic: the choir was the first in his 61-year history to win a Grammy Award for the Phoenix Chorus in Arizona. Jen Rogers, who had led the group, was appointed as his director full-time executive.

In March, Bach Collegium San Diego unveiled “El Messias,” its own Spanish version of Handel’s Messiah, here and at Centro Cultural Tijuana. In addition, its indomitable artistic director, Ruben Valenzuela, directed concerts of the Bach Collegium and the La Jolla Symphony on successive autumn weekends.

San Diego Vocal Ensemble Sacred/Profane

San Diego Vocal Ensemble Sacred/Profane

(Provided by Sacra/Profana)

The Sakura Profana Choir reported that the audience was a little smaller than before COVID, but “more enthusiastic than ever.” Did.

La Jolla Symphony & Chorus has undergone a dramatic change this year with the retirement of Stephen Schick, who has been Music Director since 2007. The characteristic traces of chic remain. As music director emeritus, he and chorus conductor Ariane Kaefi have put together his 2022-23 season of the Symphony.

Chic brought a spirit of adventure, vast musical knowledge, and a passionate following to up-and-coming composers and musicians. LJS&C is looking for his successor.

Also in La Jolla, Le Salon de Musiques welcomes its second season of intimate French-style concerts. Like other presenters here, big and small, they are facing rising costs.

On the coast, Carlsbad Music Festival board chair Brian Meath said the festival is financially stronger than it was before the pandemic, thanks to coronavirus relief funds and lower overheads. It was shortened from 3 days to 1 day and held in November instead of the traditional August.

Founded by musician Matt McBane in 2003, the festival has gained a national reputation for its eclectic mix of genres. McBain, who has been the festival’s artistic director since its inception, stepped down earlier this year. The festival website does not mention him as a founder.

Mies and the board hired a managing director and a talent buyer, but not an artistic director. It is encouraging that Mies has promised to return to classical music in next year’s edition. But given his apparent lack of interest in the cutting-edge, avant-garde music that made the festival stand out, time will tell whether it will be a lesser image of his former self, or a more substantial one. You’ll find out in time.

La Jolla Music Society Music Director Inon Vernathan

La Jolla Music Society Music Director Inon Vernathan

(Provided by La Jolla Music Society)

On the bright side…

The La Jolla Music Society plans to host 49 concerts after the 2022-23 season, up from last year’s 42. They range from renowned pianist Daniil Trifonov to young saxophonist Jess Gilliam.

The association’s annual Summerfest will reach record revenue of $407,008 in 2022, surpassing pre-pandemic festival sales. Superbly curated by his SummerFest Music Director Inon Barnatan, who recently signed his new three-year deal with LJMS, this four-week festival will see ticket sales outstrip his SummerFest 2021 ticket sales in three weeks. was reported to have increased by 36%.

The event brought together 100 artists, including very different performers such as violinist Augustin Haderich and singer Cécile Macroline Salvan. In those four weeks, nearly 3,000 people attended Summerfest’s education and outreach programs.

Rafael Payare, the charismatic music director and conductor of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, led the Montreal Symphony Orchestra to make his conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, with his wife, cellist Alisa Weilerstein. We had a glorious year with our second child.

During the calendar year, the Symphony performed 20 indoor concerts at venues throughout the county and 14 outdoor concerts at The Raddy Shell.

The orchestra’s Shell season attracted 148,961 attendees, 22,000 more than in 2021. Renowned pianists Emmanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman and Gabriela Martinez performed. The symphony orchestra also hosted free events, including the first FITFest day, Noche Familiar Night, and weekly public rehearsals at The Shell.

Even before his June success at the Del Mar Surf Cup Sports Park, Mainly Mozart had elevated pivoting to an art form. Led by Music Director Michael Francis, this dynamic all-star orchestra is back indoors for the first time since 2019. Played works by Mozart and Ralph Vaughan Williams at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Events Center (now a new venue called The Sound).

The Bodhi Tree Concerts’ “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” was a great collaboration with the New York City Opera in mid-December. After performing here in November, Diana of the Lime Tree and Walter Dumel performed her four performances of this holiday-themed opera at a theater in Fairfield, Connecticut. Juan Carlos Acosta of Sacra Profana acted as musical director and conductor.

La Jolla’s Athenaeum Music & Arts Library will present the talented musical duo of Kate Huttmaker (Art of Elan and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra) and Alex Greenbaum (Art of Elan and the Hausmann Quartet) in the Barbara and William Karatz Chamber Concert Series. Smartly appointed co-director.

UCSD ArtPower, Art of Elan, San Diego Early Music Society, Camarada and many other organizations have announced exciting programs throughout 2022. A sign of hope for the coming year.

Wood is a freelance writer.

kate hatmaker

kate hatmaker

(photo courtesy)

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