"If only all proponents of contemporary classical music could channel P.T. Barnum the way Patrick Scott did... at the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge. The LSD-triggered 1982 maximalist assault on good taste shows [John] Adams channeling his inner ringmaster. No elephants or tigers were on hand, but Adams' bold Grand Pianola Music, which concluded the concert in high vulgar style, did just fine. ...the company's musicians sounded clear and full-bodied at VPAC venue. They should get out more often."
LA Times, 1/15/17
The first half...was devoted to the 150 years of American piano music that paved the way to Grand Pianola Music performed by the superbly skilled pianist Christopher Taylor. It all built up to the performance...with Taylor and Gloria Cheng seated at the twin keyboards, accentuated by members of the Jacaranda Chamber Orchestra and a trio of vocalists conducted by Jacaranda’s music director, Mark Alan Hilt. It felt like we had finally gotten to the feature film after a succession of previews of coming attractions. ... it stood out in all its grandeur."
Daily News, 1/18/17
BBC Music Magazine “North America Live” pick, 5/2016
"The voluminous program notes...can be so absorbing that you don’t want to pry your eyes away from the pages... plenty of context for an alert, adventuresome concertgoer. This time Scott wrote about the Margaret Thatcher era in Britain and the reaction to it from pop culture that was already bubbling away beforehand via the 1970s punk movement. To some degree, this rebelliousness had a counterpart in so-called classical music – at least in the selection played here.”
Classical Voice North America, 2/3/2016
"David Lang's darker, a slow and quiet piece for a dozen strings in which very little changes and during which the emotional temperature remains tepid, lasted an hour and seven minutes...The lights in the sanctuary gradually and effectively darkened throughout the performance... The point is to be expressive, but not too expressive, to find a middle way. But that middle way is oddly intense. The result, especially given an absorbing performance and sensitive amplification that produced a gleamingly energizing sound, can be one of well being. Jacaranda's music director, Mark Alan Hilt, conducted."
LA Times, 10/18/2015
2014-15: SEASON OF STORIES
BBC Music Magazine “North America Live” pick, 4/2015
"This inventive, intricately-laced program [had] an absorbing unity in mood — high seriousness…stretches of meditation, and often a willingness to experiment.”
Classical Voice North America, 04/29/2015
"The audience went wild. What else? This was riveting music that crept into every crevice of human perception — be it lulling waters or rugged mountains or a wildly macabre club scene.”
LA Observed, 02/15/2015
"Peter Maxwell Davies’ iconic multimedia fusion of imagery, dance and music, Vesalii Icones was stunning, simply overloading the senses with macabre dances, theatrical gestures and gruesome images, all portrayed with an iconoclastic irreverence from incongruous musical references."
Culture Spot LA, 02/09/2015
2013-14: SEASON OF JOURNEYS
"It’s hard to imagine the Southern California music scene without Jacaranda shaping and defining it."
Huffington Post, 6/6/2014
"After sailing serenely on… [Mad Rush by Philip Glass] erupts into a swirling vortex of sound full of drama and energy...hearing this piece performed live affirms the raw power of this music when heard in its intended venue.”
"The most surprising revelation of the evening was the spoken text, which I had never heard in English (the piece is meant to be performed in a venue's local language). The eroticism of these poems was a complete surprise... I had only heard the piece in German, and had no idea what the words meant.”
"This is the kind of accessibility that eludes most new music. The Cage and Messiaen were landmark pieces at their premieres, and are still considered avant-garde by the piano establishment, yet by no means do they alienate listeners. Instead their newness is evolutionary and inclusive, much to the musical world’s pleasure."
Stage and Cinema, 2/26/2014
"Call it an enclave of enthusiasts… And not for the first time at this outpost of modernism, was there a packed house (or should I say church?) even though no vestige of mainstream music showed up on the program.... No matter. It was the big names from the past [Debussy & Enesco]...who drew the hordes: oldsters with backpacks, elegant arty types, college students and even some unlikely middlebrow greyheads."
LA Observed, 2/6/2014
"The VOXNOVA Stimmung was unusual — stunningly beautiful, utterly serene, full of charm and doing everything it could to avoid embarrassment. There has been a lot of foolish talk in new music circles lately about the dryness of the '60s avant-garde. Jacaranda on Saturday night revived the era's wow factor.
LA Times, 01/27/2014
"Tendler revealed new corners of the piece by holding it up to a softer, more diffused light.”
"Stimmung has to be seen and heard in person to experience the full effect ofStockhausen’s extraordinarily beautiful writing. It certainly helps that the founder of VOXNOVA Italia, Nicholas Isherwood, worked with Stockhausen for the last seven years of the composer’s life.”
Times Quotidian, 02/04/2014
2012-2013: SEASON OF CONTRASTS
"Britten's most original inspiration proved making the Madwoman a mad tenor. Assuming you can find a tenor who can pull it off. Jacaranda found him. In a richly nuanced, boldly expressive, Steven Tharp, who has a broad operatic repertory, displayed the visionary quality of madness. The work has only once before been presented in Los Angeles (the Little Orchestra Society of New York brought it to Occidental College in 1968). The church was full with a devout new music audience, and a rare communal spirit was achieved. It was a moving, important occasion.”
LA Times, 04/29/2013
"If you're in search of salon splendor...look no further than Jacaranda, the new-music enterprise in Santa Monica that incorporates the bold and the beautiful — with informed taste, imagination and a polish now brought to a peak of excellence… The source of all this wonderment is Patrick Scott... Together with conductor Mark Alan Hilt he sees to every detail of their small, smart operation here. It's located in one of the premier spots for acoustics and ambience...it's spare but warm and light, with a pleasing balance of scale and suggesting a kind of architectural humanity."
LA Observed, 03/13/2013
"Jacaranda’s lively program of the two Hungarian masters was…emotionally direct even when at its most melodically and harmonically abstract. This was music serving as hardcore workout for your brain: rigorous; requiring a serious investment in time, energy, and concentration; ...but ultimately, a positive and rewarding experience that makes you feel invigorated when it’s all said and done.”
All Is Yar, 01/18/2013
"Fierce Beauty, the Jacaranda concert in Santa Monica, was important. And it was important in several ways. The performances were powerful, and Eötvös was on hand to conduct the U.S. premiere of a recent work, for which Jacaranda was a co-commissioner. The evening was also an important model for collegiality [with the LA Phil] among arts institutions, something startlingly rare in other places. But most important of all, the concert mattered because it was serious. It dealt with adult issues. With this concert, Jacaranda grew up, moving beyond local to national significance.”
LA Times, 01/14/2013
"A sell-out throng of glitter, beauty and brains in all sorts and varieties responded warmly to the totally decadent musical menu... Jacaranda confounded everyone with George Enescu's Octet played by two stupendous young quartets, Calder and Lyris. [It was] full of energy and themes of unimaginable beauty and size, and yet constantly beset by waves of dark emotion. Classical music investment value: very high."
Huffington Post, 12/03/2012
"Mark Alan Hilt gave a different personality to each repetition, making a drama of the work. Vexations [for piano] has the capacity to create the sensation of well-being, the awareness of continuity of time as a physical flowing substance. The main event was... the first performance of Cage's The Ten Thousand Things. The performers — pianists Vicki Ray and Kallay, bassist Tom Peters, percussionist William Winant and reciter John Schneider were exquisite. Every sound sounded considered, alive, worthy of our wonder."
LA Times, 09/11/2012
2011-2012: SEASON OF DISCOVERY
“Season after season the twentieth century comes to life in Jacaranda’s programs.”
The New Yorker
2010-2011: SEASON OF POETRY
"[David] Lang's 2007 Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning [Little Match Girl Passion] was moving and splendidly done. Lang draws contrast in his music between the dark cold world of the little girl and the colorful light of her visions in the flame. The music can be halting and there are abundant silent pauses, but when the vocal harmonics burst into existence, they are marvelous, if still like the match flame, short-lived. The crowd sat in appreciative silence afterward before giving Lang, who was present for the performance, and the vocalists a standing ovation. And while those can be a dime a dozen here in L.A., this one was well deserved and it was another feather in Jacaranda's newer music cap."
Out West Arts, 01/31/2011
“Though not all winter themed, four diverse contemporary works (two American, two from Russia) were meant as a cross-country ski through an icy landscape. Lang’s job, then, was to warm a frostbitten night. In a 35-minute missive from heaven, four solo singers in transfixed harmony, accompanying themselves with gentle percussion, transcended worldly misery. [T]he audience sat transfixed in pews. The performance of this four-voice version – sung by soprano Elissa Johnston, alto Adrianna Manfredi, tenor Grant Gershon and bass Cedric Berry – was a stunner. Free-flowing voices floated as if unmoored by acoustics."
LA Times, 01/23/2011
"Americans may... still agree upon a common heritage of old hymns, popular songs and spirituals. American composers – populist or classical, conventional or avant-garde – have long used these natural musical resources… Charles Ives showed the way... Jacaranda turned to this first great American original in 12 short numbers, written between 1897 and 1934. Songs, solo piano pieces and strange ensemble works were given illuminating performances by soprano Elissa Johnston, pianist Scott Dunn and a chamber orchestra conducted by Jacaranda music director Mark Alan Hilt."
LA Times, 10/25/2010
2009-2010: SEASON OF ADVENTURES
“Jacaranda’s season finale was homage to Richard Wagner, its contribution to the two-month Ring Festival LA that explores the works and influence of the dominant European musical voice from the mid 19th Century until the end of World War I. Like a Cubist painting, each of the pieces in the program – by Schubert, Mahler, Hindemith, and Wagner himself – angled a different perspective on the composer, from antecedents to personal reflections, and finally to later developments. Conductor Hilt and his committed voices and strings gave it their all in riveting performances... that explored every tortured byway to its final, relieving cadence. ”
LA Opus, 05/27/2010
2008-2009 THE O. M. CENTURY, Part 2
“I cannot remember a better-imagined, better-played program supercharged with the pleasure of discovery…”
So I’ve Heard
2007-2008 THE O. M. CENTURY, Part 1
“There are times when you sit transfixed and pray that it never ends.”
“The right music in the right place at the right time.”