Los Angeles Master Chorale Top L.A. Songs

Submitted by Grant Gershon, who is celebrating his 10th Anniversary as Music Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the resident chorus at Walt Disney Concert Hall, and also serves as LA Opera Associate Conductor/Chorus Master. During his tenure with the Chorale, he has led over 90 performances at Disney Hall and recorded four four CDs with the acclaimed ensemble: Glass-Salonen (RCM), You Are (Variations) (Nonesuch), Daniel Variations (Nonesuch), and A Good Understanding (Decca), which will be released in September.  His discography also includes two Grammy Award-nominated recordings: Sweeney Todd (New York Philharmonic Special Editions) and Ligeti's Grand Macabre (Sony Classical).  In 2008, Gershon made his highly acclaimed LA Opera debut conducting eight performances of Verdi's La Traviata.  In September 2010, he will lead the world premiere performances at LA Opera of Daniel Catán's Il Postino featuring Plácido Domingo.  The Los Angeles Master Chorale will honor Gershon at its season-opening concert and gala on September 26.

"Blue Jay Way"
The Beatles

Well, 2 of my 3 selections date me a bit. "Blue Jay Way" by the Beatles (specifically George Harrison) was one of the first "Los Angeles" songs to break the sunny, happy stereotype of So Cal. The first line sets the tone: "There's a fog upon L.A., and my friends have lost their way." The final repeating refrain of "Don't be long" (or is it "don't belong"?) sounds mysterious, plaintive and slightly desperate. 

"Babylon Sisters"
Steely Dan

Related in a way is "Babylon Sisters" by Steely Dan with the iconic first line: "Drive west on Sunset to the sea...". This was part of my college soundscape and I listened to that album (Gaucho) endlessly. To this day I am incapable of driving on Sunset (either direction) without that soundtrack playing in my brain; it's seared deep in my subconscious! 

"L.A. Variations"
Esa-Pekka Salonen

Finally, Esa-Pekka Salonen's LA Variations is for me a classic sonic portrait of the city and also of the city's impact on one of our greatest adopted musicians. I was the LA Phil's assistant conductor when Esa-Pekka wrote this piece and it was tremendously exciting for all of his friends and admirers to experience this amazing work for the first time. It was an artistic breakthrough for him, as he has since acknowledged. LA Variations represents a fantastic synthesis of Esa-Pekka's "European" formalist roots with a "California" sheen. It is exuberant, extroverted and (frankly) altogether unFinnish!


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