L.A. Opening Nights offers a short list of recommendations to the very finest theatre, classical music, opera, and dance in the greater Los Angeles area. The goal is to help you plan your season wisely.We do not cover everything. The venues and companies we cover (see list on the left) all strive to present world-class performances, and every event they present might be considered “Recommended.” Our goal is to painstakingly research the entire season at these venues and companies for events we can confidently call “Recommended Highly” or list as truly “Not To Be Missed.” Intriguing, but less certain performances at these or other venues we might offer as “Worth the Risk” or “No recommendation.” Recommendations are updated daily based on our advisors, sources, and reviews.
For select performances, we also offer extensive preview discussions, with links to musical samples and interesting notes. The blog might also include news from our covered venues and companies.
L.A. Opening Nights is a project of Upper Story Arts.
Marc Porter Zasada, Executive Editor
Marc has been covering classic performance since 1985. His opera, theatre, book, and classical music reviews and essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Los Angeles Downtown News, San Francisco Chronicle, on the Huffington Post, and in many other venues. Marc was a co-founder of the Bay Area Book Awards in 1982, and was editor of Title Pages at the Palo Alto Weekly. He served as Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Downtown News for five years, where he won several awards for journalism, and was a co-founder of the L.A. Open Space Summit. His ”The Urban Man” commentaries appeared on KCRW-FM in Los Angeles for six years, on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and on the BBC World Service. Marc maintains an essay site at www.theurbanman.com where he posts favorite commentaries on modern life in text form, as well as Urban Man updates. Tweeting at www.twitter.com/theurbanman. Marc is a graduate of Stanford University in 1979 (where he also served as an on-campus representative of S.F. Opera), and has pursued a parallel career in high tech, where he was co-founder of a major technology laboratory, VeriTest, and served as a vice president of a global technical outsourcing firm. Marc continues as a technical and partner marketing consultant to leaders in the technology industry.
Rosemary McGuiness, Assistant Editor
Rosemary has worked at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Hollywood Bowl Museum, and ArtMargins Magazine. She currently works in the editorial department at Red Hen Press. She plays violin and is both a writer and classical music enthusiast.
Trace Oakley, Contributor & Advisor
Trace has directed more than 40 productions, and has more than 100 additional productions to his credit as either actor, playwright, producer, or administrator, working in his home town of Denver, on both coasts, and on national and international tours. Trace worked on the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Rollin’ on the TOBA, and later stage managed and co-directed the Los Angeles production. He received a United Nations medal for distinguished service for his U.S. Department of Defense touring production, Hollywood Homicide Whodunnit, which performed at military bases throughout Europe. Recent directing credits include ANNA CHRISTIE for Northern New England Repertory Theatre Company; two world premiere musicals, BOB CRATCHIT AND MR. TIGHTWAD, which sold out every performance this past December in Los Angeles, PEARLY GATES, at North Hollywood’s historic El Portal Theatre, plus Radium Girls, as artist-in-residence for Stage III Theater in Casper, WY. Other directing credits include A Christmas Carol (where he had the distinction of giving future teen heartthrob Zac Efron his first professional acting job), Butterflies are Free, and Sister Mary Ignatius, and more than 15 world premieres at Denver’s historic Changing Scene Theatre. He also served as artistic director for Denver’s famed Chicken Lips Comedy Theatre, where he also co-starred in Murder Most Fowl, the longest running show in Denver theatre history.
Sarah Spitz, Contributor & Advisor
Sarah served as Publicity Director for leading public radio station KCRW-FM from 1988 to 2011. For 15 years she produced two weekly programs, “Left, Right & Center” and “The Politics of Culture,” in addition to award-winning long-form specials, documentaries and independent stories on the arts that were broadcast on NPR news programs, and specialty business stories for the public radio program “Marketplace.” In addition, Sarah is a UCCE/LA County Master Gardener (2006), a UCCE Master Food Preserver class trainee (Fall 2011) and one of the co-founders of SLOLA: Seed Library of Los Angeles. She likes to say she’s about all things sustainable, in the garden and everywhere on Earth…and that good culture exists in soil, as well as society.
Dr. Michelle Green Willner, Contributor & Advisor
Dr. Green Willner has received numerous awards as a composer and conductor, including four ASCAP Special Awards, two ASCAP Foundation Grants to Young Composers, a Community Relations Council Grant, The Brian M. Israel Prize from the Society for New Music, and the Serge Garant Award from the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN). Her fellowships include residencies at the California Summer Arts Composers Workshop, the Wellesley Composers Conference and June in Buffalo; a President’s Fellowship from Columbia University; and the 7th Annual ASCAP/Fred Karlin Film Scoring Workshop Fellowship. Her teachers have included Mario Davidovsky, Steven Mackey, David Rakowski and Marc Kopytman at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. Her works have been commissioned and performed by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, NACUSA Concert Series, Synergy, Shechina, the UCI Women’s Chorus, Speculum Musicae, New Millennium, the New Calliope Singers, Premier, the Society for New Music, the CSULB New Music Ensemble, and by Earplay at the Center for the Arts Forum in San Francisco. Dr. Green Willner’s choral works have been performed internationally by various choruses as well as exclusively by the Tehila Choir, which she founded in Toronto, Canada (1984-1989), Mit Gezang, which she directed from 1999-2003 in Los Angeles, and by Kol Ruach, which she directed from 2003-2006. She has taught composition and theory at the University of California, Irvine, California State University at Long Beach and the American Jewish University.
Endre Balogh, Advisor
Violinist Endre Balogh has performed as soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, Frankfurt Symphony, and Basel Symphony as well as several other European ensembles. In the United States he has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the orchestras of Washington D.C., Seattle, Denver, Dallas, and Honolulu to name just a few. In the course of his career he has worked with such eminent conductors as Zubin Mehta, Edo de Waart, James de Priest, Lawrence Foster, Milton Katims, and Christoph von Dohnányi. He was the youngest First Prize winner in the history of the prestigious Merriweather Post Competition. Endre has had several concert tours of the United States and Europe, which have included live televised recitals in Amsterdam and taped performances for the BBC. He is an accomplished Chamber Music performer and toured throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe with the Pacific Trio for nearly 30 years. He has also played with such luminaries as Vladimir Horowitz and Leonard Pennario as well as in the acclaimed series of 1993 chamber concerts, “André Watts and Friends.” He performs frequently with his friend and colleague James Smith, Chairman of the Classical Guitar Department at USC. Over the years they have amassed a unique repertoire consisting of original and arranged works for violin and guitar. Lately he has joined forces with cellist Dennis Karmazyn, violist Steven Gordon, and pianist Genevieve Lee to perform Piano Trios and Quartets in chamber music venues.
Yu Tang, Contributor
Yu both writes about classical music and performs as a classical pianist. He has worked with Neuköllner Oper and Mann-O-Meter in Berlin, as well as the CSUN Wind Ensemble.
ALSO BY OUR CONTRIBUTORS
The Urban Man features essays and commentaries by Marc Porter Zasada on modern life in L.A. and beyond.
”The Urban Man: Staying Human in L.A,” by Marc Porter Zasada was selected as a Los Angeles Times “Discovery,” featured at the L.A. Times Book Festival, and is available on Amazon.com.
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