Let’s call it Happy and Peaceful Hour, given the raucous nature of most happy hours. And there likely won’t be any nachos. Unless you brought your own.
The Salastina Music Society, Pasadena’s traditional chamber music organization with contemporary flair, is—like every other musical organization from local garage band to orchestra—adapting its concerts to the virtual and Zoom universe by cultivating an active virtual show calendar of fascinating free performances and discussions.
The group, which makes its Pasadena home at Barrett Hall at the Pasadena Conservatory, was founded by violinists Kevin Kumar and Maia Jasper White, who continue to direct the series. Their bread-and-butter gigs include movie soundtracks (White was among the musicians performing John Williams’s score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens), so Salastina has a different purpose: “Chamber music is what we do for fun,” they say at Salastina.org.
Chamber music? Fun?
“Chamber music is like the indie rock band of the classical music world,” according to the website. “With only one to a part, personal and musical chemistry are as invigorating for us as they are imperative to the art itself.”
There are at least two upcoming concerts scheduled for the Happy Hour series on Tuesdays. We’ll get to the rest as we go along. This Tuesday features librettist Vid Guerrerio, who has updated the plots of all three members of Mozart’s operatic Holy Trinity — The Marriage of Figaro, Cosi fan tutte and Don Giovanni. His modernized English adaptations provide a new perspective on Mozart’s “true intent” in a way that layers of dusty tradition obscure, the website says.
Is it sacrilege to rewrite Mozart? Judge for yourself, with before-and-after clips of Vid’s Mozart makeovers, plus conversation about what “timelessness” really means. Zoom your way in here.
On Aug. 25, Kinan Azmeh and his clarinet take the virtual stage. Originally from Damascus, Syria, Kinan performs around the world as a clarinet soloist, composer and improviser. That includes appearing as a soloist with the acclaimed New York Philharmonic, which has also commissioned work from him. He’s also in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, which features him as a clarinetist and composer on the group’s 2017 Grammy Award-winning album, Sing Me Home.
He has composed for solo artists, chamber music groups and orchestras; he has also written music for film, live illustrations of online content and synthesizers.
As if that isn’t enough, Azmeh serves as artistic director of the Damascus Festival Chamber Players, a pan-Arab ensemble dedicated to contemporary music from the Arab world.
You can Zoom in on all the Azmeh action here.
Sept. 1 brings Caroline Shaw, a vocalist, violinist, composer and producer who’s the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music. The New York-based artist was honored in 2013 for Partita for 8 Voices, written for the Grammy-winning Roomful of Teeth, an eight-voice ensemble (described on the website as “dedicated to reimagining the expressive potential of the human voice”) of which she is a member.
Her most recent commissions include new works for Renée Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Brooklyn Rider, Anne Sofie von Otter with Philharmonia Baroque and the LA Philharmonic. She has produced for Kanye West (The Life of Pablo; Ye) and Nas (NASIR) and has contributed to records by The National and Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry.
Caroline loves the color yellow, otters, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat Major, Opus 74, Mozart’s operas, the smell of rosemary and the sound of a janky mandolin. You can claim your seat here.
You’ll want to whip up the special cocktail, inspired by the “Champagne Aria” from Don Giovanni, for Vid Guerrerio’s Happy Hour on Tuesday.
SALASTINA’S CHAMPAGNE PUNCH
½ cup simple syrup
2 750-ml bottles chilled brut Champagne
1½ cups white rum
1¼ cups pomegranate juice
1 large lemon, thinly sliced
Fresh mint leaves and ice block
Combine Champagne, rum and pomegranate juice in punch bowl. Sweeten to taste with simple syrup. Mix in lemon slices, pomegranate seeds and mint leaves. Add ice block to bowl.
All Salastina Happy Hour shows are free, take place at 6 p.m, and are accessible via Zoom with a reservation.