Love You To Death

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BASTILLE DAY - July 14th
A Feast of French Music

This remarkable concert presents excerpts from the mega-hit Les Miserables, a musical tour of the diverse (and sometimes agonizing) reactions expressed through love. You’ll hear Broadway star Randal Keith (selected by Les Miserables producer Cameron Mackintosh to star as Jean Valjean on Broadway) and Anne Martinez, accompanied by our glorious Cal Phil Chorale.

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And then there’s the amour fou of Romantic composer Hector Berlioz (also something of a romantic nutcase). In 1827, Berlioz took one look at Irish actress Harriet Smithson and nearly lost his mind. Pursuing her became an obsession, and he bombarded the lady with endless pleas to marry him without delay and make him the happiest of men - fat chance, the beauteous Miss Smithson said, and headed in the opposite direction. Undaunted, poor Hector made one, last, lunatic effort to win her over - he wrote an entire symphony for Harriet: “Symphonie Fantastique,” which tells in music the story of a man driven insane by love, who drowns himself in opium, then hallucinates his own execution by guillotine. Wow. If that ain’t love, what is?

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A much more level-headed Frenchman, Camille Saint-Saëns, rounds out this love-feast with what is probably the world’s greatest musical love-letter to the pipe organ: “Symphony No. 3 in C minor (Organ).” By the time he was 22, Saint-Saëns had become the organist at the Madeleine (probably the most prestigious music job in all of France). In 1886, the Royal Philharmonic Society commissioned his third symphony, which was received with wild applause and entered the canon of musical masterpieces. A real treat for everyone at this event is the world-famous instrument that plays the starring role in this symphony - the 6,134-pipe Walt Disney Concert Hall Organ that towers above the rear of the stage (designed by architect Frank Gehry).

Megan Fisk