By Geoffrey Maingart
Torrance, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/1/19 – Last October 17th there was an extraordinary performance of the season opening concert of the Los Angeles Virtuosi Orchestra at The West High School Performing Arts Center in Torrance under the direction of Carlo Ponti.
This is a very new concert hall with a beautiful acoustic. The concert included violin soloist Tina Chang Qu performing the charming and rarely heard 2nd Violin Concerto by Mozart in D Major, K. 211 and Gloria in D Major R.V. 589 with Elizabetta Rusan, soprano, Milena Giligic, mezzo-soprano and the wonderful high school choir, West High School Aristocracy.
Carlo Ponti (and yes the son of the great Carlo Ponti and Sophia Loren) is a wonderful conductor who has created a terrific chamber orchestra capable of performing any repertoire.
The Mozart Concerto performed by Tina was flawless and elegant. It is a wonder that this concerto is not performed often. Tina played with a delicate tone perfectly suited for this music and a style that not only enhanced the concerto but also allowed the orchestra musicians and Ponti to blend beautifully throughout the performance. She was never covered by the orchestra that complimented the solo playing perfectly under the leadership of Maestro Ponti.
The Concerto was written in Salzburg and dated June 14, 1775. It consists of three movements: Allegro moderato; Andante; (Rondeau) Allegro. It is a much lighter work that the next three concertos by Mozart and still requires a technical prowess that Tina had no problems exhibiting. It was a delightful performance. http://lavirtuosi.org/performances/calendar/viva-vivaldi-2019/tina-chang-qu/
The second half was a chance for all to play one of the most challenging pieces that Vivaldi ever wrote for choir and soloists. Antonio Lucio Vivaldi composed this Gloria in Venice, probably in 1715, for the choir of the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage for girls (or more probably a home, generously endowed by the girls’ “anonymous” fathers, for the illegitimate daughters of Venetian noblemen and their mistresses). The Ospedale prided itself on the quality of its musical education and the excellence of its choir and orchestra. Vivaldi, a priest, music teacher and virtuoso violinist, composed many sacred works for the Ospedale, where he spent most of his career, as well as hundreds of instrumental concertos to be played by the girls’ orchestra. This, his most famous choral piece, presents the traditional Gloria from the Latin Mass in twelve varied cantata-like sections.
The performance was splendid under the direction of Carlo Ponti with the two fabulous sopranos. The choir is brilliant and under the direction of Antone Rodick performed this virtuoso work seamlessly. The choir has performed all over the country including Carnegie Hal and Lincoln Center. With this Virtuosi Orchestra, soloists and artistic conductor the audience was in for a treat from the first note to the last. This work is a tough work to perform technically and musically and one could just sit back and enjoy the music making oblivious to the challenges. It was hard to believe that this was a high school choir. The Gloria is a work that is also rarely heard because of the difficulty. The performance was marvelous and brilliant.
Take the time to attend future performances of the Los Angeles Virtuosi Orchestra. They are a hidden gem in the city that must be heard. http://lavirtuosi.org/