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The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Weimar Republic: Germany 1918-1933 explores the musical culture of Germany’s politically-charged Weimar era through two wide-ranging and dramatic programs led by Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen.
These concerts are given context by Weimar Variations, a collection of events curated by Stephanie Barron and Nana Bahlmann.
“I have always been interested in the Weimar era for its aesthetic, its humor and open possibilities, its artistic freedom in blending art forms and genres,” Salonen said. “But I feel there are also lessons and an urgent relevance in looking at that time today.”
From Feb. 7-9, Salonen is joined by violinist Carolin Widmann in an exploration of the era’s mixture of historic influences and modern style, as heard in Weill’s Violin Concerto, Hindemith’s Rag Time (On a Theme of J.S. Bach) and Mathis der Maler Symphony, and Schoenberg’s masterful orchestral arrangements of two chorale preludes by J.S. Bach.
“In addition to the Weill and Hindemith works you’ll see on our stage, we’ve invested in a series of public programs that mirror the period’s diversity of expression, as well as its thematic concerns,” LA Phil CEO Chad Smith said. “We are fortunate to be able to include this range of creative and curatorial voices in a festival we hope audiences will find especially meaningful at this point in our history.”
On Feb. 13-16, Salonen and the LA Phil will continue to explore this culturally explosive period and its contemporary resonances in the climax of the orchestral programs when he leads full stagings of two of the era’s darkly satirical musical-theater works: Weill/Brecht’s “The Seven Deadly Sins” and Hindemith/Kokoschka’s “Murderer, the Hope of Women.” Actor, writer and director Simon McBurney and his brother, composer and writer Gerard McBurney, collaborate with Salonen on the productions.
Weimar Variations, a collection of commissioned installations, exhibitions, performances, cabarets and a film marathon, will take place in and around Walt Disney Concert Hall and at other venues throughout Los Angeles. Organized by LACMA senior curator Stephanie Barron and independent curator Nana Bahlmann, Weimar Variations begins on Feb. 6 with “Oskar Schlemmer: The Triadic Ballet,” a rare display of the Bauhaus pioneer’s iconic figurines for dance performance in collaboration with C. Raman Schlemmer.
On Feb. 8, the world premiere of artist Nicole Miller’s “Transition” offers a live performance and laser light installation in Walt Disney Concert Hall’s BP Hall and continues through Feb. 16. Together with musical collaborators Jessica McJunkins and Kyshona Armstrong, Miller will offer a synthesis of Wassily Kandinsky’s work during the Weimar period and the African American spiritual tradition.
Music director Lesley Leighton and members of the Los Robles Master Chorale will bring Hanns Eisler’s protest songs to the streets, just outside Walt Disney Concert Hall, from Feb. 7-9.
On Feb. 11, twin duo Jack and Benny Lipson, known collectively as jackbenny, bring together cabaret performers for a deep dive into the forbidden songs of the Weimar era and the contemporary songs that echo the era’s concerns with gender identities, economic hardship and the politics of the day in “Musik! Fantasie! Revolution!,” an intimate Weimar-style cabaret at Black Rabbit Rose, featuring vocalists Jonnie Reinhart, DIIMOND and Mikalah Gordon; burlesque artists Jessabelle Thunder and Coco Ono; and magician Rob Zabrecky among others.
Weimar Variations continues on Feb. 15 with “August Sander: New Women, New Men, and New Identities,” an exhibition that combines the groundbreaking photography of August Sander with original examples of the first gay and lesbian journals ever published. The exhibit is a partnership between the LA Phil and Hauser & Wirth.
The festival concludes on Feb. 29 with a marathon film event presented in collaboration with American Cinematheque. The daytime program features a combination of classic Weimar, pioneering abstract cinema and films by contemporary artists exploring the themes of formal experimentation, queer identities and sociopolitical commentary. The evening program offers a special screening of the G.W. Pabst “Pandora’s Box” with live musical accompaniment by pianist and composer Cathlene Pineda, trumpeter Stephanie Richards and guitarist Jeff Parker.
The LA Phil is located at 151 S. Grand Ave. For information, visit laphil.com.
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