Photos by Erica Hou ’24, @rix.dothings
For a student aspiring to a musical career, the opportunity to perform as a soloist with a symphony orchestra is rare and coveted. Most schools of music limit the opportunities to one or two lucky competition winners.
Not at UCLA.
“We prefer to have a musical feast,” said Neal Stulberg, director of the UCLA Philharmonia. “We have a competition that allows for a dozen soloists in the same concert.”
The 2023 All-Star Concert at Royce Hall on January 29 does offer exceptional breadth. There are familiar pieces of musical genius. Isabelle Fromme will perform the first movement of Elgar’s haunting cello concerto. Prokofiev’s majestically graceful Piano Concerto No. 1 will be performed by Phyllis Pan. There are also hidden gems, like Hindemith’s early viola concerto, “Der Schwanendrehrer.”
There will even be a world premiere, of a kind.
“Mathew Harget will be performing Piet Swerts’s Klonos, for alto saxophone and strings,” said Stulberg. Swerts originally wrote the piece for saxophone and piano in 1994, and it was not until recently that he adapted the accompaniment part for strings. “I wrote the publishing company to get the parts, and Swerts wrote us a very nice email afterwards, informing us that this would be the first performance of that version of his piece.”
“It’s a visceral and exciting piece of music,” said Harget, a second year master’s student. “It has a searing intensity, maintained throughout the piece. It’s a favorite in the repertoire.”
Swerts, who lives in Belgium, will be tuning in via livestream to the concert to hear Mathew Harget perform the piece.
No pressure now.
Another particularly delightful piece will be Carmen Fantasia by Franz Waxman. Waxman wrote the music for the 1946 film Humoresque. The virtuosic piece was originally written for the famous violinist Jascha Heifetz, although a change in plans led to the violin part being recorded by a young Isaac Stern. Waxman (born Franz Wachsmann) was part of the generation that fled Nazi Germany for America and settled in Los Angeles—a generation that famously included Arnold Schoenberg—and helped to build UCLA’s fledgling music department.
The return to Royce Hall returns a level of grandeur to the iconic event. In 2021, the pandemic forced the All-Star concert to broadcast via Zoom. In 2022, the concert took place in Schoenberg Hall.
The Complete All-Star Lineup:
Yundian Cao, flute (M.M.); Ibert Flute Concerto, Mvt. I
Shiun Choi (B.M.), clarinet, and Nicholas Kim (B.M.), clarinet; Ponchielli Il Convergo for two clarinets and strings
Carmen Edano (M.M.), mezzo-soprano; Berg “Nacht” from Sieben Frühe Lieder
Jacob Freiman (M.M.), clarinet; Françaix Clarinet Concerto, Mvt. I
Isabelle Fromme (B.M.), cello; Elgar Cello Concerto, Mvt. I
Lorenna Garcia (B.M.), viola; Hindemith Der Schwanendreher, Mvt. I
Mathew Harget (M.M.), alto saxophone; Piet Swerts Klonos for alto saxophone and string orchestra
Janice Hu (B.M.), violin; Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, Mvt. I
Phyllis Pan (D.M.A.), piano; Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3, Mvt. I
Matthew Rassumen (M.M.), bassoon; Villa-Lobos, Ciranda Das Sete Notas
Sean Takada (B.M.), violin; Waxman “Carmen Fantasie”