Los Angeles composers complain, often with cause, about the difficulty of getting attention on their home turf. Some hope a move to Brooklyn will help them be noticed. Anne LeBaron, who has been at California Institute of the Arts for the last 13 years, does far better than most.
She is on the wavelength of most of our musical institutions. She is a favorite of Southwest Chamber Music. Her environmentally mystical opera “Wet” had its premiere at REDCAT in 2005. Two years ago, she made a real splash with her hyper-opera “Crescent City,” performed by L.A.’s vital new experimental opera company, the Industry.
She has also been a force in the young L.A. music scene by encouraging her students to begin their own ensembles and concert series to showcase their music.
Still, two Anne LeBaron “portrait” programs at REDCAT on Saturday and Sunday will be the first chance to experience an extensive overview of a composer whose music and musical activities have included transforming the angelic harp (her instrument) into an agent of the avant-garde as well as erotically transforming a vacuum-cleaner-obsessed housewife in a one-woman cyber-opera. LeBaron’s dance-opera, “Pope Joan,” recently recorded, concerns a cross-dressing pope.
Her epic portrait of Kazakhstan, “The Silent Steppe Cantata,” was written for the sometimes cross-dressing tenor, Timur Bekbosunov, who sings excerpts from the work in the portrait series. There will also be a preview of LeBaron’s seventh and latest opera, “Psyche & Delia,” this one about the transformative power of the psychedelic drug LSD.
The artists participating at REDCAT include noted soprano Lucy Shelton, experimental jazz and new music trumpet player Daniel Rosenboom, shakuhachi player Ralph Samuelson and pianist Vicki Ray.
But LeBaron has also invited a number of young composers she has mentored who have now become part of L.A.'s burgeoning new music community to present their own pieces, such as Andrew Tholl, James Klopfleisch and Andrew McIntosh (who was included in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Minimalist Jukebox festival on Tuesday).