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L.A.'s Hear Now Music Festival founder: 'Everyone else is going global, we are going local'

L.A.'s Hear Now Music Festival founder: 'Everyone else is going global, we are going local'
The sextet Brightwork newmusic will perform as part of the Hear Now festival. (Brightwork newmusic)

Hugh Levick founded the Hear Now Music Festival in 2011, he said, for one obvious reason: At that time you had a better chance hearing the work of Los Angeles-based composers in Berlin or in Paris than in L.A.

The annual festival, which runs Thursday through Sunday, uses a blind selection process to spotlight a variety of local concert music composers, including 19-year-old clarinetist Andrew Moses and 95-year-old percussionist and former Los Angeles Philharmonic member William Kraft.

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"I wanted to give Los Angeles the gift of this music that is being written in its midst," Levick said. "Because I noticed that although there are many wonderful composers here, they were not being heard in Los Angeles."

Levick attributes the wealth of talent in Los Angeles to the city's location (as a bridge between East Coast cultural centers and Asia), the teaching opportunities at its many colleges and universities, and a film and television studio system that requires skilled players.

I wanted to give Los Angeles the gift of this music that is being written in its midst.


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"Music in the Hear Now festival is quite complex," Levick said. "There is such a wealth of instrumentalists in Los Angeles that we have never had a bad performance in eight years."

The festival consists of four concerts at venues across the region, each featuring work from a range of composers. This year the lineup includes Grammy nominee Gernot Wolfgang, acclaimed sound artist Ellen Reid and pianist Sean Friar, who also teaches at USC's Thornton School of Music.

Friday's concert is an "electroacoustic" concert in collaboration with People Inside Electronics, which devotes itself to live performances in the city. Each of the six compositions on the program (including Reid's "Stellar Remnants," presented in collaboration with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra) combines acoustic instruments with electronics in one way or another.

All of the festival's music, Levick said, falls within the "classical idiom of today." This leaves quite a bit of room for experimentation in a new music landscape that is celebrated for its richness, experimentation, creativity and sonic diversity.

Chamber performances by the new music sextet Brightwork newmusic and Lyris Quartet are also on the schedule, as are performances featuring a number of lauded sopranos including Justine Aronson, a member of Yuval Sharon's experimental opera company, the Industry.

Opening night at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall features the UCLA Philharmonia, the flagship orchestra of the university's Herb Alpert School of Music.

"While everyone else is going global," Levick said, "we are going local."

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Hear Now Music Festival

When: 8 p.m. Thursday at Schoenberg Hall, UCLA; 8 p.m. Friday at Throop Hall of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena; 8 p.m. Saturday at First Lutheran Church of Venice; and 5 p.m. Sunday at First Lutheran Church of Venice

Tickets: $60-$80 for two- or three-concert passes

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