2014 Events

March 5 2014 :: Benefit and CD Release

For more information, please go here.

May 2/3/4 2014 :: HEAR NOW Music Festival 2014

For more information, please go here.

2014 HEAR NOW Music Festival

In three concerts on May 2nd, 3rd and 4th  HEAR NOW 2014 presented 23 compositions by 23 contemporary Los Angeles composers. Full houses were stunned and fascinated by the richness , diversity and beauty  of the concert music being imagined by Los Angeles composers.

For the first time in its four year history the HEAR NOW composers preceded the performance of their compositions with brief presentations. 17 year old Milo Talwani explained his quartet ‘Memory Yields’ as” having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time”. 90 year old Bill Kraft gave a hilarious description of how he had generated his ‘Encounters II’ for solo tuba.

The May 2nd concert was a collaboration between HEAR NOW and People Inside Electronics. and launched HEAR NOW’s presentation of LA composers working in the electro-acoustic genre.

Saturday’s ‘Marathon concert’ began at 6 pm with Steven Williams’ gorgeously developed and performed duo for bassoon and piano, Veils. Next was ‘All the Wrong Notes’, by Nick Norton, ‘a crazy piano deconstruction,’ in the words of LA Times music critic, Mark Swed.Peter Knell’s violent and rapturous string quartet, ‘Three California Landscapes’ closed the first part of Saturdays’ concert.

After a break for dinner (food trucks), the concert resumed at 8 pm. Nine more compositions were presented. Esa-Pekka Salonen’s wind quintet, ‘Memoria’ ,ended Saturday night’s concert.

On Sunday, May 4th, works by Sean Friar, Milo Talwani, Hugh Levick, Anne LeBaron, Jeffrey Holmes and Adam Schoenberg brought HEAR NOW 2014 to a close.  Composers, performers and audience left Sunday evening looking forward to HEAR NOW 2015.

Please read Sequenza21’s review of our Friday electroacoustic concert.

Annenberg Beach House Concert

Hear Now presents Festival highlights — a sampling of the exciting, new Hear Now Festival of Los Angeles Composers at the Annenberg Beach House on February 11, 2014. 

Composers and works presented:

Billy Childs: Awakening (2012) for string quartet

Don Davis: Wandering (2002) for string quartet

Russell Steinberg String Quartet No 1 (1987)

This special presentation of works that were included in past Hear Now Festivals focused on string quartets by some of the outstanding composers living, working and creating in Los Angeles.  All performed by the Lyris Quartet, Steinberg’s String Quartet No. 1 was presented in the first festival in 2011; Davis’ Wandering was presented in 2012, and Childs’ Awakening in 2013.  The composers introduced their works and fielded questions from the audience.

2013 HEAR NOW Music Festival


First Lutheran’s Master in the Chapel presents HEAR NOW, the only annual festival of new music dedicated to presenting works by Los Angeles composers.  John Adams, Jason Barabba, Arturo Cardelús, Billy Childs, Laura Karpman, Karl Kohn, William Kraft, Ulrich Krieger, Hugh Lecick, Liviu Marinescu, Benjamin Wallfisch, and Gernot Wolfgang, including two world premieres, a US premiere, and four west coast premieres.  As a center of contemporary music, Los Angeles is home to numerous composers of global talent.  Now presenting its third festival, HEAR NOW shines a light on the gifted musical artists — composers and performers — in our midst.


Audience reviews

Esa-Pekka Salonen visits Hear Now

Read below for some fascinating coverage from Debra Levine at the arts·meme blog on our December 5, 2012 benefit evening with Esa-Pekka Salonen.  Click HERE to see the original blog posting at arts·meme.  Thank you to all of our supporters for a successful evening to remember!

Lyris Quartet and Salonen Photo Credit: Bonnie Perkinson

“Posing amidst The Lyris Quartet (Alyssa Park, Shalini Yijayan, violins, Timothy Loo, cello, Luke Maurer, viola), L.A. Philharmonic Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen, marvelous and much missed, on a return visit to Los Angeles. Salonen’s now based in London where he’s principal conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra. His presence proved a special draw at a benefit concert for Hear Now: A Festival of New Music by Contemporary Los Angeles Composers under the direction of local composer Hugh Levick.

Hear Now is a festival that takes place in Venice annually. Composers of the caliber of Salonen, Thomas Adès, Stephen Hartke, William Kraft, Hugh Levick and Gernot Wolfgang are highlighted, among many others now creating idiosyncratic and exciting contemporary music in Los Angeles. Hear Now will present its third festival next April 13 – 14, 2013.

The invigorating fundraiser took place on the cusp of the holiday season, December 5, at the Culver City designer home of music writer and patron Thomas Small and arts promoter Joanna Brody. The creative couple’s upended shoebox of a high-tech house was crammed with neither Christmas nor Chanukah gifts, but with a vanguard of modern music buffs.

Nibbling hors d’ouevres beneath a loft-style high ceiling were KUSC’s Sheila Tepper and Gail Eichenthal, the great piano virtuoso, Gloria Cheng, and hyper-opera showman Yuval Sharon. Anne Tomlinson, Director of Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Bob Klein, Co-Executive Director of the Festival of New American Musicals, Catherine Uniack, Executive Director of Piano Spheres, and classical music writer Rodney Punt all joined in. Also in attendance were two fromJacaranda, Music at the Edge, a key player in L.A.’s modern music community: Music Director Mark Allan Hilt and Artistic Director Patrick Scott who noted, “There cannot be a better ambassador for contemporary music than Esa-Pekka.”

And into the room Salonen bounded. The Finnish wonder, still perpetually young, still of tousled hair, and coolly clad in blue jeans and a sports jacket, mixed in easily. In the course of the concise concert he was an enthused emcee, delivering remarks to a charmed crowd, half of whom gazed down from a high balcony roost. Salonen-ania ricocheted the room. A wry opening comment concerned driving, a notorious Salonen beef. (“Coming back to Los Angeles, this town is so much part of my life. I still hate the 10 Freeway. It’s still a mess.”) He then poured forth — with increasing velocity — a torrent of musical factoids, capping off with an edgy anecdote about Alban Berg’s love life. On this titillating note, in kicked the music.

The Lyris-ists, who are the founding string quartet of the Hear Now Festival, opened their succinct program with Stravinsky’s “Three Pieces for String Quartet” (1914). Salonen warned of the deceptive sparseness. “It looks and sounds simple; it’s modest, the first movement is proto-minimalist. Then it descends like a game of dominoes,” he said.

The quartet gave a rapturous and precise reading to Berg’s “Lyric Suite” (1926), a twentieth century jewel that melds atonal modernism with harmonic beauty. Soprano Elissa Johnston delivered a vocal part discovered decades after the work’s premiere. Salonen, a lover of music for voice, had never heard Berg’s song-component performed live. “Lachen Verlernt” (2002) (played by soloist Alyssa Park, but written by Salonen for Cho-Liang Lin) got an amusing set-up when the composer readily admitted his commission was well paid — in wine. The program closed with The Lyris Quartet’s inimitable rendering of Ben Johnston’s “String Quartet No. 4 ‘Amazing Grace’” (1973) which has become a trademark for this sparkling band of fiddlers.

Quotations from Chairman Esa

Following the music Salonen nattered in his lilting voice, dropping funny accents on select words. “When I was studying in Europe, in modernist circles,” he remembered, “the idea of selling out was a really serious offense,” adding, “The idea of doing something people actually liked … was anathema.

“[But] the scene is very vibrant at the moment. The key is, it needs to be diversified. The Phil needs things like Hear Now.”

Salonen smartly zoomed in on the evening’s theme, the support for a festival that gives exclusive voice to Los Angeles composers. He noted, “This city has a rich level of contemporary music on every level … but it seems to be going in waves. There was the Golden Age with Pierre Boulez and the Monday Evening Concerts. But then there was a drought.”

“I am alive and I am curious. I would like hear music written by a local,” he said, with emphasis, then continued, “If I have one major regret, it is that I could not do enough to connect with California composers. That would have been my next project — to invest in a new generation of composers. So if you have scores and tapes, send them.

“In my [17] years with the Phil, my basic leaning was that contemporary music is normal, like reading a newspaper. Would you rather wake up and read news of today or that of three years ago?” Appreciating modern music, said Salonen, “is really about exposure. I used to say you don’t really have to understand, you just have to be open-minded. But now I think you do have to have some kind of reference. If you have the reference, the experience becomes more profound. There is a continuous thread from Monteverdi and Bach. Some formal and technical principles stem from Bach. This history influences us every day.”

Salonen was asked about his infamous yen for hard rock. He explained, “As a conductor I deal with masterpieces all the time, they are very powerful and it’s hard to get rid of them; you have to knock back a couple of whiskeys after a concert.

“I used to listen to rock music in the car after my concerts. I had young drivers who gave me a crash course in genres of rock, it’s completely tribal, the scene is fractured. I went through several Bruckner Fourths … and it is nothing like listening to heavy metal.”

Switching subjects, he riffed on ‘identify’ in music: “This is the essential question of all the arts, but music especially. The question is what constitutes identity? When you hear Schubert — one note, you know it’s him. Berlioz can be infuriating. You read his score — and it’s almost silly. Then you hear it, and there is this powerful identity. It hangs on, with longevity. For example, folk music, some of our oldest tunes, like Greensleeves. Why this — of all songs — hangs on hundreds of years? It’s a mystery, but it’s the central quest of art.”

2012 HEAR NOW Music Festival

The 2012 HEAR NOW Music Festival offered 2 concerts in late August at the First Lutheran Church of Venice.  16 of LA’s finest composers were featured in this near sold-out event!  The promise of future years was now solidifying.  For a list of all of our featured composers, please go our Composers section.

2011 HEAR NOW Music Festival

This was the inaugural year of the HEAR NOW Festival.  We featured 13 composers on two same-day concerts at the First Lutheran Church of Venice.  The support from the community was overwhelming and planning for the proceeding years commenced immediately.  Many of LA’s finest performers and composers were beginning to gain the recognition they deserve.