Can The Santa Monica Pier Become A Great Concert Venue?

Concert series will spotlight talented pianist

And Oct. 19 will bring the comedy-based Festival Supreme, assembled by Jack Black and his mock-rock band Tenacious D. The shows are part of what pier official Jay Farrand called “a larger effort to get people to take a second look at the pier to think of it not just as somewhere you take Grandma from Kansas.” But for Frank and Fleischmann whose respective companies, Spaceland and Rum & Humble, put on concerts at the Echo and the Hollywood Bowl, among other spots the activity also reflects their desire to establish a new home for music on the Westside, where a dearth of large and mid-sized venues intensified with the closing this summer of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. PHOTOS: Unexpected musical collaborations “People here need a place where they can gather in large numbers for music,” said Fleischmann, who pointed to high rents and restrictive permitting as reasons the Westside generally lacks such spaces. The century-old Santa Monica Pier, an instantly identifiable but historically significant landmark, makes for a complex solution to that problem. Jay Sweet, who supervises the Newport Folk Festival, said the pier appealed to him for Way Over Yonder because it’s an “iconic place that’s not a traditional music venue” similar to Fort Adams State Park in Rhode Island, where Newport has taken place since 1959. “There’s an overall vibe there,” said Cliff’s manager, Ernie Gonzalez, who added that the pier attracts an audience more diverse than at other venues. “I went to a show recently at the Greek Theatre with an artist who’s been around for as long as Jimmy,” he said. “And it was kind of the obvious demographic. But at the pier it was all across the board.” Yet there are also structural limitations the stage for Way Over Yonder had to be designed according to load-bearing considerations and the long-established reluctance of arty Eastsiders to travel west. Brandon Lavoie, who until recently worked as a talent buyer at Santa Monica’s Central Social Aid and Pleasure Club, remembered “literally going to the Echo on Monday night and begging the opening band to come play a headlining slot on Friday.” Still, Frank and Fleischmann say that turnout at this summer’s Twilight shows along with strong advance ticket sales for Way Over Yonder suggest that the pier is meeting a need, one they hope to cultivate with even more concerts in 2014.

Concert review: ‘Wildhorn & Friends’ warmly entertains BYU audience

The concert was in the large deJong Concert Hall, but through his warm introductions of his compositions, we felt as if we could be in a much more intimate setting. Darren Ritchie, who has originated Wildhorn roles on Broadway (as Jonathan Harker in Dracula and White Knight/Jack in Wonderland), sang two songs from The Civil War. Ritchie is an expressive singer, and his renditions of Sarah and Ill Never Pass This Way Again were moving reminders of the many lives lost during the painful era in our countrys history. The songs were made even more poignant when Wildhorn explained that lyrics from the 1998 song cycle were adapted from letters written on battlefields by dying soldiers to family and sweethearts. Ritchies songs werent all somber: He was also tapped to sing the playful The World Will Remember Us from Bonnie & Clyde and a stirring rendition of Into the Fire from The Scarlet Pimpernel, with 16 BYU voice students as backup singers. Gold, written for the opening ceremonies of Salt Lake Citys 2002 Olympic Winter Games, was superbly performed by Jackie Burns, who launched the first national tour of Wicked in the plum lead role of Elphaba. She was genuinely mischievous in The Mad Hatter from Wonderland: A New Alice, A New Musical. Burns also made How Bout a Dance? from Bonnie & Clyde into a sultry torch song. Wildhorns megahit Jekyll & Hyde, which enjoyed a three-year run on Broadway and frequent international stagings, was represented by a pair of songs. This Is the Moment was a song that the original producers wanted to cut from the musical, but Wildhorn now refers to it as This Is My Mortgage, because of its long life leading to satisfying royalties. While introducing In His Eyes, the composer noted that it took nearly 17 years for Jekyll & Hyde to get to Broadway, amid his mothers regular questions of, Is this the year I get to buy my opening-night dress? Away from Broadway, Wildhorn is most known for penning Where Do Broken Hearts Go for Whitney Houston. Adrienne Warren, who made her Broadway debut as Danielle in Bring It On and was featured in the Encores! production of The Wiz, made the platinum-selling hit a beautiful tribute to the deceased superstar. Warren also sang a new song by Wildhorn, Havana, which sizzled.

Concert photos by the L.A. Times

A student is asked to perform a short program, and Dr. Ertl will give a lesson. The work is viewed by a new teacher, which brings a different perspective and sometimes a new interpretation of the music. Any piano students interested in attending the master class may contact Williamson at 410-6144. He also likes to talk to his audience about the music hes playing, Williamson said. Ertls program will include a sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven and Frederic Rzewskis Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues. Following intermission, he will play a composition by Franz Liszt. The program will conclude with a piece Ertl describes as one of the most technically challenging pieces in his repertoire. Its Igor Stravinskys transcription titled The Firebird. I try to change my playing style to adapt to what composer I play, he said. While Beethoven and Mozart are musically challenging, The Firebird is the most technically difficult for me. A winner of numerous national and international competitions, Ertl has given multiple performances at Carnegie Halls Weill Recital Hall and debuted at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City, on Chicago Radios Live from WFMT series, Wisconsin Public Radios Live from the Elvehjem series, and performed with the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra and Fox Valley Symphony. Successful in numerous competitions, Ertl won first prize in the 2009 American Protege International Piano Competition and third prize at the 2008 Young Artists International Piano Competition in Washington, D.C. For the past seven years, Ertl has been the Artist-in-Residence Fellow for PianoArts, where he has performed hundreds of interactive outreach concerts and collaborated with over 20 public schools. Ertl completed his doctorate in musical arts at the Eastman School of Music. He also earned his masters from Eastman and his bachelors from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, studying with Robert Shannon. Ertl finds himself juggling his time between teaching and performing. It sometimes makes for some very long days, because prior to a concert, I like to practice from five to six hours a day, he said.