Pacific Palisades

St. Matthew’s music guild – musical time travel,

Music at St. Matthew’s continues its 32st season of concerts in Pacific Palisades with an opportunity to travel through 500 years of music from Venice, Paris and New York. The concert features twelve of the finest choral voices in Los Angeles, the critically acclaimed Chamber Orchestra at St. Matthew’s and the Jennifer Leitham Jazz Trio.

The concert begins with music from Venice where, in the early 1600s, Giovanni Gabrieli and Claudio Monteverdi revolutionized the musical world by placing antiphonal groups of singers, brass and strings in balconies around the Basilica of St. Mark’s. Their experiments – in many ways the first music to be heard in quadrophonic sound – introduced new textures and dynamics that became the basis of Baroque style. Their music will be heard again in an opulent acoustic, this time in the visually stunning St. Matthew’s Church in Pacific Palisades, with the choir and soloists accompanied by two organs and harpsichord plus an ensemble of trumpets, trombones, woodwinds and strings.

Fast forward to the Paris of Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Gaugin. Evocative French poetry provides the canvas for two sets of choral songs by the most famous impressionist composers, Debussy and Ravel. Claude Debussy’s Trois Chanson was composed in 1908 and based on texts of Charles d’ Orléans, a prince and poet who was imprisoned in England after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The Trois Chanson of Maurice Ravel, composed in 1914-15 represent one of Ravel’s few efforts in the field of choral music. They are full of humor but also reference the experience of going off to war, which Ravel did around the time of writing the songs.

Moving ahead to 20th century, we find ourselves in New York City around the end of World War II. The city’s jazz clubs are hopping and music is in the air. The singers are joined by the Jennifer Leitham Jazz Trio for a set of Manhattan-Transfer style settings of jazz standards made famous by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Mel Tormé and Nat King Cole. Jennifer Leitham is a career jazz musician and has collaborated with Mel Tormé, George Shearing, Woody Herman, Beny Carter and many others. Her trio is internationally known and she has appeared on over 125 albums, including 10 of her own.

All concerts in the Music Guild’s series take place on Fridays at 8 p.m., in St. Matthew’s Church, 1031 Bienveneda Ave., Pacific Palisades. Admission is $35. This week’s show is Feb. 10. For more information, visit the Music Guild website: or call (310) 573-7421.

  • Submitted by Thomas Neenan