Saturday’s La Jolla SummerFest program, “Songs of Heaven and Earth,” clustered major sacred works by J.S. Bach, Olivier Messaien and Gustav Mahler, a combination of composers I cannot recall appearing together on a previous SummerFest program, Both the musical progression and the spiritual journey proved unusually compelling.

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After a rugged and stirring performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3, “Kaddish,” by the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus Saturday, March 16, I left UC San Diego’s Mandeville Auditorium refreshed and uplifted. Bernstein’s “Kaddish” Symphony, based on the ancient Hebrew prayer for the dead, takes the listener on a probing and at times exalting journey.

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As the San Diego Symphony’s ambitious, engaging festival “Hearing the Future” takes its victory lap, Festival Curator Matthew Aucoin led the orchestra in an exuberant concert in Copley Symphony Hall Friday, January 25. His refreshing approach to program design completely ignored the traditional overture-concerto-symphony formula: each half of the concert offered seven shorter works or…

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