Synergy Initiative Returns To The Conrad With Innovative Events In Summer 2023

There are so may exciting ways to enjoy the return of the Synergy Initiative to The Conrad this year! Internationally acclaimed pianist Inon Barnatan and Clara Wu Tsai, investor and philanthropist, co-produce the Synergy Initiative, now in its fourth season, which invites top creators of music, dance, spoken word and visual arts to collaborate across their different art forms and produce performances that inspire our audiences in unexpected and powerful ways.

Synergy Initiative Returns

“I’m thrilled to bring back the Synergy Series in one exciting weekend,” says Inon Barnatan, La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest music director. “Clara Wu Tsai and I are aiming to create groundbreaking and genre-bending collaborations between artists from different art forms, which this summer will feature jazz, folk, and Americana musicians, a spoken word artist, a dancer and a choreographer in a truly unique and exciting week of immersive events.”

A highlight of the Synergy Initiative is a special preview performance of a reimagination of Carnival of the Animals, a story of our shifting societal values told through the lens of spoken word artist and activist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact at The Kennedy Center; legendary dancer Wendy Whelan, Associate Artistic Director of New York City Ballet; and acclaimed choreographer Francesca Harper, Artistic Director of Ailey II. This commission will feature festival artists Inon Barnatan, Joyce Yang, Geneva Lewis, and Gabriel Martins.

“Marc, Wendy and Francesca are creating a remarkable piece,” says Barnatan, “One that uses the animal kingdom, both its wildness and beauty, as ways to reflect on our modern experience as people, performers, observers and, well, political animals.”

Co-creator Marc Bamuthi writes: “As collaborators, we seek to revisit a classical work, fine-tune it for the present public imagination, and generate something as fanciful and elegant as the original while biting hungrily and instinctually into the flesh of a democracy before it rots.”

Synergy Weekend 2023 Performances

Jazz @ The JAI | Louis Cato Trio
Thursday, August 17 at 6PM & 8:30PM

The Conrad

GRAMMY-nominated Louis Cato, an internationally acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, producer, and songwriter who leads the Late Show with Stephen Colbert house band, takes the stage in The JAI for an evening of eclectic jazz-inspired performance with his trio.

Carnival of the Animals
Friday, August 18 at 7:30PM
Special preview performance of a reimagination of Carnival of the Animals, co-commissioned by La Jolla Music Society for SummerFest’s Synergy Initiative.

Synergy Initiative at La Jolla Music Society

An evening length interdisciplinary work of dance, spoken word and music, this reimagining of Carnival of the Animals is an intentional response to the January 6 insurrection, navigating the reality of the political jungle by embodying shifting societal values and our relationship to democracy. Choreographed and directed by Francesca Harper (AIley II) and anchored in the words of poet Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Kennedy Center) and the transcendent movement of legendary New York City Ballet dancer Wendy Whelan, Carnival of the Animals re-frames Camille Saint-Saëns’ classic work as an intricate, interwoven series of contemplations, rooted in the artists’ distinct ability to capture the pulse of our culture.

This special preview performance marks the first public presentation of the work prior to the world premiere scheduled for April 2024 in Seattle, Washington at the Meany Center for the Performing Arts. Featuring SummerFest artists Inon Barnatan, Joyce Yang, Geneva Lewis, and Gabriel Martins/.

American Classic: Cato/Dover/Lark/Thurber
Saturday, August 19 at 7:30PM

Synergy Initiative Returns To The Conrad

Highly acclaimed classical violinist and fiddler Tessa Lark collaborates with songwriter, producer and bassist Michael Thurber (formerly of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert), classical and jazz master clarinetist and improviser Mark Dover and Louis Cato, a GRAMMY-nominated and internationally acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, producer, and songwriter who has played in the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert since the show’s inception in 2015, and was recently named bandleader for the newly renamed Late Show Band.

Artists, concerts, dates, and venues subject to change.

A Brief Synergy History

The Synergy Initiative was launched at La Jolla Music Society in 2019, with three concerts featuring innovative crossover programming and superstars including Cécile McLorin Salvant and the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Paused for COVID in 2020, the series returned in 2021 at The Conrad with programming highlighting the American experience from composers ranging from Dvorák and Copland, Bernstein and Gershwin to John Williams and Caroline Shaw, and the world première of a new percussion work, “Facing the Automaton,” partially performed on a “wooden mirror,” a square of wooden tiles that mimicked the artist’s movements.

In 2022, Synergy at The Conrad featured a commission of a new version of Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint, an evening of Kurt Weill songs performed by Cécile McLorin Salvant and superstar countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, and a dance performance of Holst’s The Planets featuring Dance Heginbotham and The Knights.

Subscriptions and Single Tickets

SummerFest subscriptions and single tickets are now on sale. A complete subscription for all 16 concerts in The Baker-Baum Concert Hall is $1,216 or $1,388 depending on seat location. Partial subscription series and compose-your-own packages are also available. Single tickets range from $38 to $112.

Tickets and more information are available at the La Jolla Music Society box office, by phone at 858.459.3728, and online here.

See you there, San Diego!

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