It was all about the many themes of love when the Los Angeles Valley Symphony Orchestra (LAVSO) presented “Arias, Duets and Overtures- Bonds of Love” Saturday, Oct. 15, at Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC)’s Main Stage Theatre.
Artistic Director Michael H. Arshagouni, Ph.D. conducted the event, which featured world-renowned countertenor opera singer Brian Asawa, mezzo-soprano opera singer Diana Tash. and soprano singer Anahit Grigoryan alongside the LAVSO.
The event was a benefit concert to help raise funds for the LAVC Foundation Music Department, which has been going through hard financial times due to the college budget costs and federal funding of the program.
“The benefit concert idea came about because of – as well know – the budgets for community colleges have been reduced quite drastically, especially in the arts,” said Arshagouni.
The department formed numerous ways of creating funding through donations, as well as concerts throughout the semester.
“It was very important for us to find ways of generating funds in order to keep the resources that we have alive and strong,” said Arshagouni.
This was the first concert hosted by the LAVSO that focused solely on the different themes of love.
“We tried to show the various types of love, both from passionate love to vengeful and angered love, and love of loss; so really the gamete of love just fit for the show that we where putting on,” said Arshagouni.
The 14 performances ranged from classical Mozart and contemporary opera to slow somber songs of opera.
The first performance of the evening was duet by Tash and Asawa of the song “Overture” to Der Freischuitz by Carl Maria von Weber.
The piece started out with a slow and low, with heavy bass and the violin accompanying; the rest of the orchestra then joined in, and it becomes intense and very lively. It also had elements of folklore notes to the performance as well.
Asawa and the orchestra received loud applause from the audience following their rendition of “Act Three: Prelude” from La Traviata by Giusseppe Verdi.
LAVC piano and voice student Aaron Slvder, 24, remembered having chills during that particular performance.
“I could tell it was difficult because of the timing and plucking of the strings … they were extremely delicate and precise with synching everything together. That’s why I loved and respected that particular performance so much,” he said.
One performance that seemed to intrigue the audience was a song Tash performed called “Bel raggio lusinghier” from Semiramide by Gioacchino Rossini. A narration accompanied the song.
It was about a queen who is devastated that her lover is off to war and is waiting for him to return. The audience then later discovers that her lover is actually her son.
Arshagouni described Tash’s voice in the song as “vocal fireworks.”
To the members of the orchestra, this concert was different for them as well.
Bassoon player John Campbell, who has been performing for over 50 years, was excited to be a part of something new.
“I was partial to a lot of the countertenor sounds, and because you usually hear very little from us I was excited that we got the opportunity to be felt during the concert,” said Campbell.