Performances a la carte presents Winter’s Thaw, a multimedia concert to benefit Elizabeth House, a shelter for homeless pregnant women and their children
That the promotional copy for Winter’s Thaw – the multimedia concert weaving the literary, musical and visual arts presented by performances a la carte on Sunday, March 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the architecturally stunning Westminster Presbyterian Church – describes the performance as “mesmerizing and ethereal” is no accident, says Carla Jamie Perez, the founder and guiding spirit of performances a la carte.
“Its first drafts used the word ‘inspiring’ but, as event designer Michelle Mace shared more of the imagery she has created for Winter’s Thaw, we realized that ‘inspiring’ didn’t begin to describe the beauty and power of the images we will project on large screens as the artists perform,” explains Perez, an opera singer who, over the past 25 years, has appeared with orchestras, opera companies, in festivals and in recital throughout the U.S. and has made guest artist appearances in South America, Canada and Europe. “And even ‘mesmerizing and ethereal’ don’t really prepare you for how your breath will be taken away as the images appear – they’re that lovely!”
The musical ‘illustrations’ of Winter’s Thaw will be equally captivating. On the program are works by such renowned composers as Eric Whitacre, David Downs, Carole Bayer-Sager and Ennio Morricone while an eclectic array of emerging and established artists who reside within the San Gabriel and Crescenta Valley areas have agreed to join Perez on stage – or behind the scenes – to ensure that Winter’s Thaw blossoms into vivid, exquisite life. These include: cellist Fang Fang Xu; pianist Alan Geier; harpist Carolyn Sykes; singer/songwriter Afton Hefley; sopranos Maryhelen Halpin and Karolyn Halpin; tenor Patrick Stalinski; composer/conductor George Ramirez; composer and Pasadena Pro Musica conductor Stephen Grimm; award-winning film score composer and pianist Robert Remstein; production and lighting designer Trefoni Rizzi; and photographer Escott Norton.
In addition, members of Pasadena Pro Musica and Los Angeles Master Chorale – as well as select choristers from Holy Redeemer Church in Montrose, Pasadena Church of the Nazarene, Neighborhood Church in Pasadena, Holy Family Church in South Pasadena and La Canada Presbyterian Church – will perform. Underscoring the music is a series of three poems written by Perez. In addition, actor and poet Just Kibbe will interpret two poems by e.e. cummings and provide commentary throughout the evening.
“Winter’s Thaw, like all of its productions, is truly an ‘a la carte’ experience,” says Perez. “It’s an integral part of its mission, to create original productions that showcase the diverse artistic community in its area.”
And sometimes that ‘showcasing’ includes the venue, itself. The main entrance and tower of the Westminster Presbyterian Church were inspired by the Cathedral at Metz and the Eglise St. Maclou at Rouen while the church’s three large rose windows are similar to those in the cathedrals of Beauvais and Amiens.
“Whenever I step inside, I feel like the church itself sings,” Perez confides. “With over 20 windows in total, the church is a veritable symphony of light and color.”
Yet performances a la carte is committed to producing far more than a stunningly beautiful artistic production. From the very beginning, Perez envisioned donating the proceeds from each production to a specific social-needs non-profit organization in the San Gabriel/La Crescenta Valleys.
“Winter’s Thaw will benefit Elizabeth House, the only shelter in this area for homeless pregnant women and their children,” says performance a la carte’s Executive Director, Jeannette Bovard. “Just as the cold of winter ends and the warmth and light of spring returns, the women turning to Elizabeth House for help soon begin to feel hope again. At Elizabeth House, they find the courage and skills they need to build a new future for themselves and their children. It’s a wonderful cause we’re thrilled to introduce to its audience.”
Tickets for Winter’s Thaw are available online at www.performancesalacarte.org for $15/each. (Purchase two or more tickets in advance for $12.50 each.) Tickets at the door will be sold as well, for $20/each. For more information, call (626) 710-8639.
Westminster Presbyterian Church is located at 1757 North Lake Avenue in Pasadena.