Pasadena Pro Musica was founded in 1964 by artistic director and conductor Edward Low. PPM is committed to providing a place for musicians and audiences who appreciate distinguished yet less frequently-performed masterpieces for chamber chorus and orchestra. Pasadena Pro Musica is also committed to producing concerts featuring first performances of works by contemporary American composers. Among these composers are Daniel Pinkham, Morten Lauridsen, Frank Ticheli, William Kraft, John La Montaine, Richard Bing, Thomas Yeakle, and Rayner Brown. In addition, the repertoire often includes first west-coast performances of older, little-known works.
During our thirty-sixth season, we welcomed our new artistic director and conductor Stephen Grimm to PPM. He follows the thirty-five year tenure of founding director, Edward Low.
Pasadena Pro Musica is extremely fortunate to have an outstanding and very gifted rehearsal pianist, Alan Geier.
Pasadena Pro Musica is an independent non-profit organization housed in the Neighborhood Church of Pasadena. It generates its own support from donations, concert proceeds, and grants. Since its inception, it has enjoyed exceptionally loyal patrons.
The chorus consists entirely of auditioned, accomplished musicians who volunteer their services from the beginning through the end of each concert season. Five to seven concerts with chorus, orchestra, and soloists are presented annually.
The chorus, consisting of approximately fifty singers, rehearses at Neighborhood Church on Thursday evenings from 8-10pm from mid-September through mid-June. Auditions for seatings of new personnel occur in September or as needed, depending on the openings. Soloists and orchestra personnel are contracted as needed for each performance. Most concerts are on Sunday afternoon and are usually held at Neighborhood Church, 301 North Orange Grove Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91103, just south of the Gamble House.
Pasadena Pro Musica – 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena CA 91103 (626) 628-2144
Although Edward Low is an expert interpreter of early music and is a Baroque interpretation specialist, he is also one of the southland’s leading exponents of contemporary music. During his thirty-five year tenure as the founding artistic director of Pasadena Pro Musica, he has done much for contemporary music by producing premiere performance of works by American composers.
The success and staying power of Pasadena Pro Musica is due to the succession of innovative performances of distinguished, yet less-frequently-performed masterpieces from all periods. The group also owes its success to Low’s own performances as conductor, scholar, organist, and interpreter. Whether performing rediscoveries of ancient music or interpreting contemporary scores, it was Low who set the tone and spirit for his ambitious and eclectic undertakings.
Low came to Pasadena from Boston in 1964, following a distinguished career. He was head of the music department at Pine Manor College and had been a faculty member in the choral conducting department of Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. His madrigal group was under management with Columbia Artists. As assistant conductor of the New England Conservatory Chorus, he assisted with chorus preparations for Charles Munch, Robert Shaw, and Erich Liensdorf.
He graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music and completed other graduate studies at Harvard and University of Southern California. His teachers included Nadia Boulanger, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and T. Tutius Noble.
By age 5, Stephen started to compose his own tunes on the piano. In third grade, when his family moved to Pasadena, he began to sing in earnest. He was a member of the boy’s choir at St Philip the Apostle Catholic School, and he and six of his brothers and sisters sang the early and Renaissance music they had learned at school, touring in a minibus as The Grimm Family Singers. To this day, Stephen says, his heart lies mostly with early music.
Stephen continued his study of music, piano and singing at Loyola High School, Thomas Aquinas College, Cal State Northridge and Cal State Los Angeles, studying with such notables as Paul Salamunovich. He has been a member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale since 1987, singing solos in such works as Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and Christmas Oratorio with the Los Angeles Master Chorale. He has sung solos with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, including Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion and the part of Prince Charming in a Disney Spectacular at the Hollywood Bowl.
Keenly interested in fostering talent in young people’s lives, Stephen tutors privately and directs two choruses for youth (the Crown City Children’s Chorus for grades 3-8, and the Crown City Vocal Ensemble for grades 9-12) in addition to directing the adult church choir.
As is fitting for the city in which he lives, Stephen has movie industry credits as well. You can hear him as the voice of a tornado in Twister, singing David Bowie’s Space Oddity in Mr. Deeds, and demonically chanting “Sanguis Vita Est” (“Blood is Life”) in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
“I love getting excited about the music and I love getting and communicating that excitement to choristers—that’s really the best thing,” he says. “And I love performances—to be up there, conduct it and have rapport and communication between myself and the musicians and the chorus. I want to feel that we go beyond what we’ve done in rehearsal to create something new, immediate and exciting.”
Want to further support Pasadena Pro Musica?
Pasadena Pro Musica is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization
Tax deductible donations can be made via check to Pasadena Pro Musica
Click here to download our PDF donation form.