Editor’s Note: I recently met Arline Chambers, Managing Director of Pacific Serenades, at a birthday party and reception for the famous photographer of architecture Julius Shulman. The party was held at the fabulous Los Feliz Oaks home of Mitch Glazer & Kelly Lynch designed by John Lautner. Upon learning of our “Who’s Who in Silver Lake” column, Arline insisted that I interview her good friend Mark Carlson, a Silver Lake resident and highly accomplished musician. The following article on Mark is based on information provided by Arline and with additional comments from our interview.
Flutist and Composer Mark Carlson is the Founder and Artistic Director of Pacific Serenades, a chamber music ensemble now in its 20th full season. His lyrical, emotionally powerful, and stylistically unique music making has earned him the admiration of audiences and musicians throughout the world. A versatile composer, his nearly 90 works include art songs, chamber and choral music, concertos, large ensemble works, and songs for musical theater.
The recipient of more than 40 commissions, Carlson has composed works for, among others, the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., the New West Symphony, Westwood Presbyterian Church, First Methodist Church of Santa Monica, the UCLA Wind Ensemble, the Santa Monica College Orchestra, the Mexico City chamber ensemble Signos, and for many individual musicians. His recent works include Concerto for Trumpet, Piano, and Orchestra, and Welcome, Winter!, commissioned by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. One of six recordings of his works, The Hall of Mirrors, was a winner of the Chamber Music America/WQXR Record Awards for 2001. His music is published by Yelton Rhodes Music, Pacific Serenades Music, and C Swigart Music (all in Los Angeles); by Thorpe Music in Boston and by Black Squirrel Music in Kent, Ohio.
As a flutist, Carlson is an avid performer of chamber music, including numerous works written for him. He was a member of the Pasadena Symphony, the YMF Debut Orchestra and the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.
Born in 1952 in Fort Lewis, Washington, Carlson grew up in Modesto, California. Mark was raised in a music-loving family. One of five siblings, his parents required all of the children to take piano lessons as well as master another musical instrument, a task which young Mark Carlson responded to enthusiastically. His mother notated his earliest pieces, composed at age five, just as he was learning to read music. In 1970, he enrolled at Johnston College, a liberal arts college of the University of Redlands (now the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies). “Johnston was a brand-new, visionary college oriented towards humanistic studies, and incorporating techniques of experimental education and psychology. In this new-age environment I met my life partner, Charlie Swigart, with whom I would enjoy a nineteen year relationship”. (Charlie, a successful landscape designer, passed away in October 1990, and this year marked the fifteenth anniversary of his passing). Mark later was graduated from Cal State University in Fresno and received MA and PhD degrees from UCLA. He is on the faculties of Santa Monica College and UCLA where he has taught Music Theory and Composition for many years. Since 1982, he has served on the Board of Directors of Design for Sharing, UCLA’s Performing Arts Community Outreach Program. He founded Pacific Serenades in 1982.
To learn more about Pacific Serenades, please visit their website, www.pacser.org.