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La Jolla to host two concerts in five-event Bodhi Tree series

The 13th annual series is taking the local organization’s production values to a new level.

While La Jolla-based Bodhi Tree Concerts always looks to push creative limits, this year’s series is taking the production value of its shows to a whole new level.

“We have always been the little engine that could, and we try to stay in our lane and be as creative and ambitious as our budget allows, but we really feel very optimistic about this season,” said Walter DuMelle, who co-founded Bodhi Tree Concerts with his wife, Diana. “It is a season that is pushing us. Of the five regular pieces, three of them are fully staged, and that is a lot for us. We normally do a lot of concerts, [but these are] a full show, it’s not just a recital. It … involves set pieces and a director and so on. That pushes our bar but allows us to highlight our talent in a new way.”

With bigger productions also comes “the opportunity for a broader reach, employing more people and providing a bigger experience,” DuMelle said.

The 13th annual series will include five events, two of them at venues in La Jolla and three elsewhere in San Diego. Four shows will benefit nonprofit organizations.

The series will open Saturday, March 16, with soprano Melody Moore, a 2023 Grammy Award nominee who recently relocated to San Diego and is new to Bodhi Tree Concerts.

“She has that voluptuous, creamy vocal sound that makes you … understand the magic of the operatic voice,” DuMelle said. “She had quite a career in Europe and is making her San Diego debut.”

Her concert, with pianist Ines Irawati, will be at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla.

A second La Jolla performance, “Closer Than Ever” by Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire, will be held April 6-7 at the Community Center.

“Maltby and Shire might not be as on the tip of your tongue as [songwriters] Rodgers and Hammerstein, but they are a wonderful dynamic theater duo,” DuMelle said. “Their pieces tend to be very urbane and pithy and very much human-condition storytelling. They are more revue-like pieces.”

“Closer Than Ever” includes “songs about the challenges of middle age, such as aging, staying in shape, dating again,” DuMelle said. “One listen and you can take it all in.”

The rest of the season will be in Point Loma, City Heights and Logan Heights. One of those shows, “The Falling and the Rising,” was co-commissioned by the San Diego Opera. It was scheduled for the opera’s 2019-20 season but was postponed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and was ultimately canceled. “We quickly knew what an important piece it was,” DuMelle said, and he wanted to stage it as soon as it was available. “It’s about active military right here, right now. It centers on an active soldier that has an accident and goes into an induced coma. … She has these dream sequences about those that were important to her in her life. By the end of the story, you get this sense that we are all in this together.” Key performers who were involved in the production’s early development will be brought in to participate.

Bodhi Tree also will participate in Music en la Calle, a free international festival in June that DuMelle said will feature artists and singers “bringing this grand, joyful noise.”

The season will conclude with a revival of pieces the DuMelles presented at the San Diego Fringe Festival in 2014: “The Seven Deadly Sins” and “Mahagonny Songspiel.”

Back then, DuMelle said, “we had such fun with that, and [the Fringe Festival] allowed us to test the waters for a full production … so we’re returning with that.”

A director from Mexico will be brought to the United States along with a video production team and a dance troupe.

“It’s going to be an interactive … in-your-face experience,” DuMelle said.


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