Golden Bridge and acclaimed conductor return to Los Angeles

| January 25, 2024 | 0 Comments

SUZI DIGBY conducts.
Photo by Andreas Grieger

The Golden Bridge, an annual concert aimed at connecting the Golden Age of English Renaissance music with the Golden Age of California’s choral music, will take place Sat., Feb. 10, at 8 p.m. in Beverly Hills.

Established in 2014 by internationally acclaimed conductor Suzi Digby, the concert brings professional singers — many from Los Angeles’ Master Chorale — together to perform new works commissioned by Digby as well as works by Renaissance composers.

When we spoke with Digby, she said, “I created The Golden Bridge because I wanted to leave a legacy for my time here.” Her goal was to create a choral bridge that would link choral music across time and space, she told us.

Digby has always been interested in music. “From the age of 3, I was singing,” she said. The resident of England, who was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) by the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2007, discovered very early that she wanted to be a catalyst for changing people’s lives through music. She conducts full-time in London, and in 2011, she joined the USC faculty, where she is a visiting instructor with the Thornton School of Music.

Each year, she and her husband, Lord John Eatwell, who teaches economics at USC (he was president of Queens’ College Cambridge for two decades), come to Los Angeles for six to seven weeks to teach, with her activities including the preparation of each year’s Golden Bridge concert.

GOLDEN BRIDGE singers at All Saints Beverly Hills in 2017.

This 10th annual concert will feature three world premieres by composers from our state. A revival of a piece that was commissioned and performed in a past year will also be included. “I chose the revival because it’s a wonderful piece and because it has a beautiful cello part,” said Digby. When asked how she knows what works the audiences will most respond to, she told us, “When I feel something is happening, usually the audience is, too. You know you’re in that special place.”

There will be two featured instrumentalists this year. One is cellist Benett Tsai, who is, in Digby’s words, a rising superstar from the Colburn School. “He is absolutely outstanding — the dazzling new California talent,” she said. The leading lute player in California, Jason Yoshida, also will perform.

Traditional music by Taverner, Byrd, Weelkes, Purcell, Tomás Luis de Victoria, Reena Esmail and Morten Lauridsen will be included in the program. Dana Gioia, 2015’s Poet Laureate of California, will be the concert’s master of ceremonies.

Digby told us that, because the choral tradition is so strong and established in the United Kingdom, she generally needs three times the amount of rehearsal hours for productions when she works with people in the U.S. But, she went on to say, the sight-reading skills in Los Angeles are extremely good. She attributes that to the fact that many professional singers here do session work for film and television.

Before rehearsals even begin, sheet music and sound files are provided to singers. The goal is to be able to “spend the rehearsal shaping the music, building confidence and bringing the music to life in a way that will really impact the audience,” said the conductor, who is now the foremost commissioner of new choral music in the world. The Golden Bridge alone has commissioned 40 works in the past 12 years.

Because she regularly commissions work for her various organizations, Digby told us that fundraising is a big part of her life. “I have an amazing team of people who help me,” she said. Digby said that, very often, an individual will want to commission a work because his or her name then will be included on the score.

A contemporary composer commissioned to provide music for The Golden Bridge is asked to choose a piece of English Renaissance music and reflect it in his or her own work, so that it is embedded in the new music, Digby told us.

We asked the conductor if Lord Eatwell comes to The Golden Bridge concerts. “Oh yes!” she said. “He’s key! He comes to all the shows. Who would carry my music stand if he didn’t come?”

For tickets to the concert, which will take place at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 504 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills, visit For more on Suzi Digby, visit

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