LA Phil celebrates 10th anniversary of Walt Disney Concert Hall


Walt Disney Concert Hall – view from Courthouse
Photo credit: Music Center of Los Angeles County

The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles is about to reach its 10th anniversary, and to mark this momentous occasion, the Los Angeles Philharmonic presents insideOUT, a month-long season of special celebratory events which opens this week. Led by Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, and featuring Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen, insideOUT celebrates Community, Collaboration and The Music of Today in a series of star-studded concerts.


Architect Frank Gehry and Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen
Photo credit: Todd Eberle

This anniversary season takes its name from the vision of architect Frank Gehry:  to create a new kind of concert hall for Los Angeles.  Walt Disney Concert Hall is, he says “ … not just a building for music, but a building for the people …. From the inside out, the building was designed to respond to its surrounding, and serve as a gathering place ….. a building that invites you in …. [where] the body languange is welcoming”.   With what’s described as Gehry’s “ability to understand what it is that people want”, he is said to have an imagination which has much in common with that of Walt Disney himself – one which connects to all types of people.


Music Director of the LA Phil, Gustavo Dudamel
Photo credit: Vern Evans

“The 10th birthday of Walt Disney Concert Hall is a wonderful reason for our great city of Los Angeles to celebrate,” says Gustavo Dudamel. “Our friend and colleague, Frank Gehry, lovingly built this world renowned masterpiece as a living room for the people, and we get to share it with you through our music making.”

The festivities begin on September 25th with a series of free community concerts – just as the LA Phil celebrated the opening of its new home in October 2003 – with free preview concerts for the people of the city, and for schoolchildren from all over Los Angeles County.  The 10th anniversary Neighbourhood Concerts feature special guest Julie Andrews as narrator in Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and also local ensembles Las Cafeteras and The Jazz Angels.


Gustavo Dudamel at rehearsal with members of the Youth Orchestra LA
Photo credit: Craig Mathew / Mathew Imaging

The community events culminate in a free Open House Concert, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, in which the Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) will perform alongside the LA Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall – a first-time event in the six-year history of the Youth Orchestra.  The creation of YOLA was inspired by Dudamel’s widely acclaimed artistic vision, and his experience with Venezuela’s El Sistema approach to music education – a system whereby community partners provide free instruments and high quality music instruction to students in communities which would not otherwise have access to these facilities.  A giant screen in Grand Park will show a simulcast of the YOLA/LA Phil Side-by-Side concert, which will also feature a solo performance by legendary pianist Herbie Hancock – LA Phil Creative Chair for Jazz.

The 10th anniversary celebrations continue with the LA Phil’s subscription concert season which has its Opening Night Gala on Monday September 30th.  In a series of programs which include both classics and premieres, the Philharmonic will be led by Gustavo Dudamel and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and feature a host of outstanding soloists, many of whom have enjoyed a special relationship with the Orchestra since the opening of the Concert Hall.


Walt Disney Concert Hall against the LA skyline
Photo credit: Federico Zignani

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Opening Night Concert, with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist, in a program specifically designed to represent the development of the Concert Hall – from its conception to completion – using the music of Bach, Tchaikovsky, Adès, Mahler and Saint-Saëns to tell the story.  The program also features installations by video artist Netia Jones, and to illustrate the superb acoustics of Walt Disney Concert Hall, it opens with John Cage’s 4’33”.

A special Green Umbrella program, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, marks the actual anniversary date on October 23rd, with the first complete realization of LA composer Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels – a uniquely Californian event.

The illustrious guest soloists who’ll appear throughout this anniversary season include piano virtuosi Yefim Bronfman and Leif Ove Andsnes, percussionist Pedro Carneiro, baritone Peter Coleman-Wright, cellist Annssi Kartunen and violinist Leila Josefowitz.  In its inaugural 2003-04 season the LA Phil introduced both World Music and Jazz to its repertoire.  Portuguese fado singer Mariza appeared in that first World Music series, and returns for this anniversary season, and Jazz takes center stage when all three LA Phil Creative Chairs for Jazz – Dianne Reeves, Christian McBride and Herbie Hancock – collaborate in what’s billed as a “one-of-a-kind jazz celebration”.


Herbie Hancock, LA Phil Creative Chair for Jazz
Photo credit: Douglas Kirkland

The season also features two world premieres – Magnus Lindberg’s new work for Cello and Orchestra and the Knussen realization of Peter Lieberson’s Shing Kham – both commissioned by the LA Phil.  There’s a US premiere as well, Brett Dean’s The Last Days of Socrates, a commission by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.

“The LA Phil,” says Deborah Borda, President and CEO, of the Association “believes in the power of technology as an important driver of consumer engagement.”  So, to add to the wealth of celebratory features this season, two fascinating digital initiatives are being introduced – WDCH10 and Concert Master.

WDCH10 offers an online exploration of Walt Disney Concert Hall – which will delight those all over the world who haven’t yet had an opportunity to enjoy the wonders of this fascinating venue.  It includes highlights of major LA Phil milestones, architectural information – including an interview with Frank Gehry – interviews with Gustavo Dudamel and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and also with special guests who have performed regularly at the Concert Hall.

Concert Master represents the first phase of the LA Phil’s Classical Music Discovery Initiative – an online tool that uses a fun, game-like interface to help people less familiar with classical music choose a concert based on their experiences and behavior.


Auditorium and stage of Walt Disney Concert Hall
Photo credit: Federico Zignani

Deborah Borda succinctly sums up the spirit of this momentous anniversary: “Walt Disney Concert Hall represents the defining qualities of the LA Phil – innovation and excellence.  This magnificent and iconic building continues to inspire us to re-imagine who we could be as both an orchestra and an organization – to push artistic boundaries, provide new channels of access, and redefine the role of today’s orchestra.”

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