The LA Phil Story
The LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC, under the vibrant leadership of Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, presents an inspiring array of music through a commitment to foundational works and adventurous explorations. Both at home and abroad, the LA Phil – recognized as one of the world’s outstanding orchestras – is leading the way in groundbreaking and diverse programming, on stage and in the community, that reflects the orchestra’s artistry and demonstrates its vision. 2020/21 marks the orchestra’s 102nd season.
More than 250 concerts are either performed or presented by the LA Phil at the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and the famed Hollywood Bowl. 2020 marks the first year that the LA Phil will operate The Ford, continuing the historic venue’s longstanding tradition of providing access to performance experiences representative of L.A. County’s multifaceted communities. Collectively, the presentations at the LA Phil’s three iconic venues represent a breadth and depth unrivaled by other orchestras or cultural institutions.
During its winter season, with approximately 165 performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the LA Phil creates festivals, artist residencies, and other thematic programs designed to enhance the audience’s experience and delve further into artists’ or composers’ work. The organization’s commitment to the music of our time is also evident throughout the season in the groundbreaking Green Umbrella series and the LA Phil’s extensive commissioning initiatives. For its recent Centennial season (September 2018 through October 2019), the LA Phil invited people from Los Angeles and all around the world to join in a variety of celebrations, learning initiatives, artistic collaborations, and an unprecedented number of commissioned works, prompting the Los Angeles Times to hail, “No orchestra has been this ambitious, ever.”
Since 2003, the LA Phil’s winter home has been the inimitable Walt Disney Concert Hall. Praise for both the design and the acoustics of Walt Disney Concert Hall has been effusive, and the building embodies the energy, imagination, and creative spirit of the city of Los Angeles and its orchestra. As Time magazine noted, “With its curvaceous exterior and acoustically adroit interior, Gehry’s building bestowed on the city an important architectural landmark and proved that L.A. residents actually do go to the symphony,” while The Washington Post stated, “At last this orchestra has a hall worthy of its stature.”
Since its official opening in 1922, the Hollywood Bowl has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. One of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a seating capacity of nearly 18,000, the Hollywood Bowl plays host to the finest artists from all genres of music. The Hollywood Bowl has been named Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue 14 times by Pollstar and has been twice awarded the Top Amphitheater prize at the Billboard Live Music Awards. For millions of music lovers across Southern California, the Hollywood Bowl is synonymous with summer.
The Ford is one of the oldest performing arts venues in Los Angeles, with an outdoor 1,200-seat amphitheater and a rich history dating back to 1920. Situated in a 32-acre park and under the stewardship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Ford presents an eclectic summer season of music, dance, film, and family events that are reflective of the communities that comprise Los Angeles.
The orchestra’s involvement with Los Angeles extends beyond its venues, with performances in the schools, churches, and neighborhood centers of a vastly diverse community. Among its wideranging learning initiatives is YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles). Inspired by Venezuela’s revolutionary El Sistema, the LA Phil and its community partners seek to democratize music education by offering free, high-quality instrumental music instruction in under-resourced neighborhoods across Los Angeles. Through YOLA National, the LA Phil extends its reach nationwide and celebrates the work that’s done around the country by programs similar to YOLA and convenes young people each summer in Los Angeles at the YOLA National Festival. The Frank Gehry–designed Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen Center at Inglewood, YOLA’s first permanent, purpose-built facility, will serve 500 students annually from the surrounding community while also providing a facility that can bring together students from existing and future YOLA venues when it opens in the fall of 2020.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic also undertakes tours, both domestically and internationally, including regular visits with partners in New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, among others. The orchestra’s first tour was in 1921, and the Philharmonic has made annual tours since the 1969/70 season. In 2020/21, the LA Phil opens the season at New York’s Carnegie Hall and returns to London’s Barbican Centre, where the orchestra is the Centre’s International Orchestral Partner.
Always inspired to expand its cultural offerings, the LA Phil produces concerts each season at Walt Disney Concert Hall that features distinguished artists in recital, jazz, world music, songbook, and visiting orchestra performances, in addition to special holiday concerts and series of chamber music, organ recitals, and Baroque music.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic continues to broaden its audience by broadcasting concerts on radio and television. Thirteen concerts from the 2020/21 season will be broadcast in partnership with Classical KUSC and the WFMT Radio Network, with seven also being broadcast on American Public Media.
The orchestra has a substantial catalog of concerts available online, including the first full-length classical music video released on iTunes. In November 2018, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel released Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in partnership with Deutsche Grammophon. March 2019 saw the release of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Cello Concerto featuring Yo-Yo Ma and a live recording featuring Dudamel and the LA Phil performing the music of John Williams. For its Centennial, the LA Phil released a limited-edition, 32-CD and 3-DVD comprehensive box set. In August 2019, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in partnership with Deutsche Grammophon, released the live, world premiere recording of Andrew Norman’s Sustain, which won a Grammy® Award for Best Orchestral Performance.
Throughout its history, the LA Phil has been recognized by the entertainment industry with numerous awards. In 2016, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen were nominated for a Grammy for Best Classical Compendium for their live recording of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels. Rhapsody in Blue: Opening Night Concert and Gala was telecast as part of the PBS performing arts series Great Performances and garnered a 2012 Emmy nomination. In 2012, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel won a Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance for their recording of Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. In 1974, the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Zubin Mehta won an Academy Award® for The Bolero, a 30-minute short subject featuring Maurice Ravel’s famous orchestral work.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic was founded by William Andrews Clark, Jr., a millionaire and amateur musician, who established it as the city’s first permanent symphony orchestra in 1919. Walter Henry Rothwell became its first Music Director, serving until 1927; since then, ten renowned conductors have served in that capacity: Georg Schnéevoigt (1927–1929), Artur Rodziński (1929–1933), Otto Klemperer (1933–1939), Alfred Wallenstein (1943–1956), Eduard van Beinum (1956–1959), Zubin Mehta (1962– 1978), Carlo Maria Giulini (1978–1984), André Previn (1985–1989), Esa-Pekka Salonen (1992–2009), and Gustavo Dudamel (2009–present).