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 Philharmonic – recognized as one of the world’s outstanding orchestras – is leading the way in ground-breaking programming, both on stage and in the community, offering a diverse range of programs that reflect the orchestra’s artistry and demonstrate its vision. 2018/19 marks the orchestra’s 100th season.
More than 250 concerts are either performed or presented by the LA Phil at its two iconic venues: the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. These presentations 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 symphonic music experience and delve further into certain artists’ or composers’ work. The organization’s commitment to the music of our time is also evident throughout the season programming, as well as in the exhilarating Green Umbrella series and the LA Phil’s extensive commissioning initiatives.
In 2017, the LA Phil celebrated the 70th birthday of Creative Chair John Adams; featured established and emerging acts from the flourishing Icelandic scene during the Reykjavík Festival; highlighted two Viennese masters by juxtaposing the complete symphonies of Schubert with orchestral songs by Mahler; and presented the world premiere of a new performance edition of Lou Harrison’s Young Caesar, directed by Yuval Sharon. The 2017/18 season began with the CDMX festival which explored Mexico City’s vibrant contemporary music communities. Other early highlights of the 17/18 season were the second annual Noon to Midnight, a day of pop-up performances from LA Phil musicians and some of L.A.’s most exciting new music ensembles; the world premiere of Annie Gosfield’s War of the Worlds; a series of concerts featuring Principal Guest Conductor Susanna Mälkki; and Bernstein 100, select performances celebrating the centennial of composer, conductor, and humanitarian Leonard Bernstein.
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. In February 2017, the Hollywood Bowl was named Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue for the 13th year in a row at the 28th Annual Pollstar Awards. For millions of music lovers across Southern California, the Hollywood Bowl is synonymous with summer.
The orchestra’s involvement with Los Angeles extends far beyond symphony concerts in a concert hall, with performances in schools, churches, and neighborhood centers of a vastly diverse community. Among its wide-ranging education initiatives is Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA). Inspired by Venezuela’s revolutionary El Sistema, the LA Phil and its community partners provide free instruments, intensive music training, and leadership training to nearly 1,000 students from underserved neighborhoods, empowering them through multi-year engagement to be college-ready and on a path to becoming vital citizens, leaders, and agents of change. The LA Phil extends its reach nationwide through the LA Phil’s innovative initiative Take a Stand. In 2016, the LA Phil and Take a Stand partners launched the National Take a Stand Festival – a series of week-long youth orchestra camps with students from programs like YOLA across the country. The LA Phil recently announced the future opening of the Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center @ Inglewood, which 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.
The orchestra also undertakes tours, both domestically and internationally, including regular visits with partners in New York, Paris, and Tokyo, among others. The Philharmonic has been an International Associate at London’s Barbican Centre since 2009. The orchestra’s very first tour was in 1921, and the Philharmonic has made annual tours beginning with the 1969/70 season. Most recently, Dudamel and the LA Phil toured the West Coast of the United States in Fall 2016, performing in Costa Mesa, San Francisco, Davis, and Seattle.
Always inspired to expand its cultural offerings, the LA Phil each season produces concerts featuring 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 2017/18 season will be broadcast in partnership with Classical KUSC and the WFMT Radio Network, with six 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. This season, the Los Angeles Philharmonic released two remarkable recordings; in November 2017 on Nonesuch Records, Louis Andriessen’s Theatre of the World, currently nominated for BBC Music Magazine’s Opera Award; and in February 2018, in partnership with The Industry Records, Lou Harrison’s vibrant opera, Young Caesar. 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 2011, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel won a Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance for their recording of the 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 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 Rodzinski (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).