The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association is immensely thankful for the support and generosity of our donors throughout the last year.
We hope you will enjoy reading about just a handful of the LA Phil’s highlights from 2023. These programs are a testament to the phenomenal achievements and milestones we reached together.
Your support has been crucial in bringing to life these programs which have enriched the lives of millions across Southern California. Please accept our sincere gratitude for your commitment which both inspires and enables our efforts.
LA Phil Legends on the Podium
The LA Phil’s year began with an old friend returning home—Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas led two weeks of wide-ranging performances culminating in a triumphant rendition of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.
While the performances were artistically extraordinary, the concerts held special meaning for LA Phil audiences. As Mark Swed wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
“Tilson Thomas didn’t speak to the audience. There was no reading of Tilson Thomas’ mind, as he himself is suffering, as Mahler was when writing the Ninth, from a life-threatening disease. At the end, he simply stopped. No dramatic moment of silence. Nothing more to say. No sentimentality. The universe continues with its own business.
All that was left was for Tilson Thomas to show his warm appreciation of the orchestra, which had played with what can only be called love. That the warmth carried over to an awestruck audience (there was hardly an empty seat) was unmistakable.”
Tilson Thomas’s connection to the LA Phil dates back four decades, including historic Hollywood Bowl performances, leadership of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute (a training orchestra for young professional musicians), and his stint as the LA Phil’s Principal Guest Conductor from 1981 through 1984.
In March, conductor Susanna Mälkki (also a former Principal Guest Conductor) returned to Los Angeles to lead riveting performances featuring GRAMMY-winning jazz vocalist and bassist esperanza spalding, alongside MacArthur Fellow and flutist Claire Chase performing Felipe Lara’s Double Concerto.
Mälkki, spalding, and Chase dazzled audiences and critics alike:
“Claire Chase and esperanza spalding are two groundbreaking legends in the contemporary music scene. It is truly exceptional to have both of them share the same stage.
Felipe Lara’s score demonstrated his passionate understanding of Chase’s and spalding’s performance capabilities. It challenged them to push the boundaries of their performance. Spalding called it ‘magic, interdimensional space music’.”
Rachmaninoff Was Here, There (and Everywhere)
As part of February’s Rachmaninoff Festival, Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil were joined by the renowned Yuja Wang in a cycle of perhaps the most beloved piano showpieces ever written—Rachmaninoff’s four piano concertos as well as the luscious Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.1
All performances were captured for audio and audiovisual release. Each recorded performance received an audio release on digital CD and vinyl box set through Deutsche Grammophon and the set was recently nominated for a GRAMMY Award. In an effort to increase access to the cycle even further, the video performances were made available on streaming platforms including Deutsche Grammophon’s Stage+ and on the LA Phil’s own Sound/Stage digital series.
Expanding the program beyond the concert hall’s stage, LA Phil Insight2 (formerly the Humanities Initiative) teamed up with Beverly Hills cultural historians to offer Rachmaninoff Was Here: The Golden Age of Beverly Hills Bohemianism, a series of public programs inviting audiences to explore the artistic communities that were flourishing during the composer’s brief but important time in the Los Angeles area.
Events were held at The Maybourne Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills Women’s Club, and Greystone Mansion and Gardens. Learn more about Rachmaninoff’s time in Los Angeles through our interactive digital map: rachwashere.com.
YOLA Class of 2023
For 17 years YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) has provided incomparable and equitable access to a high-quality and intensive music education for young people in diverse and vibrant communities across Los Angeles and beyond.
In providing this access, YOLA strives to support young people to leverage their learned skills and artistic identities and create transformational change for themselves and their communities.
YOLA currently serves more than 1,700 young musicians, and this past school year, 48 YOLA seniors graduated from high school and entered college. Notably and inspiringly, 90% of these students are the first generation in their family going to college.
This year 27 YOLA musicians from the Class of ’23 were awarded a YOLA Scholarship.3 Scholarships were awarded based on the student’s demonstrated financial need, as well as merit in academics, community service, and teacher/mentor recommendations.
As the scholarship program continues to grow, so does a robust alumni network, providing mentorship and networking for students to reach their full potential in college, ultimately maturing and becoming active citizens in their communities.
In the words of scholarship recipients—
“The support I have received from YOLA has helped me greatly. Not only has it helped me financially, but it has also given me a network of people who are in my corner and want to see me succeed.”
“I would like to express my thanks to the YOLA staff and supporters. Because of you, my college experience has lived up to what I dreamed it could be.”
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A Summer for the Record Books
The Hollywood Bowl welcomed nearly 1.3 million people last summer, which is the second highest attendance for the venue on record—a milestone achieved with fewer total shows in the season and nearly 1,000 more patrons in the audience every night, on average.
The Bowl’s success speaks to the universal appeal of the venue and the legendary artists—across genres and generations—who graced its stage this year: Janet Jackson, The Beach Boys, Quincy Jones, Kool & The Gang, John Williams, Café Tacvba, Herbie Hancock, Hélène Grimaud, Anne Akiko Meyers, and too many more to name.
The Bowl’s record audience also points to the venue’s affordability and accessibility—tickets for every classical and jazz program begin at just $1, which is only possible because of the generous support of donors.
Across the Cahuenga Pass, The Ford also enjoyed a record-breaking summer with dozens of sold-out shows throughout its season. The Ford continues to serve the community with an intentional focus to present local artists, all while attracting headlining acts that add to the venue’s storied history.
More than half of the artists performing at The Ford this year were from Los Angeles County, and 72% of the artists are new to The Ford this season. Highlights included three sold-out nights of Neil Young to open the season, followed by landmark performances from CONTRA-TIEMPO, Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Meredith Monk, Os Mutantes, Laufey with the LA Phil, and serpentwithfeet.
WDCH Turns 20
The LA Phil kicked off its historic 20th season at Walt Disney Concert Hall in October with a star-studded Gala concert celebrating the legacy of Frank Gehry and his visionary creation, which not only transformed the LA Phil but realized an iconic architectural wonder recognized around the world.
Honoring Gehry’s iconoclasm with performances by iconoclasts in their own fields, the evening’s program journeyed from Walt Disney Concert Hall’s storied beginnings to the architect’s oceanic inspirations, immortalized in the building’s steel sails and unprecedented sense of movement.
The prelude from Bach’s Partita, the first piece performed in the then-still-under-construction Hall, opened the program, followed by Esa-Pekka Salonen’s transformation of its melody into his piece FOG accompanied by Lucinda Childs, performing her own original choreography.
Gehry’s love of the sea, orchestral music, and jazz combined into offerings from LA Phil Creative Chair for Jazz Herbie Hancock, GRAMMY Award-winning R&B singer H.E.R., and Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, who concluded the program with Debussy’s La mer.
In celebration of the Hall’s 20th anniversary, LA Phil Insight joined with the Getty Research Institute to bring a collection of Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall models to the venue. On display in BP Hall throughout the month of October, the models offered insight into Gehry’s creative process and the evolution of the building’s design. Images from the installation and more can be seen in an ongoing digital exhibit at gehry.getty.edu.
The Most Ambitious New Music Festival Ever
The LA Phil joined arts organizations across the state in launching the California Festival—the largest, most ambitious new music festival ever.
Led by the LA Phil, San Diego Symphony, and San Francisco Symphony, the California Festival featured 101 organizations performing in 90 venues. The scale and breadth of the festival was impressive: 190 works were performed, including 36 premieres, and the composers featured in the festival range in age from 27 to 97.
The LA Phil presented seven programs as part of the festival.4 Building on our Pan-American Music Initiative, Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil performed multiple concerts that spotlighted Latina activism and feminism, including two world premieres by Gabriela Ortiz5 that celebrate Chilean folk singer and social activist Violeta Parra and the voices behind Mexico City’s 2019 Glitter Revolution.
Elsewhere the LA Phil welcomed a wide range of guest artists including Alisa Weilerstein, James McVinnie, Silvana Estrada, Lila Downs, Catalina García, Goyo, Ely Guerra, and Ana Tijoux.
As we close the chapter to a musical 2023, we are already looking ahead to spectacular programs throughout 2024.
We cannot wait to see you at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, The Ford, at a YOLA site, or on tour in the year ahead.
From all of us at the LA Phil, thank you.
The LA Phil gratefully acknowledges its generous supporters, who have made these and other critical initiatives possible:
1 Yuja Wang & Dudamel: Rachmaninoff Concerto 1 (February 9) & Concerto 2 (February 11) performances were generously supported by Koni and Geoff Rich.
2 LA Phil Insight is generously supported by Linda and David Shaheen.
3 The YOLA Scholarships program is generously supported with gifts from, or named in honor of, the following: Alfred E. Mann Charities YOLA Scholarships, Nancy and Leslie Abell YOLA Scholarships, Norman J. Nemoy MD YOLA Scholarship, Guido Lamell YOLA Scholarship, Junior Winokur and Craig Vickers YOLA Scholarship, Wendy and Ken Ruby, and an anonymous donor.
4 The LA Phil's performances as part of the California Festival are generously supported by the Michael J. Connell Foundation, Christian Stracke, and the MaddocksBrown Fund for New Music.
5 Seis piezas a Violeta (world premiere, LA Phil commission with generous support from the Deborah Borda Women in the Arts Initiative) and Revolución diamantina (world premiere, LA Phil commission with generous support from the Lenore S. and Bernard A. Greenberg Fund)