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The LA Phil Humanities program takes the work on our stages as a starting point for a larger cultural conversation. By inviting a diverse range of guest curators, artists, and partner organizations to reflect on the themes of our concert programming, our Humanities efforts seek to contextualize the LA Phil’s work in thought-provoking ways, delve deeply into subjects that matter in contemporary society, and provide new points of entry into our art form. Humanities activities are typically offered in conjunction with season festivals and take many forms, from commissioned installations and panel discussions to print publications and live podcast recordings.

The LA Phil Humanities Initiative is generously supported by Linda and David Shaheen.

Upcoming Humanities Events and Exhibits

22/23 Festivals and Events

 

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FEB 2-19, 2023

Rachmaninoff Was Here

The LA Phil Humanities Initiative has teamed up with Beverly Hills cultural historians to offer a series of public programs exploring the creative communities that Rachmaninoff either participated in or which were flourishing concurrent to his brief but important time as a Beverly Hills resident in the early 1940s.

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at Beverly Hills Women's Club
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Sat / Feb 11, 2023 - 7:00PM

Beverly Hills Avant-Garde: From Surrealism to the Sunset Strip

Rachmaninoff Was Here Festival
at the Beverly Hills Women's Club

Los Angeles was a hotbed for artistic innovation in the early 1940s. Learn more about this vibrant period, stretching from the surrealists to the nightclubs along the Sunset Strip, with an evening of food, conversation, music, and magic.

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at Greystone Mansion & Gardens
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Sat / Feb 18, 2023 - 2:00PM

Rachmaninoff’s Beverly Hills

Rachmaninoff Was Here Festival
at the Greystone Mansion & Gardens

Explore Rachmaninoff's daily life in Beverly Hills, from his friendship with fellow composer Igor Stravinsky to his meeting with Walt Disney to music-making in private settings for friends and family.

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Past Humanities Festivals and Projects

In November 2022, Ava DuVernay and her team at ARRAY curated a series of events exploring the themes of Black women artists working in collaboration through the lens of film and television music. From an intimate evening with Meshell Ndegeocello to a screening of the iconic Carmen Jones with a live performance by J'Nai Bridges, Rock My Soul celebrated the excellence, artistry, and diversity of work created by Black women.

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In April and May 2022, the Gen X festival explored the forgotten generation through a distinctly LA lens, while amplifying the voices of artists, activists, and communities whose points of view were often pushed to the periphery. Events ranged from 80s horror marathons to food tastings to an exploration of the “queer utopias” of the dance floor.

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In February 2020, Weimar Variations presented exhibitions, performances, film screenings, commissioned installations, and a cabaret investigating the themes of the groundbreaking Weimar period and its contemporary resonances. Presenting iconic historical works alongside restaged, reinterpreted, and newly conceived examples, Weimar Variations emphasized how the ideas of the 1920s and 30s still reverberate today, revealing striking parallels to our own time.

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In March 2020, the first iteration of the LA Phil's Power to the People! festival was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic but not before several events organized by Humanities curator Tyree Boyd-Pates and hosted by the California African American Museum (CAAM) took place, including Rakim, Chuck D, and Talib Kweli in conversation about the poetics and politics of hip-hop and composer Imani Uzuri’s participatory freedom song workshops.

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LA Phil Visual Arts and New Media

In conjunction with its festival programming, multidisciplinary presentations, and print publications, the LA Phil has made investments in the work of visual, sound, and installation artists, including Ragnar Kjartansson, Bill Viola, Shoplifter / Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, Susan Philipsz, Nicole Miller, Christine Sun Kim, Charles Gaines, Lucky Dragons, Elias Simé, and Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller among others. By bringing artists into dialogue with its concert programming, the LA Phil aims to offer audiences varied points of view and points of entry into its work, while also expanding concepts of orchestral presentation, contextualization, and audience experience.

Lucky Dragons for "Past / Forward: The LA Phil at 100"
Nicole Miller's "Transition" installation in BP Hall
Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's Video Walk of Walt Disney Concert Hall

Humanities Publications

Past / Forward: The LA Phil at 100

Published on the occasion of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s centennial, Past/Forward: The LA Phil at 100 revisits the history of the LA Phil and contemplates its future. The award-winning publication offers an unconventional approach to institutional storytelling and includes more than 100 firsthand accounts, interviews conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tim Page, 150 rarely seen archival photos, and artwork from Lucky Dragons, Charles Gaines, and Christine Sun Kim.

The Hollywood Bowl: The First 100 Years

In conjunction with the Hollywood Bowl's centennial celebration in 2022, the LA Phil will publish The Hollywood Bowl: The First 100 Years written by Derek Traub with a foreword by Gustavo Dudamel and designed by the award-winning Content/Object studio. Traub uses many lens, from the musical to the political, to reveal the history of the Bowl, while positioning those who love the venue as a continuation of the story. 

Humanities Online

 

Poetry and Essays

Guest poets and essayists, including Armando Iannucci, Sarah Ruhl, Ishmael Reed, Pico Iyer, and Rian Johnson, have brought their perspectives to musical programs captured for the Sound/Stage streaming series.

Animation

Animation is one of the many visual forms of expression used by the LA Phil to illuminate aspects of orchestral performance. Contributors have ranged from the folktale-inspired artwork of Ghost Animation to the experimental offerings of Lilli Carré and Jordan Wong.

Artist Interviews and Roundtables

Captured as part of LA Phil Media productions, artist dialogues and roundtables invite audiences to delve deeper into an artist’s work and the issues that are important to them, including voices like Dianne Reeves and Terri Lyne Carrington on Jazz and Gender Equity and Ellen Reid and Gabriela Ortiz on Women’s Voices in Classical Music.

In Context: Additional Engagement Opportunities

 

LA Phil Archives

The LA Phil Archives invites scholars into its holdings to discover not only the history of the organization but of Los Angeles itself.

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Upbeat Live

Pre-concert lectures and artist discussions provide audiences with context, insights, and opportunities to engage with artists and thinkers before the evening's main event.

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Watch & Listen

A compendium of artist interviews, insightful articles, podcasts, and other media offerings, Watch & Listen is the LA Phil’s one-stop shop for music lovers and learners.

Dive In

Music 101

Audiences can enhance their listening and appreciation of classical music through Music 101 classes led by KUSC's Alan Chapman.

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