Art · Ideas · Perspectives
The LA Phil Insight initiative 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 Insight 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. Insight 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.
LA Phil Insight is generously supported by Linda and David Shaheen.
Upcoming Insight Festivals and Projects
Past Festivals and Projects
Rachmaninoff Was Here
Ben Johnson, curator
In February 2023, the LA Phil teamed up with Beverly Hills historians to explore the cultural communities that existed during the brief, but important time Rachmaninoff lived in Beverly Hills. Exploring everything from the composer’s impact on classical music and popular culture, the American songbook being written next door, and the surrealist artists who had taken up residence in Hollywood, Rachmaninoff Was Here offered an expansive vision of a period of incredible artistic and intellectual activity.
Rock My Soul
Ava DuVernay and ARRAY, curators
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.
Karen Tongson and Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, co-curators
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.
Stephane Barron and Nana Bahlmann, co-curators
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.
Power to the People!
Tyree Boyd-Pates, curator
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Audiences can enhance their listening and appreciation of classical music through Music 101 classes led by KUSC's Alan Chapman.