Since 2003, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the United States’ most prestigious musical ensembles, has performed in the Frank Gehry’s controversial creation: the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The LA Philharmonic is located in downtown Los Angeles, just across the street from the main campus of the Los Angeles County Music Center that is home to Los Angeles Opera and the Center Theatre Croup’s Ahmanson Theatre and Mark Taper Forum, of which Disney Hall is also a part.
Begin your evening with a pre-performance dinner. There is a wide variety of restaurants in the area. Patina’s California French fine dining environment is enhanced by the architectural splendor of Disney Hall, in which it is located, although with a separate address and entrance. The Concert Hall Café is located inside Disney Hall and offers an informal setting where concertgoers can hand-select from among a variety of gourmet specialties, including sandwiches, soups and salads.
For those who enjoy Latin food, try Ciudad, where your taste buds will be seduced by the flavors of the Latin world, and drinks include Spanish wines, South American cocktails and Caribbean rums.
Next head back to Disney Hall because the LA Phil, like the Los Angeles Opera, offers a feature that enhances the value of its performances and makes them appeal to a wider audience, even people without a background in classical music. Before most LA Phil performances, there is a lecture, lasting about 45 minutes. One or more experts, often critics, musicologists or academics, discuss the background of and provide other information about the works to be performed and points out highlights in the scores that attendees should watch for.
After the lecture and before heading to your seats for the night’s performance, take some time to check out the building design that has brought both rave reviews and harsh criticism. Whatever one thinks of its architecture, however, critics are unanimous that the Disney’s acoustics are among the best anywhere.
The inside of the Disney is shaped like a ship, and it is easy to see both the prow and the stern. Although it seats 2,265 people, the configuration, particularly combined with the acoustics, allows patrons to feel as if they are in a much more intimate environment. The feeling of intimacy is enhanced by the placing of some seats behind the stage, where concertgoers can observe the conductor and soloists from a different perspective, often "up close and personal."
The LA Phil has a long, rich history, and its Music Directors have included the legendary Otto Klemperer, Zubin Mehta, Carlo Maria Giulini, Andre Previn and, since 1992, Esa-Pekka Salonen. Under his baton, the orchestra has flourished and, like the LA Opera, is considered among the best in the United States. Salonen will leave his position in 2009 and be succeeded by the exciting young Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who was appointed in 2006 at the age of 26 and will not yet be 30 when he officially takes the reins of the orchestra.
The LA Phil’s repertoire is wide-ranging, from Bach to Bartok and beyond. Its Disney Concert Hall season extends from September to June. In the summer, the LA Phil plays at the outdoor Hollywood Bowl. Soloists often appear with the orchestra. In addition, Disney Concert Hall has several series of solo performances by such artists as pianists Andras Schiff and Lang Lang and violinists Itzhak Perlman, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Midori.
After the performance head to the Wilshire Grand Hotel for a night cap in its outstanding bar, or if you are hungry head to Point Moorea Restaurant. Located in the hotel this restaurant offers Japanese food and a sushi bar.
What & Where:
Ciudad (445 S. Figueroa St; 213-486-5171)
Concert Hall Café (141 N. Grand Ave; 213-972-7318)
Kendall’s Brasserie (135 N. Grand Ave; 213-972-7322)
Kyoto Restaurant at the Wilshire Grand Hotel (930 Wilshire Blvd, 213-896-3812
Patina (151 S. Grand Ave; 213-972-3331)
Point Moorea Restaurant at the Wilshire Grand Hotel (930 Wilshire Blvd; 213-833-5100)
Helpful Information: The LA Phil offers season subscriptions and individual tickets. Although the performances are well subscribed, tickets for single concerts are generally available, especially if reserved sufficiently in advance.