Los Angeles Philharmonic / Music News & Info: Classical

My $0.02 on the LA Phil’s 2014-15 Walt Disney Concert Hall season and 2014 Hollywood Bowl season

LA Phil 2014-15 brochure cover Yesterday, the good folks at the Los Angeles Philharmonic made public the plans for the upcoming 2014-15 season at Walt Disney Concert Hall (details available HERE).  This comes on the heels of last week’s announcement of the coming 2014 summer season at the Hollywood Bowl (HERE are details of that). Unlike last year, there was no fanfare, no press conference, no video introduction or interviews with the orchestra’s leaders put on YouTube.  The press release was sent out, the website was updated, and that was that.  I only knew it was coming because I happened to ask a couple of weeks ago.  Go figure.  Anyway . . . My general take is that both WDCH and HB seasons are good, though not great — at least by LA Phil standards, though it would remain scary adventurous for most other orchestras in the world.   It’s nice to have more visits from Esa-Pekka Salonen and there’s an interesting emphasis on incorporating video into many more concerts, but there are no real surprises or “wows” with conductors, soloists, or programs. The most noteworthy concerts:  two performances (Feb 27-28, 2015) of Unsuk Chin’s opera, Alice in Wonderland, conducted by Susanna Mälkki.

  • It was supposed to be presented by Los Angeles Opera in the 2005-06 season, with Kent Nagano, the company’s former Music Director, being a major proponent.  The company decided that it couldn’t afford to produce it that year, Mr. Nagano left LA Opera at the end of that season, and the U.S. Premiere ended up being given instead by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2012.
  • This West Coast premiere production with the LA Phil will be a fully staged version, directed by Netia Jones and featuring her style of video projections used in WDCH for both this season’s opening gala and last season’s production of Oliver Knussen’s opera, Where the Wild Things Are.  Cast is still TBD.

After perusing the details of both seasons, here are all the things I thought were worth highlighting and/or commenting upon: Conductors

  • Music Director Gustavo Dudamel leads 11 weeks of subscription concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall, plus the season opening gala, and one Green Umbrella new music concert.  He also takes the orchestra on tour in March 2015 to Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing, and Tokyo with programs that include Mahler’s 6th Symphony, Dvorak’s 9th Symphony (aka the “New World Symphony”), and City Noir by John Adams.  He also leads two weeks at the Hollywood Bowl, with this summer’s opera being the Mascagni/Leoncavallo “Cav-Pag” double header featuring a solid cast of Stuart Neill, Michelle DeYoung, Julianna Di Giacomo, Christopher Maltman, Tamara Mumford and Susan Bickley.
  • Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen appears at WDCH for three weeks (all in calendar year 2014), plus an additional week at the Hollywood Bowl.  That makes 2014 the most we’ll have seen of the beloved maestro since he stepped down as Music Director in 2009.  The programs are a fun mix of standard repertoire and more eclectic stuff, with my favorite being Oct 24-26: Janáček’s Sinfonietta; The U.S. Premiere of Maan varjot (Earth Shadows) by Kaija Saariaho, Mr. Salonen’s long-time friend and collaborator, and Sibelius’s Lemminkäinen Suite.
  • For the second year in a row, no other conductors besides Messrs. Dudamel & Salonen conduct two or more subscription concert weeks.  Coming closest:
    • John Adams, the orchestra’s Creative Chair, conducts one week of subscription concerts plus two Green Umbrella concerts;
    • Bramwell Tovey, the LA Phil’s former Principal Guest Conductor at the Hollywood Bowl, conducts one-and-a-half weeks of concerts during the summer.
  • Charles Dutoit continues his annual visits with a rarity (Penderecki’s Concerto Grosso for Three Cellos) sandwiched between more common works from Ravel (Rapsodie espagnole) and Elgar (Enigma Variations).
  • Other notable returning guest conductors include Michael Tilson Thomas, Herbert Blomstedt, Susanna Mälkki, Emmanuelle Haïm, Xiang Zhang, Neeme Järvi, Andrey Boreyko, and Vasily Petrenko.
    • For those keeping score, that would be three different female conductors, all of whom are excellent regardless of gender.  Ms. Mälkki in particular is among my new favorite guest conductors — she’s the only conductor who’s gotten me to really like a performance of the Brahms 4th Symphony.  In addition, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla (a former Dudamel Conducting Fellow) makes her subscription concert debut with a single Thursday night appearance at the Hollywood Bowl.
    • Speaking of female conductors . . . am I the only one a little surprised to see Mr. Petrenko on the roster?  His most recent appearance with the LA Phil was terrific, but given his  misogynistic comments late last year regarding women on the podium, I wouldn’t have been shocked if Deborah Borda would have banned him.
    • Juraj Valčuha, the latest young conductor to have success in his Hollywood Bowl debut, makes his first WDCH appearance after a solid LA Phil debut last summer.  Well deserved.
  • Andrew Manze, period performance specialist and Artistic Director of The English Concert, is the only conductor making his subscription concert debut with the LA Phil during the next season.
  • Leonard Slatkin, Stéphane Denève, Ludovic Morlot, Micholas McGegan, and Mr. Tovey appear during the summer at the Bowl, but won’t be at Disney Hall.
  • Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Christoph Eschenbach, two conductors who have been making annual appearances with the LA Phil — even being given multiple week residencies — are notably missing from the podium this year.
  • Other frequent/occasional guest conductors notably absent this year:  Zubin Mehta, Simon Rattle (sigh), James Conlon (he conducts at WDCH every other year, and this will be his off year), David Robertson, Thomas Adès, and Semyon Bychkov.


  • Soloists appearing with the orchestra skew noticeably towards pianists:
    • The usual suspects:  Yefim Bronfman, Emanuel Ax, Leif Ove Andsnes, Simon Trpčeski, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, the Labèque sisters (piano); Leila Josefowicz, Joshua Bell (violin); Gautier Capuçon (cello); Cameron Carpenter (organ)
    • Nice to have them back:  Richard Goode, Jeremy Denk (piano), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), tenor Brandon Jovanovich (!!), Calder Quartet
  • Some news about LA Phil members taking solo turns:
    • Principal Cello Robert deMaine joins Hillary Hahn (violin) at the Hollywood Bowl in the Brahms Double Concerto.
    • Principal Horn Andrew Bain and Principal Trumpet Tom Hooten take turns at center stage for a week of programs featuring Mozart’s 4th Horn Concerto and Haydn’s Trumpet concerto.
    • Speaking of Messrs. Bain and Hooten:  they’ll almost certainly be featured in the season opening concerts of the Mahler 5th Symphony.  Given the stellar nature of the orchestra’s and their most recent previous performances of the Mahler 5, it is a must-see concert.  In addition, it happens to be the first time Mr. Dudamel conducts the LA Phil in this particular Mahler symphony.
    • An as-of-yet unnamed musician will be featured in the very prominent trumpet solos along with piano soloist Yuja Wang in the Shostakovich 1st Piano Concerto at the Bowl (Mr. Salonen conducts).  There is always a chance that an outside trumpeter would take the role, but more than likely, Mr. Hooten or Associate Principal Trumpet Jim Wilt will play the part.
    • For the first time in recent memory, Principal Concertmaster Martin Chalifour will not be appearing in a concerto performance during the WDCH season.  That said, he will be playing as soloist during the summer at the Hollywood Bowl.
  • Gidon Kremer makes a welcome return to Los Angeles in a recital with pianist Daniil Trifonov.  After seeing the young Russian pianist in a rather schlocky Hollywood Bowl debut last summer, I really hope he keeps up his end of the bargain.
  • There will be no resident artists during the season, unlike in previous years where there was an “On Location” artist or, like this season, where Emanuel Ax appears multiple times as part of his “Brahms Project.”


  • The WDCH season will feature eight world premieres, five U.S. premieres and seven West Coast premieres, with Ms. Saariaho getting a world premiere conducted by Mr. Dudamel in addition to the aforementioned U.S. premiere conducted by Mr. Salonen.  In addition, Mr. Dudamel conducts four of the other world premieres (by Philip Glass, Bryce Dessner, and Steven Mackey) and one of the U.S. premieres (by David Lang).
  • Composers shockingly and disappointingly missing from LA Phil programs in the 2014-15 season: Shostakovich (ugh), Bartók (double ugh), Stravinsky (triple ugh)
  • Composers shockingly and perhaps not-so-disappointingly missing from LA Phil programs in the 2014-2015 season:  Mendelssohn — including no violin concerto.  Really.
  • Works that are shockingly missing from the program:  no Tchaikovsky symphonies, no Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos (and yes, I know that the Paganini Rhapsody is being performed),
  • The LA Phil has a couple of new programming initiatives that specifically attempt to attract new audiences by adding additional elements to the traditional concert hall concert experience:
    • Brian LauritzenVery happy to see that Brian Lauritzen — classical music radio luminary, occasional cellist, fellow Gen-Xer, and distinguished friend of All is Yar — is getting four weeks of programming to play with, in a series titled (appropriately enough):  “Inside the Music with Brian Lauritzen.”  In Mr. Lauritzen’s own words, “The series has several components:

– Prior to each performance, we will release a video online for on-demand streaming that provides a way in to the stories of each concert’s repertoire.

– Then comes the educational meat: a pre-concert talk where we will dive deeply into the music for each of the performances.

– The concert hall experience will remain untouched. This is traditional concert-going in all its glory. Two concerts conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, a world premiere, a US premiere, a rarely heard Prokofiev Symphony, and more.

– Afterwards, we will have an opportunity to talk about what we’ve just experienced. I’ll host an on-stage Q&A session with the audience and some of the performers involved in the music-making. Your chance to connect more meaningfully with the music you’ve just heard.”

    • “in/SIGHT:”  described as “a new Friday evening series designed to be a feast for eye and ear: all four concerts will be enhanced with video installations, and in some cases, with additional artistic elements, such as dance or staging, for a complete and engaging experience.”  The four-concert series includes performances of Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet (Mr. Salonen conducting), Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, the aforementioned Alice in Wonderland by Ms. Chin, and a concert conducted by Mr. Dudamel featuring the Steven Mackey world premiere and Steve Reich’s Three Tales with video by Beryl Korot.
    • The “Casual Friday” series (shortened concerts featuring discussion by the performers on stage and a chance to mix and mingle with orchestra members after the concert) remains.
  • This year’s festival of sorts is “NEXT ON GRAND: Contemporary Americans,” the first of what will be a recurring cross-collaboration between the LA Phil and the other resident companies and venues along the Grand Avenue Corridor.  The focus this time around will be on American composers.
  • In celebration of the 10th Anniversary of WDCH’s unique-looking organ, a number of regular orchestral subscription concerts will feature the iconic instrument.


Photo credits:

  • Gustavo Dudamel:  courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association
  • Brian Lauritzen:  courtesy of What Would Beethoven Do?

22 thoughts on “My $0.02 on the LA Phil’s 2014-15 Walt Disney Concert Hall season and 2014 Hollywood Bowl season

  1. For me, the WOW in the HB season is not any one particular program but the overall quality of the soloists: Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Yuja Wang, Thibaudet with Capucons, Hilary Hahn, Gil Shaham, Yo-Yo Ma, Marc-Andre Hamelin – that is quite outstanding for just ten outdoor weeks.
    And then for me there is a definite WOW during the WDCH season: Gidon Kremer together with Daniil Trifonov – a mouth-watering (or rather ear-watering?) combination of the most interesting violinist of the last 40 years with the most interesting under-40 pianist of today.


    • I agree with you about the Kremer/Trifonov concert. That has the potential to be spectacular.

      Though not nearly in the same league, it reminds me of that Kremer/Argerich recital that was supposed to have happened back in 1995 at the DCP — until which she withdrew and was replaced by Vadim Sakharov. I decided to skip it once the announcement was made. A friend who did attend told me that it was enjoyable without exceeding the very damped expectations after Ms. Argerich was no longer involved.


  2. How am I supposed to miss Salonen (and his Finn affirmative action program) if he won’t go away? What’s the deal – are they worming him back in to take over again after Dudamel moves on?


    • Oh my, how sinister and conspiratorial of “them”! And who says anyone is “supposed to miss” anyone? Some people do miss Esa-Pekka, quite a lot in certain cases; others, not so much, if at all. C’est la vie.


    • I’m still chuckling over the “Finn affirmative action program” comment. Regardless of how one feels about E-PS, this is soooo true.

      BTW: Put me in the category of those who feel that more E-PS is not enough E-PS.


      • And just like with most other “AffAct” programs, there may be – and probably are – several very different opinions about this one.


        • I noticed that Sibelius’s Four Lemminkäinen Legends are on the bill for next season, which makes me think his “Kullervo” might not be far behind, perhaps maybe even something by Rautavaara . . . and I’ll punt for now on whether this is a good or bad thing.


      • Something tells me you’ll get your wish and there’ll be 10-12 weeks of E-PS and the compositional whizzings of himself and his buddies before too long.


        • Actually, I’d be shocked if E-PS comes back in that kind of capacity — anywhere, really, but especially in LA. I’d be willing to bet serious money on that. Been there, done that, for both him and the orchestra.

          The only potential exception would be if there is a gap between the time Mr. Dudamel steps down as MD and when they name the next one; if that were to happen, I could see E-PS filling in until the new person were named. But that’s a whole lot of speculation.

          It begs the question, Harry: given that E-P is not among your favorites (composers or conductors), who do you prefer?


          • The list of conductors who’ve gotten more out the Phil is too long to exhaustively list here. I’ve been impressed at various times with Bychkov, von Dohnanyi, Gaffigan, Blomstedt, Paavo Jarvi, Bringuier, Dutoit, etc. Hearing the Phil do Mahler 4 with Rattle back in the Chandler got me to start subscribing as opposed to going to the occasional concert. I don’t know or care what the Phil musicians think of any of these guys but they certainly sounded better those nights than with E-PS. The one exception was the final Rite before he sort-of-kind-of left. That was a good performance – but then he’s had a lot of practice with it.

            I also like Dudamel a great deal. I had incredibly high hopes after being at both 2007 performances with the then-SB Youth Orchestra (since renamed). But, as good as he is, he isn’t here often enough except for that one Mahler season and he’s leaving the artistic decision making in some very suspect hands. I am being charitable saying those decisions are his to delegate. I don’t think they are. All of that’s why I no longer subscribe.

            I think E-PS will take over again. He may have been here and done that but after the foofaraw about going to England he’s back in LA for all that. Rather than go through the expense and time of an MD search, they could simply re-name him to the post, and bank the savings. Or, more likely, divert it into E-PS’s pockets through commissions or other sleights of hand. He can still be the conductor who composes/composer who conducts/floor wax/dessert topping.


  3. Wouldn’t it be awfully entertaining to arrange a discussion about LA Phil’s two most recent Music Directors between Brian of OWA (if he is alive and well, that is) and Mr. HK right here? Perhaps Esa-Pekka and Gustavo themselves would be delighted to attend and enjoy the hostili…I mean the proceedings. Reading some of the comments here and on CultureMonster lately, it appears to be a bloody miracle that after well over two decades of suffering under the disastrous leadership of these two horrible MDs this orchestra is still able to perform as well as it does these days. By the way, it might be interesting to see HK’s list of artistic decisions at the LA Phil that are supposedly made by someone other than its current MD. As far as I can tell, Gustavo is in fact making all of those artistic decisions that he is interested in making, which are just about the same ones as are customary for most MDs of major orchestras in the 21st century.


    • MarK, your insider circomluctions here and… well, everywhere, are always good for a chuckle.

      “As far as I can tell, Gustavo is in fact making all of those artistic decisions that he is interested in making, which are just about the same ones as are customary for most MDs of major orchestras in the 21st century.”

      I can agree based on a literal interpretation that Mr. Dudamel makes those decisions he is interested in making. Mahler fests and such are, I am sure, well within his defined boundaries. But, other things… generating a creative chair, funding it, hiring someone into that role, allowing him to run amok with it to the extent of making it a personal showcase (not exclusively an E-PS skill), scheduling and programming tours, turning the acoustic marvel of Disney Hall into a video-besotted showcase for opera and musical theatre… I doubt (as do some of your colleagues) that is all in the job jar of this Modern Music Director.

      The LA Phil is financially sound (pun intended) thanks to Lucrezia Borda and the legwork for what we’re now offered would have been in work around the same time Mr. D was hired and before he even showed up in 2009.

      In fact, a major reason I think E-PS will be back with a vengeance is that Ms. Borda will also have to retire at some point. A joint MD and ED search would tax even the currently deep pockets of the Phil.

      As far as the steel cage match between me and the ardent Dudamel hater, 2/3 of the Phil season does not involve the MD whoever that may be. He and I might agree that Dudamel is getting his licks in within a framework but not putting his stamp on the orchestra.


      • Your agreement is welcomed because literal interpretation of my words is precisely the one i am interested in here, and i am not going to be making any predictions or comment on yours at this point. The only thing i would like to add now is that you may be underestimating the strength and extent of MD’s involvement and input in terms of artistic decisions and consequently the significance of his “stamp” is probably greater than you might suspect.


      • First, I think GD’s put a big stamp on the orchestra in one of the most discernable aspects: the group’s sound. There are two parts to this: (A) The strings are most notably more robust and gutsy than they were under E-PS (B) the new principals he has hired (Whitney Crockett, Andrew Bain, Tom Hooten, Nitzan Haroz, Robert deMaine, and Julien Beauidment) all play with more assertiveness and distinctiveness than their predecessors. If you don’t believe me, then believe a luminary such as Pierre Boulez who commented on how different the sound was when he heard them play in Europe recently than he expected them to sound.

        Second of all, I haven’t had many conversations/interactions with the top management at the LA Phil, but those I have had give me reason to believe that Mr. Dudamel’s involvement in artistic and musical decision-making is equivalent to Mr. Salonen’s. Their points of emphasis may be different, but you can likely thank/blame the major and minor initiatives on them both.

        On a related matter, I don’t think you can fairly assign credit to an MD for one thing he does and then say someone else decided for him other things he does — it verges on conspiracy theory.

        The guy loves Mozart more than the previous music director — how then is it such a stretch to think he’d advocate for not only performing Mozart operas but actually staging them? He’s a Gen Y conductor — is it really so hard to believe he doesn’t actively support the inclusion of (gasp!) video in the concert hall?

        I, on the other hand, may blame him for doing WAY TOO MUCH Brahms and something as mundane as a Tchaikovsky festival (albeit a beautifully played Tchaikovsky festival), but I also appreciate his willingness to continue to conduct world and US premieres, and to welcome some new thinking into how to present concerts beyond the tried-and-true AND old-fashioned regular subscription concert. I appreciate the fact that he resurrected the Corigliano 1st Symphony and commissioned works from a diverse set of composers like Andrew Norman and Daniel Bjarnasson.

        Finally (at least for now), I’m very curious about your statement: “. . . generating a creative chair, funding it, hiring someone into that role, allowing him to run amok with it to the extent of making it a personal showcase . . .”

        When you hire a noted composer such as John Adams as your Creative Chair (whether or not you like his music), do you expect him NOT to program his own music? I mean, when you ask John Williams to conduct at the Hollywood Bowl, do you think he’s going to play a night’s worth of Vangelis, James Newton Howard, or Hans Zimmer? Of course not — it just doesn’t stand to reason.

        And, in fact, if you look at the concerts in which he’s conducting (both this season and next), of the 21 works he’s leading, only two of them are his compositions.

        Not sure how that is means he is allowed to “run amok.”


        • I think that reasonable people can be on polar ends of this spectrum. Let me try to respond to a few points in the spirit that I think they are asked.

          Specific items: I am impressed by Whitney Crockett but as I have not gone in the past season-plus, I have insufficient knowledge of Hooten, Bain, et.al. I do agree that improvement in the brass was needed, I hope they are indeed providing that breath of fresh air (sorry) and that the flute situation stabilizes. I actually liked the local gent who played in so many concerts as an unnamed substitute.

          “I haven’t had many conversations/interactions with the top management at the LA Phil, ”

          Nor have I. I think you’re interpreting the public evidence positively, I am taking the darker view.

          “On a related matter, I don’t think you can fairly assign credit to an MD for one thing he does and then say someone else decided for him other things he does..”

          I’m a big believer in conspiracies – they are everywhere. But, I think I was trying to convey that Dudamel’s influence as MD is bounded and that many other initiatives are from the broader management. He may be involved with some but not with others.

          re: Adams
          I think it does matter what one thinks of him and his music. A great deal. My dislike for his output and him in general is almost visceral. Can a museum curator exhibit works from his/her own collection or his/her own works for that matter? I think he’s programmed a lot of his own material over the years and continues to do so into the future. You say 10% is small, I say it is 12% too high. I felt the same way about E-PS and whatever he churned out.


          • Mr. Kirschner: appreciating your engagement and enjoying this healthy banter and exchange of opinions . . .

            “I haven’t had many conversations/interactions with the top management at the LA Phil, ”

            Nor have I. I think you’re interpreting the public evidence positively, I am taking the darker view.

            That’s not correct — I’m not merely relying on public evidence. Note that I said that I haven’t had “many conversations/interactions” but I didn’t say “no conversations/interactions.” Perhaps the most pointed example: On the heels of the fully-staged “Marriage of Figaro” at WDCH, I had a very on-the-record interview with Chad Smith, the VP of Artistic Planning, in which I rather pointedly asked if he and/or Ms. Borda were steering GD’s decisions or otherwise doing MD duties for him that E-PS had handled on his own previously. He unequivocally said “absolutely not.” To paraphrase the rest of the response, everything that the artistic administration does is to execute and help realize GD’s vision. The Mozart/DaPonte operas was a specific example of that. There were others we discussed.

            Does that mean he gets involved in the minutia of every decision there is to make? Of course not. Leaders delegate some of their decisions, and I’m sure GD does too. Are there “many other initiatives” suggested to him “from the broader management?” I don’t know definitively, but I’m guess that there are. I’m also sure that he’s “bounded” in some ways as you describe it. But I think where you and I differ is how that impacts GD as Music Director — or, rather, how GD as Music Director impacts those things. Ms. Borda and Mr. Smith may suggest projects, programming, etc. to him, but he is very opinionated and I’d be shocked if he let anything happen that he wasn’t in agreement with or that didn’t fit into his musical/artistic vision as Music Director.

            re: Adams
            I totally get that you strongly dislike his music (which is likely an understatement based on the bulk of your comments). So you don’t want him to conduct his music or feel that he should conduct his music because you think it sucks. Got it. But however one values his music, I still think that’s besides the point when considering the LA Phil hired a composer/conductor in the job of Creative Chair, and given that the orchestra is very aware of his credentials, I think it’s very reasonable to assume — whether you like his music or not — that they’d be okay with him conducting his own music, even encouraging him to do so and commissioning him to write new music.

            To put it another way, let me go back to your original comment on the subject: you said, “generating a creative chair, funding it, hiring someone into that role, allowing him to run amok with it to the extent of making it a personal showcase. . . . ” I would strongly argue that they didn’t generate a Creative Chair, hire Mr. Adams, and then ALLOWED him to “run amok” — instead, they hired Mr. Adams into the Creative Chair SPECIFICALLY SO HE COULD “run amok” and that THEY WANTED AND EXPECTED HIM TO “run amok.” Whether or not this is a good thing is an entirely different discussion, one which your position is very clearly stated.

            For my part, I have mixed feelings about Mr. Adams’ music. On one end of the spectrum, I think “Naive and Sentimental Music” is a masterpiece, and I really enjoy some of the smaller works like “Short Ride on a Fast Machine” and “Slonimsky’s Earbox,” among others. On the other end, I think “Dharma at Big Sur” is awful. Absolute garbage. I’ve given it (read: suffered through) multiple trys, and despite my best open-minded efforts, still think that its utterly unlistenable, even after his “re-working.” In the middle “Meh” category are things like “El Niño,” “Harmonium,” “Harmonielehre,” and “The Other Mary.” I originally would have put “City Noir” in the same middle ground too, but I’ve been warming up to it more.

            You had previously mentioned conductors you prefer — perhaps you’d be willing to share your thoughts on which living composers (if any) whose music you prefer?


            • Many good points in CK’s response here and i agree with most of it.
              One notable exception: i believe that speaking purely musically “The Other Mary” is an outstanding piece – for me perhaps the most interesting new work i have encountered in last two decades.


  4. [ Chad Smith quote ]

    I did grok that you have access to the Phil leadership. The conspiracy theorist in me says, “Well, of course! That’s just he WANTS you to think.”
    But, you seem earnest in your writing so my alternative is to remove the benefit-of-doubt I was extending to Dudamel and put this in his demerit column. If I wanted opera, and I don’t, I would buy a ticket to an opera.

    I’ve hated every evening at WDCH where video was foisted. The hall is excellent for “unplugged” instruments. Putting in video screens and amplification (usually they go together) ruins both the musical component as well as the pleasure of being in the auditorium.

    “You had previously mentioned conductors you prefer — perhaps you’d be willing to share your thoughts on which living composers (if any) whose music you prefer?”

    Short answer: None
    I tried Green Umbrella in the Chandler and disliked it. I tried again in Disney Hall thinking acoustics would make a difference. It didn’t. I felt like I was the fall guy for a not-very-funny joke. I’ve heard a lot of “living composers” in the GU and Philharmonic contexts. It doesn’t matter if they’re E-PS or his lookalike cronies or the latest beardy rats from Brooklyn (They Tweet! They listen to rap on their iPods! They engage on social platforms!). I usually wish they were no longer living. After some concerts, I wished I was no longer living – the only time I ever walked out of a concert mid-performance was Andriessen’s ‘Hague Hakkuh’ where the LaBeque sisters phlegmed up something that sounded as bad as its name. “Slonimsky’s Earwax” at the Chandler was my first live experience of Adams and it was hate at first sound. I can’t stand his facile cultural blackface, either: Dharma this, Satya that.

    I’ve long wondered why such an in-yer-face American orchestra doesn’t play more Ives (symphonies, not short works) Hanson, and others. Scott Cantrell wondered similarly in the Dallas press.

    If I had to pick something by a living composer, the Mason Bates “White Lies for Lomax” – the mandatory piece from the Cliburn 2009 competition wasn’t too bad. But that was solo piano and not an orchestral work.

    I had hoped that an MD/orchestra for the 21st century (Dudamel/LA Phil) would have changed the status quo by being in the community longer than the typical jetsetting MD and engage with that community more than superficially. But, what we are getting is all the transience, the annual photo op with the YOLA students, and a lot of flash, bam, alakazam. In other words, the same old same old but a younger face.


  5. I am surprised you forgot Martha Argerich under your soloists listing.
    The large contingent of pianists is indeed surprising but what I don not understand is why the MD or Management don’t insist on a bit more variety from them.
    Does one need to program Beethoven’s Emperor piano concert every season, 2013/14 it was Thibaudet and next season a double (Andsnes and Sunwook Kim)??


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