Category: Los Angeles Philharmonic

Philip Glass, 75, has an iTunes hit with his Ninth Symphony

February 2, 2012 |  2:15 pm

Glass NinthSince Beethoven, Ninth Symphonies have been both a cause of joy — and dread. In the wake of Beethoven’s No. 9, composers view that massive, ethereal, choral symphony as a sort of musical Everest. And then there's the fact that the composer never lived to write a 10th.

Gustav Mahler, so fearful of embarking on a Ninth Symphony of his own,  insisted that the large orchestral work after his Eighth Symphony be titled “The Song of the Earth.”  Mahler eventually swallowed his fears and wrote another large work and called it his Ninth Symphony  -- it can be heard at Walt Disney Hall three times this weekend as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Mahler cycle -- but the fact that he died the following year while writing his 10th Symphony only added to the mystique around Ninths.

The theme of mortality was certainly in the air Tuesday night at Carnegie Hall, which saw the American debut of Philip Glass’ Ninth Symphony. Reached by phone two days after the premiere, Glass admitted, “Everyone is afraid to do a Ninth Symphony. It’s not that it killed off Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler … but it is a funny kind of jinx that people think about.”

No doubt. A recording of the Glass Symphony No. 9 is available on iTunes as played a month ago by the Bruckner Orchester Linz. It debuted Tuesday, and as of Thursday was No. 15 on the iTunes top 100  albums chart.

At Carnegie, Glass’ 50-minute work was scheduled as a 75thbirthday for the composer and programmed opposite Arvo Part’s “Lamentate,” a requiem for the living.

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'Sesame Street' sets Gustavo Dudamel episode for Monday

February 2, 2012 |  1:27 pm

  Sesame

"G" is for Gustavo Dudamel, and "M" is for Monday, when the conductor will appear on PBS' "Sesame Street."

The conductor taped his segment for the children's TV show last year with several  puppet characters, including Elmo. The segment is scheduled to air on PBS stations nationwide on Monday, according to the L.A. Philharmonic.

Southern California viewers will be able to catch the "Sesame Street" episode on KOCE  -- now known as PBS SoCal -- at 10 a.m. Monday, and on other PBS affiliates (check listings). You won't be able to see it on KCET, which broke away from PBS last year.

In the segment, Dudamel and Elmo demonstrate the word "stupendous" by conducting a sheep playing a violin, an octopus playing the drums and a chorus of opera-singing penguins.

An orchestra spokeswoman said last year that Dudamel taped his scenes in Los Angeles ("Sesame Street" usually shoots in New York.)

The episode may still be a bit too advanced for Dudamel's young son, Martín, who was born last spring.

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Music review: Gustavo Dudamel conducts Mahler's Third

-- David Ng

Photo: Gustavo Dudamel in a scene from "Sesame Street." Credit: (c) 2011 Sesame Workshop.  All Rights Reserved.

Music review: Gustavo Dudamel conducts Mahler's Fifth and Sixth

January 29, 2012 |  3:19 pm

Gustavo Dudamel and Martin Chalifour
In the summer of 1901, Mahler celebrated his 41st birthday and began his Fifth Symphony. For all that was new about his first four symphonies, they were nonetheless song-filled, poetically and spiritually inspired products of 19th century German Romanticism. Although Mahler’s moods were many, dark tunnels still promised light at the end. With the Fifth, and more so with the agitated Sixth, Mahler took the hard-edged, modernist plunge into a future and fate unknowable.

On Thursday, the day Gustavo Dudamel celebrated his 31st birthday, his Mahler Project turned the troubling 20th century corner in an imaginative performance of the Fifth Symphony with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela in Walt Disney Concert Hall. The next night, Dudamel led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a driving, riveting Sixth.

When Dudamel recorded the Fifth five years ago, he took a score with which many conductors have trouble finding a trajectory, pretty much on its contradictory, if exciting, face value. Now his confidence has grown to ask unanswerable questions.

A possible way to read this symphony is as the farewell to one age and a wary but game readiness for the next. In five movements and three parts, it begins with a funeral march, introduced by solo trumpet dirge, the battle lost, the battlefield a plain of sorrow. The slow Adagietto, famous as memorial music, was not originally meant to be played snail-slow but as a robust song of love. That leads to a cheerful, contrapuntal rondo, its role in the drama unclear.

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Hollywood Bowl park-and-ride to see fare hike

January 26, 2012 | 11:12 am

Bowl

Getting to the Hollywood Bowl this summer will be slightly more expensive for the thousands of people who rely on the park-and-ride services and shuttles.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved this week a measure to increase round-trip park-and-ride service from $8 to $10 for those who purchase their tickets on site at the lots. Those who purchase tickets in advance will avoid the hike and pay $5, the same as in previous seasons.

Some additional fees may apply for advance purchase, so riders could end up paying more than $5. For example, purchasing a park-and-ride ticket on Ticketmaster incurs a $2.25 surcharge.

Shuttle service from four close-by shuttle lots -- two located on Ventura Boulevard near Universal City, as well as one at Hollywood and Highland and one at the L.A. Zoo -- will increase from $4 to $5. As with the park-and-ride service, there can be surcharges when purchasing shuttle tickets in advance online.

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Hollywood Bowl 2012: 'The Producers,' Juanes, 'Rigoletto,' Liza

Hollywood Bowl ticket prices to increase slightly for 2012 season

-- David Ng

Photo: the Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Music review: Dudamel's Bolivars perform Mahler's 'Resurrection'

January 23, 2012 |  4:09 pm

Gustavo Dudamel and Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra
Gustav Mahler always said his time would come. It has. A hundred years after his death, Mahler is standard repertory.

But might even mighty Mahler have dared conjure up a vision of his Second Symphony supersized by the Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra? This was Sunday’s ardent installment in Gustavo Dudamel's Mahler Project at Walt Disney Concert Hall. It marked the arrival of the massive and massively impressive Venezuela ensemble, which Dudamel has headed since 1999 and which will be in residence for two weeks, sharing the Mahler Project with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The Bolivars -- who tour and record widely and are the pride and joy of their country’s famed and extensive El Sistema music education program -- are known for their exuberance and their numbers. The orchestra has changed since it first came to Disney in 2007. Or rather it has not changed quite so much as it might have. It is no longer the Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra, which limited its players to age 28.

Now the best are staying on and the ensemble, big as it is -- Sunday it was some 175 strong -- has been growing into a phenomenally tight ensemble. There were no small fries this time, only highly accomplished young musicians who appeared to be in their 20s and 30s.

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Hollywood Bowl 2012: 'The Producers,' Juanes, 'Rigoletto,' Liza

January 23, 2012 |  3:00 pm

Hollywood Bowl
It will require a lot of people to put together this year's Hollywood Bowl season, including a number of FOGs, FOHs and FOJs. Namely, friends of Gustavo Dudamel, friends of Herbie Hancock and friends of John Williams.

Among the highlights of this year's Bowl lineup, to be announced Tuesday, will be performances of Mel Brooks' record-setting hit musical "The Producers," a musical and visual tribute to Pixar, a Fourth of July program headlined by Barry Manilow, and a production of Verdi's opera "Rigoletto" starring baritone Zeljko Lucic and conducted by Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic's music director. 

Several of the Bowl's other attractions this season can be credited, in part, to the extensive network of personal and professional relationships maintained by Dudamel, Hancock, who is the Phil's creative chair for jazz, and Williams, the prolific Hollywood composer who makes frequent appearances at the Bowl and the Phil's other home, the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

PHOTOS: 2012 Hollywood Bowl highlights

"We find a lot of artists do things for us at the Bowl with their friends in a special-event category, because it’s the Bowl," said Arvind Manocha, the Phil's chief operating officer. "One of the things we feel very proud of is, 90% of our season are concerts that don’t tour, that are not going anywhere else, that are created for us, that will be done here, and they won’t be part of a 20-city engagement."

A central point of this season's tailor-made, site-specific programming will be the "Americas and Americans" festival (Aug. 14-19), an exploration of music from across the hemisphere, spearheaded by Dudamel. The Venezuela-born conductor has enlisted several Latin American colleagues, including Colombian rocker Juanes, Panamanian salsa singer-songwriter Rubén Blades and Dominican pop-merengue artist Juan Luis Guerra, to take part in various concerts.

"Juan Luis Guerra was somebody that actually we were trying to book to be a jazz headliner at the Bowl," said Deborah Borda, the Phil's president. "But Gustavo wrote to him or called him -- he knows everybody."

Also participating for one concert of the festival will be one of Dudamel's hometown acquaintances, Plácido Domingo, the superstar Spanish tenor and general director of L.A. Opera.

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Music review: Gustavo Dudamel conducts Mahler's First and Tenth

January 20, 2012 |  2:10 pm

Gustavo Dudamel Mahler 1
Gustavo Dudamel and Mahler’s First Symphony have a long relationship.

Thursday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall, in what may have been Dudamel’s most stirring and satisfying performance here thus far, it was clear that relationship has reached full maturity. The performance also provided excellent evidence of just how much Dudamel has refashioned the sound of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the little more than two years since he became its music director.

Dudamel did, after all, conduct Mahler’s First in the fall of 2009 to conclude his debut Disney Hall gala. The huge event attracted international attention, was televised and released on DVD. The excitement of the occasion and the exuberant performance were contagious.

Back then the orchestra, however, was on edge –- not accustomed to the media attention. And Dudamel, who had been conducting the Mahler First since he was 16, was not willing to sacrifice vitality for overly careful ensemble playing. The symphony didn’t entirely hang together. Dudamel cared more about the moment than momentum. The next spring he got beat up for that by several American critics when he took the score on his first national tour with the L.A. Phil.

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Music review: The L.A. Phil Mahler Project begins

January 14, 2012 |  4:09 pm

Thomas Hampson and Gustavo Dudamell
This has been corrected. See note below.

The Mahler Project, begun Friday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall, is big.

Los Angeles Philharmonic officials have calculated that by the time Gustavo Dudamel finishes performing the nine complete symphonies, the Adagio of the Tenth and “Songs of a Wayfarer” with the L.A. Phil and Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, he will have conducted, most likely from memory, more than 70 hours of Mahler in rehearsal and concert in less than a month. With a mere day’s break to fly to Venezuela, Dudamel then reboots the whole shebang in Caracas.

The physical and mental challenges are plenty grueling, but the psychic ones may prove greater still. Mahler’s are the symphonies of life’s major moments, and no conductor has ever packed so many of them into so compact a period. An intemperate project perhaps, but Dudamel has eased his way into it by prudently pacing himself.

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Arts on TV: Anna Deavere Smith; civil rights songs; Dudamel

January 12, 2012 |  6:07 am

Et-smith2

“Project Runway All Stars” 9 p.m., Thursday Lifetime: A Night at the Opera : The designers are given 24 hours to create ball gowns for a night at the opera.

“Movie: The Red Shoes” (1948) 11:30 p.m., Thursday TCM: Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook. A ballerina loves a ballet composer but dances for an obsessive impresario.

“Great Performances” 9 p.m., Friday KOCE: "Let Me Down Easy": Anna Deavere Smith portrays several different characters, sharing their life experiences.

“Celtic Thunder Storm” 10:30 p.m., Friday KVCR: Celtic Thunder's performance includes original music by Irish composer Phil Coulter, including “New Day Dawning,” “Tender Is the Night,” “Storm Overture,” and “Look at Me.”

“Career Day” 1 p.m., Saturday KTLA: Primatologist; Los Angeles Philharmonic musician; church pastor; animal advocate.

“Great Performances” 2 p.m., Sunday KVCR: "Herbie Hancock, Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil celebrate Gershwin": The LA Phil's opening night gala features an all-Gershwin repertoire with special guest Herbie Hancock. Gustavo Dudamel conducts.

“Great Performances” 3 p.m., Sunday KVCR: "Celebracion! Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil with Juan Diego Flórez": The 2010 opening night gala features overtures and arias in bel canto style, as well as Latin American song and orchestral dances; with tenor Juan Diego Flórez.

“Exploring the Arts With Gloria Greer” 5:30 p.m., Sunday KVCR: A tour of collections at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

“Vine Talk” 6:30 p.m., Sunday KLCS: Ranking Rieslings From the Finger Lakes: Nathan Lane; coloratura soprano Harolyn Blackwell; chef Alfred Portale.

“In Performance at the White House” 10 p.m., Monday KOCE: "A Celebration of Music From the Civil Rights Movement": A concert celebrates Black History Month; performers include Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

“Great Performances” 9:05 p.m., Tuesday KVCR: Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Celebration From Madison Square Garden: Pete Seeger celebrates his 90th birthday with special guests Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, Richie Havens and Emmylou Harris.

-- Compiled by Ed Stockly

Photo: "Great Performances: Let Me Down Easy" with Anna Deavere Smith. Credit: Mary Ellen Mark / PBS

The Mahler Project: The composer in L.A.

January 7, 2012 | 11:15 am

Gustavo Dudamel
Gustavo Dudamel’s Mahler Project -- performances of the conductor's nine symphonies and Adagio of the 10th with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Simón Bolivar Orchestra in 24 days -– will make history. That is more Mahler in a month than L.A. has ever witnessed. It also appears to be more Mahler than a single conductor has attempted, which Dudamel talks about in an Arts & Books feature.

But, the cow bells used in the Sixth Symphony notwithstanding, L.A. is hardly a Mahler cow town. In fact, it has a unique place in the composer’s legacy.

New York certainly has Mahler rights. The composer, who died in 1911, briefly led the New York Philharmonic toward the end of his life. Several conductors who succeeded him in New York over the next half-century were Mahlerians, including Willem Mengelberg, John Barbirolli, Bruno Walter, Leopold Stokowski and Dmitri Mitropoulos. Finally in the 1960s, Leonard Bernstein initiated a Mahler revival with the New York Philharmonic that turned the symphonies into standard repertory.

Even so, L.A. happened to be where many of Mahler’s most significant adherents settled. The two young conductors closest to Mahler were Otto Klemperer and Walter. Klemperer was music director of the L.A. Phil from 1933 to 1939. Walter immigrated to Beverly Hills in 1939. The Columbia Symphony, with which Walter recorded Mahler in the late ’50s and early ’60s (he died in 1962), was essentially the L.A. Phil.  

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