Iâ€™ve been picking Katyana up from
preschool on Mondays, and on my
way down, I pass a spattering of
banners near the airport. They show a
young man with a mane of curly brown
hair and an animated expression. The
banner beside him says â€œLA Phil.â
His name isnâ€™t Phil, itâ€™s
Gustavo. Gustavo Dudamel, and heâ
€™s the new conductor of the Los
Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
Everybodyâ€™s excited about him.
Heâ€™s the latest LA star.
It doesnâ€™t seem all that long (it
actually was almost 20 years) since the
latest star was Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Dudamel is from Venezuela; Salonen
was Finnish, but the feelingâ€™s the
sameâ€”the young, exciting new thing
on the L.A. music scene.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic was
founded by Williams Andrew Clark Jr.
in 1919. Walter Henry Rothwell,
whom Clark brought from the St. Paul
Symphony Orchestra, continued as its
conductor until his death in 1927.
Zubin Mehta was the conductor when
we came to Los Angeles. We saw him
and each of the conductorsâ€”Carlo
Maria Giulini, Andre Previn, and
By that time, the orchestra had left its
home at the Philharmonic Auditorium
on the northwest corner of Fifth and
Olive and was ensconced in the
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the
Then, in October 2003, it moved to
the newly constructed Walt Disney
Concert Hall, designed by Frank
Gehry. According to the New Yorker,
the downtown cultural landmark is â
€œa sensational place to hear music. . .
. In richness of sound, it has few rivals
on the international scene, and in terms
of visual drama it may have no rival at
I first visited the site as a juror. During
the lengthy period before construction
was completed, the underground
parking garage was used by the
When we first attended a concert in the
new facility, I was surprised by the size
and sprawl of it. But entering the hall
itself, I fell in love with the warmth and
intimacy of the wood and tropical print
We attended concerts at the beginning
and near the end and once between
during Salonenâ€™s time in Los
Angeles. The one I enjoyed the most
was the performance of his Los
Angeles Symphony, which depicted
the cityâ€™s relentless motion and
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Disney Concert Hall, interior