Sunday, November 9, 2014

Night out

Last night after work, I braved Los Angeles traffic for two hours and ended up at Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown.

I had a ticket for a Los Angeles Philharmonic concert - I actually had two tickets, but at the last minute [The Man I Love] was unable to attend, so I went alone. It may seem odd to do that, but I've decided not to let inconvenience keep me from doing things I want to do.

Walt Disney Concert Hall opened in 2003, and I guess I've been to events there maybe four times, and whenever I go, I wish I would go more. Each time I'm amazed and transfixed by the way music sounds in the hall. The very first time I went, I took Our Son, aged 15 at that time, to hear a performance of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." He'd never heard the piece before. I knew the piece well, but hearing it at Disney Hall made it seem as new to me as it was to him.

Friday night's program was titled Visions of America: Amériques, presenting works by composers who were immigrants to America, inspired by their new country. It included movie composer Bernard Herrmann's Pyscho: A Suite for Strings; selected songs by Kurt Weill, Foreign Bodies by Esa-Pekka Salonen, who also conducted the evening's program, and Edgard Varese's Ameriques.

As you might imagine, if you remember the movie, the Herrmann piece elicited nervous laughter when the familiar shrieking strings of the shower scene resonated in the beautiful Douglas fir paneled hall. It was fun to watch a six-person double-bass section lay down some serious undertow, and feel it buzz in your very veins.

The Frank Gehry designed Disney Hall exterior
Mezzo soprano Susan Graham sang the Weill songs, including the beautiful "My Ship" from the 1941 Broadway musical "Lady in the Dark."

Salonen's piece was a rich sonic stew of music. I was delighted to note the rare inclusion of a muted tuba - we get so little of that these days!!

Accompanying the Varese piece was a video presentation by Refik Anadol, a brilliant media artist and alumni of the UCLA Design Media Arts program. Ameriques is an important work by a composer who, after coming to America from France, hung out in Greenwich Village, collaborated with Henry Miller, and influenced artists as varied as Krzysztof Penderecki, the rock band Chicago, and Frank Zappa. The piece sounded to me like the semi-truck for a touring orchestra driving over a cliff and crashing on the rocks below (complete with police siren).

Refik's projections were magical, turning the hall into a kaleidoscopic fantasy, cascades of shapes and blizzards of light. Sometimes the hall seemed to disappear; other times the moving lights seemed to twine through the structures of its organ pipes and hammocked wooden panels. Though the Phil forbade cameras, I managed to sneak one photo. It didn't capture the full effect, but it gives you an idea.

I need to spend more of my time seeing and experiencing things like this.


smalltownme said...

I have been going to a number of events myself because no one else in the house wants to go. I enjoy it.

Maggi said...

Once more you encourage me Aunt Snow!
And please me with your wonderful descriptions and photo's....I love visiting your blog.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

What an amazing place! I wonder if the musicians love it as much as you do.
I haven't yet made the leap into doing things alone. I keep thinking about it, but when it comes down to the time to go, I tell myself that it would take too much energy. Your post here proves me wrong. Thank you for that encouragement.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

GLORIOUS! I was downtown two weeks ago and walked by it. It just sings out to the soul. I have yet to attend a concert there and I look forward to it one of these days!

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

I have friends in the orchestra and they LOVE their hall. I would happily go whenever you have a spare ticket...and a spare plane ticket to get me there.

What an interesting program!

BarbaraMetzenbaum said...

Any time The Man You Love can't go call me and I'll meet you there.