Story and photos by Lorraine Bautista, Contributor
It feels right to say that I am an official Los Angeles resident now that I have visited the Walt Disney Concert Hall during the LA Fest’s “100th Season.”
Given the high prices of the tickets, each being around $200 each, I feel blessed to have witnessed such a performance, as this happens rarely in my lifetime. I was probably the youngest in the audience, but it was quite an experience to be surrounded by individuals with such sophisticated taste in their etiquette, music and fashion. I have to admit I do not know much about orchestral performances besides the fact that they are huge ensembles that consist of instruments like the cello, harmonica, piano, clarinet, trumpet and violin. To my knowledge, orchestral performances are designed for classical music and are organized to create a symphony, from what I learned from a few college music courses. However, I absorbed as much as I could, from the rhythm and style of each composition to the architecture of the stage.
As I was told by my cousin Paolo, the building was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. The design of the room allowed the audience to pick up on the slightest sound. It is a completely different experience watching an orchestra perform through a device than watching it in person. As I'm sure others in the audience would agree, based on their candid reactions, it was a compelling performance to watch.
The orchestra was conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, who is originally from Venezuela. The sweet lady sitting next to me shared that he was a humble person who wouldn't bow to the audience, but instead allowed the spotlight to remain on the musicians. I thought this characteristic was even more impressive given the musical talent and passion he demonstrated throughout the performance. Dudamel’s performance alone captivated me. His gestures were concise, done with great purpose and intention. It was even more interesting to observe the orchestra mimic his moves through their own instrument. The performance was a coordination of great harmony and symphony.
The duration of the whole performance lasted about an hour and a half and was divided into three sections: the first was titled "esa-Pekka SALONEN" which lasted 19 minutes; the second, "BEETHOVEN,” which lasted 37 minutes and was my favorite out of the three; and lastly, "Andrew NORMAN," which was about 45 minutes and lasted a bit longer than the others.
The last composition, "Andrew NORMAN," had a strong emphasis on dissonance and was more daunting than soothing, which my ear was not accustomed to at all. Although I admit it was my least favorite piece, I’d nonetheless consider the piece just as entertaining as the others. The performance in its entirety was captivating, especially when, during “BEETHOVEN,” the sound of the violin pierced the air, leaving the audience entranced at its last note. Just as the sound of the note disappeared, a man from the audience shouted, “Bravo!” This, for me, defined the whole performance.
While I have many other memories I would like to share, I will keep it short because I might leave you reading a novel, which isn't my intention. As a music fanatic and as someone who enjoys learning more about music, I would definitely recommend attending this event at least once. If you visit the LA Philharmonic’s website, you will find that Dudamel will be performing a few more times this month, and will definitely be making more appearances next spring. The whole program was one for the books. The program was the most memorable musical experience I have had this month and it only made me even more excited for future performances to come.