The LA Phil is recognized as one of the world’s outstanding orchestras and is received enthusiastically by audiences and critics alike. Both at home and abroad, the LA Phil is leading the way in innovative programming and re-defining the musical experience.
This view is shared by more than one million listeners who experience live performances by the LA Phil each year. The LA Phil demonstrates a breadth and depth of programming unrivaled by other orchestras and cultural institutions, performing or presenting nearly 300 concerts throughout the year at its two iconic venues: Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, a popular summer tradition since 1922. The orchestra’s involvement with Los Angeles also extends far beyond regular symphony concerts in a concert hall, embracing the schools, churches, and neighborhood centers of a vastly diverse community. Among its wide-ranging education initiatives is Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA). Central to YOLA is the Philharmonic’s plan to build, with community partners, youth orchestras in communities throughout Los Angeles.
The LA Phil was founded by William Andrews Clark Jr., a multimillionaire and amateur musician, who established the city’s first permanent symphony orchestra in 1919. Walter Henry Rothwell became its first music director, serving until 1927 and, since then, ten renowned conductors have served in that capacity: Georg Schnéevoigt (1927-1929); Artur Rodzinski (1929-1933); Otto Klemperer (1933-1939); Alfred Wallenstein (1943-1956); Eduard van Beinum (1956-1959); Zubin Mehta (1962-1978); Carlo Maria Giulini (1978-1984); André Previn (1985-1989); Esa-Pekka Salonen (1992-2009); and, Gustavo Dudamel (2009-present).
In October 2003, the doors to one of the world’s most celebrated venues – the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall – were opened and the Los Angeles Philharmonic took the stage in its new home, which has become known not only as a local cultural landmark, but also as “…a 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 all.” (The New Yorker) Praise for both the design and the acoustics of the Hall has been effusive, and the glistening curved steel exterior of the 293,000-square-foot Walt Disney Concert Hall embodies the energy, imagination, and creative spirit of the city of Los Angeles and its orchestra.
Inspired to consider new directions, Dudamel and the Philharmonic aim to find programming that remains faithful to tradition, yet also seeks new ground, new audiences, and new ways to enhance the symphonic music experience. During its 30-week winter subscription season of 110 performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Philharmonic creates festivals, artist residencies, and other thematic programs designed to delve further into certain artists’ or composers’ work.
The LA Phil’s commitment to the presentation of music of our time is evident in its subscription concerts, the exhilarating Green Umbrella series, and through its extensive commissioning initiatives. The LA Phil New Music Group, devoted exclusively to performing compositions on the cutting edge of the repertoire, attracts leading composers and performers of contemporary music.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association expands the cultural offerings by producing concerts featuring distinguished artists in recital, jazz, world music, songbook and visiting orchestra performances, in addition to special holiday concerts and series of organ recitals, chamber music, and baroque music.
The Phil has led the way into the digital age, with groundbreaking web and mobile device applications. Through an ongoing partnership with Deutsche Grammophon, the orchestra has a substantial catalog of concerts available online, including the first full-length classical music video released on iTunes. Last season the orchestra launched LA Phil LIVE, a series of concerts with Gustavo Dudamel broadcast live from Walt Disney Concert Hall to more than 450 movie theaters across the U.S. and Canada.