Saturday, February 6, 2010

Walt Disney Concert Hall

We headed out for downtown Los Angeles on Friday despite the fact that the weather did not seem too promising. We rode the Metro downtown and walked about eight blocks.The weather was rather nasty with a cool wind, and a very heavy downpour. But it was fun walking the downtown streets, taking in the sights and a sounds of a big city. It was lunchtime so the smells were not all that bad either. We stopped in the historic Bradbury office building. It was built in 1893 and has a reputation of being one of Los Angeles' most prestigious office buildings. The center court is filled with natural light falling from the glass roof five stories up. Offices open onto the balconies surrounding the court. The entire area is covered with ornately designed railings of wrought iron giving the illusion of hanging vegetation. Two open cage elevators rise toward the roof. Quite a beautiful place to work!  We finally arrived at the Disney Center, only to discover that the last tour of the day was in progress. Fortunately we were able to join the group. Back we went out again in the rain while the tour guide explained the architectural features of the building. The outside of the building is all curves and angles. The stainless steels panels have some give to them to withstand earthquakes. Our guide claimed that the building is the safest place in Los Angeles to be during an earthquake.
Lillian Disney(Walt Disney's wife) put out the initial funds for the building. She wanted a world class music center as as a gift to the city as well as a tribute to her husband's devotion to the arts.  She worked closely with Frank Ghery the architect she hired to build the center. The end result is quite impressive. The outside  appears very cold and austere but  inside it is all warm and organic (as the guide described the building). The carpeting and furnishings of the interior are in earth tones. We got a brief look at the auditorium (which most tour groups are not allowed to do because of rehearsals and concerts). It is a very warm and inviting place with  hardwood paneling on the walls and  stage. For acoustical purposes the outside of the auditorium is surrounded by concrete. The center is touted as the most acoustically sophisticated concert hall in the world. Pictured below is the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion where the Los Angeles Philharmonic had its last concert before moving into the Disney Center in 2003. Lillian Disney died before seeing the completion of the center.
Outside of the third floor of the center is a beautiful garden area complete with a rose shaped fountain which Ghery and the Disney family built in memory of Lillian.
Also in this garden area is an amphitheatre for children's concerts. The Disney center is the primary venue for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but the symphony also performs a Neighhborhood Concert series for no admission charge at different communities located through-out Los Angeles. We were fortunate to attend such a concert Wednesday evening at the Wilshire United Methodist Church. However, after touring the Disney Center, our goal is to someday come back to the hall and  attend a concert given by the LA Philharmonic. We are leaving in a few days for Santa Barbara so that will not not possible until we return to LA. We ended our wet day in downtown Los Angeles with a delicious dinner at Sam Woo's restaurant in Chinatown.

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