Wish You Were Here! Love, the LA Phil

There’s something about being recognized, isn’t there?  In this town, we know quite a bit about whom we should or shouldn’t recognize, when to approach people, what to say, and definitely what not to say.  Native Angelenos rarely ask for autographs, but we do relish the question so many reporters and TMZ manages to ask budding celebrities: “when was the first time someone recognized you on the street?”  That said, the time and place for the recognition of a very important group of people in Los Angeles came to the fore recently.  Considering that this website is called Fine Arts LA, it may not come as any shock that I’m referring to our beloved LA Philharmonic.

Under the incoming Gustavo Dudamel, for whom nobody is more excited than yours truly, the LA Philharmonic has been invited to be one of five international orchestras to take residency at the Barbican Centre in London.  I am tempted to refer to the LA Philharmonic as “we” out of pride throughout the rest of this article, but I’ll abstain.  They have been recognized as having such international presence and prestige that arguably the largest center for performing arts in Europe has offered them the opportunity to be one of their five “International Associates.”

When someone mentions “taking up residency” its normal to feel that familiar pang of commitment anxiety or, on the other hand, perhaps a note of jealousy.  Worry not; since orchestras are such a large group of moving parts, this residency refers to what the Barbican’s artistic director, Graham Sheffield, calls a “deeper relationship” than just that of a touring orchestra, which usually involves one performance at a particular venue and then moving on to a different city or country.  Along with the LA Phil, the orchestras that make up the “International Associates” include the New York Philharmonic, New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Royal Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, and Germany’s Leipzig Gewndhaus Orchestra.   They all will play three concerts through the course of a week and will do so on a regular basis – like once a year. We can share, right?

Are you wondering why this is a big deal?  Recognition.  The Barbican, a prominent, influential voice in the performing arts worldwide has recognized the LA Phil, among those others, as the enormously talented group of musicians that they are.  The Barbican is effectively showing the world of classical music what many of us natives already knew – that our resident orchestra is one to be reckoned with.  With the coming of Dudamel, we’ll begin a new era, albeit one that couldn’t have existed without the dedicated effort that Esa-Pekka Salonen has graciously provided since 1992.  Perhaps now the people who have only seen the side of LA shown on, admittedly addictive, reality TV will recognize our classical music side, too.


- By Nicole Campoy-Leffler

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