Saturday, January 31, 2009

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Jury Duty Excursion!

Are you familiar with the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California? It's the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and is designed to be one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world. In 1987, the late Lillian Disney made an initial gift of $50 million to build what she considered a world-class performance venue as a gift to the people of Los Angeles and a tribute to Walt Disney's devotion to the arts. Since then, other gifts and accumulated interest bring the Disney family's total contribution to over $100 million. The County of Los Angeles agreed to provide the land and significant additional funding to finance Walt Disney Concert Hall's seven-level subterranean parking garage.

Just the other day I decided to take a little excursion from my jury duty assignment and see a bit of downtown Los Angeles. It was a beautiful day. Nearly 80 degrees at the peak. It was hard to believe that we were enjoying such warm weather in January while much of the United States was shivering under frigid temperatures.

I learned that the Disney Concert Hall offered tours of the facility throughout the day and decided to stop in after we were released from court. It was very convenient considering the elaborate parking structure is currently being used for juror parking. On my way to my vehicle, I stopped by the reception desk and was pleasantly surprised to learn that two types of tours were offered throughout the day and both were free. Did I mention it was FREE! Nothing is free anymore. (When was the last time you got something free?) You have the option of taking a self-guided audio tour or taking a guided group tour. The guided tours are scheduled sporadically throughout the day and the next one wasn't leaving for about an hour so I opted for the self-guided tour. I was also told by the receptionist that the information was pretty much the same. In retrospect, I was glad I took the self tour. It gave me the flexibility to spend more time at areas that I liked without the pressure of keeping up with or staying with the group. I found the audio content to be very informative and the device was easy to use and simple to carry. The device is very similar in size to a large cell phone. As you proceed on your self-paced tour, you type in numbers corresponding to each location. The programming then plays the information for the associated location.

So armed with my camera, off I went on this tour. This actually was not my first time in the facility. I attended a performance when the Hall was first opened. I enjoyed the performance and thought the acoustics and visuals were great but I was disappointed with my seating. We were seated directly behind the orchestra and couldn't see their faces. Just the backs of their heads. I couldn't help but think it would have been better if I could see their facial expressions. This leads me to my only disappointment of the tour. They do not allow you to tour the auditorium. They claim it's because of a demanding rehearsal and performance schedule so for the privilege of seeing the auditorium in person, I guess you'll have to pay.

Anyway, I'm showing a few photos of my tour. I'll start off with a photo of the auditorium that I acquired online (follow the link below it) followed by an original sketch for the venue by the architect Frank Owen Gehry. Incidentally, Gehry is notable not only for his design of the Disney Concert Hall but also for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

Original Sketch by Frank Gehry

If you look very carefully you can see a white area against the hills in the middle of the photo- That's the Hollywood sign.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was learning that there was a Community Park - State Of California hidden in this masterpiece. This is a great place to sneak away (from jury duty) and have lunch. There's a cafe on the first floor with a great salad bar so you could buy a meal there or bring something with you. They also sell wine and beer if you're inclined. It was so peaceful walking through the garden.

There was also a fountain, with a unique story, located in the garden. I'll leave that for you to discover on your own.

This is the W.M. Keck Foundation Children's Amphitheatre. A great place to catch an outdoor performance. Perfect for kids!

A futuristic aerodynamic look set against a clear blue sky. What a perfect day! I loved It!

Colorful Stair Case - It Reminds me of Beauty and the Beast for some reason!

A snap from the movie Beauty and the Beast

Views of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

The Library Of Congress Ira Gershwin Gallery Currently featuring an Alvin Ailey display

The entrance to BP Hall

A view of the front lobby from above

Just in case you want something to listen to, Here's Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue - from the movie Fantasia 2000:

Rhapsody in Blue - George Gershwin


Jane Turley said...

An interesting, informative post Mr I; the building looks spectacular inside. I'm not so sure about the exterior design...guess I'm a little old fashioned. Maybe it has a little more appeal at first hand?

Footsteps said...

Thanks for the tour! You took some excellent photos BTW. I had to scroll back up to more than a couple for a second look.
Sounds like they need to come up with an alternative for "behind the orchestra" seating... maybe leave kazoos on those seats and designate those audience members as "thirteenth chair" woodwinds or something?

Chris said...

That was fascinating!

I haven't been back to LA since I was 8 years old. Things have changed! :)

I really like how every time I visit your site I learn something new. Thanks! ;)

intrepidideas said...

Miss Jane,

Thank You. Yes, The design is a bit futuristic. An acquired taste. It stands out in the neighborhood. But I like it. :)


You're welcome. And thanks for the compliment. Coming from you that sure means a lot. I've enjoyed many of your superb photos. Great Idea for the kazoos... I'll finally get to be part of the band!


And thank you...
You said: "I really like how every time I visit your site I learn something new. Thanks! ;)"

If you keep coming back, you'll be smarter than me.... :) I'm not sure how smart that really is! (smile) Always nice to see you.

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