September 30, 2013
By Victoria Looseleaf
The year was 1987, the check was for $50 million, its signator, Lillian Disney. And with that began a saga -- the building of Walt Disney Concert Hall -- that would put Los Angeles on the cultural map, much to the envy of other arts meccas, including New York City, whose Carnegie Hall had been the apotheosis of pristine sound since 1891.
Of course, little did anyone know that it would be 16 years before the magnificent, Frank Gehry-designed steel structure (we're talking more than 22 million pounds of the stuff), opened its fabulous doors. But on that night, October 23, 2003, with music director Esa-Pekka Salonen leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale (the Hall's second resident company, celebrating its 50th anniversary this season), in the first of three gala concerts, the orchestra took center stage.
Okay, both the Hall and the Philharmonic triumphed, with antiphonal sounds originating from various nooks and crannies throughout the evening, including the loft surrounding the magnificent organ, where concertmaster Martin Chalifour opened the concert by bowing some Bach. (Designed by Gehry with sound design by Manuel Rosales, the organ, with its 6,125 pipes -- resembling French fries, pick-up sticks or whatever flights of fancy one's imagination takes -- is dazzling.) Read more .