Thursday, January 22, 2009


I'm liveblogging the press conference announcing the Los Angeles 2009-2010 Season, their first with Gustavo Dudamel! The critics are all yelling at each other over whether this guy is The Next Leonard Bernstein or The Great White Hype, but whatever, that's a lot of noise. He's an interesting artist, from what little I've heard, and the buzz from inside the organization is Great—the players like him, and they say he's bringing to L.A. the same commitment to education that he brought to, uh, whatever place he's from. I never liveblogged anything before! Do you think this will work? 4:22 - The press conference is supposed to start in 8 minutes I think. Right now I am looking at a bunch of empty chairs and I am cursing Los Angeles for opening their stupid gorgeous Disney Hall as soon as I moved away. The stream is working fine though. I can see the little tiny people taking their seats in the auditorium. 4:24 - Should I be Twittering this instead? I still don't know what that Twitter is for. Do you do Twitter? 4:25 - These times are all East Coast, btw. 4:27 - JoJo's computer, which I was streaming this on whilst I liveblogged, went into Sleep mode and had to be reawakened. Must remember to guard against this as liveblogging continues. 4:28 - Are there a lot of people in the auditorium? I can't tell. 4:34 - Oh cool I just found FULL SCREEN MODE. This is much better. 4:35 - I can't decide whether I'm hungry or thirsty. Maybe I want some black tea with milk. 4:36 - My mom cans her own jams and jellies. I bet some apricot jam on bread would be prefect, with some Earl Grey and milk. 4:37 - WAIT HOLD ON WHAT'S GOING ON THERE ARE PEOPLE NOW. The chairman of the Phil is telling us how exciting it is for him to be the chairman in these challenging times. He just got back from the inauguration! There was a lot of classical music at the inauguration. 4:39 - President and CEO Deborah... Gordon? is talking now. This press conference is being webcast live, she says. 4:40 - Ooh, they're going to welcome him with a cinematic somethingorother! Short Ride in a Fast Machine is playing. Mariachis! Surfers! Dancers! Hahaha the KNBC anchorpeople! Buddhist monks! At the observatory! Rock and rollers! Somebody at the Getty! Frank Gehry! Plácido Domingo! Esa Pekka: STILL SEXY. I think he's younger than I am. 4:43 - Okay that's over, it's back to real people. Jesus, Gustavo literally is younger than I am, isn't he? I'm SO OLD. Gustavo Dudamel: "Wow." Haha he made a joke about the comically loud movie screen still rolling up behind him. 4:45 - He's speaking Spanish! I speak Spanish! He's saying, he's very excited. 4:46 - Barbara is also very excited. 4:48 - TALK LOUDER, GUSTAVO. Um, he wants to bring classical music to the people. He wants to say hello to his wife, who is watching on the internet in Venezuela!! 4:50 - The inaugural concert will be broadcast around the world! He made some "very unconventional decisions," including a World Premiere! 4:51 - "L.A. has a tradition of new things," he sez. "With the traditional repertoire, new repertoire." Hahahaha "a premiere is always CRAZY, like WHAT WILL HAPPEN???" They're also doing Mahler 1. 4:53 - "It's actually very rare that there's a world premiere on the telecast!" says Barbara. God, what's wrong with America. OMG WHAT'S GOING ON!!! SOMETHING CRAZY!!! Is John Adams about to come out??? YES OMG OMG OMG 4:54 - Hahahahaha Gustavo is ADORABLE. He's acting all nervous and shy with John Adams. Hahaha "The LA Phil audience has been witness to some of my triumphs... and some of my fiascos." (He means Dharma at Big Sur.) 4:56 - John Adams is writing his FIRST SYMPHONY for the L.A. Phil, subtitled "City Noir." [I thought he said something like, "The piece is called Symphony ('City Noir')," though maybe he said, "The piece is called, simply, City Noir."] 4:57 - It's inspired by the music from film noir, and that's the jumping-off point, but it's also concerned with his Grand Theme, which is what is the music of California. Now I'm wondering if I misheard, and he said Adams's 1st Symphony and not Mahler's? [No, I heard right, they're doing both.] 4:58 - This is SUCH a good idea. Adams is a big crowd pleaser. He says he had GD's interpretation of Mahler 2 in mind when he wrote the piece. 5:02 - Talking about tour plans. And John Adams is directing a festival! A sequel to Minimalist Jukebox as it were. It's called WEST COAST WEST COAST, or maybe he said WEST COAST BEST COAST. [WEST COAST LEFT COAST.] 5:03 - NAMES: Lou Harrison Piano Concerto, Salonen LA Variations, Mel Powell, Bill Kraft, Henry Cowell, Daniel Lentz, Amy X Neuberg, Morton Subotnik, Harry Partch, Ingram Marshall (WHOO!), Frank Zappa, Leonard Rosenman - Rebel Without a Cause. 5:05 - Joshua Redman! Christian McBride! A big hand for Tom Newman, who's going to write for the Kronos Quartet a concerto Adams thinks will have "a very long shelf-life." 5:06 - Gustavo's also doing a festival? Of American music? He's still talking way too quietly. Ginastera, Copland, Carlos Chavez, something something. He wants to create an America without divisions. Like the Golijov Passion. Or something. 5:10 - He's talking about a poet? Named Alberto something? What's going on. 5:11 - Stephen Hartke organ symphony!! Derek Bermel!! Plus John Adamses piece and two other world premieres. [Whoa, I must have misheard: a total of NINE world premieres this season, not five.] Thomas Adès will be in residence. Terry Riley dubbed the Disney organ HURRICANE MAMA, which is awesome. My battery is about to die. Who's the other composer she named? [Unsuk Chin. She is a great pick, and not an easy one.] 5:16 - Gustavo is talking about the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and how much he loves conducting them. Basically it's the American Sistema, is what they're sayin'. Did I mention he's adorable? "I think it's [his educational project in L.A.] one of the most important projects happening in the world." 5:17 - Adams on the Sistema: "The extraordinary thing you feel, when you're in Caracas, is that young people think classical music is cool." 5:19 - Time for questions for the audience. "THIS IS ALWAYS DEATH." (Krusty the Klown.) But first, did you know the L.A. Philharmonic has the second biggest budget in the US? Yay that's cool. 5:20 - GUSTAVO I STILL CANNOT HEAR YOU. I've just fallen in forever love with you but baby I CANNOT. HEAR YOU. 5:21 - The cat is clawing the crap out of this loveseat, but it came with the apartment and was already clawed to hell, so I'm gonna let it slide. She's so CUTE! 5:23 - Buffering. 5:23 - What in the HELL is this lady talking about. "Bel canto tuning." GUSTAVO WILL YOU PLEASE SPEAK OUT ON THIS IMPORTANT CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC. HOW DO YOU INTEND TO TUNE THE LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC 5:25 - what the 5:26 - Did the feed just cut out? What's going on. 5:26 - Black screen. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THE FUTURE OF PRESS CONFERENCES 5:27 - I wonder if maybe the Powers that Be brought the press conference to a halt because they knew we couldn't handle the truth about tuning. 5:28 - Okay the picture's back. And the cat is here! Gustavo calls Frank Gehry "Pancho." 5:31 - FINAL QUESTION. The question was not recorded. BUT Barbara says they are they took a hit with this lousy economy, sure, we all did, but they have a long-term plan and they're sticking to it, they're not letting some Depression put the kibosh on their AWESOME FUTURISTIC PROGRAMMING. THE END Okay wow, that was pretty exciting, and not just because everybody kept saying over and over how excited they were. The picture of the new L.A. Phil is pretty clear: they're damnin' the torpedoes and charging ahead into a comprehensive program of music education and new-music advocacy. "The composers are the heroes now" are not the exact words Barbara used, but something close to that. Dudamel has accepted the baton from Salonen and is running with it: like Salonen's, this is programming designed especially for Los Angeles, California, America and the Americas, music from the "here" and "now" in very small and very large senses of the words "here" and "now." Something truly great is happening over there. [More coherent coverage here. Full press release here.]

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Blogger Grrg said...

Wait you don't like Dharma at Big Sur? How can you not like Dharma at Big Sur? I love Dharma at Big Sur! WHY YOU GOTTA HATE ON DHARMA AT BIG SUR???

January 22, 2009 at 9:01 PM  
Blogger Dan Johnson said...

I TOTALLY DO like The Dharma at Big Sur. But John Adams has publicly stated that he regarded its premiere as a (very high-profile) failure, so I'm pretty sure that's what he was referring to with that remark.

January 22, 2009 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Grrg said...

Well, I guess one of the things I love about the piece is that it was such a fuck you to the idea of a monumental commission to inaugurate a new hall, a Buehnenweihfestspiel. Like, "they" clearly wanted Ein Kalifornischen Heldenleben but got... open strings and natural harmonics. So I'm down with "fiasco" I guess...

January 23, 2009 at 3:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to clarify: I believe in H. Junction Adams reported that certain experiments with intonation he was attempting in Dharma didn't work at all. IIRC, he subsequently revised the piece.

So DJ and Grrg are both right.

It's the Obama era. Feel the love.

January 25, 2009 at 4:56 AM  

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