Photos from inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall…Busted!

Our New Year’s Eve plans included an early evening concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I’ve only been to one other concert  at the hall, and that was a few years ago to hear a small jazz combo. I was excited to hear Broadway star Idina Menzel, anticipating a very lively and entertaining show. We arrived early enough to enjoy a glass of champagne, with enough time to walk around the beautiful grounds.

On a previous occasion I’d taken a few photos from inside the lobby which is open to visitors during the week. The public is encouraged to come in an enjoy the wonderful Philharmonic Bookstore or small restaurant just inside the lobby doors.

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Very sleek and modern. These photos were taken during the day, but in the evening the lighting is soft and warm, with the glass reflecting both indoor and outdoor light. Brightly lit Christmas trees were strategically placed and the lights of high-rise office buildings were visible from the lobby area–a very festive atmosphere!

Tickets were purchased in August and I couldn’t recall anything about the seating arrangements, so as we left the beautiful lobby and went to our seats I was pleased to discover we were balcony, front row center. In a relatively small setting these were perfect seats.  Within just a few minutes of settling in I didn’t think twice. I whipped out my iPhone and began to snap pictures.

After all, I have a blog and I like to pretend I’m a photojournalist. I’m usually a very strict play by the rules kind of gal!  If there’s a sign that says “no photography” then I don’t take photos. But for some reason I didn’t think at all…

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Interior of Disney Concert Hall

…and then a very polite young woman approached me and gently told me to put my phone away. But fortunately I already had my photos. Maybe you can see the curved wood ceiling, designed for its acoustic capabilities. You can see that from our seats which were facing the orchestra, there are still seats behind. There is almost a complete 360° seating arrangement, allowing for intimacy despite 2,265 seats.

The pipe organ occupies the central position between the blocks of seats behind the orchestra and other design features include the hardwood walls and ceilings made of Douglas Fir, the same wood often used to back cellos and other fine instruments.

It was a wonderful concert with the star of the show delivering on all points. But the venue is a star, too, and I would have enjoyed sharing even more photos. I was just getting started.

I learned my lesson, though.

What did I learn? Oh, that’s easy. I learned that sometimes you have to break the rules to get a few good photos to share with your friends. And that although it was a little embarrassing at the moment, I got over it! Maybe I’ll break a few more rules this year all in the service of the blog. Are you with me?

More Walt Disney Concert Hall…Discovering geometry and steel softened with a rose garden surprise!

My previous post was about our New Year’s Eve plans to attend a concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  Each season thousands of people visit the hall to enjoy the many musical offerings, but it is also a popular tourist attraction for its architectural interest and garden.

For the longest time I heard comments about the rose garden. How was it possible to have a rose garden and I had never noticed? Recently we decided to conduct our own walking tour so I could settle that question.

Let me first tell you a little bit about the building.

I won’t mislead! When I first saw the shell of the Frank Gehry -designed Disney Concert Hall I didn’t easily warm up to it. I might have been a little resentful. We’d held Los Angeles Philharmonic season tickets at the right-next-door  Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for a few years. The Chandler Pavilion is one of the halls in the Los Angeles Music Center,  with 3,197 seats spread out over four tiers. When the Disney Concert Hall was added to the Music Center complex, the Philharmonic moved to the state-of-the art, acoustically superior new facility, and seating capacity was downsized by about 1,000 seats. Season ticket sales also escalated, and we were priced out.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

This stainless steel origami-like design didn’t seem to fit in to the neighborhood. It was completely alien to my aesthetic appreciation. Alien, yes! Was it a space craft?

Collage of Concert Hall Exterior

There were some reflection problems that needed correction, too. Most of the exterior’s stainless steel was given a matte finish; however, some of the panels’ reflective qualities were designed to hold a high polish with mirror qualities.

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The contrast was quite beautiful, but posed very large problems for neighboring condominium owners experiencing extreme glare and reflected heat.  Drivers also reported the hazard of a blinding reflective glare. The solution? The Gehry Partners executed a computer analysis of the building’s surface and in 2005 the offending panels were treated with a light sanding.

It took some time, but after my first visit as a patron to the Concert Hall I began to appreciate the new kid on the block. Now I’m mesmerized by it. I don’t think you can really capture the essence of an architect’s design intention when speeding by in a car. But to walk around, touch it, take the time to marvel at  the curvilinear greatness and suddenly my perspective shifted to seeing the building with new eyes. It was a bonding experience.

But where is that garden? We walked around and poked our heads in every street level pocket we could find. Nothing.

Where do THOSE stairs lead?

Disney Rooftop Collage

Curiosity and investigation paid off! The rooftop of the Walt Disney Concert Hall is well worth the visit! In the heart of the city, traffic and bustle below, is a quiet, almost hidden oasis. It’s not an easy area to photograph because the pathways and small seating areas continue to follow the curves of the building’s design.  But the view is well worth the effort to get there.

But where is the rose garden?

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Not a literal rose garden after all! Were we surprised! Prominently places as centerpiece to the sitting garden, we found a lovely gift to the Concert Hall’s original benefactor, Lilian Disney, designed for her by the Concert Hall’s architect and artist, Frank Gehry.

How many people walk by this building in a day? Thousands! See what you discover if you continue to look up?

And just down the street is another one of our favorite places to enjoy the evening. L.A. Live is a wonderful theater and sports complex, with beautiful hotels, fine dining, and for the holiday season, an outdoor ice rink, lots of lights and festive atmosphere.

L.A. Live Evening

If you’re curious to learn what L.A. Live has to do with Batman, you’ll just have to come back. I think it’s time for me to close out and get on with starting my day. I have a busy day planned. But you know that wherever I go I’ll be keeping an eye out for something new I haven’t previously seen or experienced. That’s my favorite way to enjoy a weekend exhale.

Despite the temptation to fall into the hectic and completely overextended season’s frenzy, I encourage you to slow down and “smell the roses.” Even a concrete work of art can offer a breath of fresh air. Don’t you agree?

What are YOU doing New Year’s Eve? For once, we didn’t procrastinate!

Would you like to hear about our plans for New Years Eve? I’ll be glad to share, but let me take you on the long journey to that conclusion.

I subscribe to dozens and maybe more LISTSERVs for theater and music venues, daily announcing fabulous opportunities all over Los Angeles and  vicinity. By paying close attention to last-minute specials I uncover exciting things to do and entertainment packages I might enjoy, often at a fraction of the original ticket cost.

Such was my experience today.

This morning’s email tempted me to spend the evening with Lee Ritenour and Mike Stern.

The Catalina Bar & Grill, a supper club dedicated to Nothing But the Best in Jazz, is well-known for its fabulous mid-week offerings. It’s here you might have a casual and intimate evening with jazz greats like Wynton Marsalis or Diana Krall.  This is a smaller venue, which is wonderful, but it’s not exactly in my back pocket during a busy work week. A venture into the heart of Hollywood on a weeknight (Sunset Blvd.) requires planning and enough time for the commute. But for the right conversion of artist and open calendar  I would make the effort.

Lee Ritenour is a talented award-winning guitarist I have enjoyed for decades. At a mere 16 he held a session with the Mamas and Papas and at 18 accompanied Lena Horne and Tony Bennett. Not too shabby! His versatility appeals to my eclectic musical interests. He performs with a broad cross-section of jazz, rock and Brazilian music, and when it comes to music, “Don’t fence me in.”

So I was pretty jazzed  when I heard he was here for a few nights  and thought I’d check into tickets.

Here’s the U-Turn.

It’s rare I really lament the aging process. I am deliberate in my proactive stance and I take good care of myself. I’ve been fortunate to have overall good health.

But there are realities I can’t avoid. I want so badly to turn the clock back to when it wasn’t so hard to stay up late–in this desire I’m still a little kid not wanting to go to bed! But unfortunately  my eyes do not respond to mind-over-matter and at a certain fatigue point they simply perform an involuntary shutdown. Nuts!

The Ritenour tickets are sold out EXCEPT for one timeframe. The 10:30 pm sets are available–Thursday and Friday. If it were Saturday, maybe I could take a nap first! So, with disappointment, I am going to pass on the opportunity this time. If there is a NEXT time I need to be much quicker on the draw–other people grabbed the better earlier sets.

And that brings me to our New Year’s Eve plans.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

For this occasion planning ahead paid off! We are spending New Year’s Eve with Idina Menzel (Broadway’s Wicked and the original stage production of Rent), and the good news is that we grabbed the first show at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Somehow on New Year’s Eve we didn’t have the same problem finding EARLY tickets. Perhaps other more resilient people thought  7:00 pm was too early for a New Year’s Eve. It does make dinner a little off-kilter. Well, perhaps we can still find a place to grab a small plate and a glass of champagne after our show.

Disney Concert Hall

And when did I purchase these tickets? I was smart! I got the early-bird special! I purchased them in August at a significant savings per ticket, and also chose to avoid the 10:00 performance.

Oh dear! I really do sound like a senior citizen don’t I? Well, some things seem to be unavoidable–acceptance!

More photos of the magnificent Walt Disney Concert Hall–you love it or you hate it–in my next post. I love it…so there are photos I am compelled to share.

And what are you doing New Year’s Eve? Hope you have some plans. I’m thinking many of you can probably stay awake to ring in the new year!

I will, too, I just might be in my jammies by then.

Here’s a very short clip featuring one rather lovely aspect of the Concert Hall. If you love classical  music, this is a delight.