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  • LAPA
  • Feb. 14, 2002
  • LOS ANGELES, February 14, 2002: Walt Disney Concert Hall -- the new home of the renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic led by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and fourth venue of the Music Center of Los Angeles County -- opens in fall 2003. The Concert Hall, designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, is destined to become one of the most recognized architectural landmarks on the West Coast and one of the world's most sophisticated concert halls.

    The curved exterior of the 293,000-square-foot Walt Disney Concert Hall, clad in stainless steel panels, embodies the energy, innovation and creative spirit that represent the city of Los Angeles and its orchestra. The 2,265-seat main auditorium, designed by Frank Gehry in collaboration with acousticians Yasuhisa Toyota and Minoru Nagata of Nagata Acoustics, features a curved wood ceiling and seating surrounding the orchestra platform to provide both visual and aural intimacy for an unparalleled musical experience.

    Walt Disney Concert Hall is the musical and cultural cornerstone of the ongoing revitalization of downtown, where other major building projects include the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the recently built Colburn School of Performing Arts, Staples Center, the renovated Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the restored Art Deco-style Los Angeles Public Library and future plans for the redevelopment of Grand Avenue.

    "We have watched Walt Disney Concert Hall energize the Los Angeles skyline and have marveled at the effect the Hall is already having on the dynamics of the central city. It will enrich the lives of the people of Los Angeles and visitors from around the world who will come to experience its striking architecture and the unparalleled performances it will host," said Andrea Van de Kamp, Chairman of the Music Center. "The opening of the Concert Hall will enable us to expand programming throughout the Music Center. We are projecting that the increase in performances will increase our overall attendance by some 53 percent, which will contribute greatly to the vitality of culture in Los Angeles."

    Los Angeles Philharmonic

    Under the leadership of Music Director and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen and Executive Vice President and Managing Director Deborah Borda, the Los Angeles Philharmonic is one of California's leading performing arts institutions and is recognized as one of the world's most outstanding orchestras. The move from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to Walt Disney Concert Hall for the fall 2003 season will serve to enhance and expand the Los Angeles Philharmonic's critically acclaimed repertoire, from performances of the great classical masters to world premieres of works by today's leading composers.

    "The Los Angeles Philharmonic awaits the opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall with great anticipation. It will be like no other symphony hall in the world. It will be about the senses at their most engaged," said Esa-Pekka Salonen. "At this extraordinary venue, we will be able to present musical performances of the highest quality and acoustical precision. In planning future programming for our new home, we are thinking outside of the box and exploring ways that the Philharmonic's music will both reflect and revolutionize the rhythms of Los Angeles and the world."

    In addition to the Los Angeles Philharmonic's 30-week winter subscription series at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the orchestra performs annually in the 12-week summer festival at the legendary Hollywood Bowl, where "Music Under the Stars" has been a popular tradition since 1922. The orchestra supplements its yearly offerings with the Toyota Symphonies for Youth concerts, community concerts and performances throughout Southern California. In addition to the regular full-orchestra performances, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association also presents special performances of the orchestra members in smaller groups, including the chamber and Green Umbrella series. The Association's innovative education program, Music Matters, has been recognized nationally as an outstanding model for engaging audiences of all ages.

    "Walt Disney Concert Hall will be home to one of the world's finest and most innovative orchestras and quite simply a superb place for music. We believe the Hall will be an icon for the city of Los Angeles and a symbol of civic accomplishment and pride," said Deborah Borda. "The Philharmonic's programming will reflect our vision for the partnership of an orchestral institution and a concert hall of the 21st century. We are hard at work to expand the vision of what a season can encompass. We are planning for a breadth and scope of programming that will extend the reach and definition of a symphonic institution in Los Angeles and throughout the musical community."

    Architectural and Acoustical Design Highlights

    The highly sculptural compositions of Walt Disney Concert Hall will be a striking addition to the city's cultural and architectural landscape. The building occupies a 3.6-acre site -- a full city block at the intersection of First Street and Grand Avenue in the historic Bunker Hill area. Designed to be open and inviting, the first-floor, street-level glass façade of the building allows passers-by to see people inside the lobby, at the box office, in the gift shop or dining at the restaurant. The main entrance will feature sweeping expanses of turquoise glass, a grand stairway and an oval courtyard, as well as several atria spaces. The Hall also will encompass two outdoor amphitheatres, including a children's amphitheater seating up to 300 children, and a second performing space that will accommodate an audience of 120, as well as a hall for pre-concert events. A large portion of the site also will be dedicated to an urban public park with expansive public gardens and ornamental landscaping by Melinda Taylor and Lawrence Reed Moline.

    With the completion of the structural steel and the installation of stainless steel panels underway, Walt Disney Concert Hall is now entering the final phase of construction. The full structure of the Hall is now distinguishable as a main auditorium, east and west atrium lobbies, pre-concert foyer and Founders Room. Interior scaffolding has been installed to facilitate the erection of the wood panel ceiling, eight dramatic skylights located in four corners of the main auditorium have been lifted by helicopter to the roof, and construction of the Hall's pipe organ continues in Germany, with the Frank Gehry-designed organ facade also nearing completion. The organ is scheduled to debut one year after the opening of the Hall. On the grounds, the perimeter concrete wall of the children's amphitheater has been poured and the seating risers will be completed this year, as will the stainless steel bandshell.

    "It's just really gratifying to finally see the Walt Disney Concert Hall coming together. The steel is in place, some of the cladding is up, and you can really see the forms taking shape," said Frank Gehry. "Collaborating with Esa-Pekka and Yasu on the design of the Hall was an invaluable part of our work from the very beginning. Their inspiration and vision helped us to realize what we believe will be one of the finest concert halls in the world."

    The centerpiece of Walt Disney Concert Hall is the main auditorium. Nagata Acoustics and Frank Gehry Partners collaborated to simultaneously develop the auditorium's visual and acoustical designs. The groundbreaking "vineyard" shape of the Hall with its curved wood ceiling and staggered seating retains the superb acoustical characteristics and intimacy of a traditional "shoebox" style concert hall, while allowing more flexibility in architectural design.

    Audience members will surround the orchestra platform for a uniquely personal experience and a pipe organ will occupy a central position between the seating sections at the rear of the stage. The pipe organ was designed by Los Angeles organ designer Manuel Rosales (sound design) and Gehry (organ form design) and fabricated by Glatter-Götz Orgelbau, GmbH in Owingen, Germany. Other design highlights of the main auditorium include hardwood walls and ceiling made of Douglas Fir -- the same wood often used on the backs of cellos and violas -- and a large 36-foot-high rear window and skylights that will allow natural light to enhance daytime concerts.

    An extensive backstage technical area, which surrounds the Hall, provides state-of-the-art space for a choral hall and other rehearsal areas, as well as a music library and reading room and storage specifically designed for the Los Angeles Philharmonic's instruments. The parking lot beneath the Hall, which will accommodate parking for many nearby buildings, is designed to engage the public, with people passing through the Hall's lobby as they exit and enter the lot.

    The overall Walt Disney Concert Hall complex will feature multiple new performance and education facilities, including the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), a 250-seat multi-use theater and art gallery operated and programmed by California Institute of the Arts. Located at the southwest corner of the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex at Second and Hope streets, it will be accessible through a separate main entrance, retaining its own distinct identity.

    Walt Disney Concert Hall Project History

    In 1987, Lillian Disney made an initial gift of $50 million to build 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 the project 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 six-level subterranean parking garage.

    Frank Gehry was selected as the architect in 1988, and the final design was announced in 1991. Construction on the concert hall garage began in 1992 and was completed in 1996. Also that year, under the leadership of the Music Center, a capital campaign was launched to complete the construction funding. Many corporate, foundation and individual partners, along with the State of California, have contributed generously to the campaign due to the remarkable leadership of Andrea L. Van de Kamp, Eli Broad, Chairman of SunAmerica, Inc., and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan. The Los Angeles Philharmonic provided additional funding for the core project and full funding for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association Center.

    Concert Hall construction began in November 1999. Deborah Borda joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association as Executive Vice President and Managing Director in January 2000.

    Music Center of Los Angeles County

    The Music Center was created and is sustained by a public/private partnership led by the County of Los Angeles and is one of the three largest performing arts centers in the nation. Walt Disney Concert Hall will be the fourth venue of the Music Center, which also includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Mark Taper Forum and the Ahmanson Theater. More than 1.3 million people are served annually downtown by the world-class resident companies, which include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Center Theatre Group, the Los Angeles Opera and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and special presentations by international and national dance companies and performing artists. The Music Center also annually provides, through its nationally recognized Education Division, arts education programs for more than one million students and teachers.

    When the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale relocate to Walt Disney Concert Hall, valuable performance and rehearsal time will become available at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. This will afford the Center's other resident companies the much-needed time and space to expand their performance seasons and grow artistically, as well as enable the Center to host various forms of popular and cultural entertainment from around the world. With the opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall, it is expected that the downtown Music Center audience will increase by 53 percent, from 1.3 million to 2 million annually.

  • Contact:

    Elizabeth Hinckley, 323/850-2047
    Director of Public Relations
    Los Angeles Philharmonic
    Jennifer Essen, 212/593-5881
    Sharon Ruebsteck, 310/479-9929 x110
    Ruder Finn Arts & Communications Counselors