Chris Martin of Coldplay kicks off LA Phil season

Chris Martin of Coldplay kicks off LA Phil season


norman lebrecht

September 28, 2018

The headliner on a season opener would once have been Rachmaninov or Stravinsky, at worst Rubinstein.

These days the LA Phil has to sell itself with rock stars. Weep.

Press release:

 Los Angeles, CA (September 27, 2018) The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel ushered in the orchestra’s Centennial season with a celebratory Opening Night Concert & Gala, California Soul, Thursday, September 27, 7 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The festive evening featured singers Chris Martin of Coldplay, who brought Dudamel and the LA Phil’s YOLA musicians to the 2016 Super Bowl, and Corinne Bailey Rae, who performed at the Hollywood Bowl earlier this year. Also performing were The Doors’ drummer John Densmore, electric violinist Tracy Silverman, speakers Shalita Grant and Bernard White, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, in a program dedicated to honoring Golden State creativity from John Adams to Frank Zappa. Elkhanah Pulitzer, who has had several major projects with the LA Phil, directed the program, spanning a spectrum of music that reflects the unique soul of California and has nurtured and inspired the LA Phil for a century.

The night also included the unveiling of WDCH Dreams by Refik Anadol, a visual art installation projected onto the exterior of the Concert Hall, as well as a post-concert party with Pink Martini and KCRW DJ Jason Bentley.

The LA Phil Opening Night Gala and Concert, California Soul, raised more than $3.4 million for the LA Phil’s many music education programs, which serve more than 150,000 youths, families, and teachers every year.

The evening began with the arrivals of notable celebrities and VIPs: Debbie Allen and Norm Nixon, director Alberto Arvelo, Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance, China Forbes of Pink Martini, Herbie Hancock, Don and Kelley Johnson, musician Tony Kanal, Matthew Lillard, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, Moby, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, composer/conductor John Williams, and Walt Disney Concert Hall architect Frank Gehry, who walked the red carpet up Walt Disney Concert Hall’s grand staircase. Local officials in attendance included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, CEO of Los Angeles County Sachi Hamai, and Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts. They were joined by LA Phil Board Chair Jay Rasulo, LA Phil Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel with Maria Valverde, LA Phil Gala Chairs David C. Bohnett, Mari L. Danihel, Jenny Miller Goff, Carol Colburn Grigor, Joan Hotchkis, Diane B. Paul, Jay and Barbara Rasulo and Ann Ronus, LA Phil CEO Simon Woods, and LA Phil Chief Operating Officer Chad Smith, along with more than 650 Gala patrons.

The pre-concert cocktail reception was held on Grand Avenue, where guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and a specialty vodka cocktail “California Dreamin’ Lemonade” mixed with Magic Color Changing Blue Ice, in a cool, California setting of modern white and chrome sofas, lounge chairs, with a hint of blue and silver linens.


  • John Marks says:

    The eclectic pop/jazz group Pink Martini for the after party actually strikes me as a charming pick to cap the night.

    Their fey but very competent Latin-tinged* album “Hang on, Little Tomato” can be heard here:


    *When I say Latin-tinged, I refer to Hispanic culture and not to the pre-Vatican II Mass.

  • RW2013 says:

    trash culture

  • Bruce says:

    Whatever. Everybody needs to sell tickets. Opening nights have been turned into celebrity red carpet “gala” events (at big companies at least — e.g. the Met), and there really aren’t any classical stars big enough to attract the kind of attention from the press & public that a pop star can.

    As long as they’re still serious about the serious stuff, it will be fine.

    (Not disagreeing with RW2013 though 😛 )

  • Jeffrey says:

    The LA Phil Opening Night Gala and Concert, California Soul, raised more than $3.4 million for the LA Phil’s many music education programs, which serve more than 150,000 youths, families, and teachers every year.

    Anyone who thinks this is a bad thing is a moron and completely out of touch with what is going on with orchestras nowadays. This is money going to youth programs which teaching kids about classical music. This builds audiences for the future as well. If a rock star or jazz artist is involved who cares. They are musicians as well and God bless them for helping out the classical music world. By the way, I am a professional orchestral musician of 20 years and I think this is effing cool!

    • John Marks says:

      Perhaps I will garble this, but, decades ago I heard a story that when the Berlin Phil was on tour in NYC, IIRC a rehearsal or sound check ran shorter in running time than expected. Von Karajan (somehow) let it be known that the reason was that he did not want to be late to hear IIRC Duke Ellington’s orchestra. Or at least some large big band that played from charts. The other obvious candidate being Count Basie’s.

      Given when I heard that, the story probably was dated from the 1960s or early 1970s.

      The version I heard also had von K. making a withering, condescending, and fairly unprofessional stinger of a statement to at least some of his musicians, which makes me think I might have heard an urban legend.

      Has anyone else heard that story?


    • Tod Brody says:

      Bravo, Jeffrey
      Another professional musician weighing in here to say that there’s absolutely nothing negative about this. The sad snobs of the world who think that there’s only one kind of worthy music (the kind that they like) are not only missing the point, but missing a lot of musical value and pleasure besides. Raising money for good causes is a good thing, full stop.

  • Tod Brody says:

    “These days the LA Phil has to sell itself with rock stars. Weep.” Give me a break.

    The LA Phil is one of the most successful symphonic organizations in the world, and its programming, in every part of the musical spectrum, is exemplary. Look at their season, really. To start the season with a fundraiser is a very normal thing for an American orchestra to do, and like most things that orchestra takes on, it succeeded on its own terms.

    News flash: Here in the U.S., the government does not support performance organizations in any significant measure! Now maybe that’s something to weep about.

    People who could afford it had a good time, and they raised a lot of money for a good cause. Just nothing to complain about here, unless you’re bending over backwards to be snarky and petty.

  • Edward says:

    We get this, but nothing about the fact the LA Phil is premiering 50 new works for it’s centennial, and is arguably the most interesting orchestra in America?

  • musicman says:

    I’m relatively new to this site…are all the people who comment on Slipped Disc this elitist and snobby? Way to reinforce classical music stereotypes.

    BTW, the Los Angeles Philharmonic is the most successful orchestra in the U.S. and maybe the world. They are obviously doing something right.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Um…when you say they are the most successful orchestra in the world, what do you mean. In other words, “successful at what”. Unless you define what success means then it is difficult to agree. I think you mean they raise more money than any other orchestra, and have the highest budget (which includes musicians, management and other staff).

      Many people, like me, would adopt some other criteria for success. Such as their standard of playing. I am not sure much critical opinion (which is likely more subjective) would agree with the LA “being the most successful orchestra in the world”. Perhaps they would name the BPO or the VPO.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Weep is right. Bloody rubbish.

    • Tod Brody says:

      What’s rubbish? This snotty article that we’re commenting on? Or the LA Phil allowing performers on its stage that you don’t approve of?

  • Phillip Ayling says:

    Without offering any comments of my own, subscribers of the LA Times ( most of whom probably aren’t aware of SLIPPED DISC) now know what some of i conosciuti think about their hometown orchestra’s programming: