Where Katy Perry meets Gustav Mahler

Where Katy Perry meets Gustav Mahler


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2021

The LA Phil are putting on a fundraising gala this weekend with, among others, Julie Andrews, Natalie Portman and Katie Perry.

The program:

Jessie MONTGOMERY  Starburst
ELLINGTON (arr. BLANCHARD)  “Martin Luther King” from Three Black Kings
TCHAIKOVSKY  Scherzo: Pizzicato ostinato
STRAVINSKY  Berceuse from The Firebird
Arturo MÁRQUEZ  Danzón No. 2
ROMERO  Fuga con Pajarillo
MAHLER (arr. STEIN)  “Das himmlische Leben”


Only in LA.



  • A.L. says:

    No words

  • Is this to be on top of the LA Phil’s $500 million Centennial Campaign launched in November 2017? A budget like that in a metro area of 15 million people with only one full time orchestra, and the equivalent of a 6 week opera season? Compare that to London’s 5 full time world class orchestras and two full time opera houses. Or Berlin’s 7 or so full time orchestras and 3 full time opera houses. Similar numbers for Paris, Munich, Vienna, and Prague, and other cities.

    Or is it better to have just one luxury orchestra for wealthy private donors?

    • M2N2K says:

      It depends on “better” for whom. In arts, quality should not be measured by quantity. It is probably best for everyone to have as many fine musicians as can be supported by interested listeners.

    • JussiB says:

      LA has many full time orchestras, you need to get out more.

  • Paul Brown says:

    This is confusing? The program is almost all “classical.” And yes, I guess there are some hosts or special guests from outside the classical world. That is pretty typical for these sorts of fundraisers. And do you have a problem with Jessie Montgomery?

    • V.Lind says:

      I’ve heard Starburst with Vanska and Minnesota. It’s a terrific piece. So is the MLK piece from Three Black Kings, Ellington’s last work. It’s a very appealing programme.

      I don’t know who Katy Perry is, but I am wondering what role she, Julie Andrews and Natalie Portman will have if this is the programme: sort of hosts and introducers, perhaps, trying to get people from a wider range of interests to give a listen (and a donation) to the LA Phil?

      It is far from uncommon for major orchestras to feature guest artists from the popular world who can work along with an orchestra for their fundraisers. But these do not appear to be musical guests in that sense — Julie Andrews, as I understand it, has given up singing dies to some throat surgery a few years back. Maybe Ms. Portman will dance something. I don’t know what the other one does.

      • BruceB says:

        Katy Perry is a pop singer. Quite famous, apparently.

      • buxtehude says:

        Katy Perry is a singer-songwriter and one of the first, if not The first, to run up multiple multi-billion YouTube hits. That’s “billion,” V. — put that in your Funk & Wagnalls. Highly effective visually.

        Grew up in Santa Barbara as the daughter of impoverished Pentacostal preachers, imagine. Eventually studied composition — not so good at it but appreciates good writing. Her breakthrough hit after years of obscurity: “I Kissed a Girl.”

        Video with John Mayer from when they were an item:
        Listen to the lovely build toward the end and his guitar playing; she was enchanted by his musicianship.

        • V.Lind says:

          That led me to a thing called Roar that seemed to be from a movie. I listened to a little of it but it struck me as far too insipid to finish so if that’s the one you meant I didn’t get to his guitar playing — the guy in the video did not have a guitar (as far as I got).

          Not denying her fame — I made it clear it was not a field in which I was well-versed. But as is all too clear to those who are here because they are classical music fans, quantity of admirers is not (necessarily) an indicator of quality. You only have to look at TV ratings or movie or tabloid sales to know that.

          • buxtehude says:

            Sorry that link didn’t work as intended, not Roar — it’s this:


            And no I don’t equate quant with qual.

          • V.Lind says:

            Thanks, but I don’t find that any improvement. Two mediocre voices singing an utterly banal song. But, hey ho, lots of people apparently like them. So be it.

          • buxtehude says:

            I don’t think that was ever the issue, nor is this musically an either/or situation.

            Since “classical music” long ago gave up offering newly-written music that people — and that includes not least young people — want to hear, it doesn’t make sense for you to be shocked or angry when “classical music” turns to those who do — those of them who are civic-minded — in an effort to raise money against the ever-increasing shortfall and well as maybe attract some fragment of their immense audience.

            I also think it makes sense for “classical music” to tune in now and again to what’s out there, on general principles at least, vexing as this might be for persons such as yourself.

          • V.Lind says:

            I refer you to my first comment: “I don’t know who Katy Perry is, but I am wondering what role she, Julie Andrews and Natalie Portman will have if this is the programme: sort of hosts and introducers, perhaps, trying to get people from a wider range of interests to give a listen (and a donation) to the LA Phil?

            It is far from uncommon for major orchestras to feature guest artists from the popular world who can work along with an orchestra for their fundraisers.”

            I have acknowledged my own shortcomings in the pop music area, several times, but expressed no vexation at the participation of these artists, of whom I had originally not heard of one. That I am not an immediate fan of her work, to which you have kindly introduced me, is neither here nor there. Although I have not immediately taken to this artist, I have been a long-time defender on this forum of all sorts of music and have voiced my antipathy to the snobbery that looks down on anything outside the purist classical world.

            I was in fact a fan of the Pavarotti and Friends concerts, of which I saw a number. For me, it was the opposite of what it was for most, I think: the concerts probably hoped by using top popular stars to introduces them to opera. For me, who grew up in opera, it was almost a first (since my teen years, when I was a great fan of the Beatles and the whole British invasion canon) introduction to pop music after a long absence from it. I became, and remain, a great fan of Italian rock and pop, and of The Cranberries, Eric Clapton and Elton John.

            I was initially just wondering what their roles would be!

  • RW2013 says:

    A taste of the future at the Opéra national de Paris?

  • Nijinsky says:

    Isn’t this blog supposed to be about classical music, and whether or not FrederYk Chopin was gay, and WHY he told his friend Titus, currently having gone to Hollywood, not as a stunt double, but as a double agent, gotten in the papers with a prostitute, formerly skating partner, and thus Chopin broke his back after seeing Constancia (his true love), and all he could think of saying to the doctor (who asked him what he was doing there collapsed amongst the blades of grass) was that a dog ran in between his legs causing him to burst out in laughter, and had come all over Titus (currently not illegal) somewhere else!

    Or do we need pencils paper and see if we pass the social test coming to a town near you as soon as possible, with little Hyenas backed by Johnny Depp and his circulating Winos, or is it is his Blubbering Ticklets. Something PDQ BAch hasn’t written yet, because Natalie Portman would have to be let down almost to distance of orchestra and would kick them (she dances so well), as the Eensty Weensty Carmen or Mimi….

  • Karl says:

    Will there be dancing sharks?

  • Nijinsky says:

    For the LOVE OF GOD, and why they didn’t have Brad Pitt be Alice in Wonderland, where his PENIS keeps getting bigger and bigger, and then he need another pill!?

    “Katy Perry!?”

  • M2N2K says:

    No one mentions it here for some reason, but the informational contents of the webpage the link to which is provided in the post above, and a brief video trailer/teaser that is attached there, show quite clearly that, in addition to the three popular stars mentioned by the blogger, a few others, including several prominent classical musicians such as Yuja Wang and Liv Redpath, are also scheduled to participate in conversations and, perhaps more important, to be featured as soloists in recently recorded performances – both individually as well as together with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Maestro Gustavo Dudamel.

  • Rob says:

    Where’s Bezos, Biden, Putin, Gates, Musk and the bitcoin brats?

    They’ve got all the money.

    Most other people are ‘existing’ paycheck to paycheck. And there’s the healthcare/housing crisis.

    • V.Lind says:

      Don’t forget the Warner Music Group! People profiting — and profiting “bigly” — by the very industry that is struggling so much while they race to their largest-ever profits.

  • JussiB says:

    Disney Concert Hall hosts more than just classical music concerts, in case you snooty folks don’t know.