There was hardly a dry eye in the house. Esa-Pekka Salonen’s final concert as music director took place this afternoon in Los Angeles and, despite our beloved maestro’s disdain for self-aggrandizement, it was finally quite a touching affair from those who loved him most, the member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
It was a capacity crowd filled with Salonen’s musical, artistic, and actual families – Yefim Bronfman, Dawn Upshaw, Peter Sellars, John Adams, Steven Stucky, Bill Viola, Frank Gehry, and so on. The afternoon started with Deborah Borda and board president, David C. Bohnett, announcing that Salonen had been appointed conductor laureate for the organization in recognition of their relationship both now and into the future. Salonen didn’t appear on stage at this point, but arrived for the fourth performance of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex
and Symphony of Psalms
this weekend. The program seemed to work better than it did on Friday and Saturday
to my mind. The orchestra seemed to be playing with every ounce of love they could for their departing leader, creating perhaps the most monumental and warm Symphony of Psalms
I think I’ve ever heard.
The audience clapped and clapped through bows from the cast and design team. Finally, a seemingly reluctant Salonen arrived for a solo bow to thunderous applause and a surprise impromptu fanfare from the brass players on stage.
There were the requisite flowers presented by several of the musicians and Salonen looked noticeably moved from where I sat. And then the orchestra members stood and, encircling him as a group, took turns hugging him one by one.
He made no comments from the stage but stood surrounded by his colleagues as the audience clamored on and on. And then it was over. He left the stage, and we all very sadly went our own ways. There will always be music in L.A., but it won't ever be quite like this again.
Labels: LA Philharmonic 08/09