Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Everyone Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We

November 09, 2010


Of course, the big news today is that the Los Angeles Philharmonic is jumping into the live broadcast business that so many other performing arts organizations have hurled themselves into in recent years. Ever since the Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” series first brought complete opera broadcasts to one’s local Cineplex, opera and theater organizations around the world have been quick to follow suit in equal or lesser ways. Now the L.A. Philharmonic intends to jump into the fray with "L.A. Phil Live" to take a “major step in establishing a national brand for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel” as L.A. Philharmonic president Deborah Borda was quoted in the Los Angeles Times. Funny, and here I thought it was about playing great music superbly. I suspect the brand they have in mind is something like Rolls Royce, but these days with Dudamel in charge it runs the risk of being Dodge.

The three Dudamel-led shows will all be Sunday matinees and will include perhaps the most banal programming on this season’s L.A. Phil schedule. The January 9 show includes John Adams’ Slonimsky’s Earbox, Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. March 13 will bring an all-Tchaikovsky program of works based on Shakespeare and the final broadcast on June 5 will be Brahms and more Brahms, with a double concerto for violin and cello and his Symphony No. 4. This last program was originally scheduled to include the world premiere of Gorecki’s Symphony No. 4 that has been postponed due to reports that the work will not be ready on time. Tickets for the theater broadcasts will range between 18 and 22 dollars depending on where you live and the L.A. Philharmonic organization reports the shows will feature extras including behind the scenes access and rehearsal footage.

I suppose the good news given the underwhelming musical track record Dudamel has established here in L.A. so far, is that there will apparently be enough rehearsal to actually get some footage to begin with. As the Orange County Register’s Tim Mangan recently pointed out, Dudamel hasn’t really been around enough yet to develop much of a sound with the orchestra and performances under his guidance this season, like last, have been wanting in the rehearsal time department. But who knows? Maybe people across America are eagerly awaiting this opportunity for “establishing a national brand” on a late Sunday afternoon. Or as Deborah Borda notes in her video on the L.A. Phil website for the broadcasts, Dudamel “has somehow set a fire throughout the United States, and, of course, in Los Angeles, about the meaning of music and the message of its humanity and what it can bring.” And if you have any idea how run-of-the-mill and likely under-rehearsed Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Brahms will achieve that, please don't keep it a secret. Godspeed to the L.A. Phil on their theater broadcast venture. I suspect they’ll need it. But by all means, don't take my word for it, check out the broadcasts yourself and come back sometime and tell me what you think.


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