The L.A. Philharmonic celebrates its centennial.
“Season of the Century” is the slogan that the Los Angeles Phil harmonic is using to tout its centennial season. The phrase is emblazoned on a sign outside Disney Hall and on street banners across the city. The double mean ing is apparent: not only is this season intended to celebrate the orchestra’s past hundred years; it aims to make history itself. Ordinarily, such marketing effusions don’t withstand scrutiny, but the L.A. Phil’s 201819 season invites superlatives. The ensemble has commissioned pieces from more than fifty com posers, ranging from such venerable figures as Philip Glass and Steve Reich to young radicals on the fringes. It is launching a slew of theatrical events and collaborations with pop and jazz artists. It is honoring African American traditions and exploring the experimental legacy of the Fluxus movement. Gustavo Dudamel, the orchestra’s music director, is leading new works by John Adams and Thomas Adès. EsaPekka Salonen, the orchestra’s previous direc tor, is presenting a nineday Stravinsky festival. Meredith Monk’s opera “atlas,” from 1991, will receive a longawaited revival. And so on. No classical institution in the world rivals the L.A. Phil in breadth of vision.
Two months in, the centennial pro gram has already brought three fairly staggering events, any one of which would have counted as the highlight of an ordinary season. First was the première of Andrew Norman’s “Sustain,” a forty minute, single movement piece that may become a modern American classic. Dudamel introduced it on a program that included Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and Salonen’s “LA Variations.” In an in version of the usual orchestral priorities, the Norman camelast, and elicited the most excitement. In Los Angeles, de cades of promotion of living composers have eroded the skepticism that so often greets new music.
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November 26, 2018