Disney L.A.nd

Tickets expected to go quickly for L.A. Philharmonic's first season in new venue

By: Duke Anderson

October 23, 2003, is the scheduled date for the opening of the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Walt Disney Concert Hall. The 2,265-seat auditorium will be the latest addition to the 11-acre campus of the Music Center of Los Angeles County.

In announcing the upcoming debut calendar, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association warned visitors to secure tickets as soon as possible for what is projected to be a season of sold-out performances. Season tickets are available at www.laphil.com, but new subscribers will not be added until the orchestra’s longtime patrons are seated.

Long in need of a performance venue worthy of a world-class orchestra, the L.A. Philharmonic received an initial gift of $50 million from Lillian B. Disney, widow of Walt Disney. After an intensive search and a six-architect competition, Los Angeles-area resident Frank Gehry was chosen to create the new complex. The 3.6-acre site a full city block will house the main hall, a 250-seat multiuse theater, two outdoor amphitheaters, orchestra offices, an urban park and a cafe and a restaurant headed by famed chef Joachim Splichal.

The stainless-steel-clad main structure was designed to become a Los Angeles landmark. Its undulating exterior (reminiscent of Gehry’s famed Bilbao Museum in Spain) will be complemented by an innovative interior, highlighted by a curved-wood ceiling of Douglas fir. Audience members will surround the performance platform in an intimate, interactive concert venue.

In addition to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Disney Hall will be home to the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles Master Chorale and will accommodate world-class touring ensembles.

Los Angeles promoters are eagerly anticipating the opening of the theater as an integral part of the renaissance occurring downtown. Disney Hall will join the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels as powerful architectural statements in Los Angeles. These monuments bookend a new pedestrian mall encompassing other cultural sites Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theater, Mark Taper Forum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Colburn School of Performing Arts and Zipper Hall.

Visitors to the revamped downtown will find no shortage of hotels. The historic Los Angeles Millennium Biltmore recently completed a $3 million renovation. For clientele seeking trendier accommodations, the hip Standard Hotel recently opened a downtown hotel to complement its Sunset Strip location. Other favorites with frequent visitors include the centrally located Bonaventure, the refurbished Wilshire Grand and the elegant New Otani.

Promoters are also banking on the burgeoning cultural presence to pump up the growing culinary scene. Many popular dining spots, including Nick and Stef’s, Ciudad (by “Two Hot Tamales” famed chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger), Water Grill, Pacific Dining Car, Otto Rothschild’s and Windows offer free shuttle service to and from downtown performance venues.

For tickets, call 323-850-2000. Web site: www.laphil.com or www.disneyhall.org.