Casual Fridays at Disney Hall

Casual Fridays at Disney Hall

A fresh new way to enjoy classical music in Los Angeles

A Los Angeles Philharmonic Casual Friday concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall is no ordinary night out. At any L.A. Phil concert, you can experience music performed by one of the nation’s premier orchestras as well as some of the world’s greatest conductors and soloists. But on Casual Fridays, orchestra members share personal experiences and background information about the music you’re about to hear, something that is simply not done at a typical symphony concert.

The program is slightly shorter, without intermission, leaving time for the post-concert reception and a chance to socialize with famous artists like Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn and Emanuel Ax while enjoying cocktails and mingling with other music lovers. And not only is the dress code casual for the audience, it’s also relaxed for the musicians, who are not in tuxes and evening gowns, and are more approachable.

To top it all off, you’re in the most talked-about building in Los Angeles, Frank Gehry’s stunning architectural masterpiece that looks like it’s made of billowing sails of stainless steel and has acoustics to rival the world’s finest concert halls. Step outside with a cocktail before the concert to enjoy the gorgeous outdoor garden on the third level, with its trees, flowers and hidden nooks with tables and chairs.

The inspiration for Casual Fridays “was as simple as asking, what could we do to bring everyone in the hall a little closer together?” says Arvind Manocha, chief operating officer for the Philharmonic. “A lot of people respond well to the notion of peering behind the curtain, so to speak, to break down some of the perceived boundaries between musician and audience.”

That’s violinist Robert V. Gupta’s favorite part. “The best aspect of Casual Fridays is the chance to interact with our audience,” he says. “We can talk about music, but usually we talk about our lives in the orchestra.

“People relish a chance to actually meet the musicians,” adds the 21-year-old, “and to know that on some level we’re human too.”

The L.A. Phil has been offering these laid-back alternatives to the formal symphony concert since 2002, and last year’s were almost sold out. Casual Friday highlights (see complete list below) in the coming months include the November 21 concert featuring amazing pieces by Mozart and Beethoven, and Respighi’s The Pines of Rome that will blow you away.

January 9 brings one of the final opportunities to hobnob with future-looking L.A. Phil Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, who has, with the acoustically superior Disney Hall, expanded the orchestra’s reputation on a global scale. Emanuel Ax, one of the most famous and respected pianists of our time, will also be at that evening’s concert in a program of Mozart and Brahms and as well at the reception afterward.

Two young Grammy-winning violinists who also happen to be household names appear after that: Hilary Hahn on January 30 and Joshua Bell on April 24.

So if hanging out with celebrities and hearing some of the best music ever written sounds good to you, now you just need to grab a friend and go.

Below are the Casual Friday concerts this season:

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor
Friday, Nov. 21, 8 p.m.
Program:
Mozart: Serenade No. 6, “Serenata Notturna”
Beethoven: Symphony No. 8
Respighi: The Pines of Rome

Alsop Conducts Brahms
Friday, Dec. 12, 8 p.m.
Marin Alsop, conductor
Nikolaj Znaider, violin
Program:
Brahms: “Tragic” Overture
Brahms: Violin Concerto

Salonen and Ax
Friday, Jan. 9, 2009, 8 p.m.
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano
Program:
Mozart: Serenade No. 12 for Winds, K. 388
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1

Hahn and Slatkin
Friday, Jan. 30, 2009, 8 p.m.
Leonard Slatkin, conductor
Hilary Hahn, violin
Program:
Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
Glazunov: Violin Concerto

Debussy and Prokofiev
Friday, Feb. 6, 2009, 8 p.m.
Charles Dutoit, conductor
Yuja Wang, piano
Program:
Debussy: Petite suite
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2

Joshua Bell and Bringuier
Friday, April 24, 2009, 8 p.m.
Lionel Bringuier, conductor
Joshua Bell, violin
Program:
Ravel: Alborado del gracioso
Lalo: Symphonie espagnole
Schmitt: La Tragedie de Salome

Bronfman Plays Prokofiev
Friday, May 8, 2009, 8 p.m.
Xian Zhang, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, piano
Program:
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3
Bartok: Suite from the Miraculous Mandolin

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