Betty Freeman, Bruce Weigl, Claude Debussy, Elliott Carter, Emperor Bao Dai, Hanoi, Igor Stravinsky, LA International New Music Festival, Leonard Bernstein, Los Angeles, Mark Swed, Paris, Song Hong Ensemble of Hanoi, Ton That Tiet, Venice Beach Walkway, Vu Nhat Tan, Walt Disney Concert Hall
I’ve always thought of Los Angeles as the New Vienna of classical music. Because if you care about the 20th century story of classical music, the chapters about LA are page turners.
Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky for monumental starters. Martha Graham is from Santa Barbara cutting her teeth here as a young woman. John Cage is born here in 1912 (and Merce Cunningham dances in the world premiere of Appalachian Spring, which was composed mostly when Copland was at MGM). Erich Wolfgang Korngold establishes the film score and let’s be culturally honest and admit that movies have had an influence on the world. Pierre Boulez conducts his American debut at the Monday Evening Concerts, the oldest continuing series of new music in the world. And the LA Philharmonic’s Minimalist Jukebox Festival this season proves that a big institution can move forward.
And God bless Betty Freeman, who commissioned everybody and took pictures of them all (mine with Elliott Carter and Oliver Knussen are great lifetime memories). Driving past Hillcrest Dr. in Beverly Hills where she lived, just up the road from where I grew up in West Hollywood, never feels the same anymore……