1999-2000 season greets new management, programming, acoustics

A new managerial hand, a new programming philosophy and a new stage configuration to improve the problematic acoustics at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion lie on the horizon as the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced its 1999-2000 season Thursday at the Music Center.

Programming for the upcoming season has been partitioned into subscription series according to content, rather than timeslots. A series titled Legacy, broken into five choices, emphasizes the more familiar symphonic repertory; Signature, offered six times, offers a broader selection of old and new. One five-event series highlights Romantic violin and cello concertos; another, called Discovery, introduces young upcoming artists.

One innovative series, titled Rendezvous, includes a mix of performances by the three orchestras under the Philharmonic masthead: the Philharmonic itself, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, devoted to lighter fare, and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.

The Philharmonic’s usual series of celebrity solo recitals will continue, and the new-music series, Green Umbrella, will be expanded and will spread from its usual Little Tokyo venue to a concert of conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen’s own music at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

The season begins and ends with Mahler: Salonen conducting the “First Symphony” on Oct. 14; Simon Rattle will conduct the “Fourth” (along with a concert performance of Maurice Ravel’s fairy tale opera “L’Enfant et Les Sortileges”) on May 27.

Philharmonic vice president and general director Willem Wijnbergen, rounding out his first year as successor to the 29-year hegemony of Ernest Fleischmann, shared the podium with Salonen, who will lead three weeks of concerts at the start of the new season before taking off 2000 as a sabbatical to compose an opera.

This work, based on Peter Hoeg’s novel “The Woman and the Ape,” will premiere at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in the summer of 2001, with the Philharmonic as pit orchestra. Several recent Salonen recordings, including Shostakovich piano concertos and a Sibelius violin concerto, will be released by Sony during his absence “so that I won’t be forgotten.”

Although most eyes look ahead to the construction of the new Disney Symphony Hall, with steel work due up in November, one long hoped for change at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, extending the stage and moving the orchestra further into the hall, will have a considerable effect on sound. It was tried several years ago, but brought protest from subscribers whose sight lines were blocked. Now, said Wijnbergen, a way has been found around that problem or most of the way around, at any rate.

“We invited all the subscribers whose seats were problematical to check out our plans,’ he said. “And offered to change them to other seats if they requested. Almost nobody did.”

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