The Los Angeles Philharmonic kicked off its 99th season with music from Mozart Tuesday at the Disney Concert Hall.
“Everybody knows about Mozart,” said maestro Gustavo Dudamel. “The best way to celebrate 99 is to play early years of Mozart.”
The child prodigy Mozart wrote his first piece of music at age 9, Dudamel pointed out before introducing an opera that was written when Mozart was 11. Soprano Anna Prohaska and countertenor Tim Mead sang “Discede Crudelis” from “Apollo et Hyacinthus” and later pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Yuja Wang energetically played a double concerto.
The evening was a fundraiser for the LA Phil’s Youth in Orchestra education program, some of whose participants performed at a post-concert dinner in a tent on Grand Avenue.
At the dinner, Gail Samuel, acting president and CEO of the LA Phil, talked about getting a younger audience interested in classical music.
“We have tried a lot of different things and the program that we have now really focused on is our Youth in Orchestra Los Angeles, our YOLA program, which is based on the El Sistema program that Gustavo grew up with in Venezuela. We’ve got 1,000 kids now in that program and many who have graduated and gone on to college. What we’re really finding is that that program is deeply meaningful and we’re really very focused on continuing to grow that program. It affects the students and their families and the community around it. It’s been pretty wonderful to see what comes out of it.”
As to how to get young adults to subscribe and donate to LA Phil, Samuels says: “It’s a constant challenge, our doors are open we offer different things, like tonight of Mozart, but even in the classical music realm we have wonderful concerts of new music and lots of different festivals. We have our CDMX festival coming up, which is the music of Mexico City. It’s ranging from new to classical artists to contemporary artists. Like we had at the Hollywood Bowl … trying to have something for everyone. And we do see it at the Hollywood Bowl, the entire community of Los Angeles and trying to bring that sensibility to the Concert Hall.”
Wang is a part of that outreach, she said, and Dudamel and the orchestra love performing with her.
As for the next season, Samuels said, “We are thinking a lot about our centennial; that is something that has been in the works for a while, but we’re really getting the pieces together now, figuring out what we’re going to do moving forward. The 2018-19 season will be our centennial season. The whole artistic season that year will be kind of a different level of intensity and wonderful and in addition to that we’ll have some other activities, in education and other things around that.”