Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, Barbican International Orchestral Partner Residency, 18-20 November 2019
The Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, is celebrating its centenary this year. The LA Phil was founded by William Andrews Clark, Jr., a millionaire and amateur musician, as the city’s first permanent symphony orchestra in 1919, and it has grown to become one of the world’s outstanding orchestras. Its groundbreaking and diverse programming, on stage and in the community, reflects the orchestra’s artistry and demonstrates its vision. For 10 years now, London audiences have had a chance to get to know the orchestra and its innovative Music Director particularly closely, thanks to their regular Barbican residencies as part of a partnership that was signed just over a decade ago. The recently renewed partnership will now see the orchestra visit the Barbican for annual residencies over the course of the next three seasons. In the past seasons, this relationship has been showcasing the many sides of the orchestra’s varied programming, but it has also allowed the LA Phil and the Barbican Guildhall team to work on an innovative creative learning programme. This has, amongst others, brought young people from LA and London together to rehearse and perform music with Dudamel, as well as to discuss the future of the arts in a Youth Manifesto.
The Barbican’s International Orchestral Partner, LA Phil and Dudamel will arrive for their next residency 18-20 November 2019, the first of three annual residencies. During this residency they will present a cross-section of the Philharmonic’s illustrious history and its commitment to new commissions addressing pertinent themes. Soloists in the Barbican concerts feature remarkable pianists Herbie Hancock and Yuja Wang. For this orchestra, a centennial is more than a celebration of the past. It is an opportunity to define the future.
The programmes include the much-anticipated London premieres of two special LA Phil centennial commissions from two American composers. The concert on 20 November features Andrew Norman’s Sustain: a 2019 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Music, and piece that has been hailed as “a new American masterpiece” in The New Yorker, “sublime” by The New York Times, and “a near out-of-body acoustic experience that sounds like, and feels like, the future we want” in the Los Angeles Times. Norman says “Midway through writing ‘Sustain’ I discovered that I was really writing a piece about the earth, and my — and our — relationship to it. All the work I was doing with long spans of musical time and geologically unfolding sonic processes was in many ways my attempt to place us, the listeners in Walt Disney Concert Hall, in relation to things in nature, which are unfathomably bigger and longer than we are. And if there is a sense of sadness or loss that permeates this music, it comes from the knowledge that we, at this critical moment in our history, are not doing enough to sustain the planet that sustains us, that we are not preparing our home for those who will inhabit it in the next hundred, thousand, or million years.” Another London premiere is a new piano concerto by the LA Phil’s Creative Chair John Adams on 18 November, featuring dazzling soloist Yuja Wang: Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? About the title, Adams says “I thought to myself, ‘that’s a good title just waiting for a piece.’ The phrase suggested a ‘Totentanz’, only not of the Lisztian manner, but more of a funk-invested American-style.” The concerto is in one continuous movement, with the piano soloist active throughout. This performance also marks the beginning of the Barbican’s season-long Yuja Wang: Artist Spotlight.
On 19 November, the LA Phil and Gustavo Dudamel are joined by the legendary jazz pianist and 14-time Grammy™ Award winner Herbie Hancock who is the Philharmonic’s Creative Chair for Jazz. Hancock will perform selections of his own material with the orchestra as well as a full band set. Two days earlier, on 17 November, Hancock, his trademark keytar and band can be heard at the Barbican as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.
The residency programme also includes Bruckner’s monumental Symphony No 4, Romantic, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, music by Ginastera, and the European premieres of two further LA Phil centennial commissions from Venezuelan composer Paul Desenne and from Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz. Desenne’s Guasamacabra mixes guasa (the Venezuelan musical genre of funny, even infantile rhymes set to simple music) with the macabre. Desenne explains: “Witnessing the unbelievable final collapse of Venezuela this past year, as I was composing this piece, I could only think of writing a guasa; a big Guasa Macabra that would start with a fresh, innocent tune quickly evolving into a much more complicated and even dramatic affair.” Gabriela Ortiz’ Téenek, Invenciones de Territorio takes its title from Téenek, the language of a region in Mexico and also the word for “local man”. In a series of inventions, the composition reflects on the importance of reaffirming identities through fragmentation. The seemingly dissimilar inventions which find their strength in their differences and musical development, are interwoven and transformed over time in a discourse that shows how the existence of borders may be diluted in pursuit of the idea that our potential future lies in recognising our differences.
At the heart of the residency is a creative learning programme that brings together young musicians from Los Angeles and the UK, in a partnership between Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYO). NYO delivers NYO Inspire activity throughout the year. This provides free experiences for young musicians from across the UK (playing at Grade 6+), who have the least access to orchestral opportunities, giving them the opportunity to play side-by-side with NYO musicians. Rehearsals will be led by NYO musicians and the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) in a day that will celebrate and nurture inspirational young leaders. On the morning of 20 November, Inspire participants will have the opportunity to perform together with young musicians from the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles in an open rehearsal at the Barbican, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. The orchestra will be made up of over 100 young musicians and called the Tuning into Change Orchestra, reminding audiences of the Youth Manifesto created during the last residencies. The manifesto advocates for the arts as a tool for social change and activism and celebrates the voice of young people and their potential to influence. The Creative Learning element of the residency also includes 15 masterclasses at Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Nine of these masterclasses are open to the public, offering the chance to witness LA Phil players passing on their knowledge to Guildhall School musicians.