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How Esa-Pekka Salonen Sees (And Hears) Walt Disney Concert Hall

Hit play below to listen to part one and two of our Arts Alive interview with Esa-Pekka Salonen.

How Esa-Pekka Salonen Sees (And Hears) Walt Disney Concert Hall
    This fall marks the 15th anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall. (I know, right?!) It took even longer than that for Frank Gehry’s vision to become reality, but everyone—especially the LA Phil’s Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen—says it was worth the wait. Salonen is in town for the next two weeks conducting his own music at Walt Disney Concert Hall, including Wing on Wing—a tone-poem he wrote inspired by the hall and incorporating the voice of architect Frank Gehry.

“Every time I see this building, every time I come in, every time I hear a note of music being played inside,” Salonen tells me, “I feel grateful and I’m deeply satisfied.”

Salonen says Walt Disney Concert Hall is more than just a nice place to hear music. It represents something bigger than that.

“What we do, i.e. performers, is that we play concerts and then the moment the last note has sounded, it’s gone. The moment is over. The whole thing is very fragile. But there is this hall which is not fragile. It’s built to last—survive the Big One, even. And it’s going to be here. So, there’s some kind of a document of a massive effort by a huge number of people, from civic leaders of LA, us musicians, Frank [Gehry], [acoustician Yasuhisa] Toyota, and all the designers. But also, a countless number of people who contributed in some way: the people who built it, the people who donated money—from millions to just a few bucks—but everything mattered in this. I see the fact that the hall is here as a sort of proof or evidence for almost impossible utopian things being possible, if people put their minds into it. That’s what happened in LA: enough people felt that this has to happen. And then it happened. And it’s very encouraging.”

Esa-Pekka Salonen is the Conductor Laureate of the LA Phil. He was the orchestra’s music director 15 years ago when Walt Disney Concert Hall first opened to the public. Salonen’s tone poem Wing on Wing, inspired by Frank Gehry’s sail-like formations on the exterior of Disney Hall, will be performed next weekend inside the hall.

The performance of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Wing on Wing is part of the LA Phil’s festival called “Composer Salonen,” which begins tomorrow night with a performance of Salonen’s newest concerto—a work written for and performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Later this weekend, Salonen leads performances of two of his other concertos: the Violin Concerto with soloist Leila Josefowicz and the Piano Concerto with soloist Yefim Bronfman. You can learn more about the upcoming performances here.

Written by:
Brian Lauritzen
Brian Lauritzen
Published on 10.01.2018