articles / Pop Culture

We Love LA (Arts)!

LA Sunset
If you take the driving tour mapped out in Randy Newman’s iconic anthem, chances are you’ll encounter some homegrown art along the way. There’s no lack of talented and innovative artists who have chosen to call the City of Angels home. You know it; I know it…and every now and then, the national arts media takes notice.

Recently, the online publication Musical America listed a number of Southern California artists/admins on their list of “30 Professionals of the Year: The Innovators.”

Walt Disney Music Hall
Christopher Koelsch, President and CEO of Los Angeles Opera, who has fast-tracked the young company into the 21st century with innovative new productions, series, and partnerships.

Benjamin Mitchell, Founder and President of the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, a conductor-less ensemble that is one of the most successful classical music organizations at getting young people in their audiences. A concert last season at the LA Theatre Centre (with food trucks and on-site bar, natch) was so popular the line of millennials went out the door, down the street, and the concert start was delayed so they could pack everyone in to hear the music of Mozart, Schoenberg, and a premiere by composer Alyssa Weinberg.

Chad Smith, COO of the LA Phil, and the man who pow-wows with Gustavo Dudamel about the artistic vision of the orchestra and keeps it the most forward-thinking/looking/sounding orchestra in the world. The envy of all others.  And, according to the chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Sir Simon Rattle, a role model for orchestras around the world. (Hear my complete conversation with Sir Simon Rattle this week on Arts Alive, Saturday at 8:00 a.m.)

Josh Shaw, Artistic Director of Pacific Opera Project, or as they like to be called: POP. Speaking of millennials…they, apparently, like opera. At least, they like opera the way Shaw and POP are doing it. In non-traditional spaces and with cool settings like aboard the Enterprise in a Star Trek-themed performance of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio.

The praise for Los Angeles Opera continued in a piece by Alex Ross in The New Yorker. Ross pointed out that LA Opera has found its identity as a performer, promoter, and supporter of modern opera. Whether it’s modern productions of classics like The Magic Flute and Dido and Aeneas, or performances of modern operas like Philip Glass’s Akhnaten and new works by Missy Mazzoli, David Lang, and Ted Hearne, Ross says LA Opera is doing things the right way.

Ross also singles out the most innovative opera company in the Southland (perhaps in the country) The Industry. The company’s performances show what is possible in the realm of opera in the 21st century. Last season’s Hopscotch is still one of the most buzzy operatic experiences anywhere—a work composed by dozens of composers and performed in limousines cruising around the freeways and surface streets of Los Angeles. While The Industry’s productions tend to be quite expensive and not without cultural controversy, they balanced out the accessibility issue this season with a couple of free events and installations. Their next full-scale show is a performance of Lou Harrison’s scandalous Young Caesar, set for June 2017.

It’s all happening right under our noses, whether the national arts media notices or not. As with the hot restaurants and clubs in this town, sometimes it can be a bit challenging to find out what’s happening and where. But, as always, KUSC is here for you! You can always check the KUSC Events Calendar for a complete guide to all of the cool art happening in our midst.

Written by:
Brian Lauritzen
Brian Lauritzen
Published on 12.15.2016