LA Phil Music and Artistic Director Gustavo toasts the 100th season | Photos by Brian Lauritzen

Though it is only a youthful 98, the LA Phil unveiled plans for its 100th birthday Thursday afternoon at Walt Disney Concert Hall, and with great fanfare. Two great fanfares, in fact: the world premiere of an Andrew Norman work for solo trumpet, played by the orchestra’s superhuman Principal Trumpet Thomas Hooten, and a fanfare written for the orchestra by Witold Lutoslawski.

LA Phil bass trombone John Lofton unveils the new Resident Fellowship program

For years the LA Phil has been rocking the orchestral world by championing contemporary music on its subscription concerts, especially since the advent of Disney Hall. But the 2018-2019 season offers an explosion of new music: 50 commissions by a distinguished and diverse group of composers, including Steve Reich, Thomas Adès, Julia Adolphe, Billy Childs, Unsuk Chin, Adolphus Hailstork, and Ashley Fure. And the Green Umbrella series will be all world premiere commissions during the 2018-19 season. How to pay for all this? A $500 million centennial campaign is three-fifths completed. By the time it’s over, the orchestra hopes to have EVERY chair endowed. (Surprisingly given these huge ambitions, no announcement yet of Deborah Borda’s successor as President and CEO.)

Gustavo Dudamel will conduct a generous 14 weeks of concerts. Beloved former Music Directors Zubin Mehta and Esa-Pekka Salonen will spend quality time here as well. And we’ll see a family reunion of sorts with two former staff conductors with whom the orchestra has not remained as close: former principal guest conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and former music director André Previn. Previn will write a new piece for the fall of 2019.

KUSC’s Brian Lauritzen, far left, celebrates 100 years of the LA Phil with ‘top brass’ from the orchestra and members of its creative staff

As my esteemed KUSC colleague, LA Phil radio host Brian Lauritzen said following the gathering at Disney Hall, “Perhaps most important to me is the new musician-led initiative to create a fellowship program for young musicians from underserved and underprivileged communities. The players looked around their orchestra (and other US orchestras) and asked, “Is our orchestra a reflection of the city it represents?” They recognized the answer to that question is “no”, and have now committed to helping right this wrong. Classical music is for everyone. Kudos to the musicians of the LA Phil for creating an initiative that will help realize the dream of becoming a classical musician for individuals who might not otherwise dare to dream.“

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