Introducing the Walt Disney Concert Hall!

Auditorium view of stage

As I stood by the "A Rose for Lilly" fountain in the Walt Disney Concert Hall Public Garden, I could view downtown Los Angeles below and through the skyscrapers nearby, stretching upward, I could see the sky above.  Could this possibly be Los Angeles?  Skyscrapers in Los Angeles, could this be the place where buildings once had to be low because of earthquakes? As a student at Los Angeles High School in the 50's, I frequently attended concerts presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Alfred Wallenstein.  I learned to appreciate orchestral music, as well as dance, drama, and musical theater. It was possible to usher and to see companies from all over the world as they passed through what was then the Los Angeles Philharmonic Auditorium

View from Grand Ave.

And here I was, in a "state of the art" concert hall which presents a facility one would never dreamed of until recently.  With the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion completed, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra needed a real home and it was Lillian Disney who sought to provide this as a tribute to Walt.  It only took sixteen years and lots of help from many friends. Lillian had input into the selection of Frank Gehry's architectural firm and had participated in many of the plans but did not live to see the completed project.

Walt Disney Hall model

What an amazing building it is.  The artists are treated very well, as are the patrons.  There is luxurious space for changing, practicing, snacking and contemplating.  The walls are lined with stills from Fantasia.  One picture in particular shows the conductor and his orchestra.  It is ironic that the stage depicted in the film, looks just like the stage of the concert hall.

View from 2nd & Grand

The exterior is clad with dramatically curved stainless steel panels.  The interior carpet and the seats of the auditorium were designed in a colorful floral pattern especially designed by Frank Gehry in honor of Lillian Disney who loved gardens.

Although the Concert Hall Auditorium is the core of the building and its reason for being, there are so many other aspects, one could almost skip this and many tours do. However, the design provides visual and aural intimacy for performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.  In the fall of 2004, the 6,125 pipe organ will make its debut. To read about the debut of the organ go to our story Walt Disney Concert Hall Organ Finally Ready

The Walt Disney Concert Hall Community Park was underwritten by the State of California.  Its centerpiece is a hand-sculpted fountain in the form of a giant rose made of Delft China pieces, designed by Frank Gehry in honor of Lillian Disney as a gift from her grand and great-grandchildren.

A Rose for Lilly fountain

As a student in Los Angeles and as an orchestra member, I was able to attend Los Angeles Philharmonic Concerts free and if I were a student today I may have been one of the 3,000 children who were able to preview the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  It would have been a thrill.

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