Giving harmony to L.A.

In 1987, Lillian Disney, wife of Walt Disney, gave a $50 million gift to create a music hall for the city of L.A.

With a piece of land leased by the county to create the building in downtown, architect Frank Gehry began working on the project, designed to mix the civic and cultural life of L.A.

The five-floor building is made up of more than 6,000 steel plates on the outside, of which very few are identical, and stands at the corner of Grand Avenue and First Street.

The building provides Angelenos another source of cultural expansion through music.

Music found in every corner

Some of the concerts that have been hosted in the hall include: “Bach Fest with Helmuth Rilling” and “Beethoven Missa solemnis,” both playing tribute to composers Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.

“A performer always wants a perfect environment for their music,” art professor Norm Looney said. “At this place, you sound your best because it’s such a good acoustic hall; it’s perfect for a performer.”

Upcoming events include :”Toon Tunes for Families,” which will feature music animation and “Stone to Steel,” which will consist of music from the gothic era. The inaugural season for 2003- 2004 will end June 15 when a combination of new stars perform “The New Broadway.”

More than just music to enjoy

The music hall does not offer only musical concerts to the public. There are self-guided audio tours that anyone can attend for $10; senior citizens and students pay $8.

However, the tour doesn’t take the public into the auditorium due to the large number of rehearsals that take place prior to each performance. Yet other parts of the hall are available and have other sights to offer.

The third floor of the concert hall pays tribute to those who contributed money for the creation of the building.

With stainless steel letters embedded in gray felt, corporations like Ralphs/Food 4 Less, the W.M. Keck Foundation, The Boeing Company and SBS Foundation are immortalized in the walls of the hall and some even have a part of the building named after them.

Children may also find music solace

The music center’s Education Division engages in programs that take place in their W.M. Keck Foundation Children’s Amphitheater. The semicircle amphitheater, made of concrete and steel rails, is next to the music hall on its third floor garden. The audio tour calls this an “attempt to make children feel comfortable and not overwhelmed by the surroundings.”

The hall is also the host to the only permanent exhibition space for the Library of Congress outside of Washington D.C. The exhibit changes every six months but always displays music, architecture or film memorabilia.

In the displays are vinyl records of “The Mamas and the Papas,” Ritchie Valenz’s music notes for his song “Come On let’s Go” and a Hit Kit from the former owner of the Anaheim Angels, Gene Autry. Every object is a loan and must be returned in the conditions in which they are received.

Landmarks viewed from all sides

From the third floor garden, one can get a view of many buildings in L.A. To the south, for example, is the Los Angeles Public Library; one can also get a view of the cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels; to the east is City Hall and to the west is the Los Angeles Times.

In the middle of all these buildings, the concert hall blends in with its surroundings, while still maintaining its own identity. The double glass used for the building’s windows and glass doors prevent any outside noise from entering the hall and the garden offers a place to relax amid a variation of greenery.

“L.A. is so interesting and diverse, yet we don’t have landmarks like other cities,” Looney said. “Paris has the Eiffel Tower and New York has the Empire State Building. Not to compare the Disney hall with the Eiffel tower, but it does put L.A. on the map, showing that we do have architecture.”