Saturday evening saw the return of Gustavo Dudamel and the unflappable Los Angeles Philharmonic to Walt Disney Concert Hall after an absence of 579 days. There aren't words to describe the profundity and power of what took place. A seismic cracking open of our hearts and minds. A collective exhale of relief that the show might detour, turn course, go dark, deviate, but will hammer on nonetheless. In the company of luminaries like Angela Bassett and the theatre's architect, Frank Gehry, among countless others, Dudamel's wizardry and passion brought tears, hope, and thunderous applause.
The program, made possible with support from Rolex, commenced with an LA Phil commission, "Kauyumari",
by Gabriela Ortíz, which kicks off the artists' one-year curatorship of the multi-year Pan-American Music Initiative (PAMI). This immersive, jubilant piece was followed by a raucous yet razor sharp rendition of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, flawlessly anchored by visiting pianist sensation, Seong-Jin Cho. What followed was a mind-blowing triplet of soulful favorites by powerhouse Cynthia Ervo, delivered from within an extraordinary gown, capped with an even more dramatic smile. The final movement of Mahler's 1st Symphony—the first piece Dudamel conducted at Disney when assuming his post over a decade ago—sent the evening into the canon of unforgettable.
A gala dinner followed in the Jerry Moss Plaza, with a performance from YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) cellist Christine Kivi featuring J.S. Bach, followed by an electric performance from Drumline Live. Guests thereafter flittered into the night with a sense of purpose and pride restored after such a trying and lonely period.
George Eliot wrote in her iconic novel, Middlemarch
, "It is always fatal to have music or poetry interrupted." Well, if Saturday night proved anything, it's that the City of Angels' dogged pursuit of music and poetry is far from the fortunes of fate. No, the pursuit is eternal, no matter the unprecedented interruptions or obstacles at hand.