Metro Art Bus
One of Los Angeles County’s Metro Art Buses | Credit: John McCoy

Have you ever dreamed of conducting an orchestra? In your fantasy life, are you Gustavo Dudamel or Marin Alsop, raising your baton to summon the mighty sound of a symphony?

If so, you will have no problem choosing from the dozens of options at your disposal on Saturday, Oct. 21, when Grand Avenue Arts: All Access, a free daylong event featuring offerings from some of Southern California’s most prestigious cultural organizations, takes over downtown Los Angeles.

You’ll be at the Colburn School at 1 p.m. when Maxim Eshkenazy, director of orchestras for Colburn’s Community School of Performing Arts, will lead aspiring maestros in a mini-conducting workshop. No experience is necessary to participate, and people of all ages are welcome.

This will be the seventh All Access festival, the largest to date, with offerings from 14 organizations ranging from the Los Angeles Philharmonic to Metro Art, the cultural arm of the city’s light-rail system. Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center, called it an opportunity “for Angelenos to easily explore the playground of cultural spaces along Grand Avenue and connect with one another through the magic of the arts.”

Maxim Eshkenazy
Conductor Maxim Eshkenazy at last year’s Grand Avenue Arts event | Credit: John McCoy

Many of the musical activities will take place on Jerry Moss Plaza, which connects The Music Center’s three original theaters (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theatre, and Mark Taper Forum). Other offerings will be scattered along Grand Avenue, as far south as the historic Los Angeles Central Library, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Among the offerings:

The Broad museum will allow participants to take a photo of themselves and then transform it into an Andy Warhol-style portrait. Budding artists can also follow in the footsteps of Julie Mehretu and use maps of Los Angeles as canvases on which to create their own works.

LA Opera will offer behind-the-scenes talks in which experts discuss the process of bringing an opera to the stage. It will also present two recitals, at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., which will feature some of opera’s greatest hits, as well as highlights from the upcoming season.

The LA Phil will present performances by the violin quartet and brass quintet of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. It will also offer a workshop in which participants will learn about how a violin is constructed — and then make their own using common household materials.

At the Mark Taper Forum, which is currently closed due to budget problems, Center Theatre Group will present workshops that combine elements of theater production, puppetry, and storytelling.

Besides Eshkenazy’s conducting workshop, Colburn will present performances by students, an instrument petting zoo, and an “open sing” workshop for vocalists of all ages, led by Choir Director Adrian Dunn.

And if your taste is more attuned to underground art, there will be tours of the newly opened Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Metro station, which features large-scale artworks by Ann Hamilton, Pearl C. Hsiung, and Mungo Thomson.

All events are free, but visitors are encouraged to RSVP at the Grand Avenue Arts website for updated information.