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LA Phil Launches SOUND/STAGE

August 25, 2020

The Los Angeles Philharmonic is taking a cue from Hollywood. This season, instead of concerts at Disney Hall, the orchestra will be sharing concert films, online and for free, part of a new digital project, SOUND/STAGE.

The nine-episode series, beginning Sept. 25, will feature LA Phil musicians and guest artists in new performances, recorded this summer at an empty Hollywood Bowl. As SFCV reported last week, these performances are possible in large part thanks to health and safety procedures pioneered by L.A.’s recording industry. (In fact, orchestral players have been designated “studio musicians” for the purposes of recording.)

With SOUND/STAGE, the LA Phil is taking cinematic inspiration and running with it. Directors James Lees and Charlie Buhler have overseen the series’ production, and in addition to video episodes, SOUND/STAGE will incorporate essays, interviews, playlists, and more from some big Hollywood names, including directors Alejandro Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel) and Rian Johnson (Knives Out, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.)

“You can’t replace the live experience, so what can the camera and online environment allow us to experience that being seated in a theater cannot?” LA Phil CEO Chad Smith explained. “As we were thinking about how to present the programs Gustavo put together, we knew we had to do something special. Because we’re here in Los Angeles, it was natural to take a more cinematic approach.”

Those programs planned by LA Phil Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, which make up the nine-episodes series, offer audiences a bit of the music they would hear from the orchestra any normal year.

SOUND/STAGE debuts Sept. 25 with a concert of three short works: George Walker’s Lyric for Strings, a movement from Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs, and the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, who partnered with the LA Phil for a worldwide benefit concert earlier this summer, joins Dudamel and the orchestra for the Lieberson.

Dudamel conducts five more programs, including a performance of Rhapsody in Blue with Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Oct. 2), a reprise of the LA Phil’s Power to People! festival (Oct. 9), and a concert of finales that ends with the “Fairy Garden” movement from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite (Nov. 20). Three L.A.-local guest artists add to the mix, playing their own programs: Andra Day on Oct. 16, Kamasi Washington on Oct. 30, and Chicano Batman on Nov. 13.

New episodes of SOUND/STAGE will be available every Friday, Sept. 25 through Nov. 20, online and for free.

And while live performances are on hold, the LA Phil continues to expand its virtual offerings. World Festival at the Hollywood Bowl reprises concerts at the venue from the past decade, Sundays at 6:30 p.m. PT on KCRW. More archival performances air as In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. PT on KCET and Fridays at 8 p.m. PT on PBS SoCal. And a slate of new streaming series from The Ford begins this month, all part of a new digital season.

Peter Feher is an editor at SFCV. He can be reached at [email protected].