Phil’s Final Feat

This marks the last year that the Phil will be in residence at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion before moving into the Walt Disney Concert Hall at Grand Avenue and First Street in Downtown. Despite the excitement of occupying the new Frank Gehry-designed performance space, Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen has kept a focused eye (and ear) on the musical programming.

“The main challenge was to create programming that was substantial, artistically challenging and satisfying,” explains Salonen. “I believe that next season promises one of the most interesting seasons we have presented and a fitting tribute as our last at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.”

To mark the event, Salonen and his staff have created a bill of both accessible and more challenging music, bookended by two classic pieces.

Opening the season Oct. 3 is Carl Orff’s crowd-pleasing “Carmina Burana.” Sometimes referred to as Orff’s “one-hit wonder,” the gorgeous, if haunting, work has been popularized in recent years by its use in a mass of commercials hawking everything from cars to armed forces enlistment. This will be Salonen’s first time conducting the piece.

Splitting the bill with Burana is Bartok’s “Miraculous Mandarin,” which is miraculous in and of itself, seeing how the composer wrote it in 1919 while living in a post-World War I village east of Budapest that had no electricity and no running water. To make matters worse, Bartok was ill with Spanish influenza.

On May 25, 2003, the season’s last night as well as its final performance in the Pavilion, Pierre Boulez will lead the orchestra in Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony No. 45. In the piece, the players each exit upon finishing their parts, one by one. Only two violins remain at the end.

In between Orff’s hello and Haydn’s goodbye is a season teeming with local, national and world premieres.

On Jan. 16, 18 and 19 conductor Salonen leads the Philharmonic’s English hornist, Carolyn Hove, and the orchestra in the world premiere of William Kraft’s “English Horn Concerto,” a piece commissioned by the Phil.

Salonen will also lead the world premiere of Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz’s “Concerto for Percussion” on Jan. 23, 25 and 26. Ortiz’s work is framed by a Latin-themed program that also features Copland’s “El Salon Mexico”. A performance of Silvestre Revueltas’ score for the 1936 Fred Zinnemann and Paul Strand film Redes will be accompanied by the movie as part of a collaboration with the Latin-American Cinemateca of Los Angeles.

Another world premiere comes courtesy of principal trombonist Ralph Sauer, who performs composer Augusta Read Thomas’ “Trombone Concerto” March 29-30. The work, to be led by Salonen, was commissioned by the Phil and written specifically for Sauer.

Among the U.S. premieres are Italian composer Alberto Colla’s “Le rovine di Palmira,” which shares the bill with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 26 and Brahms’ Fourth Symphony on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1-2. The composer wrote the critically lauded work in 1999 when only 30 years old.

Inspired by a monologue by Samuel Beckett, which centered on an old woman’s lullaby to herself, British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage created “Your Rockaby,” a piece for solo saxophone and orchestra. The concerto was written in 1994 for soloist Martin Robertson, who performs the work Feb. 21- 23.

Gerald Levinson’s “Five Fires for orchestra” premieres in Los Angeles April 10-12. Conductor David Zinman will lead the troops.

“Our final season at the Pavilion is one of both reflection and celebration, as we examine the musical milestones of the past four decades in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion,” says vice president and managing director Deborah Borda.

Smoothing the Phil’s transition to the new venue is the recent announcement that Salonen will remain as the orchestra’s music director and conductor at least through the 2005-2006 season.

“Nothing gives me greater assurance about the future of the Los Angeles Philharmonic than the fact that Esa-Pekka Salonen is so strongly committed to our shared future,” says Borda. “His inspired vision and music making is an essential part of the required chemistry here.

“This fact is no secret throughout the national and international music community, and neither is the fact that he chooses to remain here to craft a musical life, which has substance and meaning,” Borda continues.

Salonen began his official tenure with the orchestra in 1992 after guest conducting every season following his U.S. debut with the Phil in 1984.

“When I came to the orchestra in 1984, I immediately felt the Philharmonic would be a major part of my life. Now, years later, I still feel excited and stimulated working with these musicians,” says Salonen.

“We are in the middle of an incredibly important time in the life of this orchestra and I can think of no other place I would rather be than in Los Angeles,” he adds.

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is at 135 N. Grand Ave., (323) 850-2000 or www.laphil.org.