July 10, 2003
The Walt Disney Concert Hall has not opened yet, but, no doubt, you will point out the downtown Los Angeles edifice to your out-of-town visitors when you play tourist guide this summer. That's because the hall's colossal, flowing panoply of flapping pantiles -- based on a squiggle by iconic architect Frank Gehry -- has a distinctive design that would stand out in even the busiest of cityscapes.
Come Nov. 16, the concert hall will become the new home of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. And a crisp jolt of electricity was in the air at the recent "On Wings of Steel" gala supporting the Master Chorale, which celebrated its impending big move with a performance that poignantly marked a simultaneous season and series finale: after 39 seasons, the chorale will leave its former home across the street at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Chorale conductor Grant Gershon charmed the crowd with some self-deprecating wit between movie medleys, which included a John Williams suite and the Ladino music from "Triumph of the Spirit," a 1989 film that starred Willem Dafoe as a Jewish boxer who survived the Holocaust by competing in Nazi boxing matches. Gershon also led his musical group in a piece from the Coen brothers' "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" which he described as "a shotgun marriage between Homer's 'Odyssey' and a Three Stooges short."
Before the performance, Gehry told The Circuit over cocktails and hors d'oeuvres that his artistic goal with the new venue was "to make a place that was intimate. The artist and the audience would be closer together."
The interior layout of the concert hall, which took 14 years and nearly $300 million to build, was modeled after the Berlin Philharmonic's. As for the eye-catching exterior -- a drapery of undulating forms "The acoustical forms generated on the inside, I wanted to express on the outside as sails," Gehry said.
Roy Disney, who spoke on behalf of the Disney estate, told the crowd that Uncle Walt would have been proud of the concert hall. Gehry addressed the audience with a few "Frank" comments about sneaking into the in-progress concert hall with violinist Martin Chalifour and "a lot of vodka" to test out the auditorium's acoustics.
The next time Gershon will command a chorale performance will be on Oct. 23, with a grand opening concert at the Disney hall, which will serve as a preamble for the new concert season in November.
The "Wings of Steel" soiree, which raised $150,000, made Gehry happy to be in Los Angeles. As he told The Circuit, he does not subscribe to the cultural lashing that critics often unleash on our city, which, after all, is the progenitor of Modernist, Googie and other unique architectural movements.
"New York got kind of provincial," the famed architect said. "And this place is freedom. I hope it doesn't change."
For information on the Los Angeles Master Chorale, call (213) 972-7282 or visit www.lamc.org .
Avram Salkin, senior member of the Beverly Hills law firm Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher and Perez, P.C., is the 2003 recipient of the Los Angeles County Bar Association's Dana Latham award for lifetime achievement in the practice of tax law, which was presented to him at the Omni Hotel. Keynote speaker at the event was B. John Williams, chief counsel, Internal Revenue Service.
Banking on Tabach-Bank
This month, Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services announced the installation of Bradley Tabach-Bank as the organization's new board chairman. The Westwood lawyer, who this year joined the law firm of Reish, Luftman, McDaniel and Reicher, has held numerous leadership positions over his decade-plus years with Vista Del Mar.