After seeing the outside of the Walt Disney Concert hall on their many previous excursions into LA, a group of students were finally able to experience what goes on inside during a recent Avodah to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. All would agree it was a night to remember!
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of the best designed buildings for acoustics, and the LA Philharmonic who calls it their home is one of the top ten in America. It is conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, a talented young conductor from Venezuela who some have hailed as a prodigy and the leader of a musical revolution. The night of the Avodah they performed three pieces. The first was “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” by John Adams. The second was a new piece, “Magnetar,” which was premiered the night before the students attended. It was composed by Enrico Chapela on commission by the La Philharmonic for the electric cello. The cello solo was played by Johannes Moser, a world renowned cellist. The final piece was Prokofiev’s popular Fifth Symphony.
After the concert, students reflected on the beauty and unique value of art of this kind. They talked through the history of each of the pieces, and realized how important a knowledge of context can be in understanding a piece. For instance, Prokofiev’s piece was written near the end of World War 2 and was the only one of his symphonies which the dictator allowed to be played. This explains the victorious sound which is apparent in the piece. This is a good example of the value of a liberal arts education, learning to combine knowledge of music with that of other disciplines such as history. The more knowledge one has gained in a wide field of information, the more levels they would be able to appreciate the music on.
Students also commented on the significance of this event happening in LA. They noted the city’s role as a meeting of cultures all over the world: the composers were from America, Mexico and Russia, the conductor was from Venezuela, the cellist was from Germany and the musicians themselves represented many different races and ethnicities. This provides a unique opportunity for those who live in and around the city; it is a great privilege to be able to experience the best talent around the world and to hear both the similarities and differences between the pieces and styles represented in the concert.
The discussion was finished by tying in the value of an excursion like this to the mission of Providence Christian College. Students concluded that supporting art of this type was supporting the God-given gifts of these people to be sub creators responding to the world in which God has put them. Gaining knowledge of music and musical history is also tenant of a liberal arts education. Finally, to attend the Philharmonic is to engage culture from both LA and the other countries around the world who contributed to the music performed. Students were blessed to witness the Los Angeles Philharmonic filling its role in preserving and recreating music.