The Los Angeles Philharmonic opened its 2011/12 season with Music Director Gustavo Dudamel and Creative Chair for Jazz Herbie Hancock with an all-Gershwin concert and evening of vintage glamour, Tuesday, September 27, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The evening - Rhapsody in Blue: Opening Night Concert and Gala - was taped by PBS for broadcast in the U.S. and Europe at a later date, and the audio was broadcast live on Classical KUSC, APM affiliated stations, ClassicalAPM.org and NPR.org.
The evening began with the arrival of music stars Quincy Jones and Wayne Shorter, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabar, film composer John Williams, music producer David Foster, and actors Don Johnson and Luke McFarland, who walked a signature-blue carpet up to the Grand stairway of Walt Disney Concert Hall. Local officials in attendance included Los Angeles County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Glora Molina; Los Angeles City County President Pro Tempore Jan Perry; and LA City Council President Eric Garcetti. They were joined by Gala Co-Chairs Joan Hotchkis and David C. Bohnett, along with more than 600 Gala patrons for the special evening.
At the pre-concert reception in BP Hall, guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d'oeuvres while surrounded by a décor of blue damask-draped cocktail tables, gardenias floating in tall cylindrical vases, and a center bar topped with a white ostrich-plumed centerpiece.
The all-Gershwin concert featured some of the composer's best-loved orchestral pieces: Cuban Overture, American in Paris, followed by Herbie Hancock's improvisation of Embraceable You and Someone to Watch Over Me. The concert closed with Rhapsody in Blue, which brought the audience to their feet for a rousing standing ovation. Final bows were accompanied by a confetti drop of blue and silver mylar.
Following the concert, the celebratory atmosphere continued on Grand Avenue where costumed showgirls lined up outside the "Rhapsody in Blue" supper club to welcome guests to dinner with a martini or champagne cocktail. The interior was a nod to the glamour of the ‘30s era: palm trees framed the doorways and the two standing bars on either side of the "club," and the tables were set either in ivory or deep blue and decorated with silver lamps and gardenias or orchids with ostrich feathers. The décor was complemented by a row of banquette tables, with classic film posters and mirrors hung above them.
Following welcoming remarks by LA Phil President Deborah Borda and Chairman David C. Bohnett, guests were treated to a menu created by Patina Chef Joachim Splichal, which showcased favorite classics with a modern update. The meal started with a pre-set Crab Louis with shrimp, followed by a "deconstructed" Beef Wellington with bordelaise, pomme duchesse and a timbale of broccoli, with dessert being an individual Baked Alaska. The wines served were Beckmen Vineyards 2010 Estate Sauvignon Blanc and a 2009 Cuvée le Bec, generously donated by LA Phil Board member Thomas L. Beckman.
During dinner, the guests were treated to a "Ziegfeld Follies"-style production number with showgirls and a ballroom and tap performance that culminated with a confetti drop. The dance band "Impulse" provided a combination of swing and contemporary tunes to lure guests to the dance floor throughout the evening.
The Rhapsody in Blue Gala Committee included Gala Co-Chairs David C. Bohnett and Joan Hotchkis; Honorary Chair Eloisa Maturén Dudamel and Gigi Hancock; Maria Bell, Lynn A. Booth, Carey Cullinane, Margaret Eberhardt, Jane B. Eisner, Kimberly Marteau Emerson, Lenore S. Greenberg, Joyce A. Kresa, Ginny Mancini, Soraya Sarah Nazarian, Nancy S. Sanders, Carla Sands, Sutton Stracke, Alan J. Vorwald and Alyce Williamson. The Grand Avenue Gala party was created by Gai Klass Event Productions.
All Gala proceeds support the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its education programs, including YOLA, the signature program of Gustavo Dudamel. The Gala concert was made possible with the proud support of Rolex, the Official Timepiece of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Rhapsody in Blue: Opening Night Concert and Gala was recorded for future telecast by Bernhard Fleischer Moving Images, THIRTEEN for WNET, WDR/Arte, C Major Entertainment and the Los Angeles Philharmonic as part of the PBS performing arts series Great Performances. Additionally, the concert was broadcast live on Classical KUSC and other radio stations throughout the country and audio streamed live on ClassicalAPM.org and NPR.org, with a live chat room at ClassicalAPM.org, NPR.org and KUSC.org. The concert also will be available via on-demand streaming on NPR.org, KUSC.org and ClassicalAPM.org until October 5, and broadcast on APM's SymphonyCast on radio stations across the country during the week of October 17th.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under the vibrant leadership of Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, presents an inspiring array of music from all genres - orchestral, chamber and Baroque music, organ and celebrity recitals, new music, jazz, world music and pop - at two of L.A.'s iconic venues, Walt Disney Concert Hall (www.laphil.com) and the Hollywood Bowl (www.hollywoodbowl.com). The LA Phil's season at Walt Disney Concert Hall extends from October through May, and throughout the summer at the Hollywood Bowl. With the preeminent Los Angeles Philharmonic at the foundation of its offerings, the LA Phil aims to enrich and transform lives through music, with a robust mix of artistic, education and community programs.