SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO GO DOWNTOWN

Given the frustrating traffic inundating Los Angeles, my arts and entertainment commentaries on public radio 97.5 KBU and websites everywhere have been on the more accessible cultural venues on the west side.

The sad fact is traffic is the tail that wags the cultural dog in L.A., which for many of us has morphed from our hometown to crazy town.

But sometimes in the pursuit of culture you just have to go Downtown, to the Music Center and the Disney Concert Hall, and just gird yourself for the usual two plus hours in stop-and-go freeway traffic to get there.

Such was an evening recently when we braved the traffic to go the Disney for a stellar program of early cutting edge 20th century music, composed by three brilliant symphonist of the period, Igor Stravinsky, Bela Bartok, and Leos Janacek.

Up to the challenge was the increasing adept and praised Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and for the Stravinsky and Janacek compositions, the Los Angeles Master Choral and four solo singers.

Though without question if repeated curtain calls, standing ovations and thunderous applause is any measure, and my own cheering, the super star of the evening was the astonishing young pianist Yuja Wang.

The 30-year-old Wang is known not only for her musicality, but also for her stunning outfits. She did not disappoint.

Her jaunty entrance in a shimmering, tight, rose gold colored metallic gown, split up to the top of her thighs, stirred the audience. And then there was the four-inch high heels that made you wonder if she could work the pedals, as needed.

But this just added to the excitement of her playing the very challenging Bartok Piano Concerto Number One, which she did with verve and dexterity. It was, in a word, breathtaking.

With her energetic attack of the keyboard, she more than matched the percussion-dominated reverberations of the orchestra under the busy baton of an enthusiastic and obviously pleased Dudamel. It took your breath away.

Yes, the Bartok concerto was bookended by a sensitive short Stravinsky requiem, and a spirited, edgy Janacek mass, accented by a striking solo organ movement. Both compositions were engrossing.

But it was Wang that marked the evening as memorable. We flew home to Malibu on the freeway in a state of euphoria.

 

 

 

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hallkaplan

Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.

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