Walt Disney Concert Hall

From Academic Kids

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Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA
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Another view
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Walt Disney Concert Hall at night

The Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, California is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center. Bounded by Hope Street, Grand Avenue, 1st and 2nd Streets, it seats 2,265 people and serves (among other purposes) as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Frank Gehry-designed building opened on October 23, 2003 and features his trademark steel cladding. While the architecture (as with other Gehry works) evoked mixed opinions, the acoustics of the concert hall were widely praised in contrast to its predecessor, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Construction

The project was launched in 1987, when Lillian Disney, widow of Walt Disney, donated $50 million. Gehry delivered completed designs in 1991. Construction of the underground parking garage began in 1992 and was completed in 1996. The garage cost has been variously estimated between $90 million to $110 million, and was paid for by Los Angeles County, which sold bonds to provide the garage under the site of the planned hall.

However, construction of the concert hall itself stalled from 1994 to 1996 due to cost overruns, mismanagement and disagreements over the project's design. Eli Broad and then-mayor Richard Riordan restarted the fundraising efforts in late 1996, and groundbreaking for the hall was held in December 1999.

Upon completion in 2003, the project had cost an estimated $274 million, including the parking garage. The remainder of the total cost was paid by private donations, of which the Disney family's contribution was estimated to $84.5 million with another $25 million from The Walt Disney Company. By comparison, the three existing halls of the Music Center cost $35 million in the 1960s.

Organ

The design of the hall included a large concert organ, completed in 2004, which was used in a special concert for the 2004 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists, in July of that year. The organ had its public debut in a non-subscription recital performed by Frederick Swann, on September 30th, 2004, and its first public performance with the Philharmonic two days later, in a concert featuring Todd Wilson.

The organ's Gehry-designed facade sparked a great deal of controversy, as it includes a large number of pipes deliberately set at odd angles. Some people viewing early renderings and models compared it to a bag of French-fried potatoes. Nearly everybody who has seen the finished installation, however, agree that it fits perfectly with the design of the hall.

The organ was built by the German organbuilder Caspar Glatter-Götz, under the tonal direction of Manuel Rosales; their other collaborations include the installations for United Church of Christ congregations in Claremont, CA, and Palos Verdes, CA. It has an attached console, built into the base of the instrument, from which approximately half the ranks are playable by direct mechanical, or "tracker" key action, with the rest playing by electropneumatic key action; this console somewhat resembles North-German Baroque organs, and has a closed-circuit television monitor set into the music desk. It is also equipped with a detached, movable console, which can be moved about as easily as a grand piano, and plugged in at any of four positions on the stage, this console has terraced, curved "ampitheatre"-style stop-jambs resembling those of French Romantic organs, and is built very low, with the music desk entirely above the top of the console, presumably for the sake of visibility. From the detached console, all ranks play by electropneumatic key action.

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