By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
One of the intriguing question left open from the Los Angeles
Philharmonic’s 2011-2012 season announcement was the location for the
performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (which the Phil expects will match the
work’s usual subtitle, Symphony of a
Thousand) on Feb. 4, 2012. The answer? The Shrine Auditorium.
The 8 p.m. concert will be the culmination of the Phil’s “Mahler
Project,” which will see Gustavo Dudamel leading the LAPO and the Simn Bolivr
Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (two of three orchestras he heads) in all nine
of Mahler’s symphonies, the Adagio from
Symphony No. 10, and Songs of a Wayfarer,
beginning Jan. 13, 2012 in Walt Disney Concert Hall. Season tickets are still
on sale. Single-ticket sales ($30-$170) will begin Aug. 21 via credit card
online and via phone (www.laphil.com; 323/850-2000)
The Shrine, located on Jefferson Blvd. adjacent to the
University of Southern California, was a logical choice for Mahler’s 8th
for several reasons.
Perhaps first and foremost, its stage (194 feet wide and 69
feet deep) is nearly big enough to house the thousand musicians that will be
used in the performance, although Sophie Jefferies, the Phil’s Director of
Public Relations, says the orchestra will need to extend the stage for the
performance. Disney Hall could (maybe) hold the two orchestras but the
choristers would have to be in surrounding seats.
In addition to the combined orchestras, Dudamel will lead an
octet of vocal soloists (still TBD) and about 800 choral singers from 15
different ensembles, including several from the San Gabriel Valley: Los Angeles
Master Chorale; L.A. Children’s Chorus; Pacific Chorale; Angel City Chorus;
Angeles Chorale; Choir of All Saints Church, Pasadena; Chorus of the Inner City
Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles; Gay Men’s Chorus; L.A. Chamber Choir; Los
Robles Master Chorale; Pasadena Pro Musica; Pasadena Master Chorale; Philippine
Chamber Singers; Vox Femina; and the National Children’s Chorus.
Second, with about 6,300 seats (although Jefferies notes the
stage extension will eat up some of those) the Shrine can hold five times the
number of spectators that could have been accommodated in Disney Hall after
choral musicians filled 800 of WDCH’s 2,250 seats.
While the Shrine can’t match Disney Hall’s acoustics, its
sound qualities will undoubtedly prove adequate for this one-shot venture.
Among other things, the Shrine hosted opera productions frequently in the days
before the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was built; my earliest recollection is seeing
the opera “Hansel and Gretel” as an elementary school student in the 1950s. San
Francisco Opera also made regular visits in the 1940s and 1950s.
In addition to opera, the long and colorful history of the
auditorium (which was opened in 1926) has seen it play host to several editions
of the Academy Awards and Grammys and the 2006 Miss Universe Pageant. The
Shrine was where, in 1984, Michael Jackson accidentally set his hair on fire
while filming a Pepsi commercial. For 33 years the Shrine stage was home to USC
basketball and the Lakers actually played a few playoff games there when the
nearby Sports Arena (the Lakers’ original home) was unavailable. A Wikipedia
link with other historical information is HERE.
The complete L.A. Phil media release is HERE.
(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.