One of the perks of being a donor to the Los Angeles Philharmonic is the invitation to a rehearsal at the Hollywood Bowl. I went to my first rehearsal yesterday morning–all by myself; unfortunately, Gordon got called into a client meeting. Dudamel conducted Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto; Lang Lang was the soloist. He was introduced as ‘Long Long’. I’d always pronounced his name with a flat ‘a’; guess that’s the Midwesterner in me. Anyway, he made that knuckle-buster look easy–such enormous talent. The woman in the box next to me start saying “Amazing” over and over and over. I just looked at her. We all know he’s amazing. I’d like to hear how amazing he is instead of her inane comment. That seemed to shut her up but then she started clearing her throat–over and over and over. But it wasn’t worth getting into a fight over. Her throat clearing had to compete with the helicopters and planes overhead so I got pretty good at concentrating on the music and tuning out all the other noise. And Lang Lang was amazing.
I ate my crunchy granola bar and slurped my water (two more perks) during intermission. Then the Dude conducted Schenerazade and made it all new to me. It was sinuous and sensuous. He speeded up the tempo when most conductors slow down and vice-versa. It was great. And it was worth sitting in the sun next to a yakking throat clearer. I’ll be more careful who I sit next to when I go again. Of course, she came after me so I guess I better come late and pick my spot. The old ladies tend to yak and flap their programs around and there’s usually some other old person (like me) telling them to shut up. Most of the attendees are pretty geriatric but I noticed some younger people bringing their children. There was a hipster–Jesus hair and beard and pork pie hat–next to a blue-hair and a young father trying desperately to control his young children. Don’t think the kids got much out of it but at least he’s trying to educate them. He took them out when they got obstreperous but I don’t know where they went; they couldn’t leave, it was stack parking. Maybe they valet parked. Who knows. Anyway I was surprised at the mix. It’s not just us old farts anymore.
Maybe the attraction is Dudamel. He looked like a hipster in his jeans, plaid shirt, and Keds. The young Turks are taking over from the old maestros. No big deal; it was a rehearsal. The whole orchestra looked like a bunch of slobs in their shorts and sandals. But shorts are cooler than dinner jackets and evening dresses. I hope it cooled down for the show.
After the rehearsal I was hemmed in by stragglers. Those of us in the island surrounded by stragglers had to wait about 20 minutes before we could leave. The guy next to me was so pissed off he shouted at the straggler blocking him that he was rude and should think about the other people he was inconveniencing. I was just glad it wasn’t me picking fights. I hate stack parking.
But other than the heat, the yakkers, and the stragglers it was a fun morning. And the price was right. The Dude made some warhorses new to me and that’s worth a lot.