“This is a building for music”

As Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 17 years, Esa-Pekka Salonen was a major force in getting Walt Disney Concert Hall built. Indeed, the prospect of working on (and then in) the Hall played an important part in his decision to take over the artistic leadership of the orchestra in 1992. The process proved more protracted than he – or anybody – anticipated, but in 2003 the Hall finally opened, with three gala concerts planned and conducted by Salonen. “What a difference this space makes for our musicians! The clarity and immediacy of the sound make ensemble interaction the joy it should be,” he wrote.

Salonen closed that first season in Walt Disney Concert Hall with the Building Music Festival, which included the premiere of his own Wing on Wing, a luminous piece of musical architecture and celebratory gift that incorporates the voice of architect Frank Gehry. After much other new music, in the final weeks of his tenure, Salonen gave us the world premiere of his Violin Concerto, commissioned by the LA Phil. And the adventure is hardly over. When Gustavo Dudamel succeeded him in 2009, Salonen took a season off from the Hall, but he has returned every season since, with fresh projects and premieres, and he continues to record with the LA Phil in live performances here.



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