The city may sprawl, but we've mapped out your visit. All you have to do is connect the dots.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler
Give us the big picture.
No matter what you think of Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall—some have compared the design to a toppled Slinky or a Martian sailboat—the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic is the best place to see classical music on the West Coast. The Phil’s creative director, Gustavo Dudamel, is a Venezuelan that has put the highly regarded orchestra on the international classical music map.
In the same building is the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT), which is as entrenched in the L.A. cultural scene as the Phil. Host to experimental theater, edgy performance art, and film screenings year round, REDCAT is an underrated spot to catch cutting-edge live art. REDCAT also has a gallery that holds contemporary exhibitions. Finally, there’s a somewhat secret garden at the top of the Concert Hall, called the Blue Ribbon Garden. It’s often empty in the middle of the day, making it a perfect spot to have lunch or a contemplative break from the rush of Los Angeles.
What kinds of events can we see here?
The Philharmonic is one of the best classical music orchestras in the U.S. Walt Disney Concert Hall isn't just the home of the L.A. Phil, though: soloists and non-Phil concerts happen there, as well as opera and jazz performances, and the occasional pop musician. Seats in the balcony can cost anywhere from $60 to $100, and the closer you get, the costs rise. REDCAT puts on excellent performance art, theatrical works, experimental films, talks, and panels that range from polished and high budget, to homemade and offbeat.
How are the seats?
The Walt Disney Concert Hall, which opened in 2003, spared no expense on the seating. Acoustically, nearly every seat in the house is prime. The only exception: the sides of the balcony. Instead, get seats in middle of the balcony, as you'll be able to see everything. All the seats are roomy and comfortable in both the Concert Hall and at REDCAT.
Good for kids?
Kids under six are not permitted at the L.A. Phil (with the exception of holiday concerts), and kids older than that need to be able to sit still for two hours.
Anything in particular that makes this place special?
It may not be the only orchestra in the world to play avant-garde classical music and new American composers like Philip Glass and John Adams, but it might be the best. There is almost no comparison to any classical music in the world when Dudamel is conducting Mahler—it’s that good. REDCAT also puts on risky performances that you won’t see anywhere else, and the pristine setting gives the art a boost.
If we’re going to be in town, what—and who—do you think this is best for?
Classical music isn't for everyone, but the L.A. Phil is known for being a place where even those who eschew the genre find themselves enjoying it. If you're already a fan, you're sure to be wowed.