By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Alan Rich's commentary ["Elephant, Bull, Whatever," October 1521] on the appointment of Debra Borda as managing director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, replacing a departed Willem Wijnbergen, raises some interesting issues. And it is important to remember that the challenges facing the LAPO are greater than just replacing personalities. They have to do with the changing demographics of Los Angeles, its thorny transportation problems and the broader cultural shifts in our society.
Los Angeles' population is changing in a direction not advantageous for the LAPO. Traditional subscribers, Americans of European background, now make up little more than a third of the population of L.A. County. The LAPO must make itself relevant to a broader base of Angelenos.
Then there's transportation. With no viable mass transit, committed arts patrons get to the Music Center by car on increasingly crowded freeways, a journey made more difficult with the opening of the new Staples Center.
Lifestyle issues also work against regular Music Center attendance. Leisure outings of both couples and young singles have become necessarily more spontaneous than deliberate, working against a subscription season and in favor of one-time events such as movie and museum attendance.
And then there's the impact of technology. People spend more time viewing an almost infinite variety of cable-TV channels, video rentals and Web sites. Even serious music lovers can stay home and listen to world-class performances on their surround-sound stereos. An entire Bruckner symphony can be fit in the time of a round-trip commute from most suburban homes to the Music Center.
Even within the LAPO's committed audience, a cultural clash of sorts is apparent. On the one hand a large core of traditionalists wants to hear only the standard repertoire. Fortunately, a smaller and adventuresome segment is willing to experiment with new music as well. The recent winter-season packaging acknowledges this split personality. And the LAPO has obviously made a market decision to grow its new audience on a separate track from its traditional one. This is admittedly a ghettoization of sorts, but it buys time to make the necessary shifts in taste. Traditional and new audiences will certainly merge over time.
These daunting challenges need to be addressed if the LAPO is to excel, or survive, as an artistic entity. But if you attended this season's opening performance of the Mahler First Symphony, and were as thrilled as I was, you know why it must and will overcome all to secure its future.
Alan Rich was quite right in his column about Deborah Borda's arrival to say that the Music Center is "unwelcoming." Having been a regular concertgoer and operagoer here and elsewhere for over 20 years, I am always struck by the paucity of comfortable seating and refreshments on the plaza and inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, compared to concert halls and opera houses in other major cities. If your seat is on the balcony level, to be sure of grabbing a measly but expensive cup of coffee during intermission you have to run down several flights of stairs to stand in a line that straddles the width of the building, then bound back up again and still risk getting gonged out by the chimes. Heaven help you if you need to use the ladies' room as well. Welcome to L.A., Deborah.
Re: Erin Aubry's "Game Over" [October 1521]. What's wrong with this picture? The city of Los Angeles expands a redevelopment area in Crenshaw with a major purpose of promoting commercial development. A developer is interested in pursuing a project at Santa Barbara Plaza. Financing is available. But nothing happens, because the council member is involved with other issues.
Do we elect council members to adopt policy, or do we elect them to be super-duper real estate brokers who put deals together? Development in L.A. is not driven by supply and demand, or by input from residents. It is driven by political fiat.
One can only hope that sufficient interest in the newly mandated neighborhood councils will bring about some change, such as to loosen the stranglehold that each of the 15 council members has on planning and development in his or her exclusive realm.
Thanks so much for your articles on the Crenshaw area, most recently "Game Over" by Erin Aubry. I grew up in the area, and my family â still lives there. It could be such a vibrant place, if only politicians would get out of the way.
DO OR DIE DISSED
Re: your cover story about gang member "Monster" Kody Scott ["Ghetto Star," October 814]. Susan Faludi's dismissive attitude toward Léon Bing's book Do or Die is disturbing. She writes that it was Scott's photo on the cover that "attracted the eye of the media." The media noticed, all right, but it was the rave reviews from critics that turned Do or Die into a national best-seller still in print eight years later.
BIG BATTLE OF THE HOLINESSES