By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
“I can’t wait to hear this thing!” I yell down to Rosales.
“You and a lot of other people,” comes his response, echoing from below.
The Philharmonic has been deluged by organists interested in performing with the orchestra in its new digs. And the flood of press about the hall, with so many interior shots of the organ crowning the stage, has been generating a lot of public interest. Unfortunately, we’ll all have to wait, because although the concert hall may be ready, the organ is not. All the pieces are in place, but it will take Rosales the next eight months to tune them, a process called “voicing” in which all the organ’s pipes are adjusted to sound like components of a single instrument. Today, only a fraction of the pipes can be played, but those few do give a tantalizing sense of how the whole thing will sound when completed.
“The best seats for hearing the organ will be the three rows in the back of the third-floor balcony,” says Rosales, pointing. “And the three back rows on each side.” This is because the ideal acoustic for organs requires good reverberation for a nice, blooming atmosphere. And so for an organ performance, you want seats where the sound will bounce off the ceiling and other nearby surfaces.
Acoustics, Rosales explains as we visit various seating areas, are a matter of preference. Some organists, of course, would prefer more reverb, while the orchestra wants clarity. But both orchestra and organ will sound great, he emphasizes: Unlike the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, whose proscenium compressed and homogenized the sound, the new building will give the audience the full and very different experience of a world-class concert hall designed for music listening only.
Likewise, the organ marks another first for music in the city. “There are works that cry out for a pipe organ, and we’ve never been able to perform them as intended,” says Ed Yim, the Philharmonic’s director of artistic planning, as we watch the orchestra rehearse the score from Planet of the Apesvia a closed-circuit television in his office. “A substitute just won’t do for the opening of Also Sprach Zarathustra. Or for Saint-SaÃ«ns’ wonderful Organ Symphony. Or JanÃ¡cek’s Glagolitic Mass.” Just as the hall itself will bring Los Angeles its symphony orchestra as it was meant to be heard, Yim says, the organ will let people hear a whole range of works in their full splendor for the first time.
That day will come in early July, when organists Cherry Rhodes, Robert Parris and Joseph Adams will sit down at the console for a private concert. Rosales, Gehry and Yim will be there, as will many others who will be keenly awaiting the first notes to see if the organ’s playing will live up to its planning. Perhaps the most nervous person in the room will be Glatter-GÃ¶tz, who will have his fingers crossed that no chips or dust or other glitches foul up the works. “It always makes you worry, and this time especially,” he says, laughing a little anxiously at the thought. “Still, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”