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New Music Is Booming In L.A. – And There’s One Problem With That

Feb 22, 2017

It was succinctly called “Noon to Midnight.”

On Oct. 1, 2016, for 12 continuous hours, a succession of wide-ranging contemporary music concerts ebbed, flowed, and overlapped throughout Walt Disney Concert Hall: its auditorium, its lobbies, its stairways, its gardens, and eventually out onto the street.

Presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as part of its Green Umbrella series, this marathon of musical performances and multistage logistics attracted an enormous — and in many cases younger — audience. Many stayed for the entire 12 hours.

There were performances by the L.A. Phil. Bass Quintet, the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, wild Up, Piano Spheres, gnarwhallaby, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, wasteland, the USC Percussion Ensemble, Monday Evening Concerts, the USC Percussion Ensemble, Jacaranda, and The Industry (under the direction of Yuval Sharon), which unveiled a billowing musical-sculpture installation called “Nimbus.”

“Noon to Midnight,” says Deborah Borda, the L.A. Philharmonic’s President and CEO, “was the embodiment of what we see as the future of the L.A. Phil. as a community organization, a future in which larger organizations find ways to partner with smaller, more nimble organizations in ways that everyone benefits. In many cities, I find, there is an antagonistic relationship between the smaller groups and the symphony orchestra —  the 10,000-pound gorilla. Here in Los Angeles, we have tried to form a real working relationship.”

Those 12 hours were a vibrant demonstration of how active the new music scene has become in Los Angeles. We are in the midst of a golden age. But there is also a downside, and it is a challenging reality.

A month after the last notes of “Noon to Midnight” had faded away, patrons began to receive a flood of end-of-the-year requests for tax-deductible financial support. Whether they were major presenters like the L.A. Phil. or small independent presenters like Jacaranda, the message was the same — PLEASE DONATE.