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January 8, 2011

Los Angeles Philharmonic launches live-to-movie-theater concerts

Move over, Metropolitan Opera.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic has also gotten into the act of beaming live performances to movie theaters around the country.

It's not as ambitious a venture (yet), with only three concert in the series this season, but if the idea catches on, I imagine we'll see a lot more of this sort of thing in the future, and not just from the LA Phil.

That orchestra's selling point, of course, is its music director, Gustavo Dudamel, he of the hair and the vitality. He'll conduct a program of Adams, Bernstein and Beethoven in Sunday's concert, which will be at 5 p.m. EST.

Several cineplexes in our area will offer the event, including Bel Air Cinema in Abingdon, AMC Columbia Mall, REG Snowden Square, and AMC Owings Mills. (It would be nice to see a movie theater or two inside Baltimore get into the act.)

I know I'm obstinately old-fashioned, but I just can't get overly excited about attending a virtual concert (or opera, for that matter). That said, I'm all for anything that will bring people together for music, and I hope this venture is a success.


Posted by Tim Smith at 7:03 AM | | Comments (2)


I love this idea and would love to find out how to connect one of the theatres in my area to this.

The links in the story will get to you to the site where you can find all the theaters. If that fails, just google LA Philharmonic and you'll find your way there through links on that page to Los Angeles Philharmonic Live. TIM

At my local multiplex (neither in the BWI area nor LA), the audience number didn't even hit double-digits. However, this is the first one in this series, and word of mouth obviously needs to build. However, in a sense, the most important audience initially for these LA Phil HD-casts is the LA regional audience, since tickets for "The Dude"'s concerts in LA are like gold dust, from what I understand. From the LA Times' Culture Monster blog, this post says:

"Paying the same $23 as a bench seat behind the orchestra in Walt Disney Concert Hall 10 miles away, enough people turned up at this AMC 15 to require the use of two screens. Even the smaller runoff theater, in which I found a seat online, was nearly full....."

I can understand your sentiment about not getting worked up about going to the multiplex to watch the Met-HD casts or a symphony concert, which we used to do on PBS regularly, and still can do to an extent. However, the attraction of the Met-HD casts, for example, is the idea of many people getting together at the same venue for the communal experience of the opera production, in more or less real time, and then being able to talk about it right then and there. This can't really be done with a TV broadcast on PBS, even if you invited all your neighbors to your place.

For me, I've never seen Dudamel live, or even "proxy-live", in real time. I've seen YouTube videos, of course, and snippets on PBS, but it wasn't the same. Plus, if nothing else, I'd rather support Dudamel being HD-ed live rather than this bloviating moron, who has also been HD-cast to movie theaters (don't feel obliged to click through, you can just highlight the link to tell you who it is).

Maybe Vanessa Williams will have worked out more of the kinks in her capacity as host. The NY Phil has done better with Alec Baldwin as their host, judging by the New Year's Eve fragment that I saw of him.

Oh, and the reason for it all: the LA Phil sounded in very fine fettle, at least to me, with Dudamel. I've read random comments that his style with them is pretty brash and unsubtle, but "The Dude" seemed reasonably in control and didn't let his hair get the better of him, if that makes any sense, in his interpretations. The one intermission feature with Kelley O'Connor singing "A Simple Song" from Bernstein's Mass was a nice touch, to an audience mainly of Hispanic and African-American kids and their parents (contrasting with the main WDCH audience, of course).

Thanks for the great report. I certainly agree with you about the communal thing. I love the fact that these simulcasts (or even the delayed ones) have been offered -- anything that brings people together for music is good. And I know my preference for the live, in-person experience is a bit narrow (I don't much enjoy watching DVDs or TV broadcasts of musical stuff.) It will be interesting to see how orchestral ventures in movie houses measure up against the popular operatic ones. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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