Gehry's Walt Disney Theater. I love it and think it is absolutely inspired (and I'm just talking about the exterior right now!)
I had wanted to go to this particular performance to hear Brahm's Symphony No 1-- which I love. Apparently other people had the same idea-- well actually, I think the majority of people were really there to see the soloist, Nikolaj Znaider. My mom had requested the best seats in the house, but even 2 months prior to the performance that meant way up directly above the right side of the orchestra, looking straight down diagonally facing the conductor and the Philharmonic's 1st violonist.
Adonis, seeing where we would be sitting grew beside himself with excitement.
"I've always wanted to sit here!" he said stripping off his sweater and grabbing his conductor's stick, he prepared to watch and do some conducting of his own as the people next to us grew visibly concerned.
Like Huizong facing the impending Jurchen horde, Brahms had his problems as well. And those problems? In a word: Beethoven. How to confront the elephant in the room? Beethoven's presence was enormous and Brahms was all too aware that no matter what he did, the comparison to Beethoven would be inevitable. And so he struggled. And this symphony no 1 took him I think perhaps a decade to realize. And what path would Brahms choose? Well, I think that is what was so interesting about him. For he was to choose to incorporate so much of Beethoven directly into his music.
So, there we were, sitting 2 tiers above the horns-- as Adonis frantically conducted from his seat to Brahm's Tragic Overture-- which speaking of problems, Brahm's friend Clara (the female of the triangle) dismissed as being "not at all melodic."
The Overture, however, was followed by a performance so magnificent that I was actually overwhelmed. Even Adonis quietly put away his stick so he could just watch.
The violinist, Nikolaj Znaider, is considered to be one of the world's best. And, I didn't realize this beforehand, but he plays on a del Gesu. The moment he began playing, my first thought in fact was-- ah, a del Gesu, because there is something about the sound-- which of course I could never describe, being completely unmusical. Except that it reminds me of the tonal quality of a cello. Guarneri del Gesu instruments seem larger and perhaps more masculine than the sounds of other violins. Pagnini famously played on one and maybe because of that they seem to be associated with virtuoso playing... I don't know, but that first note grabbed my attention and I was immediately inspired.
The Violin Concerto in D was created for one of the world's all-time greatest violinists, Joseph Joachim. I guess Joachim was not only a technical genius but he also had these huge oversized hands. Brahms wrote the piece of music with these two facts in mind and the experts say that it remains one of the most challenging pieces of violin music in existence.
Znaider-- who struck me by his calm demeaner was mopping his face with his handkerchief at every pause in the music-- it must have been extraordinarily strenuous. The entire hall was getting hotter and hotter too as you could feel the palpable attention being paid to this man's music. Los Angeles is not New york. But people were growing visibly excited and by the finale- Adonis and I were on the edges of our seats. In fact, when Znaider started passionately playing the Hungarian inspired ending, Adonis jumped up to kiss me on the lips and just stood there standing-- waiting for the end. He couldn't believe the way people all lept to their feet, shouting bravo (or I am not even sure what people were shouting because the applause were so loud).
After the intermission, the orchestra turned to the symphony but I think people were already just too overhwelmed to take in more music. Adonis asked for his stick again and conducted but we were already done (for the dream was over).
See this article (orginally from the Wall Street Journal) about Znaider and his del Gesu.