Malibu Seen: Dazzling Decade at Disney Hall

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Longtime Malibu resident Jane Seymour rocks an elegant black tie frock at the starry opening night of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. 

Opening night was an evening of magic at Disney Hall, marking a glorious 10-year success story and a cultural turning point for the City of Angels. Even if Walt and Lillian Disney weren’t around to share in the 10th anniversary opening night festivities, they most certainly were there in spirit. 

The Opening Night Gala Concert was a celebration of music and merriment crowned by Frank Gehry’s spectacular architectural masterpiece that transformed the cultural landscape of Los Angeles. A long list of locals, like actress Jane Seymour, philanthropists Eli and Edye Broad, and music lovers Marc and Eva Stern, put on their black tie best for the celebration. Other famous faces included the legendary Julie Andrews, comic king Albert Brooks, hit maker Burt Bacharach, “Star Trek’s” William Shatner, Oscar winner Jane Fonda, and power couples like Michael and Jane Eisner. 

Many pitched in to support the venue, showing their support and opening their wallets even when the going got tough. To some, it might have seemed like a miracle that the project pulled through at all. Instead, it went on to become one of the most famous landmarks in California, if not the world. 

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel, often a man of few words, thanked Gehry and all the LA Phil supporters saying, “Bravo for this wonderful place and an amazing journey.” 

Dudamel took the stage to a standing ovation with a program that featured world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma with Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme. 

But first, there were the sounds of silence with Cage’s “4’33,” designed to show off the hall’s outstanding acoustics. As a special treat, the orchestra added a little Mahler, as well as a blast from the world famous Disney organ. 

Many selections were accompanied by video pieces from Netia Jones, who worked closely with Gehry to create visual images that capture the dynamic essence of the building. 

It was a symphony of steel, which guided the audience through the story of Disney Hall and the many challenges it had to overcome. 

The evening ended on a touch of pure Disney magic with a special arrangement of “When You Wish Upon a Star,” followed by a festive confetti drop of silver stars commemorating the 10th anniversary. 

After a rousing standing ovation, VIP guests made their way to Grand Avenue, which featured an enormous party palace of black and silver, designed to look chic and sleek. The ceiling was decorated with a galaxy of stars. 

Gala guests tucked into a salad of avocado, Dungeness crab and micro herbs, while receiving a warm welcome from LA Phil President Deborah Borda and Chair David C. Bonnett. 

Dinner continued with a succulent Colorado lamb loin and market veggies, topped off by chocolate pudding, huckleberries and current chips. 

The Opening Night Gala Concert raised more than $5 million for the Phil’s many educational music programs including YOLA (Youth Orchestra LA). All told, the programs serve more than 120,000 kids, families and teachers every year. 

There’s an exciting season to come so stay tuned and listen to the sound of music!