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April 15, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
PALO ALTO - We hallucinate. But we are often of two minds about having two minds. We produce drugs to enhance hallucinations and drugs to dull them. Medical science seeks to relieve schizophrenics of their visions. Religion, on the other hand, sanctifies visionaries. Neurologists hunt for explanations. Art is haunted by the haunted. Where would opera be without its mad scenes and wild fantasies? Where would the Beatles have been without LSD? Stanford University made an ambitious attempt to bring together much of the above in its new Bing Concert Hall on Friday night with the premiere of "Visitations" - two short chamber operas about hallucinations by faculty composer and neurological researcher Jonathan Berger.
November 8, 2012 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Once on a flight to Warsaw in the 1990s, when the Polish airline LOT was still trying to get the hang of market economy, I requested a vegetarian meal. For the first course, I was served the same salad of iceberg lettuce and thousand-island dressing as everyone around me. But my hot entrée, I discovered as I peeled away the foil, was another helping of that salad zapped in the microwave. It took a minute or two for the Pole sitting next to me to stop laughing and wipe his tears away, but he then described how fabulous Polish vegetarian cooking could be. He suggested several dishes I try once I landed and told me where to find them.
November 25, 2011 | By Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times
Kansas City's flirtations with the fine arts have always been a little mixed up in its bluer-collared tendencies. This Midwestern hub was known as the Paris of the Plains back in the 1920s and '30s, mostly for being an island of Prohibition denial whose outrageous night life attracted minds both brilliant and debauched. Paris had Igor Stravinsky, Kansas City had Charlie Parker, and both had enough booze and sex for everybody. Today, Kansas City's known more for its tailgating and its barbecue.
May 21, 2012 | Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Los Angeles Opera can stop worrying right now. The Los Angeles Philharmonic's new production of Mozart's "Don Giovanni," which had its first of four performances Friday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall, is certainly getting all the attention at the moment and for all the obvious and all the right reasons. The hall's architect, Frank Gehry, has designed stunning sets. The fashion world, long enamored of Disney, is involved, with powerfully theatrical costumes from Rodarte and hairstyles by Odile Gilbert.
October 24, 2003 | Janet Eastman, Times Staff Writer
Yo-Yo ma, sans cello, waited outside an elevator to be escorted to a camera crew filming inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Near him was an electrician in a hard hat on a mission to fix a light over the new stage, along with a contractor chewing on a stubby, burnt-out cigar who needed to lay carpet for a party in the garden. No one around seemed interested in this unlikely trio, though.
July 1, 2003 | Mark Swed, Times Staff Writer
The polished steel exterior of the Walt Disney Concert Hall is already familiar. Inside, the paint is dry, and few hard hats are in evidence. But one lingering question has been the most important: How will it sound? On Monday morning, that question was finally, if not conclusively, answered when the Los Angeles Philharmonic had its first rehearsal in what will become its home in October.
May 12, 2003 | Mark Swed, Times Staff Writer
Mahler's Third Symphony, written in the last years of the 19th century as an epic farewell to Romanticism and a herald of Modernism, still stands as a masterpiece of intrepid hellos and sentimental goodbyes. The longest and most varied symphony in the standard repertory, it begins with eight horns, jubilant in unison, gleefully turning a Brahms tune into something new.
October 13, 1989 | NOBUKO HARA
Some acousticians say designing concert halls is like making a musical instrument--They won't know how it sounds until it's completed. Others take a purely scientific approach, relying on mathematical equations and analysis. But Minoru Nagata, the gray-haired Japanese acoustician responsible for how the music will sound in Walt Disney Hall, is a man with a levelheaded approach: "Acoustics is like seasoning--too much can ruin the food. You want just enough."
April 28, 2003 | Nicolai Ouroussoff, Times Staff Writer
Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. The new Richard B. Fisher Center for Performing Arts at Bard College is not a building as much as an act of seduction. Alternately stark and alluring, it presents a series of shifting images, all the while keeping you wonderfully off balance. Designed by Frank Gehry, the $62-million center opened this weekend with a gala celebration that drew a steady stream of cultural types up to this bucolic hamlet at the edge of the Hudson River.
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