Mendelssohn’s Mystical Landscapes with the LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall

We were quite the culture vultures recently as guests experiencing the Toyota Symphonies for Youth production of “Mendelssohn’s Mystical Landscapes” at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The event promised to be a great outing for the family and did not disappoint! I was unsure if my almost five year old Critter would be able to appreciate something as lofty as a Mendelssohn symphony, but I was willing to try it, as there was also the promise of fun activity workshops and crafts preceding the actual performance. I took the gamble and headed downtown with the Critter and my Perfect Husband. I was especially interested to expose my child to all the instruments available for “petting” in the Instrument Petting Zoo, as I wanted to get an idea if my boy had any interest in any particular one. I think we know now – violin, not too interested; drums, REALLY interested. We loved watching him enthusiastically play said drums, then headed back into the Music Hall to create a castle and a crown, and possibly view some ballet dancing as well.

The main event, of course, was the thoughtfully designed program which portrays Fanny Mendelssohn longingly reading and writing letters to her brother Felix as he travels the world, composing and conducting music. We were delighted with the clever presentation which gave an excellent primer on the sounds different instruments make, combining ballet, theatre, and the symphony along with a little geography as well, tracking Felix as he ascends to musical greatness. Female Dudamel Conducting Fellow Mihaela Cesa-Goje led the orchestra, so there was also a recurring theme that now girls can achieve musical greatness, while poor Fanny, also a gifted composer, had to stay home and wish she could do all the things her brother was allowed to do.

I have to insert that a visit to Disney Hall is an experience in and of itself for a designer like me – I could have sat and stared and absorbed the space for hours without any other stimuli. Once it was time to view the performance, the real magic began. I really can’t express how perfect the acoustics of the space are – the Perfect Husband pointed out how the sound of man playing bagpipes as he walked through the hall and out the door were the same level of volume until he was completely out of the hall. The music just envelops you, and even a four year old became completely enraptured.

I highly recommend the series, which kicks off 2012 with “Mahler’s World” with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela on January 21, 2012. Click on all the pink links for more information and to see/hear a video clip of that amazing sound.

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