The Los Angeles Music Center is one of the largest performing arts centers in the US, and the west coast equivalent of New York’s Lincoln Center. It is home to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (opera house), the Ahmanson Theatre (Broadway-style proscenium arch theatre), the Mark Taper Forum (180-degree thrust stage), and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The original Music Center complex was designed by Welton Becket, who also designed Los Angeles’ Capitol Records Building, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, LA’s Cinerama Dome, and the Santa Monica Civic Auditorum. The Music Center complex was completed in 1967, although the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was open from 1964. The Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall was added to the complex in 2003.
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion – an opera house – was completed in December 1964 and is the largest venue of the complex with a seating capacity of 3,156. It largely replaced the 1906 Philharmonic Auditorium located at 5th and Olive. To achieve the highest degree of design integration everything inside and outside the building, from courtyard sculptures to interior light fittings and carpets, was specifically designed for the building by the architects.
Originally home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic , who are now based at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the venue is now home to LA Opera . It is familiar to many throughout the world having hosted over 20 Academy Award (Oscars) presentations from 1969 through 1999.
The three chandeliers that hang in the Founders Lobby of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion measure 17ft high by 10ft wide and weigh roughly 1.5 tons apiece. Each chandelier is comprised of approximately 27,500 individual glass pieces.
The Founders Room at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, reserved for donors who have contributed generously to the Music Center, boasts two chandeliers that were originally designed for the movie “The Great Waltz” (1938) . Designer Tony Duquette determined that the room required three chandeliers and commissioned a third to match the existing two chandeliers.
The Ahmanson was completed in April 1967 and, more recently, underwent a major redesign in 1994-1995 when the Balcony and Mezzanine levels were moved closer to the stage, the width of the auditorium reduced, and the acoustics improved. The theatre was designed with the ability to reconfigure the seating capacity from 2,103 to 1,700, and even down to 1,300, using acoustic dividers mid-Mezzanine and mid-Balcony.
The Ahmanson is currently home to Center Theatre Group who present a wide range of productions throughout their season, including direct-from-Broadway one-time transfers.
Mark Taper Forum
The Mark Taper Forum was completed in April 1967 as the smallest of the complex’s venues, with a seating capacity of 738 in a 180-degree semicircular arrangement around its thrust stage. The building’s exterior is the most stunning of the original Music Center complex, being a cylindrical drum wrapped in relief-sculpture concrete murals and surrounded by reflecting pools. The Taper underwent a major renovation of all its technical theatre systems in 2007-2008.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall was completed and added to the Music Center complex in 2003, at which point the LA Philharmonic transferred their home here from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Seating capacity is 2,252 with seats on all four sides of the vast Douglas Fir-lined concert hall. Acoustics have been greatly praised and there is no bad seat in the house.
The concert hall’s organ was designed by Manuel Rosales and nicknamed “Hurricane Mama”. It has a frontage designed by Gehry with 6,125 individual pipes ranging from a few inches to 32ft in length.
The concert hall building also incorporates the 266-seat Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), the 300-seat William M. Keck Foundation Children’s Amphitheatre, and the 120-seat Nadine and Ed Carson Amphitheatre.
Docent-led tours of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre, and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion are available Tuesdays through Saturdays at 10:15am and 12:30pm. Tours run 90 minutes, are free, and start from the Walt Disney Concert Hall lobby. Please check the Tour Schedule on the Music Center’s website to confirm availability. Note: access to venues is subject to availability and daily operations; you may not get to see inside all venues.
Walt Disney Concert Hall Tours
Docent-led tours taking visitors through much of the interior space and the gardens, presenting the highlights of the architecturally stunning building. Tours are availble on select days, check the Tour Schedule on the Music Center’s website to confirm availability. Tours run 60 minutes, are free, and start from the Walt Disney Concert Hall lobby. Note: access to the Concert Hall is subject to availability and daily operations; you may not get to see inside the Concert Hall.
Self-Guided Walt Disney Concert Hall Tours
Self-guided tours of the interior space and gardens. Tours are availble on select days, check the Tour Schedule on the Music Center’s website to confirm availability. Tours run 60 minutes, are free, and start from the Walt Disney Concert Hall lobby. Note: access to the Concert Hall is subject to availability and daily operations; you may not get to see inside the Concert Hall.
Reservations are not required unless groups sizes are 15 or over. Information correct as of March 2017.