Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic returned to Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday night for the first time in 579 days.
And they did it in style, with a “Homecoming Concert and Gala” featuring performances by Cynthia Erivo, Korean pianist phenom Seong-Jin Cho and the world premiere of a new piece by Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz.
Onstage, Dudamel, the L.A. Phil artistic director, couldn’t contain his excitement about returning to conduct in the Frank Gehry-designed building, calling out the architect in the audience. He was also happy to be back wearing tails, and not a suit jacket and shorts for a Zoom concert, he joked. “Music is the medicine that connects us all,” he said.
During the program, Erivo got multiple standing ovations for her renditions of “Somewhere” from “West Side Story,” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade” to rival Barbra Streisand’s, all while wearing a pink ballskirt, and twist-front white jersey crop top.
Post-concert festivities were held under the stars at the Jerry Moss Plaza at the Music Center, where Beck, Lena Waithe, Lake Bell, Michelle Rodriguez, Retta and more mingled at the mirrored dinner tables.
After the dulce de leches cake was served, marching band Drumline Live put everyone in the mood to party, winding their way through the crowd with horns blazing.
Angela Bassett was first to the dance floor, where cover band Liquid Blue performed on a stage decorated with rainbow balloons and streamers. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti also had some serious moves.
The evening raised nearly $3 million for the L.A. Phil’s music learning programs, which serve more than 150,000 people. The blockbuster night proved that after one of the hardest years in the orchestra’s 102-year history, the music is back on in downtown L.A.