First time visitors to Los Angeles are consistently awed by the city’s sheer geographic immensity. Sure, there are other places with larger populations, but few cities rival the distance from end to end of LA’s urban sprawl. Because of this, the town’s neighborhoods – some cities in their own right – all tend to have their own distinct feel, and placing the heart of the classical music scene in any one place to visit is nearly impossible.
Downtown’s Grand Avenue is home to the grand bastions of the city’s classical world. Walt Disney Concert Hall (home base for the arguably most widely-recognized face in classical music), the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and the Colburn School’s Zipper Hall are all essentially right across the street from each other here. Twenty miles to the west, UCLA’s Royce Hall hosts a vibrant and varied season of concerts, while twenty miles to the east, the Armory Center for the Arts is known for their forward-looking programming.
On the beach you’ll find Beyond Baroque, an alternative performance space in Venice, while just northeast of downtown, in Highland Park, Echo Park, and Silverlake, LA’s experimental and modern-classical musicians are building a vibrant post-classical scene. Really, head far enough in any direction, and you’ll find a venue and an ensemble that calls whatever part of town you end up in home.
The best way to tackle it is to use a listing like LA Weekly or NewClassic.LA to have a look at what’s coming up, pick out what you’d like to do, rent a car (do NOT attempt to use public transportation here), and head to whatever neighborhood the show is in well ahead of time. Don’t worry, you’ll find plenty else to do there, wherever “there” may be. (Nick Norton)