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The LA Phil Humanities program takes the work on our stages as a starting point for a larger cultural conversation. By inviting a diverse range of guest curators, artists, and partner organizations to reflect on the themes of our concert programming, our Humanities efforts seek to contextualize the LA Phil’s work in thought-provoking ways, delve deeply into subjects that matter in contemporary society, and provide new points of entry into our art form. Humanities activities are typically offered in conjunction with season festivals and take many forms, from commissioned installations and panel discussions to print publications and live podcast recordings.

The LA Phil's Humanities Programs are generously supported by Linda and David Shaheen.

Upcoming Humanities Festivals and Projects 

 

BEGINS OCT 9, 2021

Homecoming

The return of live performance to Walt Disney Concert Hall will be a homecoming for LA Phil musicians and audiences alike. To celebrate this special moment, the LA Phil Humanities program invited artists to conceive of projects that reflect on the meaning of musical experiences as we negotiate our collective new normal. Installation projects—one physical and one virtual—by multidisciplinary artist Chris Kallmyer and theater director Kaneza Schaal in collaboration with multimedia artist and author Christopher Myers will be on view at Walt Disney Concert Hall beginning on October 9, 2021 and November 19, 2021 respectively.

Go to Event

APR 22 – MAY 10, 2022

Gen X

Born between 1965 and 1980, Generation X is the dark horse demographic dwarfed in number by the Boomers and Millennials on either side. While small in number, their collective impact on our culture continues to be felt today. Humanities co-curators Karen Tongson and Wynter Mitchell, hosts of the Waiting to X-hale podcast, take an LA-centric look at Gen X, exploring the media images and seminal events that altered the nation’s concepts of art, activism, and identity.

(Photo: Sorrell Scrutton)

Go to Festival

MAY 21, 2022 – JUNE 7, 2022

Power to the People!

The Power to the People! festival celebrates the role artists have played and continue to play in advancing social change, civil rights, and humanitarian causes. Humanities curator Saul Williams explores the role of spoken word, poetry, hip-hop, and language in helping us find liberation and inspiration. The festival’s humanities activities will culminate in a conversation with Dr. Angela Davis, addressing the essential role of art and the imagination in our understanding of what a socially just world could be.

Power to the People is presented in collaboration with the California African American Museum.

Go to Festival

OCTOBER 9, 2021 – DECEMBER 31, 2021

Song Cycle

Artist Chris Kallmyer reminds us to listen to the music of our everyday lives with Song Cycle, a series of randomized scores displayed on a 256-character split-flap sign in the Grand Avenue Lobby. On view through December 31. 

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Past Humanities Festivals and Projects

In February 2020, Weimar Variations presented exhibitions, performances, film screenings, commissioned installations, and a cabaret investigating the themes of the groundbreaking Weimar period and its contemporary resonances. Presenting iconic historical works alongside restaged, reinterpreted, and newly conceived examples, Weimar Variations emphasized how the ideas of the 1920s and 30s still reverberate today, revealing striking parallels to our own time.

Explore this past festival

In March 2020, the first iteration of the LA Phil's Power to the People! festival was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic but not before several events organized by Humanities curator Tyree Boyd-Pates and hosted by the California African American Museum (CAAM) took place, including Rakim, Chuck D, and Talib Kweli in conversation about the poetics and politics of hip-hop and composer Imani Uzuri’s participatory freedom song workshops.

Explore this past festival

LA Phil Visual Arts and New Media

In conjunction with its festival programming, multidisciplinary presentations, and print publications, the LA Phil has made investments in the work of visual, sound, and installation artists, including Ragnar Kjartansson, Bill Viola, Shoplifter / Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, Susan Philipsz, Nicole Miller, Christine Sun Kim, Charles Gaines, Lucky Dragons, Elias Simé, and Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller among others. By bringing artists into dialogue with its concert programming, the LA Phil aims to offer audiences varied points of view and points of entry into its work, while also expanding concepts of orchestral presentation, contextualization, and audience experience.

Lucky Dragons for "Past / Forward: The LA Phil at 100"
Nicole Miller's "Transition" installation in BP Hall
Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's Video Walk of Walt Disney Concert Hall

Humanities Publications

Past / Forward: The LA Phil at 100

Published on the occasion of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s centennial, Past/Forward: The LA Phil at 100 revisits the history of the LA Phil and contemplates its future. The award-winning publication offers an unconventional approach to institutional storytelling and includes more than 100 firsthand accounts, interviews conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tim Page, 150 rarely seen archival photos, and artwork from Lucky Dragons, Charles Gaines, and Christine Sun Kim.

The Hollywood Bowl: The First 100 Years – Coming Soon!

In conjunction with the Hollywood Bowl's centennial celebration in 2022, the LA Phil will publish The Hollywood Bowl: The First 100 Years written by Derek Traub with a foreword by Gustavo Dudamel and designed by the award-winning Content/Object studio. Traub uses many lens, from the musical to the political, to reveal the history of the Bowl, while positioning those who love the venue as a continuation of the story. 

Humanities Online

 

Poetry and Essays

Guest poets and essayists, including Armando Iannucci, Sarah Ruhl, Ishmael Reed, Pico Iyer, and Rian Johnson, have brought their perspectives to musical programs captured for the Sound/Stage streaming series.

Animation

Animation is one of the many visual forms of expression used by the LA Phil to illuminate aspects of orchestral performance. Contributors have ranged from the folktale-inspired artwork of Ghost Animation to the experimental offerings of Lilli Carré and Jordan Wong.

Artist Interviews and Roundtables

Captured as part of LA Phil Media productions, artist dialogues and roundtables invite audiences to delve deeper into an artist’s work and the issues that are important to them, including voices like Dianne Reeves and Terri Lyne Carrington on Jazz and Gender Equity and Ellen Reid and Gabriela Ortiz on Women’s Voices in Classical Music.

In Context: Additional Engagement Opportunities

 

LA Phil Archives

The LA Phil Archives invites scholars into its holdings to discover not only the history of the organization but of Los Angeles itself.

Explore the Archives

Upbeat Live

Pre-concert lectures and artist discussions provide audiences with context, insights, and opportunities to engage with artists and thinkers before the evening's main event.

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Watch & Listen

A compendium of artist interviews, insightful articles, podcasts, and other media offerings, Watch & Listen is the LA Phil’s one-stop shop for music lovers and learners.

Dive In

Music 101

Audiences can enhance their listening and appreciation of classical music through Music 101 classes led by KUSC's Alan Chapman.

Learn More