Inside the L.A. Philharmonic

The Los Angeles Philharmonic is the envy of the classical music world. It has the largest budget of any symphony in America. Conductor Gustavo Dudamel is renowned for his passion and zest, and its two home stages — at Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl — are attractions in themselves. But can the L.A. Phil maintain its success? In this series, The Times examines how the L.A. Phil rose to prominence, and the challenges that lie ahead for an organization that bears little resemblance to the population that surrounds it — and that must find new ways to appeal to younger generations.

By Jeffrey Fleishman


Get the series delivered to your inbox and sign up for our new Arts & Culture newsletter

Enter your email and click "Submit" to get access.

Thank you.

The mastermind behind the Phil

Feb. 8, 2015

She courts the well-heeled donors and makes connections everywhere. One of the best-paid arts administrators in the country, she also has an eye for talent and a gift for keeping musicians fulfilled. How Deborah Borda manages to keep the Phil in the first rank.

Read the story

The idiosyncratic lives of the musicians

Feb. 12, 2015

From afar they appear to be a black-and-white blur. But each of the 106 musicians has a unique back story. A clarinetist practices yoga to strengthen his lungs. A timpanist makes his mallets out of wine corks and felt. A trumpet player learned his calling with the U.S. Marines. Their passions and idiosyncrasies together make for a great orchestra — shaped by a young leader with great hands and a big heart.

Young players learn to make music together

Feb. 14, 2015

One of the Phil’s biggest challenges in polyglot Los Angeles is expanding and diversifying — itself and its audience. An important laboratory for its future is its bustling and heartwarming Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. Hundreds of mostly disadvantaged students are learning the discipline and joy of making classical music together. Says one: “It’s part of my life. It’s like breathing.”

Big challenges ahead for classical music

Feb. 15, 2015

Classical ensembles around the country are in various forms of crisis, but the Phil faces its future confidently. Its jewels of Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl help sell tickets galore. Yet despite its glowing reputation, the orchestra faces challenges — cultural, financial and demographic. Leaders are aiming to satisfy an ever-segmenting audience with vivacious, up-to-the-minute programming and by reaching out beyond the cloistered concert hall. Go behind the scenes as the orchestra looks ahead.