LA Philharmonic's Simon Woods: 'This orchestra thinks very hard about what the future looks like'

This article is from 2019

LA Philharmonic's Simon Woods: 'This orchestra thinks very hard about what the future looks like'

credit: Adam Latham

The Edinburgh International Festival's opening event will be an extraordinary merging of people and place as the LA Phil takes over Tynecastle Park

Unusually, the cheers that go up at Tynecastle football stadium on Friday 2 August won't be for home team Hearts, but for an orchestra. In a place where passion is generally fired by one side pitted against another, it's harmony all the way in the programme of heart-stirring movie classics which the Los Angeles Philharmonic (and their astonishingly dynamic music director Gustavo Dudamel aka The Dude) bring to the Edinburgh International Festival's opening (and free) event.

'We're incredibly excited about playing at Tynecastle,' says the orchestra's CEO, Simon Woods (incidentally, a Brit, who used to run the Royal Scottish National Orchestra). 'We're very accustomed to playing in vast venues, as our summer home, the Hollywood Bowl, seats 18,000.'

Their repertoire in Edinburgh includes a selection from John Williams, one of the most successful film music composers ever: Star Wars, ET and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone are all there. 'We played our John Williams programme in the Olympic Stadium in Seoul [capacity 70,000], and for conductor Gustavo Dudamel, these large-scale events are something he finds very meaningful,' says Woods. 'He is passionately committed to music being for everyone. It's a philosophy he feels very strongly about and it's a wonderful chance for us to play for a broader Scottish audience.'

In addition to Tynecastle, the LA Phil play twice at the Usher Hall, Mahler's 'Symphony No 2' one night and John Adams, Barber and Tchaikovsky the next, with YOLA, their orchestra of young musicians, giving an open rehearsal on the afternoon of Sunday 4 August. Celebrating its centenary in 2019, the LA Phil has been to Edinburgh twice before during its illustrious history, the last time being 2003 with Esa-Pekka Salonen. He and Dudamel are but two names over the years who have made the orchestra what it is today.

'There has been a succession of amazing music directors,' says Woods, adding Zubin Mehta, André Previn and Carlo Maria Giulini to the list, 'who bring an extraordinary history to the orchestra's artistic past. Looking forward, this orchestra, more than any other in the world, thinks very hard about what the future looks like. Music of our own time is as important as music of the past. Everyone hears things differently, but in our centennial season, this orchestra is in the finest artistic shape it's ever been. For me, it's a constant daily joy to hear the orchestra.'

Los Angeles Philharmonic, Tynecastle, 2 Aug, 7pm, free but ticketed; Usher Hall, 3 Aug, 7pm; Usher Hall, 4 Aug, 7.30pm, £12.50–£50; Youth Orchestra Los Angeles with Big Noise Raploch, 4 Aug, 3.30pm, free but ticketed.

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