One of the largest performing arts centers in the country is in downtown Los Angeles.
The Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County (better known as The Music Center) is home to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theater, Mark Taper Forum, Roy and Edna Disney / CalArts Theatre, and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
If you love classical music, ballet, opera, or theater, this is the place.
The area around this large complex is walkable, with a metro station close by, a beautiful park, restaurants, coffee shops, and the iconic city hall building.
The Jerry Moss plaza is a 35,000-square-foot outdoor urban oasis connecting three of the venues at the center. Beautiful fountains, sculptures, and trees greet visitors as they make their way to their show.
The center also offers free or inexpensive events throughout the year, including the Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration, a Christmas Eve tradition.
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
The Chandler Pavilion is home to the Los Angeles Opera and Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance. It also hosted the Academy Awards for several years.
Los Angeles Opera produces standard operatic repertory as well as new and rarely staged operas. Some of the great works staged here are The Ghosts of Versailles, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Nicholas and Alexandra.
You can find a list of upcoming operas here. The list includes Tannhäuser, Cinderella, and Aida.
The ambiance and grandeur of the Pavilion itself are breathtaking with beautiful chandeliers, an expansive lobby, and spiral staircases.
The Chandler Pavilion used to be home to the LA Philharmonic before it moved to Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
This iconic part of the music center was added in 2003 and became home to the LA Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Walt Disney's wife, Lillian, donated $50 million as the seed money for this project in memory of her husband, who loved the arts.
The exterior of the building is an architectural marvel with a riot of curves and reflections. At night the multicolored lights turn it into a shining jewel in the middle of downtown.
Inside, the floor, walls, and ceiling flow into each other, continuing the sense of delightful confusion.
The main concert hall looks spacious and elegant, with seats terraced around the stage and a stunning pipe organ towering above the orchestra.
During a recent visit, I got the chance to listen to a beautiful performance of Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances. The orchestra played it flawlessly, and the acoustics in this hall were excellent.
Interested fact: This piece was first performed on February 18, 1943.
During intermission, the bar offered some basic cocktails, a few wines, and some snacks. I think the selection needs some improvement.
Also, by the time some people got their snacks, it was time to get back to the performance. I was lucky to know that you can order your drinks and snacks ahead of time and have them ready on a table during intermission.
The Broad Museum
Although this contemporary art museum is not part of the music center, it is worth mentioning here. It is right next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall and offers a convenient stop before or after the show.
The museum houses a 2,000-piece collection of modern art that sometimes defies comprehension. Some look like a child threw paint on a canvas, while others are worth a second look.
I was most impressed by the “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away”, a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display and the oversized dining set that made me feel like a midget in the land of giants.