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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Twenty Days in the City of Angels: The 18th Day (The Aerie) (on attending a concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with its architect, Frank Gehry)


The Flight of Icarus from "Varekai," Cirque du Soleil


Frank Geary

The Walt Disney Concert Hall by night


Inside the Concert Hall. The "aerie" is on the upper right.

In 2002 Howard and I were invited to the house of the Québec Government Representative, Marc Boucher. The evening began with a pleasant cocktail party. I recall that Boucher collected pictures of pigs, and had numerous of these paintings and drawings all over his home, perhaps even on the tie he wore that evening. At some point we were all gathered into a bus and transported to downtown Los Angeles where we attended "Varekai," the newest extravaganza of the Cirque du Soleil. Although I recall some stunning production numbers, including the drop of a man with white wings into the center of the ring, I am not a particular fan of this kind of circus drama. Howard, however, did enjoy the evening, and I was certainly appreciative of the invitation.

Over the next couple of years, we kept in touch with Boucher, and Green Integer eventually received a small grant from his Délégation du Québec for the publication of Quebecois author, Denyse Delcourt in 2005.

Our second invitation to a Délégation event, however, occured before that, in December 2004, when, on the evening of the 16th, we joined Marc and a small group of invitees at Redcat (the Roy and Edna Disney-CalArts Theater) before a concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Chapelle de Québec of Handel's Messiah in the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The performance was lovely, with a quite luminous quality to the singing of the Québec choir and wonderful solos by soprano Karina Gauvin, countertenor Andreas Scholl, tenor John Tessier, and bass-baritone Nathan Berg.

But of even greater fascination to us is that among our party was the architect of the Disney Concert Hall, Frank Geary himself. At the pre-event downstairs, we were graciously greeted by Marc, who revealed to Howard and me that since we last saw him, his wife had left him. "I truly wish I were gay," he openly laughed. "It would be so much easier to find a new companion than it is as a middle-aged heterosexual."

I spoke for a while to Frank Geary—we had met once previously at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—before we were shepherded up the elevators to the concert itself.

The halls were gloriously lit those few days before Christmas, and the ushers were admirably professional in their Concert Hall positions. What I hadn't prepared for, however, was the fact that we were to witness this performance in the highest balconies of the Disney Concert Hall, which, since I suffer substantial vertigo, made it difficult for me to come and go down the narrow aisles, and even harder to stand to let others pass. All during the performance, I felt a bit as if I were that white-feathered Icarus from "Varekai," about to fall into the audience below. And the famed tenor solo, "Comfort Me," which I had myself sung as a youth, seemed inordinately appropriate to my own situation.

As we entered the aerie, Howard and I were met by a handsome young Black usher, smiling graciously as, seeing my discomfort, he offered to accompany us to our seats. "I love working here," he proffered without any coaching from us.

"Did you see that man that came in just before us?" Howard asked, pointing to Gehry as he stood at his nearby seat.

"That's Frank Gehry," I added.

Suddenly our young man blushed with genuine joy. "Really?"

"You should introduce yourself to him at intermission," Howard suggested.

"Oh, I will," he said. "Thank you for telling me."

At the intermission, I cautiously stood and moved toward the exit with the greatest of discomfort. The young usher was still standing there. "Did you meet him?" I queried.

"Yes! He shook my hand," he beamed.

Both Howard and I smiled with delight.
Despite my discomfort in our location, I perceived this aerie for the rest of the evening as joyful of a dwelling place, even if a bit dizzying, as sitting with the angels themselves.

Los Angeles, July 14, 2009

1 comment:

Tor Hershman said...

I just viewed the WDCH last eve on the teevee and moi knewest not what it 'twere.

Thanks for the info.