L.A. Performs: Travel to the "City of Light" with Esa-Pekka Salonen & the LA Phil

Esa-Pekka Salonen in rehearsal | Photo courtesy of LA Phil, Facebook

One of the highlights of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2015-16 season is City of Light, a festival of 20th and 21st century French masterworks curated by Conductor Laureate, Esa-Pekka Salonen. As part of City of Light, Salonen will conduct the LA Phil in two performances of Pelléas et Mélisande at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Debussy's highly influential and mysterious opera of tragically entangled love will be revisited by the creative team behind Salonen's acclaimed London production, which The Guardian described as “…among the finest achievements of Salonen’s principal conductorship.”

With the L.A. Performs special offer, you can buy one ticket and get a free ticket to the same performance of Pelléas et Mélisande when you book a minimum of two Los Angeles hotel nights. Both performances are eligible: Friday, Feb. 19 and Sunday, Feb. 21.

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"City of Light" | Photo courtesy of LA Phil, Facebook

Two more City of Light performances are eligible for the L.A. Performs offer: Messiaen with the St. Louis Symphony (Tuesday, Feb. 2) and Chamber Music from France, which includes a complimentary wine-tasting reception (Tuesday, Feb. 23). Other eligible performances at Disney Hall include the Australian Chamber Orchestra (Tuesday, Feb. 16) and Todo Cambia: The Rebel Spirit of Mercedes Sosa on Saturday, March 12.

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Photo courtesy of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Facebook

A native of Helsinki, Finland, Esa-Pekka Salonen made his U.S. conducting debut with the LA Phil in 1984. In a September 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Salonen said, “I had no idea what to expect. But the one thing that I didn't expect was when an older player came to talk to me after the first concert and said, 'Consider this your future home.' Something was going on, because I felt the same. I sensed with an absolute certainty that this orchestra, in whatever way, was going to be a very important part of my life. Always.”

Salonen officially became the LA Phil’s 10th Music Director in 1992, a position that he held until 2009, when Gustavo Dudamel took the helm. Under Salonen's leadership, the Philharmonic became an extremely progressive and well-regarded orchestra. In April 2007, Alex Ross of The New Yorker wrote, "Salonen turned the Los Angeles Philharmonic into the most intellectually lively orchestra in America. … the metamorphosis of the Philharmonic was Salonen’s doing, and he thereby gained a place among the visionary conductors of American musical history."

During Salonen's 17 years as Music Director, the LA Phil gave 120 pieces their world or American debuts and commissioned over 54 new works. By the time Salonen stepped down, he had served as Music Director for longer than anyone else in the orchestra's history, leading the LA Phil in 973 concerts and 23 tours. The prolific Salonen has conducted the LA Phil for dozens of recordings, including numerous performances recorded live at Walt Disney Concert Hall for the DC Concerts series.

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Violinist Leila Josefowicz performs Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto with Salonen conducting the LA Phil | Photo courtesy of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Facebook

Salonen has written several pieces for symphony orchestra, including Foreign Bodies (2001), Insomnia (2002), Wing on Wing (2004), and Nyx (2011), as well as two concertos: the first in 2007 for pianist Yefim Bronfman and the second in 2009 for violinist Leila Josefowicz. The Violin Concerto won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in 2012 and was featured in a 2014 international Apple ad campaign for the iPad. In September 2014, the Tonhalle Zurich Orchestra premiered Karawane, Salonen's acclaimed large-scale work for orchestra and chorus.

Before Salonen's last concert as Music Director of the LA Phil, the orchestra announced his appointment as its first ever "Conductor Laureate." In addition, the LA Phil created the Esa-Pekka Salonen Commissions Fund "for the express purpose of supporting the commissioning and performance of new works" as a way to honor his support of contemporary classical music during his tenure as Music Director.

Get 2 For 1 Tickets with L.A. Performs

With the special L.A. Performs offer, when you book a minimum of two nights at a Los Angeles hotel, you will receive a special offer to purchase two tickets for the price of one to more than 30 of L.A.’s leading dance, music, opera, theater and spoken-word performances from Feb. 1- March 13, 2016. For more info and to book your stay, visit discoverlosangeles.com/laperforms.