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California Philharmonic Serves Feast of French Music – July 14

Music Director Victor Vener will conduct a feast of French music on Bastille Day. – Courtesy photo / Cal Phil

Guest artists are Broadway star Randal Keith, Anne Martinez, Cal Phil Chorale and Philip Allan Smith playing the famous Disney Hall organ

Francophiles and music lovers will cheer “Vive la France” when the California Philharmonic Orchestra presents its “Bastille Day” concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall on July 14.

Cal Phil Founder and Music Director Dr. Victor Vener will conduct a feast of French music – Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No.3 in C minor Op. 78 “Organ Symphony,” Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique and selections from “Les Misérables” by Alan Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg.

Guest performers are Broadway star Randal Keith, Anne Martinez, Cal Phil Chorale and Philip Allan Smith playing the famous Disney Hall organ.

Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 in C minor “Organ Symphony” opens the concert and spotlights the world-famous Disney Hall Pipe Organ, considered one of the top six organs in the world by BBC Music Magazine’s Disney Hall Organ Conservator Philip Allan Smith will play the 6,134-pipe organ towering above the rear of the stage that was designed by architect Frank Gehry working with organ consultant and tonal designer Manuel Rosales and built by German organ builder Glatter-Götz. The “Organ Symphony” received wild applause and entered the canon of musical masterpieces when it premiered in London in 1886; its beautiful finale is heard in the 1995 movie “Babe” and also at Disney World’s Epcot Center.

Berlioz’ “Symphonie Fantastique” — a tale told in music about an artist driven to madness by his vision of the perfect woman — is actually about the composer himself. In 1827, the 23-year-old Berlioz saw “Hamlet” performed in Paris, with Irish actress Harriet Smithson as Ophelia. She was at the pinnacle of her career and from the moment he saw her, the man was completely obsessed, bombarding her with impassioned letters. “Symphonie Fantastique” is his attempt to attract the actress’ attention. She finally gave in and they were married in 1833, but it didn’t last. Even after their divorce, Berlioz continued to take care of her and she was eventually buried with him (and his second wife) in a Paris cemetery.

Selections from the mega-hit musical “Les Miserables” will be performed by Broadway star Randal Keith and Anne Martinez, accompanied by the 180-voice Cal Phil Chorale. Keith was selected by “Le Mis” producer Cameron Mackintosh and played the role of Jean Valjean in nearly 3,000 performances on Broadway and on the National Tour, as well as in Canada, China and South Korea.

The concert begins at 2 p.m., Sunday, July 14, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012. The orchestra’s ever popular “Talks With the Maestro” chats with Dr. Vener take place at 1 p.m. in BP Hall. Tickets range from $37.50 to $140 with subscriptions ranging from $33 to $122.50, all available at and (323) 850-2000. Groups of 10 or more may call (323) 850-2050. Box office hours are Tuesday-Friday, noon to 5 p.m. and two hours prior to performance.

Upcoming concerts:

“Space: A Giant Leap” on July 28 celebrates the 50th anniversary of mankind’s first steps on the moon with title tracks from “Star Wars” and “E.T. the Extraterrestrial” by John Williams, “Apollo 13” by James Horner, “Star Trek” by Jerry Goldsmith, “Mars” and “Jupiter” from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan” with projections of newly released images from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

“Carmen Goes to the Movies” on Aug. 11 features Audrey Babcock, Cedric Berry, Annalise Staudt and the Cal Phil Chorale performing excerpts from Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen” alongside works of composer Ennio Morricone, known as “the Mozart of movies” from “The Mission,” “Cinema Paradiso” and more.

“The Emperor’s Roundup” on Aug. 18 features pianist Daniel Lessner playing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto No. 5.  The concert roundup continues with Elmer Bernstein’s “The Magnificent Seven,” Aaron Copland’s “Billy the Kid,” and Ferde Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite” and Jerome Moross’ “The Big Country.”

For more information, visit or call (323) 850-2000.

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