Los Angeles Lawyers Orchestra to hold court at Walt Disney Concert Hall


Consider the idea of 75 lawyers and judges spending three hours in one room. Imagine the bickering babble and angry roars. Picture the disgruntled frowns. Visualize stacks and stacks of hefty law books.

Legal orchestra: An article in Wednesday’s Calendar about a musical group made up of members of the legal profession identified it as the Los Angeles Lawyers Orchestra. It is the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic. —

The last thing you would expect is to hear the strains of luscious Beethoven.

But there is a group that brings such musical bliss to reality: the Los Angeles Lawyers Orchestra.

At a recent rehearsal, musicians didn’t chatter — much less bicker — as they readied their instruments. When the conductor stepped to the podium, they focused their eyes on his baton and played the first note in unison. The violinists furrowed their eyebrows as they concentrated on fast passages, fingers flying. A clarinetist swayed her body to the rhythm of the melody. In the brass section, players tapped their feet to the oom-pah-pah beat. A young woman leaned over her cello to make a quick mark on her music.

The group comprised of lawyers, judges and others in the legal field has been putting music practice over law practice in preparation for its first appearance at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Thursday night. In a show titled “Pops Concert Extraordinaire — First Annual Habeas Musicum,” the young orchestra will play a variety of popular works from the classical and musical theater repertoire.

The orchestra allows members of the legal profession to work together rather than in opposition to make music, entertain audiences and just have a good time. Its members include judges and law students as well as lawyers in a wide range of fields, though Gary Greene, the orchestra’s director, notes that entertainment and copyright lawyers working for Hollywood studios are probably the most common.

Before turning to a career in law, many of the players studied at some of the nation’s top music schools, including Juilliard, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, L.A.’s Colburn School and USC’s Thornton School of Music. Some have even had careers as professional musicians.

Greene understands what it’s like to juggle a passion for music and a legal career. An accomplished violinist, he’s led the Jr. Philharmonic Orchestra of California since 1967 and for the last 30 years has worked as a trial attorney.

Since its inception in January 2009, the Los Angeles Lawyers Orchestra has performed five times, including events at the L.A. County Law Library, the L.A. County Bar Assn. headquarters and the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, a daily newspaper of local legal news.

Last fall, the orchestra gave its first full-length recital to an audience of more than 300. Around the same time, Greene set a goal: performing at Disney Concert Hall.

With the financial support of the Girardi and Keese law firm, the orchestra was able to engage the venue, Greene says.

In a tribute to his profession, Greene has chosen music that he thinks relates to themes of law, honor and justice. The concert includes Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and excerpts from “The Barber of Seville,” “Carmen,” “West Side Story” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”

The highlight is a medley from “Camelot,” which Greene chose for its narrative of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. To accentuate its story, Greene invited actor Richard Chamberlain to recite a narration over the music.

Other celebrities who will be on hand to introduce selections include June Lockhart, best known as the mother on the 1950s TV series “Lassie,” Alan Rachins and Michele Greene (no relation) from the TV show “L.A. Law,” and Petri Hawkins-Byrd, the bailiff on “Judge Judy.”

To help fulfill its goal of contributing to the legal community, 25% of proceeds from the tickets, which run from $10 to $50, will benefit causes supported by the L.A. County Bar Assn.

Despite the orchestra’s legal leanings, Greene hopes to attract a wide audience — not just for the music but also to see lawyers in a new light. “Lawyers shouldn’t be characterized in any one way,” he says. “The concert will put a great face on the whole profession. And the performance,” he promises, “will be entertaining!”