A little Icelandic music plus a film series coming soon to the L.A. Phil

A little Icelandic music plus a film series coming soon to the L.A. Phil
Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson is key to the Phil’s Reykjavik Festival. (Jeff Vespa / WireImage)

In a first for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, new music from Iceland will take the spotlight in the orchestra's 2016-17 season, with the multiday Reykjavik Festival featuring conductor laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen and composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, the latter of whom is Oscar-nominated this year for his score for "Sicario."

With 21 commissioned pieces and 14 world premieres, the L.A. Phil season being announced Tuesday promises to embrace new and cutting-edge music while also paying tribute to familiar names and faces.


The Reykjavik Festival arose out of visits to Iceland by Salonen and orchestra President and Chief Executive Deborah Borda. It will explore the interplay of new music, folk and pop music by up-and-coming composers from the Reykjavik music scene, and also will feature works by more established talents.

In 2016-17, the L.A. Phil also will introduce a cinematic series, Celluloid L.A., that will feature screenings of classic and popular films with live orchestra accompaniment. Screenings at Walt Disney Concert Hall will include "Rebel Without a Cause," "On the Waterfront" and "Casablanca."

In the past, the orchestra has performed live to screenings at the Hollywood Bowl, with movies including "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" and "2001: A Space Odyssey."

"People have really enjoyed them," Borda said in an interview. "It's been an enormous success, and we thought we'd bring it to [Disney Hall]. I think it'll be a different experience."

The new season's bounty of commissioned pieces and world premieres represents an increase over the current season, which has 12 commissions and 12 world premieres.

The 2016-17 lineup, which begins in September, will feature an extended tribute to composer John Adams, who turns 70 next year and currently serves as the orchestra's creative chair. The L.A. Phil will perform his opera "Nixon in China" and oratorio "El Niño," as well as the local premiere of his "Absolute Jest."

The season also will include a cycle that pairs the symphonies of Franz Schubert with songs by Gustav Mahler, led by music director Gustavo Dudamel.

"I think that one of Gustavo's gifts is his ability to create festivals and pairings that bring a whole different focus to our audiences," Borda said. "Schubert was a great songwriter, but he was also a symphonist. Mahler is known for his symphonies, but he was also a songwriter."

Dudamel will lead a new multimedia production of Haydn's oratorio "The Creation" as well as a cycle devoted to Béla Bartók's piano concertos, with soloist Yuja Wang.

The new season will feature visits from the Berlin Philharmonic, led by Simon Rattle, and the China Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Long Yu. Guest conductors leading the L.A. Phil will include Christoph Eschenbach, Jaap van Zweden and Pablo Heras-Casado.

Former L.A. Phil music director Zubin Mehta will return for a concert series that will include Ravi Shankar's Sitar Concerto No. 2, performed by the late composer's daughter, Anoushka.

Composer Thomas Adès will lead the orchestra in the world premiere of "Alice's Adventures Under Ground," a new opera by Gerald Barry based on literary works by Lewis Carroll.


Other world premieres will include a new work for piano and chamber orchestra by Ingram Marshall and a new orchestral piece by James Matheson.

Yuval Sharon, recently named the orchestra's artist-collaborator, will stage a production of Schubert songs that will alternate with short plays by Samuel Beckett. He also will direct a rare performance of Lou Harrison's opera "Young Caesar."

Other notable soloists set for the new season include violinists Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn and Augustin Hadelich; and pianists Yefim Bronfman, Emanuel Ax, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Hélène Grimaud and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

The L.A. Phil will embark on a tour of the West Coast as part of the new season, while Youth Orchestra L.A. — composed of students from disadvantaged neighborhoods — will celebrate 10 years with concerts throughout California.