Classical KUSC Blog

May 17, 2010

On Tour With the LA Phil – Washington, D.C.

Filed under: Brian Lauritzen — classicalkusc @ 11:59 pm

So, here’s the Coolest Thing about the Kennedy Center. Well, okay, I’m not going to give it away immediately, but I will share some things I’ve learned about the Kennedy Center since arriving here in Washington, D.C. yesterday that, while they’re very cool, they’re not the Coolest Thing.

It’s big. The Concert Hall seats 2,400. Bigger than the Opera House in the same complex, which seats a mere 2,300. (Walt Disney Concert Hall, by the way, seats 2,265 and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion seats 3,197.) But in addition to the Concert Hall and the Opera House, there’s the Eisenhower Theater (1,163 seats), the Terrace Theater (513 seats), and the Family Theater (324 seats). You do the math.

It’s big. I know, I know, I said that already. But if you laid the Washington Monument on its side in the Grand Foyer of the Kennedy Center, it would fit with 75 feet to spare. It’s the United States’ busiest performing arts complex, hosting more than 2,000 performances each year: music, dance, theater, etc.

None of these things are the Coolest Thing about the Kennedy Center. And this is very subjective. But to me, the Coolest Thing about the Kennedy Center is that through some fluke of nature or twisted artistic irony or maybe by design(?) there is no cell phone reception inside the concert hall. From any of the major carriers.

Isn’t that amazing?

So, last night, in the softest, most poignant (dare I say, pathetique) passages of the Tchaikovsky 6th Symphony, we didn’t have to worry about being interrupted by one of the 2,400 cell phones in the LA Phil’s sold out concert. And, at the end of the Symphony, as the music fades to black, and Gustavo Dudamel holds his arms up in silence for an almost interminable length of time, no one from Nokia or T-Mobile was able to weigh in.

Talk about call screening.

~ Brian Lauritzen


  1. Love that there’s no phone reception at KC! Can’t wait to see Gustavo and the LAPhil here in NYC this Sat. But why, oh, why was the post-concert Q&A canceled? Got an email from LC that there was a scheduling issue with the hall. What, they didn’t know he was coming? Hey! Can he meet us all at O’Neal’s? See you there.

    Comment by Kathleen V — May 18, 2010 @ 5:42 pm | Reply

  2. From london I have been following the LAPO for over 28 years since I first saw them in Manchester under Giulini. They may have received some criticism however there is no doubt they are one of the world’s best orchestras. Very few orchestras can claim to sell out almost every concert and now GD has introduced the YOLA project. LA can be proud it has such a great ambassador not only for the city it calls home but for the entire USA. Can’t wait to see them in Europe again.

    Comment by jeremy silverstone — May 19, 2010 @ 12:50 am | Reply

  3. I hate to break the bad news to you, but there is *indeed* cellphone reception inside the Kennedy Center. In fact, a deal with Sprint/Nextel ensures that a Sprint phone is GUARANTEED full bars in the Kennedy Center (or so I have been told by some staff members). There are supposedly Sprint/Nextel mini-cells inside the building and I have witnessed production staff conducting conference calls via cellphone from the very center of the Concert Hall.

    As the recording engineer for the National Symphony Orchestra, I can testify that cell phones DO indeed ring inside with unfortunate regularity. The politicos who attend events at the KC wouldn’t have it any other way…

    Keep dreaming, though!


    Comment by Charles Lawson — May 20, 2010 @ 12:20 pm | Reply

  4. Chas,

    That’s interesting…and I’ll totally take your word for it, but my Sprint/Nextel phone was definitely not getting service the other night. Neither was my T-Mobile Blackberry. I checked with people who have Verizon and AT&T service and they didn’t get reception either. But, of course, my survey was not particularly scientific. If you record at the KenCen on a regular basis, I’d say your many experiences trump my one!

    So, does this mean I get my money back from Sprint?

    -Brian L.

    Comment by Brian Lauritzen — May 21, 2010 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

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