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LA Phil celebrates 10th year of pipe organ with kids' concert



The Walt Disney Concert Hall's pipe organ features 6,134 metal and wooden pipes.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall's pipe organ features 6,134 metal and wooden pipes.
Courtesy of L.A. Phil/ Adam Latham
The Walt Disney Concert Hall's pipe organ features 6,134 metal and wooden pipes.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall's pipe organ was a collaboration between architect Frank Gehry and L.A. organ designer Manuel Rosales.
Courtesy of L.A. Phil/ Adam Latham


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The Walt Disney Concert Hall is marking a very big birthday — its custom-made organ turns 10 this year. To celebrate, the Los Angeles Philharmonic created a concert series aimed at teaching kids about the prized instrument. 

"It's really about getting kids to fall in love with music," said Gretchen Nielsen, who leads the LA Phil's education programming. "We have this belief that there's a way of shaping experiences and music and learning across all spectrum of people."

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The concert, called "The Organ: Stops, Keys, Pedals and Pipes," is part of the Toyota Symphonies for Youth series for kids age 5 to 11. It's one of several events for all ages presented this year to celebrate the organ's 10th year. 

During the kids' concert, organist Joanne Pearce Martin and actor Robert Beuth — playing a plumber who stumbled upon the wrong set of pipes — take the audience through a fun, musical journey that weaves in lessons about the pipe organ. Students learn about the giant instrument's mechanics and hear a sampling of the organ's rich sounds.

"It's spectacular, this organ," Pearce Martin said. "Really, I don't know where the time has gone."

Pearce Martin is LA Phil’s keyboardist and has been featured in many programs playing the organ. Over the years, organ soloists from all over the world have come to Los Angeles to play the organ. 

With pipes ranging up to 32 feet long, the $3 million instrument was a collaboration between organ builder Manuel Rosales and architect Frank Gehry, who designed the concert hall.

Ten-year-old Nicolas Cardenas, who goes to Polytechnic School in Pasadena, attended an early run of the show with a group of Pasadena students.

"I liked that it was like kind of loud," Nicolas said. "The organ sounds pretty cool." 

The final performance of "The Organ: Stops, Keys, Pedals and Pipes" will be presented Saturday at 11 a.m. Tickets are available online.