Two people hugging at memorial with photo of deceased next to them | Still from SoCal Connected, "Who Killed Josiah?"
Happy Birthday, Hurricane Mama!

Happy Birthday, Hurricane Mama! L.A. Phil Celebrates 10th Birthday of its Organ

The Los Angeles Philharmonic is celebrating the 10th birthday of "Hurricane Mama," a stunning 6,134-piece pipe organ that has become Walt Disney Concert Hall's most prized possession.

The organ was designed by architect Frank Gehry and organ builder Manuel J. Rosales, and presented as a gift to the County of Los Angeles from the Toyota Motor Corporation. After meticulous fine tuning and a flawless design, the organ was finally unveiled and completed in 2004, a year after the opening of the hall.

The instrument is typically played during solo recitals or alongside the orchestra. It took approximately 45 different designs before Rosales finally agreed on a prototype that was both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

The organ's operational room is marked with hundreds of autographs from organists who have performed and churned out musical notes through the stroke of a keyboard and pipe.

The organ has a mind of its own. In fact, there's four floors filled with different pipes of all shapes and sizes, each corresponding to a specific keyboard note. The hall uses pipes that are comprised of malleable metal and wood pipes, says Rosales.

Tens of millions of people have toured the gorgeous interior of the hall. But only a handful of people get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in the Organ Blower Room, the central housing location for thousands of pipes that mesmerize the audience with its electrifying sounds.

In this segment of "SoCal Connected," join Val Zavala as she gets an up close and personal look inside the Disney Concert Hall and the Organ Blower Room. For more about the intricacies and inner workings of the organ, Zavala chats with ambassador and conservator of the organ Philip Smith, organ designer Manuel Rosales, and musician Joanne Pearce Martin.

"It is an amazing instrument on all levels. The sheer size of it. The color palette, the dynamic range. It's so versatile. You can use it for the smallest, intimate sound to the biggest, grand sound," says Martin.

A series of organ concerts are scheduled for the remainder of the L.A. Phil's season.

Featuring Interviews With:

  • Philip Smith, organ conservator, L.A. Phil
  • Manuel Rosales, organ builder and curator, L.A. Phil
  • Joanne Pearce Martin, keyboardist, L.A. Phil

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