Monday, April 18, 2011

L A's Philharmonic Auditorium

At the southeast corner of 5th and Olive streets in downtown Los Angeles, there sits an ugly parking lot that looks rather out of place among the historic buildings that form the periphery of Pershing Square. Each day, a steady stream of pedestrians and drivers passes by this urban eyesore, most of them unaware that it used to be the site of one of L.A.'s most prestigious performing arts venues, the Philharmonic Auditorium.

For more than 40 years, the Philharmonic Auditorium served as the home of the L.A. Philharmonic, before the orchestra moved to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in 1964. Largely forgotten today — thanks to a date with the wrecking ball in 1985 — the auditorium has come back to virtual life on HBO, serving as a crucial setting in the miniseries "Mildred Pierce."

In the final episode, which is set in the late 1930s, Mildred (Kate Winslet) attends a concert at the Philharmonic Auditorium given by her daughter, Veda (Evan Rachel Wood), an ascending coloratura soprano. The concert serves as an emotional high point for Mildred, who sits teary-eyed as she channels her lifelong ambitions through her daughter.

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