The Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic
(Los Angeles, Disney Hall, July 15, 2010, 7:30 pm)
Conductor: Gary S. Greene, Esq.
Alan Rachins: Master of Ceremonies
Soloist: Carol Lawrence
Narrator: Richard Chamberlain
June Lockhart and Michele Green
The Philharmonic, in its Disney Hall debut, interpreted works from
Beethoven, Frederick Loewe, Bernstein and the Sherman Brothers.
Richard Chamberlain narrated
selections from "Camelot"
Rehearsal time at the Wilshire United Methodist Church
and at Disney Hall
Kristina Nikols of Actors Reporters interviewed i.a. Gary S. Greene (lawyer/conductor),
Mark Eisenberg (lawyer/musician) and Richard Chamberlain
during a rehearsal at Disney Hall
Watch a slide show with several photographs of Richard Chamberlain
rehearsing with the orchestra
Kristina Nikols of Actors Reporters interviewed Richard Chamberlain during a rehearsal
at the Wilshire United Methodist Church in Los Angeles
To watch the interview
© Photographer John Michael Ferrari
Los Angeles Lawyers Orchestra to hold court
at Walt Disney Concert Hall
The group, all practicing members of the legal field, will give their first concert at Disney Hall on Thursday with a few celebrities like June Lockhart on hand.
Consider the idea of 75 lawyers and judges spending three hours in one room. Imagine the bickering babble and angry roars. Picture the disgruntled frowns. Visualize stacks and stacks of hefty law books.
The last thing you would expect is to hear the strains of luscious Beethoven.
But there is a group that brings such musical bliss to reality:
the Los Angeles Lawyers Orchestra.
At a recent rehearsal, musicians didn't chatter - much less bicker - as they readied their instruments. When the conductor stepped to the podium, they focused their eyes on his baton and played the first note in unison. The violinists furrowed their eyebrows as they concentrated on fast passages, fingers flying. A clarinetist swayed her body to the rhythm of the melody. In the brass section, players tapped their feet to the oom-pah-pah beat. A young woman leaned over her cello to make a quick mark on her music.
The group comprised of lawyers, judges and others in the legal field has been putting music practice over law practice in preparation for its first appearance at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Thursday night. In a show titled "Pops Concert Extraordinaire - First Annual Habeas Musicum," the young orchestra will play a variety of popular works from the classical and musical theater repertoire.
The orchestra allows members of the legal profession to work together rather than in opposition to make music, entertain audiences and just have a good time. Its members include judges and law students as well as lawyers in a wide range of fields, though Gary Greene, the orchestra's director, notes that entertainment and copyright lawyers working for Hollywood studios are probably the most common.
Before turning to a career in law, many of the players studied at some of the nation's
top music schools, including Juilliard, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, L.A.'s Colburn School and USC's Thornton School of Music. Some have even had careers as professional musicians.
Greene understands what it's like to juggle a passion for music and a legal career. An accomplished violinist, he's led the Jr. Philharmonic Orchestra of California since 1967 and for the last 30 years has worked as a trial attorney.
Since its inception in January 2009, the Los Angeles Lawyers Orchestra has performed five times, including events at the L.A. County Law Library, the L.A. County Bar Assn. headquarters and the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, a daily newspaper of local legal news.
Last fall, the orchestra gave its first full-length recital to an audience of more than 300. Around the same time, Greene set a goal: performing at Disney Concert Hall.
With the financial support of the Girardi and Keese law firm, the orchestra was able to engage the venue, Greene says.
In a tribute to his profession, Greene has chosen music that he thinks relates to themes of law, honor and justice. The concert includes Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and excerpts from "The Barber of Seville," "Carmen," "West Side Story" and "The Phantom of the Opera."
The highlight is a medley from "Camelot," which Greene chose for its narrative of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. To accentuate its story, Greene invited actor Richard Chamberlain to recite a narration over the music.
Other celebrities who will be on hand to introduce selections include June Lockhart, best known as the mother on the 1950s TV series "Lassie," Alan Rachins and Michele Greene (no relation) from the TV show "L.A. Law," and Petri Hawkins-Byrd, the bailiff on "Judge Judy."
To help fulfill its goal of contributing to the legal community, 25% of proceeds from
the tickets, which run from $10 to $50, will benefit causes supported by the L.A.
County Bar Assn.
Despite the orchestra's legal leanings, Greene hopes to attract a wide audience - not just for the music but also to see lawyers in a new light. "Lawyers shouldn't be characterized in any one way," he says. "The concert will put a great face on the whole profession. And the performance," he promises, "will be entertaining!"
© 2010 Daina Beth Solomon, Los Angeles Times
Making their case for music
Imagine a room full of lawyers and the last thing that comes to mind is probably any sort of harmony.
But instead of arguing, 75 musically inclined lawyers, judges, legal staffers and law students will be in perfect unity at the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic during the orchestra's performance Thursday at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
"The thing I love about it is it's a great example of how people who are often adversaries can work together positively and achieve great results," said Christine Hoeffman, a Glendale appellate lawyer, who plays the French horn in the orchestra. "We're adversarial in our day jobs, but people have just worked very hard to
Dubbed "L.A.'s only legal orchestra" by city officials, the group will perform a mix of classical and popular selections from Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony," "Carmen," "The Phantom of the Opera" and Bernstein's "West Side Story."
Actor Richard Chamberlain will narrate selections from "Camelot."
Portions of the proceeds will benefit L.A. County Bar Association programs that provide free legal assistance as part of the Domestic Violence Clinic, Immigration Legal Assistance Project and the AIDS Legal Services Project.
The orchestra is the brainchild of trial lawyer Gary S. Greene, who comes from a musical family and has played violin since he was a child. His uncle is the founder of the Jr. Philharmonic Orchestra of California, and Greene has served as that group's concertmaster since 1967.
"And I realized how refreshing it was to leave the intense practice of law and play the violin every week at rehearsals," said Greene, who is the conductor of the lawyers orchestra. "It's so invigorating."
Greene got the idea for a lawyers orchestra in December 2008 after being introduced to a judge who played the trumpet. After putting word out to others in the L.A. law scene, Greene conducted a group of 30 musicians for the orchestra's first performance at an industry dinner in January 2009.
The group has grown since then to 75 musicians who rehearse every Monday and have performed 12 concerts.
Its participants range from musicians trained at prestigious music schools such as the Juilliard School or the New England Conservatory to those dusting off instruments they had played as children but hadn't touched in decades.
"I never imagined I would be playing French horn again, let alone in the Disney Concert Hall," Hoeffman said.
For Natalia Minassian, a commercial lawyer from Sherman Oaks who serves as concertmistress, the orchestra offered an outlet for her to pick up the violin that she hadn't played in 10 years.
"I've been inspired to enter in an environment where I can make music and be in a room full of lawyers where we actually get along," said Minassian, who is conservatory-trained. "It's just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially as nonprofessional musicians."
© 2010 C.J. Lin, Contra Costa Times