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My LA To Z: Grant Gershon
The Music Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Resident Conductor of LA Opera (who also happens to be a native Angeleno) is in tune with the city’s east side. Here he notes his most cherished spots, from a mom and pop wine shop to his proverbial office (read: Disney Hall)
The Colorado Wine Company
It’s a small, hand-curated mom and pop wine store, and they have a really beautiful selection. They can tell you everything about every bottle of wine. For somebody like me who really enjoys wine but doesn’t know much about it, it’s perfect. I only wish that we could go there more often and enoy the tastings they put on.
Lunch In Eagle Rock
My wife and I are musicians who are almost always rehearsing at night, so the Eagle Rock lunch date is our thing. And there are so many fantastic restaurants in the area. The Oinkster has the best burgers and pastrami anywhere. It’s absolutely legendary, and the line is out the door. The burgers are formed by hand, and it’s obvious that they use high quality products. They also hand-cure their own pastrami for two weeks. Then there’s Blue Hen Vietnamese Kitchen and the CaCao Mexicatessen, whose crispy duck skin tacos are incredible. All along Colorado Boulevard it’s just one great place after another.
Ice House Canyon
This is my very favorite hike around L.A. It’s not that well-known, but the trail head is on the road up to Mount Baldy out east. It starts at about 6,000 feet elevation and it goes up this canyon where, in the early 1900s, they’d send guys up to carve ice on the mountainside and then haul it down for the townspeople. It’s the only trail where I’ve seen big horn sheep and deer. It’s pristine and beautiful and perfect.
Griffith Park Observatory
I hadn’t been there for years, but I took my kids recently and it was this amazing rediscovery. It’s incredible, you can see the Hollywood sign behind you and out to Catalina in front of you. I went once with my son Sam, and in one of the rooms, a worker called us aside and said, Do you want to hold a meteorite? He handed Sam this little lump of rock that was floating around space for millions of years. It’s just a great L.A. place, whether you’re a grown up nerd or a kid.
The Rose Bowl
Riding my bike around the Rose Bowl is something I’ve been doing since high school. It’s three miles around, so you can do laps on a bike or go once around with the dogs. And everybody is out, morning noon or night. There’s a flock of cyclists, all of the dog walkers, the moms and dads with their strollers. You start to get to know each other after a while and it becomes this whole scene.
It’s independent, it’s been there forever, and it’s big and comprehensive. Whoever buys their books is really hip and so they’ve got a great selection of off the wall stuff. They have a wonderful performing arts section, a travel section, and the fiction is off the charts. Anybody who is from the Pasadena area or has been around L.A. for a while knows Vroman’s is the place for books.
Jones Coffee Roasters
My wife and I are complete and total obnoxious coffee snobs, especially for espresso, and Jones makes the best espresso drinks anywhere. They’re creamy and really beautifully textured. The shop is also a great place to hang. Last year, Sir Simon Rattle, the conductor of the Berlin Phil, was in town; he and the owner are really close friends, so one night he went into Jones with a few LA Phil friends, and he sat at the upright piano playing chamber music and standards. It was the most wonderful L.A. experience.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
To be a musician in L.A. and to have the most iconic, most energetic, hippest building in the city dedicated to the enjoyment of music as a community is just incredible. We’re so lucky, and I am so lucky that I get to do concerts there with our amazing singers. As somebody who was around in 1985 when talk of building Disney Hall began, and then to be there through all of those horrible times when it looked like it wasn’t going to happen, seeing it go up and seeing it succeed has been amazing. Last year, the Master Chorale toured with the LA Phil in London and Paris and New York, and truly we referred to it as the “Disney Hall Appreciation Tour.” All of those other spaces are fine, good, but we’re so spoiled—nothing to me compares. It’s like no other venue that I know of. Like Frank Gehry said, it’s like L.A.’s living room.
The Los Angeles Master Chorale, which is celebrating its 50th season this year, will be performing Carmina Burana November 2nd and 3rd as a continuation of its anniversary celebration. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s website.
Photographs courtesy facebook.com