Beyond the Archives

This past week, I had lunch with a friend of a friend who is currently President of the Symphonians, a volunteer docent organization affiliated with the L.A. Music Center. Their primary responsibility is to give free tours of all four Music Center venues–the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theater, the Mark Taper Forum, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The group also participates in other events at the Music Center, including providing support for some of the other resident volunteer organizations.

In addition to enjoying a lovely lunch, Suzi offered to introduce me to Hutton Wilkinson, a native Angeleno and prolific designer who would one day work with the Music Center’s official interior designer, Tony Duquette. Wilkinson began working for Duquette in the early 1970s and eventually became his business partner. Wilkinson has since had a long and storied career, including designing jewelry.

I’m in the midst of trying to set up a meeting with Wilkinson, but I’m already super excited about what he might have to say. He knew many of the people I write about in my dissertation, and I love the idea of hearing them come to life through his memories, especially the ever elusive Dorothy Chandler. Chandler is a figure who plays a significant role in many of the events I discuss in my dissertation, “Culture as Urban Renewal.”  I can’t wait to hear what Wilkinson has to say.

I’ve spent over 8 years in libraries and archives researching primary sources, but nothing matches the experience of interviewing someone who knows the subject intimately and can offer a firsthand account. It’s more than just research; it’s revelation.

For more on the Symphonians: http://www.musiccenter.org/visit/Exploring-the-Center/Symphonians-Tours/Symphonians/

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