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Standing Ovations

Cody Barrera orchestrates events at LA’s celebrated Music Center.

By Shelley Levitt

Cody Barrera, overseer of all catered events at LA's Music Center. Hope and Grand Events
Cody Barrera, Head of Catered Events at LA’s Music Center.

Erica Mae Allen

The 22-acre Music Center is the cultural anchor of Los Angeles and one of the largest performing arts centers in the world. As director of sales for Hope & Grand Events, the Music Center’s on-site catering arm, Cody Barrera oversees all catered events on campus—from intimate luncheons to galas for thousands.

M+E: Early in your career, you were a VIP tour guide at Disneyland. How did that role prepare you for your current position?  

The motto at Disneyland is ‘exceed guests’ expectations and create lasting memories,’ and we have the same goal at Hope & Grand. No matter what kind of event we’re planning, whether it’s a trade show, a convention, or a milestone celebration, we want it to be a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience. 

M+E: Describe a typical day in your role.

One of the reasons I love this job so much is that there is no typical day. That said, on most days I’ll tour clients around the Music Center campus. We have more than a dozen different venues, and you can’t really see on paper all that we have to offer. A key part of what I do is help clients find the venue that’s right for their needs, whether they’re planning a board meeting with a continental breakfast for 15 executives or a dinner for several hundred. On a larger scale, we’ve held the Very Special Arts Festival, which celebrates the artistic achievements of students of all abilities, on the Jerry Moss Plaza, with well over 1,000 guests in attendance.

M+E: A corporate client comes to you and says they want to do an event marking an important achievement. The sky is the limit. What do you suggest?

The word ‘grand’ in our name is not taken lightly. We like to go over the top. I would suggest starting in the Blue Ribbon Garden over at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which, of course, was designed by architect Frank Gehry. I’m thinking live music, interactive photo booths, and one-of-a-kind tray-passed and -displayed hors d’oeuvres. And then eventually, we gather the guests and take them to a place that is so iconic—the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage—where we would serve a beautiful, lavish dinner. We would have members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic—for whom that stage is their performing home—put on a mini concert for our guests while they’re sitting there and dining onstage. That’s an event I would really like to create for the right client. If they’re around, let me know.