Hollywood Bowl

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Hollywood Bowl
Hollywood bowl and sign.jpg
Hollywood Bowl in 2005 (with Hollywood Sign in background)
Location Los Angeles, California
Owner County of Los Angeles
Operator Los Angeles Philharmonic Association
Type Outdoor Amphitheater
Seating type Seats
Capacity 17,376
Construction
Opened July 11, 1922
Renovated 2003-2004
Website
Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl is a 1920s amphitheater in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California, United States that is used primarily for music performances.

The Hollywood Bowl is known for its band shell, a distinctive set of concentric arches that graced the site from 1929 through 2003, before being replaced with a somewhat larger one beginning in the 2004 season. The shell is set against the backdrop of the Hollywood Hills and the famous Hollywood Sign to the Northeast.

The "bowl" refers to the shape of the concave hillside the amphitheater is carved into. The bowl is owned by the County of Los Angeles and is the home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the host of hundreds of musical events each year.

It is located at 2301 North Highland Avenue, north of Hollywood Blvd and the Hollywood & Highland subway station and south of Route 101.

Discovery and founding[edit]

Two women performing on a barn door in the first known musical event at the Hollywood Bowl, ca.1920. According to an article in the San Diego Union newspaper, June 19, 1941, the woman at the piano was Carrie Jacobs-Bond, one of the originators of the Theatre Arts Alliance and a resident of nearby Hollywood Heights. She was assisting in testing the acoustics. The barn door was placed approximately where the band shell was built.

The site of the Hollywood Bowl was chosen in 1919 by William Reed and his son H. Ellis Reed, members of the newly formed Theatre Arts Alliance who were dispatched to find a suitable location for outdoor performances.[1]

Shells[edit]

The Bowl officially opened on July 11, 1922 on the site of a natural amphitheater formerly known as the Daisy Dell.

At first, the Bowl was very close to its natural state, with only makeshift wooden benches for the audience, and eventually a simple awning over the stage. In 1926, a group known as the Allied Architects was contracted to regrade the Bowl, providing permanent seating and a shell. These improvements did provide increased capacity (the all-time record for attendance was set in 1936, when 26,410 people crowded into the Bowl to hear opera singer Lily Pons), but were otherwise disappointing, as the regrading noticeably degraded the natural acoustics, and the original shell was deemed acoustically unsatisfactory (as well as visually unfashionable, with its murals of sailing ships).

For the 1927 season, Frank Lloyd Wright's son Lloyd Wright built a pyramidal shell, with a vaguely Southwestern look, out of left-over lumber from a production of Robin Hood. This was generally regarded as the best shell the Bowl ever had from an acoustic standpoint; unfortunately, its appearance was deemed too avant-garde, and it was demolished at the end of the season. It did, however, get Wright a second chance, this time with the stipulation that the shell was to have an arch shape.

For the 1928 season, Lloyd Wright built a fiberglass shell in the shape of concentric 120-degree arches, with movable panels inside that could be used to tune the acoustics. It was designed to be easily dismantled and stored between concert seasons; apparently for political reasons this was not done, and it did not survive the winter.

For the 1929 season, the Allied Architects built the shell that stood until 2003, using a transite skin over a metal frame. Its acoustics, though not nearly as good as those of the Lloyd Wright shells, were deemed satisfactory at first, and its clean lines and white, almost-semicircular arches were copied for music shells elsewhere. As the acoustics deteriorated, various measures were used to mitigate the problems, starting with an inner shell made from large cardboard tubes (of the sort used as forms for round concrete pillars) in the 1970s, which were replaced in the early 1980s by large fiberglass spheres (both designed by Frank Gehry[2]) that remained until 2003. These dampened out the unfavorable acoustics, but required massive use of electronic amplification to reach the full audience, particularly since the background noise level had risen sharply since the 1920s. The appearance underwent other, purely visual, changes as well, including the addition of a broad outer arch (forming a proscenium) where it had once had only a narrow rim and the reflecting pool in front of the stage that lasted from 1953 till 1972.[3] Sculptor George Stanley designed the Muse Fountain.[4] He had previously done the Oscar statuette.

Hollywood Bowl re-opening night, 2005

Shortly after the end of the 2003 summer season the 1929 shell was replaced with a new, somewhat larger, acoustically approved shell, which had its debut in the 2004 summer season. Preservationists fiercely opposed the demolition for many years, citing the shell's storied history. However, even when it was built, the 1929 shell was (at least acoustically) only the third-best shell in the Bowl's history, behind its two immediate predecessors. By the late 1970s, the Hollywood Bowl became an acoustic liability because of continued hardening of its transite skin. The new shell incorporates design elements of not only the 1929 shell, but of both the Lloyd Wright shells. During the 2004 summer season, the sound steadily improved, as engineers learned to work with its live acoustics.[5]

The current sound reinforcement system is a line-array configuration of multiple loudspeaker enclosures hung vertically in a curved manner, with the lower enclosures facing the front sections, and the upper enclosures angled towards the rear sections. It is manufactured by L'Acoustics, and includes state-of-the-art audio processing allowing each individual loudspeaker enclosure to be "tuned" and directed towards the near-precise location of the listener, regardless of where in the venue they are sitting. This results in the audience in the rear sections hearing the same audio, at the same level, as in the front sections. This electronic processing includes sound level, frequency equalization, occasional special effects, and time delay (sound passes through wire much faster than through air, therefore the sound coming from the speakers must be delayed, allowing the actual sound from the stage to "catch up" so both sources reach the listeners' ears simultaneously). The system is maintained by Rat Sound Systems, the same company that has provided audio for the Coachella Festival since its inception.

The 2004 shell incorporates the prominent front arch of the 1926 shell, the broad profile of the 1928 shell, and the unadorned white finish (and most of the general lines) of the 1929 shell. In addition, the ring-shaped structure hung within the shell, supporting lights and acoustic clouds, echoes a somewhat similar structure hung within the 1927 shell. During the 2004 season, because the back wall was not yet finished, a white curtain was hung at the back; beginning with the 2005 season, the curtain was removed to reveal a finished back wall. The architectural concept for the shell was developed by the Los Angeles based architectural practice Hodgetts and Fung, with the structural concept developed by the local office of Arup.

At the same time the new shell was being constructed the bowl received four new video screens and towers. During most concerts, three remotely operated cameras in the shell, and a fourth, manually operated camera among the box seats, provide the audience with close-up views of the musicians.

Satellite image showing the seating in front of the Hollywood Bowl
July 4th Fireworks Spectacular at the Hollywood Bowl 2010
Playboy Jazz Festival hosted in the Hollywood Bowl 2007

Performances[edit]

On July 11, 1922, with the audience seated on simple wooden benches placed on the natural hillsides of Bolton Canyon, conductor Alfred Hertz and the Los Angeles Philharmonic inaugurated the first season of music under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl. While much has changed in the ensuing years, the tradition of presenting the world's greatest musicians and striving for musical excellence has remained a constant goal of this famed Los Angeles cultural landmark.

The Hollywood Bowl has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, since its official opening in 1922, and, in 1991, gave its name to a resident ensemble that has filled a special niche in the musical life of Southern California, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

In 1945, Leopold Stokowski formed the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra, drawing its players from among members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and various film studios orchestras. He made a number of 78rpm recordings with them for RCA Victor during his two seasons there (1945–46) before returning to New York. The Hollywood Bowl Symphony's name was retained for a series of Capitol LPs made in the 1950s under such conductors as Felix Slatkin and Carmen Dragon.

Figures that have appeared at the Bowl throughout the years include President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mickey Rooney & Edward G. Robinson, as well as such "teams" as Fonteyn and Nureyev, Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, Simon and Garfunkel & Abbott and Costello.

Mikhail Baryshnikov has danced there, as did Fred Astaire.

The Hollywood Bowl was the site for American singer-actress Cher's final two concerts of her Living Proof: The Farewell Tour on April 29 and April 30, 2005.[6] On April 26 2014 Black Sabbath played in front of 18,000 people to start off the Hollywood bowl season Al Jolson, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Buddy Rich, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Nat "King" Cole, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald,[7] Carrie Underwood, José José, Kylie Minogue, Elton John, Alicia Keys as well as various other Jazz and non-Jazz musicians have headlined star-studded shows at the Bowl, but the all-time attendance record of 26,410 paid admissions was set on August 7, 1936, for a performance by the diminutive French opera star, Lily Pons. Sometimes as in the case of the 1967 March of Dimes concert, local talent and new artists would perform. At that concert, two young guitarists name 'Chico and Bill (Chico Vasquez and Bill Aken)brought the audience 'cheering' to their feet with a two guitar rendition of 'Mediterranean Breezes.' As it would for so many artists, their appearance enhanced their musical careers far beyond what any other venue could have done.

The Hollywood Bowl has provided a showcase for the world's greatest musicians. Bernstein, Walter, Monteux, Mauceri, Koussevitzky, Stokowski, Karajan, Klemperer, and Leinsdorf, as well as Mehta, Giulini, Rattle, and Salonen are just a few of the conductors who have led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in summertime concerts over the past seven decades. Jerry Hadley, Philip Glass, Itzhak Perlman, Gregor Piatigorsky, Arthur Rubinstein, Thomas Hayward (tenor), Alfred Brendel, Vladimir Horowitz, Andre Watts, Horacio Gutierrez, Jessye Norman, Plácido Domingo, Beverly Sills, Isaac Stern, Kathleen Battle, Jane Eaglen, Marilyn Horne, Alexander Frey, Jennifer Larmore, Sylvia McNair, Andrea Bocelli, Gil Shaham, Stephen Hough, Luciano Pavarotti — and other distinguished vocal and instrumental soloists too numerous to mention — represent the illustrious talent that has graced the stage. But never during its long and illustrious history has the Bowl's programming been limited solely to symphonic events; fully staged operas were a regular part of the season in the early years, and the famed Bolshoi Ballet appeared during the 1950s.

In September 1950, California's official state centennial show, The California Story, ran for five performances. The production, directed by Vladimir Rosing, was immense. A chorus of 200 and hundreds of actors were employed. The shell of the bowl was removed, the stage was enlarged, and the action was expanded to include the surrounding hillsides. Lionel Barrymore provided the dramatic narration.[8]

The Beatles performed at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964 and 1965,[9] which resulted in the live album The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl that was released in 1977.

The Playboy Jazz Festival has taken place at the Hollywood Bowl each year since 1979.[10]

Legendary L.A. rock band The Doors performed their "dream concert" at the Hollywood Bowl on July 5, 1968. The full version of this famous concert, one of The Doors's finest, was released on October 2012 on CD, DVD, Blu-ray and also available on LP.

The first public performances by the newly formed Hollywood Bowl Orchestra were for Independence Day concerts on July 2–4, 1991 conducted by the orchestra's new conductor John Mauceri and Bruce Hubbard (baritone) as soloist. The program included works by Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, George Gershwin & Jerome Kern, among others.

The Who performed on July 1st 2002 in their first concert after the death of John Entwistle.[11]

The Hollywood Bowl was the site for what turned out to be the British progressive rock band Genesis' final ever concerts and the last two concerts of their Turn It On Again: The Tour on October 12 and 13, 2007. Lead singer Phil Collins at the last show said "there was nothing else planned for Genesis after this show" (eventually Phil Collins retired from the music industry in 2011).[12]

Depeche Mode performed at the amphitheatre on August 16 and 17, 2009 during their Tour of the Universe, in front of a total crowd of 34,919 people.

The jam band Phish performed at the Bowl for the first time in August 2011.[13] On June 2, 2012, the Beach Boys played a sold out show on their milestone 50th Anniversary tour and on November 8, 2013, Avicii played a headlined gig at the Bowl, the first EDM artist so far to embark on such a gig.

On May 17, 22, & 27, 2014 Billy Joel performed there for the first time ever. Each performance was sold out.

On September 17, 2014, Linkin Park and Thirty Seconds to Mars performed there in front of 18,000 fans with AFI as opening act.

On July 21, 2014 Motley Crue performed their final concert ever as a band at the Hollywood Bowl.

The film-and-orchestra concert Bugs Bunny on Broadway, subsequently called "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony," has played the Hollywood Bowl a record 21 times -- 19 times with the Los Angeles Phiharmonic, and twice with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, all conducted by George Daugherty. In September 2003, "Bugs Bunny On Broadway" was the final Los Angeles Philharmonic concert to be performed in the 1928 shell before its demolition started the following day, making way for the new shell.

On September 14, 2012, at the end of a performance by the Brian Setzer Orchestra, fireworks that were mounted on top of the shell were ignited as part of the show's finale. Wind conditions blew sparks from the fireworks over the top of the shell, landing on several rows of the audience seated in front of the stage, resulting in minor burns and singed clothing for several patrons.[14]

Hollywood Bowl Museum[edit]

The Hollywood Bowl Museum features photographs, audio and video recordings, memorabilia and artifacts about the history of the Hollywood Bowl and performances. The museum includes the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, whose honorees include John Williams, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder, Brian Wilson, Henry Mancini, Sarah Chang, Bernadette Peters, Frank Sinatra and more.[15] The museum is open in the day and at night before evening performances. Admission is free.

Visitors can also see the gift shop and walk the Bowl's grounds.

Films[edit]

The Hollywood Bowl is featured in the following motion pictures:

Television[edit]

  • The Beverly Hillbillies (1963) in season 1 episode 23 "Jed Buys the Freeway," a conman attempts to sell the Clampetts the Hollywood Bowl, Griffith Park Zoo, and the freeway connecting the two.[17]
  • The Simpsons (1995) in episode 23 "The Springfield Connection" in season 6. There is a parody of the Hollywood bowl in Springfield, named the Springfield Bowl.
  • Sleeper Cell (2006) in episode 7 "Fitna" in season 2. The Hollywood Bowl is the target of a dirty nuclear bomb.
  • Californication (2008) in episode 9 "La Ronde" in season 2. Ashby steals Karen away on a date and surprises her with a private Lili Haydn concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
  • CSI: Miami (2010) in episode 16 "L.A." in season 8. Horatio Caine meets Captain Sutter at the Hollywood Bowl at the end of the episode.
  • Columbo (1972) Étude in Black starring Peter Falk and John Cassavetes. Most of the episode takes place at the Hollywood Bowl.
  • The New Adventures Of Old Christine (2008) Season 3 Episode #6 "The New Adventures Of Old Christine" Originally aired May 3, 2008. Christine tags along with her ex and her brother to the Hollywood Bowl.
  • Freakazoid (1997) The final scene of the last episode of the 1997 animated superhero comedy Freakazoid features the cast singing We'll Meet Again at the Hollywood Bowl
  • 90210

Video games[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "From Daisy Dell to the Hollywood Bowl, a Little Musical History for Summer". 
  2. ^ Isenberg, Barbara. Conversations with Frank Gehry. Knopf, 2009, p. 107.
  3. ^ LA Phil Presents Hollywood Bowl | History of the Hollywood Bowl
  4. ^ "Muse Fountain". 
  5. ^ "Hollywood Bowl Acoustics Project". 
  6. ^ "Cher's last stop: Hollywood Bowl - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times (LA Times). February 1, 2005. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  7. ^ Scott Yanow (All Music Guide, allmusic.com), "Jazz At The Hollywood Bowl" (recorded live concert), August 15, 1956
  8. ^ Ainsworth, Ed., "Narration by Barrymore Highlight of Pageant", Los Angeles Times, Sept 13, 1950.
  9. ^ "Rock & Roll". Hollywood Bowl website. Hollywood Bowl. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  10. ^ Playboy Jazz Festival site
  11. ^ http://www.thewholive.net/concert/index.php?GroupID=1&id=637&Jahr=2002
  12. ^ Wardrop, Murray (March 3, 2011). "Phil Collins calls time on music career". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  13. ^ Anderson, Eric (August 11, 2011). "On the Download: Phish at the Hollywood Bowl". Access Hollywood. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  14. ^ http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/09/minor-injuries-from-fireworks-sparks-at-hollywood-bowl-officials-say.html
  15. ^ "Hollywood Bowl Museum". Hollywood Bowl. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  16. ^ Hollywood Hotel (1937)
  17. ^ Jed Buys The Freeway - Internet Archive

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 34°06′46″N 118°20′20″W / 34.11278°N 118.33889°W / 34.11278; -118.33889