Ever since I saw Bugs Bunny torment an opera singer there, I’ve always wanted to go to the Hollywood Bowl.
Every year, film composer John Williams does a concert there where he conducts his own and other composers’ music, in his Maestro of the Movies concert. This year, Certain Someone and I were able to go!
Our chat room on Streamingsoundtracks.com (see link in the blogroll) has several members who go every year. We met up with some of them for food, and a group trip to see JW, as we call him, at the Bowl. The hotel where we stayed was within a short walk and not far from other famous Hollywood locations.
Some quick impressions of the Hollywood Bowl:
Smooshy seat cushions for rent.
World’s fastest bathroom line! (because there are like 500 stalls in there)
Here it is!
I have to say that the Hollywood Bowl is one of the better venues I’ve visited. It’s huge, and stuck up in the hills on Highland Avenue. There are numerous refreshment vendors selling water, snacks and light sabers (I’ll get to that in a minute).
Seat cushions can be rented for a buck and trust me, if you’re in the bench seats, you’ll need them. The Bowl is an open-air venue and the old wooden benches are hard. To sit in the boxes, you have to have a season pass. If I lived in L.A., you bet I would have one.
You can bring outside food and drink in but no glass bottles. They do search purses and bags, so be ready for that. It’s very much a family-friendly venue, so if the show is appropriate, bring the kiddies.
Here’s a scan of the playlist; I hope you can read it.
William Faulker’s story The Reivers, accompanied by music, was supposed to be narrated by Morgan Freeman but that didn’t happen. So JW got his old buddy James Taylor to do it, which he did very well. Yes, THE James Taylor!
Then JW said “I know we didn’t bring you here to SING…” and the audience went nuts. So Taylor got his guitar and sang a cowboy lullaby he wrote for his nephew James. It was fabulous. I was never a huge fan of his, but always liked him and this was really a treat.
JW did a cool thing with the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade music. He showed the opening scene, with Young Indy stealing the Coronado Cross from the bandits, without music, and talked us through the though process that went into what music to use where.
He said “Of course, first I have to WRITE it…” Hee hee. Then he played the scene again with the orchestra accompanying. Pretty neat to see how that worked.
JW’s most famous score, Star Wars, capped the evening. Now I’ll explain the light sabers. Repeat concertgoers (and Star Wars nerds) brought light sabers to the concert, which you could activate with the flip of a switch. They sell them at the venue too, because apparently this is a JW tradition.
First was “The Asteroid Field” and “Princess Leia’s Theme,” and across the Bowl, people were holding back, you could tell. On the beginning notes of “Main Title,” the entire audience lit up with a sparkly sea of sabers. Ultra nerdy, and indescribably beautiful. Next year, I’m getting one. Yes, we’re going back!
Three encores! The Star Wars Imperial March; all the lightsabers were bobbing in unison. That’s Darth Vader’s music, for you non-nerds out there. Then E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, followed by Raiders of the Lost Ark.
And then it was over.
That was the best concert I’ve ever seen in my life, and you don’t have to be a scorephile like me to love JW and the LA Philharmonic, one of the most famous and talented orchestras in the country. Do go there, to any concert of your choosing. Help support arts programs whenever you can. You may discover something amazing!