Highlights of a Great Summer at the Bowl

A summer in LA would not be complete without at least a few visits to the Hollywood Bowl.  The venue is the perfect place to enjoy warm summer nights under the stars and offers a variety of musical performances that can suit any taste. I started my summer with 11 of my best picnic-going, music-loving friends enjoying the popular Beethoven’s 9th symphony.  Later, in August I spent a quieter, walk-in evening with Dudamel (dressed in black) conducting the LA Phil in Verdi’s tragic Rigoletto.

It sometimes amazes me how different the Hollywood Bowl feels from one evening to the next. The sold-out Yo-Yo Ma concert found nearly 18,000 people, sitting upright, fully engaged in the moment of each note and the silences between them.– While the family-friendly Pixar at the Bowl concert featured kids squealing in delight when their favorite characters like Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Dory, and Nemo showed up on the big screens. It reminded me of last summer’s Star Wars tribute — A night when 3 generations of loyal fans waved colorful lightsabers while John Williams conducted the familiar themes.

One of my favorite evenings of 2012 was the least attended of all. The Bowl looked to have about 25% of capacity on the Aug. 30th performance of Carmina Burana. It was lucky for all of us who did attend because the entire evening was delightful. It was great to actually be able to have a pre-concert picnic at a table instead of sitting on blankets on the ground. There were plenty of open seats inside the bowl as well, so folks could comfortably spread out and sit back. The warmth and humidity of the evening made the chorus sound richer and closer. The bowl is huge, and yet every inch of it was filled by the 100+ powerfully synchronized voices of the LA Master Chorale.

The concert program describes Carmina Burana as “a setting of medieval poems about life, love, morals, mockery and drinking.” I first remember hearing it during an old beer commercial. It starts out with a powerful bang (O Fortuna!) and goes on to feature more subtle notes and wry humor (for those who care to read the supertitles). It’s one of those pieces that leaves concert goers with a euphoric hangover for a few days after, so I try to see it whenever I can.  I was lucky this summer because I saw it just a few weeks prior to the Bowl concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It was a one night only performance of the Los Angeles Lawyer’s Philharmonic .(you read that right!)   — All of the orchestra’s members work in the legal profession as lawyers, judges or law clerks. But don’t let that fool you, they are talented artists and their performance of Carmina Burana was almost as polished as the LA Phil’s. In fact, I think many of them could quit their day jobs!

GREAT NEWS: The Hollywood Bowl performance of Carmina Burana will be broadcast on September 29th at 2PM on 91.5 KUSC!

I’m looking forward to two more fun filled nights at the bowl before I call it a summer. A little Bernstein Americana as Sarah Chang plays songs from West Side Story. It will come to and end with a Rock and Roll bang as Florence + The Machine heats up the stage in October — just in time for the temperatures to drop.  Well, there is always the WDCH and Dudamel to look forward to this winter!

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