Sunday, July 25, 2004

LA Scene: the "new" Hollywood Bowl

(Eleventh in a series of occasional posts on Los Angeles life)

HI Kari:

In one of the early posts in this blog, I mentioned the Hollywood Bowl.

Well, during the off-season since then, the Bowl has gotten a big face lift for the shell as well as a bunch of other technical upgrades.

Finally went to the newly renovated Hollywood Bowl to see the event last Sunday night. The Joffrey Ballet did Nutcracker Act 2. The costumes were lovely and I am always amazed at the blend of grace and strength in ballet. The night was closed out with a performance of Pictures of the Exhibition with fireworks. The audience was treated to two encores: Sabre Dance and Sleigh Ride.

Yesterday, in the Saturday paper of the Los Angeles Times there was an article about the upgrades and how the bowl can reconfigure the acoustical features for orchestral music, small ensemble jazz and world music and for full on rock concerts. Unfortunately, that online edition of the article requires paid registration to view so a link to it is probably not meaningful our audience. Instead, I'll share what from memory what I read from the actual paper edition.

The art and science of sound is familiar to LA culture watchers with the troubles with the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Almost everyone agrees that it is a vast improvement over the old Dorothy Chandler. Praise for how it handles unamplified orchestral music is nearly universal. However, when amplification has been used, Disney Hall has had problems. Also, reports of how the venue sounds for choral works has been mixed.

The renovated Hollywood Bowl faces different challenges as an outdoor venue capable of holding 18,000 people. For people in the cheap seats they hear a mix of direct sound from the orchestra and from the array of speakers aligned to spray sound to all sections of the Bowl audience. Then there are the people who pay large sums of money for box-seats very close to the shell who get mostly sound from the performers and some from the speakers.

There is also the challenge for the sound engineers who do much of their calibrating during the morning rehearsals when nobody is in the audience. As you might guess that is a completely different setting then the actual evening performance in the cool night air with thousands of humans sitting in seats!

But for most who go to Bowl events, we are quite content with how it sounds and we know the engineers will keep tinkering and get it so they like it. For the average Joe and Jane Angelino, the Bowl remains simply the signature venue and event for Summertime in Los Angeles for the enjoyment of music, food and companionship of friends.

Perhaps, someday, should you and your other half make it out to LA, you can hear it and enjoy it for yourself.

In the meantime, how about a few pictures?

Take care and be well,


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