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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 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 site of the Hollywood Bowl was chosen in 1919 by William Reed and his son H. Ellis Reed, who were dispatched to find a suitable location for outdoor performances by the members of the newly formed Theatre Arts Alliance headed by Christine Wetherill Stevenson. The Reeds selected a natural amphitheater, a shaded canyon and popular picnic spot known as 'Daisy Dell' in Bolton Canyon which was chosen for its natural acoustics and its proximity to downtown Hollywood. The Community Park and Art Association, then headed by F.W. Blanchard, was the first organization to begin the building the Bowl.
One of the earliest performances at the Bowl was Hollywood High School's Performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The Women's World Peace Concert was held on November 11, 1921. On November 11, 1921 the first Sunrise Service took place at the bowl, in one of its first major events. With the building of the first actual stage, consisting of little more than wooden platforms in and canvas, The Bowl officially opened on July 11, 1922.
The Bowl began as a community space rather than a privately owned establishment. Proceeds from the early events at the Bowl went to financing the construction of new elements of the bowl such as a stage and seating in 1922 and 1923 respectively. In 1924, a backdrop to the stage was added.
During the early years of the Bowl's existence, concert tickets were kept at the lowest available price of 25 cents using the slogan popular prices will prevail, coined by F.W. Blanchard. While serving as the venue for concerts by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Bowl also served as a community space, being used for Easter services, the Hollywood Community Chorus, as well as Young Artists Nights where younger musicians could perform well known classical music. Children were also invited to perform at community events with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Community Chorus, beginning with Sibelius' Finlandia in 1921.
The Bowl was home to much more than western music, hosting a variety of Native American tribal events, as well as international music ensembles.
In 1924, the land was deeded to the County of Los Angeles.
Women in the Bowl
Many of the key influential figures in the founding of the Hollywood Bowl were women, most notably the pianist Artie Mason Carter, whose connections with the Los Angeles arts patrons were vital in the early days of the Bowls existence. Christine Wetherill Stevenson and Marie Rankin Clarke, who both donated $21,000 to purchase the land on which the bowl was built. E.J. Wakeman, Leiland Atherton Irish, Harriet Clay Penman, and composers Gertrude Ross and Carrie Jacobs Bond all contributed to the Bowl through fundraising drives.
Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. (commonly known as Lloyd Wright) designed the second and third band shells. The original 1926 shell, designed by the Allied Architects group, was considered unacceptable both visually and acoustically. Wright's 1927 shell had a pyramidal shape and a design reminiscent of southwest American Indian architecture. Its acoustics generally were regarded as the best of any shell in Bowl history. But its appearance was considered too avant-garde, or perhaps only ugly, and it was demolished at the end of the season. His 1928 wooden shell had the now-familiar concentric ring motif, covered a 120-degree arc, and was designed to be easily dismantled. Unfortunately it was neglected and ruined by water damage.
The Hollywood Bowl's 1980s-2003 appearance, with the acoustic fiberglass spheres.
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, semicircular arches were copied for music shells elsewhere. As the acoustics deteriorated, various measures were used to mitigate the problems, starting in the 1970s with an inner shell made from large cardboard tubes (of the sort used as forms for round concrete pillars), which were replaced in the early 1980s by large fiberglass spheres (both designed by Frank Gehry) 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 a reflecting pool in front of the stage that lasted from 1953 till 1972. Sculptor George Stanley, designer of the Oscar statuette, designed the Muse Fountain which has stood outside the Hollywood Bowl's main entrance since 1940.
The Hollywood Bowl in 2004, during construction of the new shell
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 improved 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.
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.[original research?]
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 design 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.
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra(s)
The Hollywood Bowl has had several house orchestras. A "Bowl Orchestra" performed in 1925, and a "Hollywood Bowl Orchestra" made a live recording in 1928. Later, the "Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra" recorded made several classical recordings under music director Leopold Stokowski from 1945 to 1946, and released a number of recordings on the Capitol Records label in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra was re-launched by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association in 1991 under principal conductor John Mauceri, who finished his tenure in 2006.
The first appointed conductor of the Bowl ensemble was Emil Oberhoffer, who served for one year. Oberhoffer was proceeded by Alfred Hertz for two years. In 1925 Fritz Reiner migrated to the orchestra from the Cincinnati Symphony. Reiner was supplanted by Sir Henry Wood several years later.. German-born Frederick Stark who would later become a music librarian at the Walt Disney Studios occasionally served as the conductor.
Early Ballet and Opera
Ballet dancer Maud Allen performed during the production of symphony Pathetique by Tschaikowsky under the direction of Alfred Hertz in 1926. Ernest Belcher arranged a ballet scene for Bowl Dedication Night, and dancers from the Belcher Ballet School performed the Beautiful Galatea,Enchanted Hour, and Venesive Festival. In 1932, the Belcher's ballet was performed in Greek Costumes as a dedication to the Olympic-Games Athletes. Alexis and Theodore Kosloff performed the ballet Scheherazade with dancers from Hollywood and the Klosloff Dancing School between 1930s. In 1932, Theodore Klosloff performed the Flower.Also in 1932, the ballet Chopiniana was performed. Ballet Dancers Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn performed solo dances under direction of Hertz in 1927. Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn raised there arms to point at the California Stars during the Russian Ballet sur le point at the Hollywood Bowl. In 1928, Andreas Pavley, a tenor, and Serge Oukrainsky, a ballet dancer, performed at the Hollywood Bowl. Oukrainsky performed in the ballet La Fete a Robinson alone after Pavley's death. In 1929, Norma Gould brought her Los Angeles dancers to the bowl to perform during Schubert's Unfinished Symphony and Tschaikowsky's Nut-Cracker Suite. In August, 1930, Michio Ito brought five dancers to the Hollywood Bowl to perform in the Russian Ballet Prince Igor. In 1931, Adolph Bolm performed at the Bowl for Debussy's Les Nuages. He also performed The Spirt factory. This was later called the Mechanical Ballet composed by Alaxander Mosolov. Dancers Elise Reiman and Robert Bell also performed in the Mechanical Ballet.
In 1931, Los Angeles Grand opera performed segments of Marouf. Early Hollywood Bowl appearances of opera include: Carmen,Aida, and Shanewis. In 1929, a concertized form of the opera Carmen was performed by Alice Genytle, Paul Althouse and Alexander Kisselburgh. The same cast later performed moments from the opera Tannhauser. In 1932, Samson and Delilah was performed by Paul Althouse, local singers, the Belcher Ballet and the Civic Chorus in concert style. In 1927, Elsa Alsen performed Santuzza in Cavalleria. In 1934, Nina Koshetz performed Carmen and Nelson Eddy sang Escamillio in the opera Carmen. Koshetz also sang the lead in Tschaikowsky's Eugene Oregon. In the 1930s, Verdi's Aida was performed by Dan Gridley, Clemence Gifford, Eleanor Woodforde and Richard Bonelli with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1935, Lohengrin was performed by Jeanette Vreeland performing Elsa and Dan Gridley performing Lonhengrin.
The first season at the Hollywood Bowl began on July 11, 1922, with conductor Alfred Hertz and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Aerial photograph showing the seating in front of the Hollywood Bowl
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 78 rpm 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.
In 1951, a financial crisis closed the Hollywood Bowl during its summer season. Dorothy Chandler chaired a committee that organized a series of fundraising concerts that was able to reopen it.
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 Philharmonic, 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 1929 shell before its demolition started the following day, making way for the new shell.
Tsianina Redfeather Blackstone sang the role of Shanewis in the opera "Shanewis" in 1926.
Rafaela Díaz performed in 1926 as Lionel in Charles Wakefields Cadman's Indian-themed opera "Shanewis."
August 7, 1936: The Hollywood Bowl's set an attendance record of 26,410 at a performance by French opera star Lily Pons
Playboy Jazz Festival hosted in the Hollywood Bowl 2007
July 4th Fireworks Spectacular at the Hollywood Bowl 2010
Bass baritone George London made his opera début In 1941 singing Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata.
American soprano Florence Quartararo made her début as Leonora in a concert performance of Il trovatore in 1945.
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 show's dramatic narration.
October 12 and 13, 2007: Genesis performed the last two concerts of their Turn It On Again: The Tour. These are the last concerts the band has ever performed. At the last of the two concerts, lead singerPhil Collins said, "there was nothing else planned for Genesis after this show." Phil Collins would retire from the music industry in 2011.
May 12, 2018: The Iranian music legend Googoosh along with iconic singers and songwriters Hassan Shamaizadeh and Martik Kanian performed their Memory Makers Tour. Googoosh became the first Iranian artist to headline at the Hollywood Bowl.
May 13, 2020: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire season of film screenings and concerts was cancelled for the first time.
Hollywood Bowl Museum
The Hollywood Bowl Museum is located at the bottom of Peppertree Lane. It was formally known as the Tea Room which opened in 1984. In 1996, it was rebuilt as the Edmund D. Edelman Hollywood Bowl Museum. It features many historical exhibits including: Summer Nights: Jazz at the Bowl, Hollywood Bowl: Music For Everyone, Postcards from the Bowl, Beatles at the Bowl, Concert Programs and Live from the Bowl. These exhibits feature vintage photographs, vintage sound equipment, newspaper clippings, postcards, live video recordings, and live audio recordings. The Hollywood Bowl Museum also features 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, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder, Brian Wilson, Henry Mancini, Sarah Chang, Bernadette Peters, George Harrison, Frank Sinatra and more. The Hollywood Bowl Museum offers free admission, free self guided tour options, free guided tour options and educational programs. The educational program, Music Mobile, is a volunteer program and offers musical instrument lessons to students twice a year. If the Hollywood Bowl Museum is closed visitors can walk through "The Bowl Walk" which features historical photographs of the Hollywood Bowl.
Pink, Plunk, Plink (1966) Pink Panther prefers the orchestra performing at the Hollywood Bowl to play The Pink Panther theme than their scheduled program to an audience consisting of the composer Henry Mancini.
Zombieland (2009) Bill Murray mentions that he saw Eddie Van Halen at the Hollywood Bowl.
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.
Mannix (1968) in the last episode of the first season "The Girl in the Frame". The fountain that used to be in front of the stage is visible.
Gomer Pyle USMC (1968) in episode 6 "All You Need Is One Good Break" in season 5. Gomer, Sgt. Carter, and their new actress friend take various photos there.
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.
"The Hollywood Bowl is the first amphitheater in California to be certified as an Audubon Society Cooperative Sanctuary." Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and Los Angeles County are partners with the Hollywood Bowl and encourage recycling. The Hollywood Bowl has many recycling bins located throughout the venue. The Hollywood Bowl has also partnered with Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation authority since 1953 and provides the public with a green alternative to driving. Know Before You Go is provided as a detailed guide offering public transport information and free bike parking options. The Hollywood Bowl has waterless urinals and flush reducing toilets to preserve water as well as a satellite-based irrigation system to control water use. This irrigation system also provides water based on the needs of animal life. The Hollywood Bowl has stainless steel grates and water filters to keep its irrigation system clean.
Coyote (Canis latrans)
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi beecheyi)