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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.
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, 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.
On 11 November 1921 the first Sunrise Service took place at the bowl, in one of its first major events. The Bowl officially opened on July 11, 1922.
It was also made near a Chinese Theater.
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, almost-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.
On July 11, 1922, with the audience seated on simple wooden benches placed on the natural hillsides of 'Daisy Dell' in 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.
Aerial photograph showing the seating in front of the Hollywood Bowl
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 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 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 1929 shell before its demolition started the following day, making way for the new shell.
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August 7, 1936: The Hollywood Bowl's all-time attendance record of 26,410 paid admissions was set for a performance by the French opera star Lily Pons.
Playboy Jazz Festival hosted in the Hollywood Bowl 2007
July 4th Fireworks Spectacular at the Hollywood Bowl 2010
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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.
July 5, 1968: L.A. rock band The Doors performed at the Hollywood Bowl. Recordings from this show were released in 1987 as the live albumLive at the Hollywood Bowl. The Bowl was also home to the final performance of The Doors on September 10, 1972.
August 16, 1968: Eric Burdon & The Animals performed at the Hollywood Bowl. A live tape of rather poor quality of their performance exists.
September 14, 1968: The Jimi Hendrix Experience appeared at the Hollywood Bowl.
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.
June 10, 2018: Parlor Social with Dessy Di Lauro & Ric'key Pageot will perform on day 2 of the 40th annual Playboy Jazz Festival.
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.
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.