To the Bowl & Back
Hollywood— Few experiences in Los Angeles capture the quintessential “Angeleno Lifestyle” more completely, or more elegantly, than a cool and thrilling night of music at the Hollywood Bowl. Personally, our hearts tingle with electricity every time we set foot in Daisy Dell, as the area was once called.
For downtowners, the same question seems to persist yearly: When Bolton Canyon becomes the cultural epicenter of Los Angeles every summer, and the LA Phil moves from their home at Walt Disney Concert Hall to a dell full of daisies, how do we, the DTLA community, partake in the fun and legendary programming?
Firstly, it’s important to point out that Downtown Los Angeles has a historic relationship with the Hollywood Bowl. 100 years ago, when the LA Phil and Bowl were budding iconic institutions, a large majority of early concert attendees were from the bustling metropolis— Downtown Los Angeles. For instance, a music lover of yore might have grabbed a paper from a newsboy on the corner of Main & 6th before hopping onto a Red Car Trolley bound for Cahuenga Pass. In our current megalopolis, not too much has changed… you still take something Red through Hollywood (now a subway car instead of trolley car); and with traffic, estimated driving time to The Bowl is just about the same as that of a Model-T (lol).
Likewise, one other thing definitely hasn’t changed… the thrill of great art in open air!
“The bowl is accessible to everyone, and at a very reasonable price,” says Sophie Jefferies, Director of Public Relations for the LA Phil. “If you already have a tap card, you can ride the Red Line from your stop in DTLA to Hollywood & Highland. From there, walk straight up Highland or take a shuttle that runs from the station.”
An alternative way to transport from DTLA is to catch one of the Bowl’s white shuttles that leaves from Union Station. For a nominal fee, this shuttle drops you right in front of the box office and will return you back to Union Station when the night has concluded.
“Once at the box office, purchase a $1 ticket. If you bring your own food the whole experience will be quite cheap,” Sophie smiles. She warns us that the $1 tickets are for what would be considered the “nosebleed section.” However, we have it on good authority that the back of the house is a great place to enjoy a show. It’s also been said, sections ‘V, W, or X’ have the best vantage point for fireworks.
Overall, your experience can vary based on planning, budget and the type of show you wish to attend; not to mention, Sophie’s suggestions paint a clear picture of The Bowl’s accessibility to the downtown community.
September 2018 is a really special month for the LA Phil, The Bowl, and Los Angeles at large. On the 30th, the Phil is celebrating their 100 year anniversary with, not only a free concert at The Bowl, but alongside CicLAvia! That’s right! You will be able to ride your bike from Walt Disney Concert Hall, through MacArthur Park, past Korea Town and beside Melrose, all the way to Hollywood & Vine. Shuttles will be present at the iconic intersection to take riders the rest of the way!
Los Angeles Philharmonic would like all to know that this is a festival showcasing ‘L.A.’s creative spirit,’ where 1,800 musicians, artists, and dancers will be performing at 6 hubs along the 8-mile route from DTLA to Hollywood. Everything concludes with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the LA Phil and a few very special guests; such as, Katy Perry, Herbie Hndcock, Kali Uchis, Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) and more.
In celebration of such a monumental centennial event, we had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Meghan Martineau, Vice President of Artistic Planning at Los Angeles Philharmonic, about season programming, Hollywood Bowl v. Walt Disney Concert Hall, together with classical music and its impact on our society.
Below is an abbreviated transcription:
Is there a difference between performing at the Concert Hall and The Bowl?
We’re very lucky as the LA Phil to have two iconic venues to play in, and they both have distinct reasons as to why they’re so special.
Obviously, the bowl is so iconic, not just for classical music but in all genres. I love how one night can be a jazz, the next night there’s a film, and the night after that Gustavo is conducting Bernstein. It really feels to me, as someone that works for the LA Phil and the Bowl, that the Hollywood Bowl is iconic LA.
For the musicians themselves, certainly the set up is different, and the stage is really big; they have to work hard to listen to each other, and it’s all amplified. The musicians make certain choices in playing, understanding that it is amplified, whereas at the concert hall, it is this very quiet and pure acoustic.
It can be a challenge to perform with the amplification, but with that amplification also comes the video screens, so I think the audience in some ways gets a more personal look at the musicians than they would even at the concert hall.
How do you approach programming for the season?
The first thing we do is talk to Gustavo as our Artistic Director to get his vision on what he wants the season to be. What should it include? What are his priorities? I think that you’ll see, in his programming this summer, he wanted to celebrate Bernstein of course, but he also wanted to highlight Latin artists.
Sometimes we do have certain pieces in mind that we want to program and we’ll ask artists to do them; other times artists will come to us with an idea. The LA Phil is very well known for our work in new music and commissioning new pieces. We’ve done some of that at the Hollywood Bowl.
The audience in L.A. is so open and is so enthusiastic, I love that we are able to program things we believe people will enjoy. We have a trusting relationship with Los Angeles.
Why is classical music important?
Many people think that they don’t know about classical music and it’s not familiar to them, but I think that everyone knows what an orchestra sounds like. It’s just about putting yourself out there to explore, the same way you would explore a museum. This is living art. You have the opportunity to have an experience with the people around you and respond to the music. I think that’s why people are still playing classical music, frankly, and still writing new music.
When you go to a classical show at The Bowl, it’s a cross section of everyone in Los Angeles, and whatever their reason might be for going… it feels like everyone is in it together and enjoying it. Everyone is welcome at the Hollywood Bowl.
A quick checklist from our article:
LA Phil 100 Year Anniversary.
Sunday, September 30th, ‘Celebrate LA’ will begin with CicLAvia at 9am.
Ride, Run or Walk in the street between DTLA and Hollywood.
7pm Gustavo & the LA Phil take The Bowl stage.
For add’l information, including routes, lineups, and tickets… LA Phil dot com.