Home - Los Angeles
Hollywood Bowl. 2301 N. Highland Ave.(323) 850-2000.
Built in 1919 the Hollywood Bowl has hosted the top names in entertainment since then.
Home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic during summer July - Sept. for its
Under the Stars series of concerts. The Hollywood Bowl & its grounds are open to the
public Free during the day which also includes rehearsals during
the summer. Easy to reach just North of Hollywood Boulevard on Highland Ave,
located opposite is the Hollywood Studio Museum.
Official website www.hollywoodbowl.org.
The Hollywood Bowl is a modern amphitheatre that is used primarily for music performances. It officially opened in 1922 on the site of a natural amphitheatre formerly known as the Daisy Dell, and has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since then. The Bowl is also home to a second resident ensemble, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.
The Hollywood Bowl is well known for its band shell, a distinctive set of concentric arches that has graced the site since 1929. Popular entertainers including Cher, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Monty Python and Judy Garland have given famous or noteworthy performances under the shell. Cartoon buffs may see a resemblance between the concentric arches of the shell and Porky Pig's backdrop in Th-th-that's all, f-f-folks; it is debatable whether it was intentional (however, the Bowl did make appearances in various Warner Brothers cartoon shorts, at least one DePatie-Freleng Pink Panther cartoon, and a Tom and Jerry cartoon). Adding to the atmosphere of the Bowl, the famous Hollywood Sign, several miles away, is visible from the Bowl site, to the north-northeast, behind and to the right of it from the spectators' viewpoint.
Shortly after the end of the 2003 summer season, the Board of Supervisors of Los Angeles County, which owns the Hollywood Bowl (seating capacity 17,383), replaced the 1929 shell 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 it was (at least acoustically) only the third-best shell in the Bowl's history, behind its two immediate predecessors (which were designed by Lloyd Wright, the son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright). 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.
At first, the Bowl was very close to its natural state, with only makeshift wooden benches for the audience, and eventually a simple awning over the stage. In 1926, a group known as the Allied Architects was contracted to regrade the Bowl, providing permanent seating and a shell. These improvements did provide increased capacity (the all-time record for attendance was set in 1936, when 26,410 people crowded into the Bowl to hear opera singer Lily Pons), but were otherwise disappointing, as the regrading noticeably degraded the natural acoustics, and the original shell was deemed acoustically unsatisfactory (as well as visually unfashionable, with its murals of sailing ships). For the 1927 season, Lloyd Wright built a pyramidal shell, with a vaguely Southwestern look, out of left-over lumber from a production of Robin Hood. This was generally regarded as the best shell the Bowl ever had from an acoustic standpoint; unfortunately, its appearance was deemed too avant-garde, and it was demolished at the end of the season. It did, however, get Wright a second chance, this time with the stipulation that the shell was to have an arch shape. For the 1928 season, Wright built another wooden shell, this time in the shape of concentric 120-degree arches, with movable panels inside that could be used to tune the acoustics. It was designed to be easily dismantled and stored between concert seasons; apparently for political reasons, this was not done, and it did not survive the winter. 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 with an inner shell made from large cardboard tubes (of the sort used as forms for round concrete pillars) in the 1970s, which were replaced by the early 1980s with the large fiberglass spheres (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.
The 2004 shell incorporates the prominent front arch, flared at the base and forming a proscenium, 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. In addition, the new shell is wired for video cameras, with two large screens on either side, and two more atop the rearmost lighting 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, usually alternating between a view of the conductor, and a view of whichever musician's) have "the melody."