There are few things that are so quintessentially LA than summer concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. This historic 17,500-seat amphitheater has been an icon since its founding in 1922. With its distinctive bandshells built at the base of the Hollywood Hills and the famous Hollywood sign in the background, the Bowl is considered a premiere outdoor music venue- one of the best in the United States- and known around the globe.
The Hollywood Bowl is the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and has hosted a number of famously talented musicians throughout its hundred-year history- from the jazz greats of the 1950s, the Beatles and the Supremes in the 60s, to Tom Petty, Linkin Park, Coldplay, and more in the 2000s. For me though, it is not so much the famous performers that make the Bowl a special place. My favorite memories of the Bowl are made up of sitting in the cheap seats with friends and family. I loved summer concerts while growing up. I recall picnicking in the back while singing along to “The Sound of Music” or Disney tunes and watching the fireworks burst over the Hollywood sign. Growing up in the Greater LA area, the Hollywood Bowl was a place where we kids could get a bit of culture, learn some music appreciation, and hang out while eating cheese sandwiches and galletas as the setting sun glowed over Southern California.
And the story doesn’t end there. As an adult, the Bowl continued to be among my favorite summer haunts. Just this past Sunday, we enjoyed an end-of-summer concert under a scorching summer sky. We reveled in the music of John Williams, maestro of the movies. The famed 90-year-old composer of many of our favorite movie soundtracks- Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, E.T. and so much more- conducted the LA Philharmonic to a packed crowd. The still summer night was hot, almost too hot for a bottle of red wine, but the experience was still magical in its way, especially as the crowd waved their lightsabers to Star Wars themes, including the ominous “Imperial March.” In addition, Mr. WIlliams debuted a teaser for the upcoming fifth installment of Indiana Jones, conducting “Helena’s Theme” for the first time in a public venue. It was wonderful to be there again; the last time we saw the Maestro of the Movies concert was back in 2012, as he celebrated his 80th birthday. How time does fly, and how music does cement memories.
We will return to the Bowl in just over a month, hopefully on a night with more autumnal weather. This time, I will be taking Sami for her first real concert. It struck me that it’s taken this long to get Sami to a concert that didn’t involve a school performance, especially since we live in LA County, so close to many well-known music settings. We will be watching Florence and the Machine, and Sami is really looking forward to singing along with a performer we both love. I am thankful for where we live and the opportunities that we have, for these experiences with family- memories of music and laughter, of symphonies under the stars, of time spent together. After all, life is an adventure meant to be shared, and music is a powerful force that binds us.
For more information as well as the history of the Bowl, check out The First 100 Years on Spotify.
For performance calendar and ticket info, visit hollywoodbowl.com.