The Hollywood Bowl, pictured here in 2019, is celebrating its 100-year anniversary with an exciting lineup of performers, events and beloved traditions, including July Fourth fireworks. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LA PHIL
AS THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL (HOLLYWOODBOWL.COM) CELEBRATES 100 YEARS, GENERAL MANAGER LAURA CONNELLY DISCUSSES THE LEGENDARY MUSIC VENUE’S STORIED HISTORY, GREATEST CONCERTS AND CENTENNIAL EVENTS.
How did the Hollywood Bowl come to be founded in 1922?
The Hollywood Bowl was founded by a group of passionate, driven volunteers who believed in the power of music to build community. In 1919, they discovered a naturally resonant canyon, then known as Daisy Dell, in the Hollywood Hills. The Bowl’s first president, a woman—Artie Mason Carter—led the charge to raise money, clear the land, sell subscriptions, secure the Los Angeles Philharmonic as the house band and mount the country’s first summer-long classical music festival, dubbed “Symphonies Under the Stars.”
What do you consider to be some of the Bowl’s greatest moments?
It's easier to name legendary musicians who haven’t performed at the Bowl. … I think some of the stars who best embody the Bowl’s ethos include Ella Fitzgerald, John Williams, Gustavo Dudamel, of course. Iconic artists who had legendary shows at the Bowl include Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, as well as contemporary legends such as the Rolling Stones, The Who, Coldplay, Radiohead and too many more to name. And as we’re in Hollywood we give life to the music of film, from the émigré composers of the 1930s like Miklós Rózsa to this summer’s fourth iteration of our Black Movie Soundtrack concerts and prolific Indian film composer A.R. Rahman.
How did you arrive at the slate of performers to include in your centennial season?
The centennial season offers a spectacular mix of beloved traditions (July 4th Fireworks, Tchaikovsky Spectacular, Sing-A-Long Sound of Music) and history-making innovations (Juneteenth and the Re-Collective Orchestra), tributes to legendary figures of the Bowl’s past and great stars of the present (Billie Eilish and Debbie Harry among many guests in a special concert saluting Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra) and the best in jazz and pop music (Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis; Ricky Martin, Duran Duran). We’ll have 34 evenings under the stars with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, 10 of them under the baton of Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, showcasing the stunning range of Dudamel’s talent in every musical genre.
How did you try to honor the Bowl’s history through the anniversary programming?
Some upcoming highlights include the ever-popular Maestro of the Movies Celebrating John Williams at 90, started in the ‘70s under then-LA Phil executive director Ernest Fleischmann. … The KCRW Festival partnership with the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl started in 1999—it’s been a huge success and this year includes six concerts, with the ever-popular reggae night celebrating its 20th anniversary, and cutting-edge artists such as Flying Lotus, Hiatus Kaiyote. Herbie Hancock, the LA Phil’s creative chair for Jazz, performs the final jazz concert of the season—he’s been performing at the Bowl since the 1960s when he performed as part of the Miles Davis Quintet. Finally, the first-ever concerts programmed were Symphonies Under the Stars in 1922, classical programming that we’ve been performing ever since!
What new things will readers learn through the book Hollywood Bowl: The First 100 Years, and what other anniversary items will be available?
We’ve included rarely-before-seen photos of some of the greatest performers in Bowl history and of spectacular moments like Max Reinhardt’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or the Olympic Arts Festival in 1984, or a particularly moving photograph of a naturalization ceremony held at the Bowl for thousands of new U.S. citizens in 1954. … We will also be issuing a limited-edition seven vinyl LP set of historical recordings from the Bowl (Hollywood Bowl: The First 100 Years of Music). The earliest recording in the set is from 1928 and recordings span through to 2021, covering classical, pop, rock, jazz, film and Broadway-American song music.