The Hollywood Bowl is a 1920s amphitheater in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California, United States that is used primarily for music performances. 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 somewhat 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.
The "bowl" refers to the shape of the concave hillside the amphitheater is carved into. The bowl is owned by the County of Los Angeles and is the home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the host of hundreds of musical events each year. It is located at 2301 North Highland Avenue, north of Hollywood Blvd and the Hollywood & Highland subway station and south of Route 101.
Discovery and founding
The site of the Hollywood Bowl was chosen in 1919 by William Reed and his son H. Ellis Reed, members of the newly formed Theatre Arts Alliance who were dispatched to find a suitable location for outdoor performances.
The Bowl officially opened on July 11, 1922 on the site of a natural amphitheater formerly known as the Daisy Dell. 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).
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 concept 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 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. 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.
The first public performances by the newly formed Hollywood Bowl Orchestra were for Independence Day concerts on July 2–4, 1991 conducted by the orchestra's new conductor John Mauceri and Bruce Hubbard (baritone) as soloist. The program included works by Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, George Gershwin & Jerome Kern, among others. The Hollywood Bowl was the site for what turned out to be the British progressive rock band Genesis' final ever concerts and the last two concerts of their Turn It On Again: The Tour on October 12 and 13, 2007. Lead singer Phil Collins at the last show said "there was nothing else planned for Genesis after this show" (eventually Phil Collins retired from the music industry in 2011).
The jam band Phish performed at the Bowl for the first time in August 2011. "Phish rocked the Hollywood Bowl in front of a raucous sold-out crowd of 18,000 dancing, singing and smiling LA fans." On June 2, 2012, the Beach Boys played a sold out show on their milestone 50th Anniversary tour and on November 8th 2013, Avicii played a headlined gig at the Bowl. The first EDM artist so far to embark on such a gig.