The Hollywood Bowl

I visited my old haunts in Hollywood last week.‭ ‬Now I’m back and still in one piece to report that the Los Angeles freeways are as jammed as ever.‭ ‬It took me a mere five hours to drive down Highway‭ ‬5,‭ ‬then two more to get across town.

I was invited to stay with old friends in Pasadena,‭ ‬a sleepy little town where I once attended the Pasadena Playhouse to study acting.‭ ‬It’s not sleepy anymore.‭ ‬It has morphed in the past few years into a trendy locale with a booming‭ “‬old town.‭” ‬My friends are BUSY people.‭ ‬You know,‭ ‬the kind who have calendars for their social engagements.‭ ‬Thankfully,‭ ‬I never have to keep up with them.‭ ‬I just ride in the backseat hanging on.

My friends are box ticket subscribers for the Hollywood Bowl.‭ ‬This famous landmark was built in‭ ‬1922‭ ‬and renovated in‭ ‬2004.‭ ‬Now a state-of-the-art amphitheater,‭ ‬it seats‭ ‬18,000‭ ‬people,‭ ‬the largest of its kind in the world.‭ ‬Nestled into the side of Bolton Canyon in the very heart of dreamland,‭ ‬the stage has a magnificent backdrop of the surrounding hills ablaze with the famous Hollywood sign.

Fifteen-hundred patrons manage to get yearly season tickets for the exclusive Garden or Terrace boxes.‭ ‬My friends are among the lucky few who’ve scored a yearly box smack in the middle of the Garden section.‭ ‬This is a happy result of having become friends with John Mauceri,‭ ‬the former Conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.‭ ‬John spent fifteen-years waving his baton at the Bowl and elevated the venue and quality of concerts right into the twenty-first century.‭ ‬Currently he is the Chancellor of the prestigious University of North Carolina School for the Arts in Winston-Salem.

Luckily for me,‭ ‬and the many thousands in attendance,‭ ‬John Mauceri made a guest visit back to the Bowl on Saturday,‭ ‬August‭ ‬20th to celebrate the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra’s twentieth year.‭ ‬They performed Fantasia.

Seventy-five years ago Walt Disney animators created Fantasia,‭ ‬an animated feature to visualize the world of classical music.‭ ‬This evening Mauceri led the orchestra in perfect synchronization to sections from the animated classic film projected on screens throughout the bowl.‭ ‬My favorite movement was‭ ”‬Destino.‭” ‬Created in the‭ ‬1940s,‭ ‬Destino is a surrealistic,‭ ‬amazing and unlikely collaboration between Walt Disney and avant garde artist Salvadore Dali.‭ ‬Dali’s sketches were animated to a musical score composed by Armando Dominiguez.‭ ‬Wow.‭ ‬It was a fabulous‭ ‬–‭ ‬all senses involved‭ ‬–‭ ‬celebration of beauty,‭ ‬movement and sound.

Of course the pre-concert is a terrific part of the evening as well.‭ ‬Each box comes equipped with a dining table and the guests are encouraged to bring their own al fresco dinner.‭ ‬Let’s face it.‭ ‬I am a curious caterer.‭ ‬So you can imagine how I was craning my neck around to see all the party faire being served.‭ ‬The picnic baskets alone were worth taking a close look at.

I accomplished my spying all the while dining on a lovely truffle pate,‭ ‬a sirloin of beef salad with summer salsa and fresh Peach and Berry Cobbler.‭ ‬My friend’s wine cellar contributed a bit to the romance of the evening as well.

A young married couple were seated in the box to my left.‭ ‬Out for an evening on their own,‭ ‬perhaps having left a small baby at home with a sitter,‭ ‬he had taken charge of preparing their dinner.‭ ‬Unpacking his basket he placed a checked tablecloth with matching napkins on the table,‭ ‬white and red wine glasses and an adorable LED candle.‭ ‬He began the dinner with a duck pate presented with crostini and cornichons.‭ ‬I sat transfixed as he assembled the entree‭ (‬removing each homemade item from its own tupperware bowl‭) ‬the most perfect salad nicoise‭ ‬-‭ ‬plated and garnished to perfection.

I couldn’t help it.‭ ‬I leaned over to his wife.‭ “‬Pretty lady,‭” ‬I whispered,‭ “‬you are one lucky young woman.‭” ‬They both blushed.‭ ‬It was a very sweet moment.‭ ‬So was the fact that when the concert began they sat side-by-side and held hands.‭ ‬I’d like to think that all the couples we cater weddings for each year will have similar evenings in their future.

After an incredibly awesome fireworks finale,‭ ‬and several standing ovations,‭ ‬we trooped backstage to greet John Mauceri and his wife Betty.‭ ‬It seems that as a perk for his most talented students, John will invite one or two to tag along when he goes on location to conduct.‭ ‬This night he had invited a tremendously appealing and very charming young twenty-one year old graduate student from No.‭ ‬Carolina who is currently working on a recital of his original work to be produced in New York City sometime next year.‭ ‬His name is Leo Hurley.‭ ‬Remember it.‭ ‬I suspect we will hear that name many times in the next few years.

Leo was raised in New Hampshire,‭ ‬obviously by very caring parents.‭ ‬He is a grounded and‭ (‬as Mauceri commented‭) ‬a very,‭ ‬very talented kid.‭ ‬I asked him if he was the type to get a fat head.‭ ‬He said,‭ “‬No,‭ ‬because my sister is a biologist and she keeps me humble.‭ ‬And right now I’m sleeping on my friend’s futon on Manhattan’s Upper Westside which is not too glamorous for sure.‭”

I loved this self-assured kid.‭ ‬He held up his end of the conversation.‭ ‬Saying goodnight I gave him my email and asked him to stay in touch,‭ ‬telling him,‭ “‬Let me know when your recital dates are set.‭ ‬I’m often in NYC.‭”

Follow up is everything in life.

Bright and early the next morning I received a text.‭ “‬It was nice to meet you last night,‭” ‬he wrote,‭ “‬and I promise to stay in touch.‭”

I hope you do,‭ ‬Leo.‭ ‬It was a delightful night at the Bowl made even more special by meeting a young musician,‭ ‬who I just feel in my bones,‭ ‬possesses what I believe is the greatest talent in the world‭ ‬–‭ ‬the ability to compose great music for the ages and peace of the world.

So,‭ ‬just a reminder my new friend,‭ ‬I’ll be watching your fireworks someday with great pride,‭ ‬standing and yelling bravo‭!


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One Comment

  1. Posted October 30, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Hi there, I read your blogs like every week.
    Your humoristic style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!

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