Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl is a famous modern amphitheatre in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California, USA, that is used primarily for music performances. It has a seating capacity 17,376.

The Hollywood Bowl is well known for its band shell, a distinctive set of concentric arches that have graced the site since 1929. The band 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.


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).

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 a fiberglass shell 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 and the reflecting pool in front of the stage that lasted from 1953 till 1972 [ [http://www.hollywoodbowl.com/about/history.cfm LA Phil Presents Hollywood Bowl | History of the Hollywood Bowl ] ] .

Shortly after the end of the 2003 summer season the 1929 shell was replaced 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, the 1929 shell 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.

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. 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.


The Hollywood Bowl is featured in the following motion pictures:
*"A Star Is Born" (1937)
*"Hollywood Hotel" (1937) [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029010/] in which Rosemary Lane sings to Dick Powell.
*"Double Indemnity" (1944)
*"Anchors Away" (1945) with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jose Iturbi.
*"" (1972)
*"Xanadu" (1980)
*"Some Kind of Wonderful" (1987)
*"Beaches" (1988), where Bette Midler's character CC Bloom is rehearsing for her concert at the Bowl.
*"Escape from L.A." (1996)
*"Lost & Found" (1999)
*"Shrek 2" (2004), in the "Far Far Away Idol" DVD extra

ee also

* Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl
* The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl
* National Bowl in Milton Keynes, England
* Waikiki Shell in Honolulu, Hawaii
* List of contemporary amphitheatres
* Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl
* Long-Haired Hare

Further information

* cite video | people=John Rubinstein |year=2002 |title=The Hollywood Bowl - Music Under the Stars |url=http://thebowlstore.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=34&products_id=169 |medium=Documentary |publisher=Video Artists International, Inc.

Ben Harper Live at Hollywood Bowl (2003)


External links

* [http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=34.112678,-118.338944&spn=0,0&t=k&hl=en Google Maps satellite view of Hollywood Bowl]
* [http://www.hollywoodbowl.org/ Official Hollywood Bowl Website]
* [http://www.seatadvisor.com/cgi/lookup_venue_dyn.pl?venue_code=802 Hollywood Bowl seating chart with photograph views from the different sections]
* [http://www.peggylee.com/solos/july2004.html 'A Tribute To Miss Peggy Lee' at the Hollywood Bowl, 2004]
* [http://supak.com/fj/default.htm The Story of a Hollywood Bowl Soundman]
* [http://www.trafford.com/06-0148 F.W. Blanchard: First President of the Hollywood Bowl]

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