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Musicians have been performing at the Hollywood Bowl since its inception in 1922. "Bowl Orchestra" was used as early as 1925, and "Hollywood Bowl Orchestra" was used on live recordings made in 1928 under the baton of Eugene Goossens. From 1945-1946, Leopold Stokowski was Music Director of the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra. From the 1950s on, however, there was no official Hollywood Bowl Orchestra until it re-appeared in 1991 as a completely new ensemble.
The current incarnation of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra was established under the direction of former Principal Conductor John Mauceri and gave its first public performances on July 2, 3, and 4, 1991. During his sixteen-season tenure, Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra toured Japan four times and, in November 1996, performed two public concerts in Rio de Janeiro and Saõ Paulo, Brazil, representing the first time an American orchestra was invited to Brazil specifically to perform the great music of the American cinema. After retiring from the orchestra in 2006, Mauceri was awarded the permanent title of Founding Director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.
In 2008, Thomas Wilkins began his appointment as Principal Guest Conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Wilkins, committed to promoting a life-long enthusiasm for music, is an audience favorite whenever he conducts. In June 2014 he became Principal Conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, in which position he continues to lead the ensemble each summer in a diverse range of concerts at the fabled outdoor venue.
The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra is comprised of 80 players; an international mix of classically trained musicians who are among the best studio musicians in Los Angeles. Many make their daily living on Hollywood's scoring stages and are also accomplished soloists among L.A.'s various regional and chamber orchestras. It might be surprising to learn that there is no crossover between the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra - another indicator that L.A. has a tremendous pool of musical talent.
For the last two decades, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra concerts have featured an incredible variety of distinguished artists from all genres of music and the world of entertainment. From Mozart to Motown, the repertoire of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra is as diverse as Hollywood itself. In a single season, the orchestra will perform everything from Broadway favorites to film music, pop music to jazz, and classical music to world premieres by living composers. In essence, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra does it all.
The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra has performed more than 300 concerts, primarily on the iconic Hollywood Bowl stage, featuring artists as diverse as Adele, Julie Andrews, Beck, Joshua Bell, Tony Bennett, Big Bird, Andrea Bocelli, Tom Bosley, Chris Botti, Garth Brooks, Carol Burnett, Glen Campbell, Nell Carter, Cheap Trick, Kristin Chenoweth, Chicago, The Chieftains, Charlotte Church, Rosemary Clooney, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick, Jr., Barbara Cook, Roger Daltrey, John Denver, Plácido Domingo, Melissa Errico, Michael Feinstein, Sir James Galway, Savion Glover, Joel Grey, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Faith Hill, Jeremy Irons, Chris Isaak, Jewel, Seu Jorge, Judy Kaye, Garrison Keillor, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, Alicia Keys, Ray LaMontagne, Ute Lemper, John Lithgow, Kenny Loggins, Patti LuPone, Eric McCormack, Audra McDonald, Sylvia McNair, Marcel Marceau, Mariza, Sergio Mendes, Ann Miller, Liza Minnelli, Marni Nixon, Fess Parker, Luciano Pavarotti, Peter, Paul & Mary, Pink Martini, John Pizzarelli, Tito Puente, John and Bonnie Raitt, Dianne Reeves, Debbie Reynolds, Alice Ripley, Daniel Rodriguez, Gil Shaham, Howard Shore, Wayne Shorter, Patrick Stewart, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Deborah Voigt, Rufus Wainwright, William Warfield, André Watts, Brian Wilson, Trisha Yearwood, and Yes.
The return of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl brought back popular full-length performances of opera, ballet and staged Broadway musicals. Operas from La traviata to La bohème have featured such luminaries as Jane Eaglen, Rodney Gilfry, Jennifer Larmore (in her first-ever Carmen), Alessandra Marc, Richard Margison, Patricia Racette and Ramón Vargas. Ballet productions from Swan Lake to A Midsummer Night's Dream have partnered the HBO with the Moiseyev Dance Company, the Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Since 2000, the Hollywood Bowl musical has become a family tradition. Fully staged productions with all-star casts have included Carousel, Show Boat (with William Warfield), Meredith Willson's The Music Man (with Eric McCormack and Kristin Chenoweth), My Fair Lady (with John Lithgow, Melissa Errico and Roger Daltrey), Mame (with Michele Lee), Camelot (with Jeremy Irons, Melissa Errico and James Barbour), The Sound of Music (with Melissa Errico, John Schneider, Jeffrey Tambor and Marni Nixon), South Pacific (with Reba McEntire, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Aaron Lazar, John Schuck and Michael McKean), Les Misérables (with Melora Hardin, J. Mark McVey, Lea Michele, Brian Stokes Mitchell and John Lloyd Young) and Guys and Dolls (with Scott Bakula, Jessica Biel, Beau Bridges, Ellen Greene and Brian Stokes Mitchell).
In the summer of 1993, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra recorded its first motion picture soundtrack for MGM's That's Entertainment III. Since its inception, the HBO has been committed to restoring and performing lost or neglected film scores. Examples of the Orchestra's major restoration projects include Max Steiner's theme to Gone With the Wind, the "Dream Ballet" sequence from Oklahoma!, and the "Born in a Trunk" sequence from the 1954 production of A Star is Born.
Performing music often heard only in its recorded form, the Orchestra has brought works from the silver screen to life. Annual "Movie Night" concerts, in which the Orchestra plays the scores live in synch with film clips projected on the Bowl's gigantic screen - with HD capabilities - have featured some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Recent years have featured collaborations with major motion picture studios: Twentieth-Century Fox, Warner Bros., Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures.
Commissions / Premieres
The HBO has commissioned and/or premiered new works in a variety of genres from such esteemed composers as Richard Rodney Bennett, Elmer Bernstein, Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith, Adam Guettel, John Ottman and W.G. Snuffy Walden. World concert premieres of music from Hollywood's most acclaimed films have been a consistent undertaking of the HBO including excerpts from Singin' in the Rain, A Star is Born, The Sound of Music, Apollo 13, Titanic, The Color Purple, My Fair Lady, The Natural, A Streetcar Named Desire, Carousel, West Side Story, The Godfather and many, many more.
The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra has the distinction of being the first orchestra ever recorded in the open air. In 1928, the Victor Talking Machine Co. recorded and released a 78 rpm album called "A Hollywood Bowl Concert – Symphonies Under the Stars" with Eugene Goossens conducting. The music includes Dvorak's Carnival Overture and excerpts from Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. A CD re-release on Cambria Records even includes a portion of a rehearsal of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring with the contribution of live birdsong picked up by the recording equipment.
Leopold Stokowski recorded a number of LPs (33 1/3 rpm) during his tenure as Music Director of the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra in 1945-46. In the 1950s, Capitol Records issued an extensive series of recordings of the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra with a number of different conductors including Carmen Dragon, Felix Slatkin, Alfred Newman, and Miklós Rózsa with album titles like "Rhapsody Under the Stars," "Chopin By Starlight," "Fiesta!", "Marche!" and many others. Some of these recordings can be purchased at the Bowl Store, located on the premises of the Hollywood Bowl, and others at select websites.