Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hollywood Bowl adventure

My trip to the Hollywood Bowl left me cold, literally and figuratively. Although Carolyn did a wonderful job with all those English horn solos, and the orchestra generally sounded fine, I disliked the experience of the bowl itself. For some reason, I thought it would have a lawn area of some sort, like Tanglewood or Ravinia, but it only has the stadium. Unlike those two summer symphony abodes, there is no shed, only the shell over the orchestra. A lot of the seats, including the ones I was sitting in, are ridiculously far away. They have screens that show you close-ups of the orchestra, which is cool, but as far as actually seeing the orchestra, well, I wished I were at Ravinia, spread out comfortably on the lawn with a nice dinner and some wine, free to walk around as I pleased, and to go up to the edge of the shed if I wanted to actually see the orchestra. The biggest problem at the Hollywood Bowl was the amplification. It was uneven. Some instruments you could barely hear (unfortunately, English horn was one), others projected a little too well (clarinets, particularly Eb. Eb barely needs to be miked as it is). And the dynamics were diminished, as they amplified quiet parts extra, and the loud parts they made quieter so as not to blow out the speakers, I suppose. I never noticed this problem at Ravinia. And then there's the issue of getting to the bowl. Driving through Hollywood on a Friday night was difficult, and parking is a nightmare. We parked at a mall parking lot on Hollywood and walked a good distance to the bowl to avoid paying $10 or $15 (or more) for parking, and to avoid jams coming out. Not the $5 round trip Metra fare that brings you directly to the park at Ravinia. I was also miffed since I ended up paying $22 for tickets. They were supposed to be $15, but if you want to buy them ahead of time, you either have to go to the bowl personally, or go through Ticketmaster. And Ticketmaster slams you with all these extra fees. No $10 lawn tickets, and certainly no FREE Ravinia lawn tickets for students, sweetest deal ever. I don't think I will be going back to the bowl anytime soon, unless it for something like this (found via oboeinsight). I wanted to go to this concert, but I was away. To hear the Decemberists combined with an orchestra would be awesome, and I think the bowl is a better setting for that type of concert than for a standard symphony program. I enjoyed this as well. And oddly enough, I think the writer of that blog entry might have gone to my high school. I know her sister did, and I've met her parents before. And I sang with her cousin in the children's chorus of HGO's Mefistofele when I was in high school. What an odd connection. Anyway, Ravinia over Hollywood Bowl ANY DAY.

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