Happy birthday America!
A traditional fireworks show lights up the sky after the performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl Tuesday evening. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
THE FOURTH OF JULY arrived two days early at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday evening, as fireworks lit up the sky around 10 o’clock after a program of rousing patriotic music by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and a set of popular tunes by Josh Groban and his band.
A capacity crowd – including me and two close friends – sang along, clapped our hands and hummed to classics like “America the Beautiful” and John William’s “Summon the Heroes” as the clear Southern California sky gradually darkened, erasing our view of the world renowned Hollywood sign on the hills behind the band-shell.
When conductor Sarah Hicks introduced the well-known “Bridge on the River Kawi,” she invited the audience to whistle at the two appropriate moments in the tune. Thousands did.
When, after Grobman’s set, The Phil played “God Bless America,” there was hardly a dry eye in the house.
My friends Brent Sweer, right, and Jim Asher, carry the picnic through the turnstyles at the entrance to the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday evening. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
Like hundreds of others In the (K)now, our group, picnic baskets in hand, boarded a special bus in downtown Pasadena around 5:30 p.m. for the half-hour trip to Hollywood.
It’s a brilliant way to be environmentally friendly and, more personally relevant, relax while avoiding L.A. rush hour traffic and being dropped a few steps from the main entrance to the Bowl without the hassle of finding parking.
Almost everyone arrives a couple of hours before show-time to take advantage of the magnificent setting while enjoying a picnic dinner.
The sun dropped behind the hills west of the largest natural amphitheater in the United States, with a seating capacity of nearly 18,000, about an hour before sunset. It was a warm and sultry evening – perfect for a tank top and jeans: my outfit!
The Bowl has had a facelift since I was there for a Depeche Mode concert a couple of years ago. Four giant hi-def monitors now allow those in the infamous back rows to see just as well as those in the orchestra pit.
Remarking on how he had started out “up there,” Groban reminisced about how the “laws of the Untied states don’t seem to apply,” in those areas of the arena. “Just remember to share,” he grinned. He might as well have said, “Pass the joint!”
My friends, Brent Sweer and Jim Asher, are fabulous with food. I contributed the obligatory bottle of Chardonnay (from Napa Valley in northern California, of course) and we dined on a scrumptious feast of roast chicken, three or four salads, warm spinach and mashed potatoes.
Jan Harris, of Manchester, U.K., joins me for a cigarette in the smoking pit – the rest of The Hollywood Bowl is a “smoking free zone,” signs everywhere proclaim! © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
The crowd is so friendly. Talking to strangers is like talking to old friends. Young and old alike. Angelenos by the thousands, and visitors from all parts of the planet.
I met one such visitor, who hails from Manchester, U.K, in the cigarette smoking pit just before show-time.
Jan Harris is visiting her daughter lives in “Beverly Hills-adjacent,” we laughed – a nondescript part of L.A. on Pico Boulevard.
An aspiring actress herself, the 61-year-old is blond, vivacious and charming.
The proud mum showed me pictures of her son, Michael Harris, an up-and-coming actor who played the lead role in “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” last winter at the Greenwhich Theatre in southeast London.
He’s a baritone, and the video on Jan’s phone was splendid.
It was a rousing way to start an usually long Independence Day celebration. Many if not most Americans will enjoy a four-day weekend starting this evening. A large number of sudden “illnesses” are bound to occur on Friday!
Have a safe and happy birthday, America!
Early on, the silhouette of the Bowl makes a magnificent setting for thousands of picnickers before the show. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.