Hollywood Bowl, August 27, 2004

Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA
Friday, August 27, 2004
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by JOHN WILLIAMS
Cal State Fullerton University Singers
Bruce Jenner, special guest

‘John Williams: Olympic Fever’

Concert Review by ‘Coheteboy’

Friday night was a beautiful night. Nice cool breeze, clear skies, and John Williams was conducting the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl for a night of great orchestral music. The theme? It sounds kinda gross but it was “Olympic Fever”. Boy, I hope nobody has died from the “olympic fever”.. it sounds pretty severe. But it o­nly comes around every two to four years. The symptoms usually involve running around with a torch or having a sudden urge to learn how to pole vault. Or maybe it’s not a disease at all but rather… the theme for the night’s program! Ah yes.

But o­nto the Bowl! Now, when I was a young lad I always thought the Hollywood Bowl was just some fancy bowling alley! You laugh at me now but how could you NOT think this as a kid? And you can probably picture the disappointment when there WAS NO bowling at the Hollywood BOWL. “What a Jip”, I must have thought.

If you haven’t been to the Hollywood Bowl, it’s what I like to call the poorman’s concert venue. I say this because there are several factors that make this place less than ideal for hearing the orchestra at its full potential. The first factor is that it’s outdoors, so while you get the nice evening breeze and plenty of fresh air, you also get other elements you never thought of. All of us have been to a regular rock concert o­ne point or another… and we all know that when you leave the show, your ears are RINGING from the loudness of it all! That isn’t the case at the Bowl. The orchestra plays, and you hear it amplified o­n the speakers, but you don’t “feel” it. You don’t get the awesome resonance that comes with a concert hall, which is too bad. It’s like listening to your stereo with medium volume. When I see it live, I want to feel and see the music.

Other factors that make the music experience less than perfect: chatty patrons who think they can’t be heard since it’s outdoors, helicopters zooming over head, sirens from emergency vehicles, empty bottles rolling down the aisles, and best of all… CRICKETS. Yes, crickets. These little bugs don’t stop for any reason! They’ve grown so acustomed to the music they just add their own.

But hey, it’s the Hollywood Bowl and if you want a seamless experience, it’ll probably cost you $200 to get a seat right o­n the bottom. But tickets can be as cheap as $6 for nosebleed! And did I say that you can bring food to this place? EVERYONE has bags and bags that clog the aisles. My tickets were $35 and were a decent distance away. Not too close, not too far. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect but they were good enough.

So what did they play? Here’s the complete program including encore pieces:

  • National Anthem
  • John Williams — The Cowboys Overture
  • Arnaud/Williams — Bugler’s Dream/Olympic Fanfare and Theme
  • Torke — Javelin
  • Williams — The Olympic Spirit
  • L. Bernstein — Olympic Hymn 
    Cal State Fullerton University Singers
  • Williams — Call of the Champions 
    Cal State Fullerton University Singers


  • Williams — Music from Superman:
    The Planet Krypton – Main Theme
  • Williams — Suite From Harry Potter:
    Hedwig’s Theme – Double Trouble* – A Bridge to the Past – Harry’s Wondrous World
    *Cal State Fullerton University Singers
    (Hedwig’s theme wasn’t played.. it was something else, and Harry’s Wondrous World included bits from the latest potter film… so it’s a mix that we don’t have o­n CD).
  • Williams — Dry Your Tears, Afrika (from Amistad)
    Cal State Fullerton University Singers
  • Newman — Cathy’s Theme from Wuthering Heights
    Bing Wang, violin soloist
  • Williams — Raiders March (from Raiders of the Lost Ark)


  • Williams — “Flying theme” from E.T.
  • Williams — Yoda’s Theme from The Empire Strikes Back
  • Williams — The Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back
  • Williams — Star Wars Main theme

Ah, the familar music of the movies. It’s pretty amazing that he did four encores. He usually o­nly does two or three. Other highlights of the evening were special guest: Olympian Bruce Jenner with 20 southern Californian Olympic Medalists, and John Williams own mother who is now 95 years old. How sweet is that?

So yes, it was a very nice evening despite my snobbiness. There were also two heavier set women sitting next to me who commented o­n each piece afterward. “Oh, wasn’t that just lovely?” “it sure was… mmph.” Very entertaining indeed.

I’m still disappointed that the place isn’t a real bowling alley though. Who wants to go bowling?

Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA
Saturday, August 28, 2004
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by JOHN WILLIAMS
Cal State Fullerton University Singers
Bruce Jenner, special guest

Concert Review by ‘Saabster’

Well, Sat. Night was a great night for JW fans in L.A. I took my two 14 y.o. sons and my wife to the Hollywood Bowl. The night was warm, with just a slight marine layer coming in.

The first half was dominated by the Olympic themes, barring the opening Cowboys theme. At o­ne point 30 L.A. Olympians came to the stage and Bruce Jenner gave a nice speech about the Maestro & his Olympic music. Then the music resumed. The new shell made a big difference IMO, the sound was clearer, and the view seemed much better.

After a brief intermission, the orchestra and JW came backout for the second half of the show. This is what most of the audience was here to listen to, JW’s movie music. He covered almost all his major works, including SupermanHarry Potter (no Hedwig’s theme, but Wizards, Wands, and Mischief instead) , IndyAmistad, and a couple of others I can’t remember.

Then came the encores. E.T., and a suite of Star Wars selections, Yoda’s ThemeThe Imperial Marchand of course Star Wars Main Theme.

All in all a wonderful night of music.

Concert Review by Hector J. Guzman

This time with a chorus behind the orchestra, the concert began as John Williams entered the stage from the left side, as always, waves to the crowd, takes the podium and conducts the National Anthem. The chorus that accompanies the Los Angeles Philharmonic this time is the Cal State Fullerton University Singers.

Wasting no time, John Williams leads the orchestra in his own Cowboys Overture. This year, with the new shell that has improved acoustics and is noticeably bigger, they have also added four big video screens with cameras placed in strategic places so we can see the action up close, including a shot of Williams from the front side so you could see his facial expressions that included o­ne of intense force directed at the chorus during Leonard Bernstein’s “Olympic Hymn” which made people laugh.

After the Overture, Mr. Williams introduced 30 Olympians from southern California winners of medals ranging from Mexico City 1968 to as recent as a couple of days back in Athens. He then welcomed Bruce Jenner, a Decathlon gold medalist in the 1976 Montréal games and now a motivational speaker. Mr. Jenner introduced some of the Olympians and talk of his experience at the games. Then they had their own arrival of the Olympic flame and brought a woman who apart from being an Olympic medalist, is also a firefighter. As the flame came, Williams began conducting Arnaud’s “Bugler’s Dream” followed by his own Olympic Fanfare and Theme from the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 as it appears o­n the Sony Classical album “Summon the Heroes”, as the athletes made their way out. Also from this CD were the following three selections:
Michael Torke’s “Javelin”, Williams’ own Olympic Spirit and Bernstein’s “Olympic Hymn”. Torke’s piece sounded fantastic, though some parts sounded different, I couldn’t say exactly what was different. “Olympic Spirit” was performed with film of clips from the summer games. This piece I have always liked, and always saw it as the march it is, o­ne of action and lightheartedness, but when listening it live it sounded to me more like a beautiful hymn, which could have lyrics, really. Bernstein’s piece, which is a hymn was wonderfully performed by both orchestra and chorus, I hope I can hear this piece with a live orchestra again.

To conclude the first part of the program, Mr. Williams conducted his own Call to the Champions written for the Salt Lake 2002 winter games. This was shown with video excerpts of winter games. This time the chorus didn’t shine as brilliantly as they did in the Bernstein piece, nonetheless it was great to hear this piece live again.

The second half of the program opened with something that I have never even thought I would hear: the music of “The Planet Krypton”. Basically, this was the march from Superman, but instead of the piece opening with the famous brass fanfare that the concert piece is famous for, Williams opened it with the whole part of the arrival to Krypton scene from the first movie, then moving to the section that follows the opening brass from the original concert piece. The opening trumpet that carries the Krypton motif was recieved with an enthusiastic applause, for me personally, a highlight of the whole concert.

Next we move to Potter country, in which four selections from the Harry Potter films we played. Actually, the selections were three from the recent Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban which were played in this order: a piece called “Witches, Wands and Wizards” or something in that form, a wonderful piece with much action writing and a pizzicato section that reminded me of “Nocturnal Activities” fromIndiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Next was the choral “Double Trouble”, the text based o­n a witches song from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and “A Window to the Past”, a sort of reflective
song from the third film also. To close the Potter section, Williams conducted “Harry’s Wondrous World” from the first film. The concert version appears in the soundtrack from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

“Dry Your Tears, Afrika” from Steven Spielberg’s Amistad was performed wonderfully and the chorus sounded great again. Williams made a gesture a couple of times of putting his left hand around his left ear as saying “I can’t hear you”, I guess, so the chorus would sing louder. Every year at the Bowl Williams displays the beautiful and delicate sound of Bing Wang’s violin, the concertmistress for the summer concerts of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, this time Williams selected “Cathy’s Theme” from “Wuthering Heights” by Alfred Newman. To end the concert Williams conducted a rousing rendition of his “Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Mr. Williams returned to conduct four encores, “Flying” from E.T., “Yoda’s Theme”, “The Imperial March” and the main theme from the original Star Wars trilogy. The concert which was titled “Olympic Fever” at the end left me feeling as I had come out of “Star Wars Fever”. The o­ne thing that left me puzzled was the fact that none of the selections before the Star Wars theme managed to get standing ovations as in previous years, but at last Williams did get o­ne, but the night had been so long that everyone wanted to go and rest and that’s the way Williams ends his concerts, with the “gotta go to sleep” sign, and with that another wonderful evening with John Williams and the Los Angeles Philharmonic ended.

You’ll find another review and pictures of the August 28 concert at SoundtrackNet