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 (for Seoul winter games) -L. Bernstein -- Olympic Hymm Cal State Fullerton University Singers -Williams -- Call of the Champions (for Salt Lake City winter games) Cal State Fullerton University Singers Intermission -Williams -- Music from Superman: The Planet Krypton - Main Theme -Williams -- Suite From Harry Potter: (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). Hedwig's Theme - Double Trouble* - A Bridge to the Past - Harry's Wondrous World *Cal State Fullerton University Singers -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) Encore: -Williams -- "Flying theme" from E.T. -Williams -- Yoda's Theme from ESB -Williams -- Imperial March from ESB -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 evning 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?