Quentin Tarantino and others take in opening night of the Hollywood Bowl's new season

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Never mind what the calendar tells us about the seasons. In this city, according to Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn. Board Chairman Jay Rasulo, summer starts on opening night at the Hollywood Bowl.

“It’s truly the official start of summer in Los Angeles,” Rasulo said, adding, “other than that, it’s a wonderful night for music education.”

A fundraiser for the L.A. Phil’s education and community programs, the Moody Blues concert Saturday celebrated the 50th anniversary of the rock band’s groundbreaking album, “Days of Future Passed.” The evening also commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles and raised $1.5 million.

The crowd

Hollywood Bowl Orchestra's principal conductor, Thomas Wilkins, speaks to the audience.
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra’s principal conductor, Thomas Wilkins, speaks to the audience. (Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt / Mathew Imaging)

Seated in his front-row box, director and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino said that he’d been to the Hollywood Bowl four or fives times before and that this time he’d come to see the Moody Blues and because “[the opening] is a fun event.”

There too were Los Angeles County board supervisors Kathryn Barger, Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis and Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu. Title sponsor Kaiser Permanente was represented by Greg Adams and Julie Miller-Phipps, while Teena Hostovich, Doug Martinet and Michael Martinet served as gala co-chairs.

The scene

It's that time again. It's the opening night for the new Hollywood Bowl season.
It’s that time again. It’s the opening night for the new Hollywood Bowl season. (Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt / Mathew Imaging)

VIP guests mingled over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the Hollywood Bowl’s Box Office Terrace (above the newly renovated Main Plaza), before adjourning to their tables for dinner. In keeping with the Bowl’s tradition of elegant dining, guests enjoyed Moroccan chicken tagine on tables covered in linens, topped by centerpieces of rosemary, mint or lavender plants.

The show

Justin Hayward and John Lodge of the Moody Blues.
Justin Hayward and John Lodge of the Moody Blues. (Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt / Mathew Imaging)

As the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra’s Thomas Wilkins conducted Peter Boyer’s “Silver Fanfare,” the big screens facing the audience showed off 17 years of opening nights with clips of Reba McEntire, John Legend, Josh Groban, Jack Black, Kristin Chenoweth, Liza Minnelli, Plácido Domingo, John Williams and other past headliners.

Members of the YOLA All-Stars then performed “Festive Overture” by Shostakovich, followed by a set of Moody Blues hits, including “Say It With Love,” from what lead singer Justin Hayward jokingly called the “pretentiously named” album “Keys of the Kingdom.”

After intermission, the band performed its entire “Days of Future Passed” album, accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and at evening’s end, by a dazzling display of fireworks.

The quotes

The Moody Blues are on hand at the Hollywood Bowl, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the rock band’s groundbreaking album, “Days of Future Passed.”
The Moody Blues are on hand at the Hollywood Bowl, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the rock band’s groundbreaking album, “Days of Future Passed.” (Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt / Mathew Imaging)

“What’s really cool about the Moody Blues,” said Wilkins, “is that those guys get it,” meaning an understanding of music education as a “gift that can be life-altering … the endeavor to give [YOLA members] a voice through music …”

He later added, “We have to be in the business of painting doors onto brick walls, and that’s what YOLA is all about.”

Said Hayward, “It’s a special night for us because it’s the first time we’ll be doing our very first album, ‘Days of Future Passed,’ live in such esteemed company with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the fabulous, gorgeous Thomas Wilkins.”

The numbers

Opening night at the Hollywood Bowl offers the sounds of the Moody Blues and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, a fireworks display and more.
Opening night at the Hollywood Bowl offers the sounds of the Moody Blues and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, a fireworks display and more. (Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt / Mathew Imaging)

Tickets for the 1,200 guests in the VIP sections sold from $2,600 for a four-person garden box to $15,750 for a six-person pool circle box.

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Ellen Olivier is the founder of Society News LA.

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