It’s just past midnight and I just got home from the final performance in our Hollywood Bowl season subscription. For me, it marks an end of a really hard summer; we had just gone to the Opening Night Gala at the Bowl the night before my father had his stroke.
For everyone else, it marks the end of John Mauceri’s 16-year run as the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra Director and the performances this weekend are celebrations to John. After 323 concerts, John steps down as Director and is leaving the Bowl to start a new chapter as Chancellor of the North Carolina School of the Arts. While John is planning on returning to appear as guest conductor for concerts with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in the future, tonight was all about having a great time and to enjoy John Mauceri as L.A.’s own, one last time.
One of the traditions at the annual “Great American Concert” is the Mauceri State of the Union Address that John gives. This year, he did not do one at the “Great American Concert” and instead held off to do a Farewell Address tonight in his charming and humorous manner; telling stories about his wife Betty and her adventures in driving in L.A., his son buying Dolce & Gabbana eyewearm and a few others that made me laugh.
On the program were Tony Award-winner Kristin Chenoweth (she brought down the house); Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy (show-stoppers… literally); and members of the Joffrey Ballet recreate Nijinsky’s choreography to Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (I’d rather have seen Nijinsky a doin’ the rhumba…). The orchestra also premiered of works by Richard Rodney Bennett, Danny Elfman (called “Overeager Overture,” and yes, Danny Elfman was in attendance tonight for the premiere), and a suite of music from the still unfinished “Princess Bride” by Adam Guettel (who could not attend because he is still writing) created especially for this weekend. Of course, there were fireworks at the finale… you bet they did something big and special for John! There were 3 encores (so don’t leave right after the fireworks) and the second one was dedicated to the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and to concertmaster Bruce Dukov. John mentioned that the second encore of every performance this weekend would be dedicated to someone different. Let me know who they were if you go Saturday or Sunday night…