The Hollywood Bowl Returns! Here’s What To Expect For Summer 2021

Hollywood Bowl

Summer 2021 is officially NOT cancelled in L.A. and here’s the proof: the return of the Hollywood Bowl. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association announced its 2021 summer season at the Hollywood Bowl today, a welcome reprieve for Angelenos given the cancellation of its 2020 season.

Following the latest public health and reopening guidelines from Los Angeles County (there will be two sections reserved for non-vaccinated audience members with proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to attendance and mask-wearing will be required for all attendees), the LA Phil will offer more than 50 performances, including 14 concerts with Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel. From classical music to pop, reggae, jazz and film, the season showcases acclaimed artists and the return of numerous Bowl favorites, with showcases from some of the world’s biggest artists, including Christina Aguilera, James Blake, Viola Davis, Cynthia Erivo, H.E.R., Kool & the Gang, Yo-Yo Ma, Carlos Vives and Kamasi Washington.

Plus, there’s something a little extra special for frontline workers: the LA Phil will host five free concerts for healthcare workers, first responders and essential workers in appreciation for all they have done for Los Angeles throughout the pandemic. Those will include two performances by Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil (May 15 & 22) playing repertoire from Tchaikovsky to Montgomery, and the Grammy-winning L.A.-based band La Santa Cecilia (June 26), known for its sound infusing contemporary cumbia with bossa nova, jazz and pop. The May 15 and June 26 concerts will also be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. In collaboration with Amazon Prime Video, the upcoming Amazon Original movie P!nk: All I Know So Far (May 17) will be screened live in advance of its worldwide release on Prime Video, including a special appearance and introduction of the movie from P!nk herself. The fifth free concert will be with L.A. artists Thundercat and Flying Lotus (June 12) in their first performance since Thundercat won a Grammy for Best Progressive R&B Album earlier this year.

Here’s what to expect!
Hollywood BowlPhoto Credit: Adam Latham

Hollywood Bowl Traditions
The Hollywood Bowl will reopen to the public with a perennial favorite, the July 4th Fireworks Spectacular, this year featuring Kool & the Gang and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra led by Principal Conductor Thomas Wilkins (July 3, 4). The month of August will feature the beloved Sing-A-Long Sound of Music with host Melissa Peterman (August 21), and the Tchaikovsky Spectacular with fireworks returns (August 6, 7).

Special Events
The broad range of performances will encompass everything from a one-night-only return performance by Yo-Yo Ma with Bach’s Six Suites for solo cello (September 14) to Viola Davis (July 15) and Christina Aguilera (July 16, 17) and H.E.R. (August 13, 14) making their LA Phil debuts with Gustavo Dudamel. Actress, singer and songwriter Cynthia Erivo makes her LA Phil debut with Thomas Wilkins (July 30). The music of film will be explored with the Maestro of the Movies John Williams (Sept 3–5 conducted by both Williams and David Newman), and the summer tradition of watching movies under the stars with live orchestral accompaniment will continue with the world premiere of an orchestral arrangement of Mark Knopfler’s score for The Princess Bride (LA Phil, conducted by David Newman, July 31), Black Panther, the first Marvel movie to be screened with live orchestral accompaniment (LA Phil, September 10–12) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince™ in Concert (Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, conducted by Justin Freer, September 17).

Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil
Throughout the season, Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel will conduct the LA Phil in 14 performances, including opening the classical series with Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with Viola Davis as narrator, the program also includes Margaret Bonds Montgomery Variations, written in dedication to Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1965 Selma-Montgomery marches (July 15); an all Gershwin concert featuring pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and countertenor John Holiday (August 10); the LA Phil premiere of Bologne’s (Chevalier de Saint-Georges) Violin Concerto No. 9 with violinist Randall Goosby (August 12); Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Cello Concerto with cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 (August 17); Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and de Falla’s The Three Cornered Hat showcasing violinist Maria Dueñas, cellist Pablo Ferrández, pianist Sergio Tiempo and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard (August 19); and an all-Mozart program featuring LA Phil Principal Concertmaster Martin Chalifour and Principal Viola Teng Li (September 28).

The 2021 season will also include the debut of Dudamel’s Pan-American Music Initiative, a multi-year undertaking celebrating the creativity of the Americas announced in 2020 and delayed by the pandemic. As part of this initiative, Dudamel leads a Latin music celebration at the Bowl with the world premiere of Arturo Márquez’s Violin Concerto Fandango, written for Anne Akiko Meyers (August 24), a program celebrating the centennial of Astor Piazzolla (August 26) and Carlos Vives joining Gustavo and the LA Phil (August 27, 28).

Hollywood Bowl Debuts
Artists making their LA Phil and Hollywood Bowl debuts include pianists Isata Kanneh-Mason, Eric Lu and Lukáš Vondráček; violinists Maria Dueñas and Randall Goosby; and cellists Sterling Elliott and Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Artists performing at the Hollywood Bowl for the first time are conductors Marta Gardolińska, Tianyi Lu, Gemma New, Enluis Montes Olivar, and Ruth Reinhardt, all former Dudamel Fellows; singers/vocalists James Blake, Julia Bullock, Cynthia Erivo, Brittany Howard, Earl Sweatshirt, John Holiday and Jamila Woods; and actress Viola Davis.
Hollywood BowlPhoto Credit: Adam Latham

Returning Artists
Featured returning artists include Kool & the Gang, Dave Koz, Ledisi, Ziggy Marley, Sergio Mendes, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Carlos Vives and Tower of Power, as well as conductors Paolo Bortolameolli, Justin Freer, David Newman, Bramwell Tovey, Thomas Wilkins and John Williams, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, pianists Aaron Diehl, Hélène Grimaud, Herbie Hancock, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Sergio Tiempo, violinists Martin Chalifour, Ray Chen, and Anne Akiko Meyers, cellists Pablo Ferrández and Yo-Yo Ma; trumpetist Alison Balsom, violist Teng Li, saxophonist Kamasi Washington, and host/actress Melissa Peterman.

Premieres and Commissions
In addition to the premiere of the Arturo Márquez Violin Concerto, the LA Phil will present the American premiere of Thea Musgrave’s Trumpet Concerto, a 2019 co-commission by the LA Phil, Tianyi Lu will conduct the orchestra with soloist Alison Balsom. The program will also include the world premiere of Ricardo Molla’s Fanfare for a New Beginning dedicated to the LA Phil brass and percussion sections (July 20). Enluis Monte Olivar’s program includes the LA Phil premiere of Evencio Castellanos’ Santa Cruz de Pagairigua (July 22) and on August 5 Gemma New will present the LA Phil premiere of Warp and Weft by Sarah Gibson, a member of the LA Phil Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program teaching faculty.

Jazz Plus
The Jazz Plus series returns with Ledisi singing the music of Nina Simone accompanied by the LA Phil and conducted by Thomas Wilkins (July 24), a night featuring Dave Koz and Tower of Power (August 8), and Blame it on Rio! with Sergio Mendes featuring Carnival dancers (August 15). Herbie Hancock, the LA Phil’s Creative Chair for Jazz, will close out the series on September 26.

KCRW’s World Festival
The LA Phil will partner with KCRW again this season to present four concerts featuring Kamasi Washington and Earl Sweatshirt (July 18), Reggae Night XIX with Ziggy Marley and the Wailing Souls (August 1), Brittany Howard with Jamila Woods and Georgia Anne Muldrow (September 18), and James Blake with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conducted by Thomas Wilkins (September 25).

Guest conductors and additional LA Phil performances
Enluis Montes Olivar leads his first performance at the Hollywood Bowl featuring works by Castellanos, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky (July 22); also in their debuts with the LA Phil, conductor Ruth Reinhardt couples works by Mendelssohn with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 featuring Eric Lu (July 27) and Gemma New leads Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor featuring Isata Kanneh-Mason (August 5); Bramwell Tovey returns to conduct a Tchaikovsky Spectacular weekend with fireworks featuring the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, the Rococo Variations with cellist Sterling Elliott, and the 1812 Overture with USC Trojan Marching Band (August 6, 7); LA Phil Associate Conductor and 2016/17 Dudamel Fellow Paolo Bortolameolli leads the orchestra in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto featuring Ray Chen in (August 31); the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra’s Principal Conductor, Thomas Wilkins, conducts the LA Phil in an all-American program with pianist Aaron Diehl and soprano Julia Bullock in works by Margaret Bonds & Gershwin (September 2); and Marta Gardolińska will lead the orchestra with pianist Hélène Grimaud (September 9).

Hollywood BowlPhoto Credit: Adam Latham