The Hollywood Bowl officially launched its 91st season with the 13TH Annual Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame and Opening Night Concert, last night, Friday, June 22, at 8 pm, which for the first time honored all women artists.
This year’s inductees – reigning “Queen of Country,” the multi-talented Reba, and 10-time Grammy winner, singer/songwriter Chaka Khan – as well as guests and presenters Lily Tomlin, Randy Jackson and Melissa Peterman, plus, as host, the legendary Julie Andrews, made for an extraordinary evening featuring some of the most talented female artists of our time. Video montages of the two honorees were shown on the Bowl’s four large screens prior to each of their performances, celebrating their career achievements.
The opening event of the Hollywood Bowl’s season also featured the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (HBO) led by Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Wilkins, as well as a performance presenting wind and brass players from Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) at the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) performing for the first time on the Bowl stage. The Opening Night at the Hollywood Bowl benefit concert raised more than $1 million for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music education programs, which serve more than 120,000 youths, families and teachers every year.
The festive evening began with Wilkins and the HBO performing Smetana’s Dance of the Comedians. Host Julie Andrews welcomed the audience to the Bowl’s 91st season and introduced a special video tribute to Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame Inductee Reba from her friend, actress Lily Tomlin.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremonies began with actress Melissa Peterman, whose friendship with Reba dates back to when they appeared together in the television show Reba, which aired from 2001 to 2007, introducing the video tribute showcasing highlights of Reba’s musical career. Reba and her band took the stage, and accompanied by Wilkins and the HBO, performed the rousing “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun,”from Annie Get Your Gun, in which Reba starred on Broadway.
Following her acceptance speech, Reba, her band, Wilkins, the HBO and the CalVoce Chorus continued with another beloved musical classic, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair,” from South Pacific, in which she first starred at the Bowl five years ago. Reba then performed the theme song from her hit television series Reba, “I’m a Survivor,” and closed with one of her major country hits, “Fancy.”
The second half of the Hall of Fame and Opening Night Concert began with a look at the audience as the event’s chairs – Sandy and Barry Pressman, Barbara and Jay Rasulo, Jonathan Weedman and Raymundo Baltazar, and Josh and Melanie Kaplan – were acknowledged by the voice of the Hall of Fame concerts since their inception, Classical KUSC FM 91.5’s Rich Capparela.
Back on the stage, Andrews described the LA Phil’s music education programs, followed by a videotaped message and introduction of YOLA from Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel. Thirty-five members of the wind and brass ensemble from YOLA at HOLA, ages 9 to 12, performed Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5, along with the HBO, led by Wilkins. YOLA at HOLA is a partnership of the LA Phil and Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA).
The Hall of Fame inductions resumed with musician, producer and judge on television’s “American Idol” Randy Jackson, a great long-term friend of Chaka Khan, introducing a video of her illustrious career highlights. Khan, playing percussion with her band, along with the HBO and Wilkins, launched into a medley of “I Know You I Live You,” and “Tell Me Something Good,” accompanied by her dancers. Khan, her band, the HBO and Wilkins continued with her famous “Ain’t Nobody,” “My Funny Valentine,” and “Through the Fire,” before taking a break for her acceptance speech to talk about the importance of helping children at risk. Khan’s granddaughter Daija Holland and nephew Tyler McCrary came onstage to present her with the Hall of Fame award. Khan, Wilkins and the HBO continued with “Earth Song,” and closed with her powerful anthem “I’m Every Woman” accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display. Reba returned to the stage to join Khan and Wilkins for the curtain call.