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MUSIC NOTES : Crowds on the Rise at the Bowl

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An unscientific sampling by one longtime observer of audiences at Hollywood Bowl recently netted the undocumented opinion that fewer people are attending Bowl events this summer.

Au contraire, fires back Stephen Belth, senior director of marketing and communications for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the permanent resident symphonic ensemble at the Bowl.

According to Belth, the numbers are up in 1994 from those of 1993. In fact, he says, when the summer season ends, mid-September, attendance will probably be up 5%.

“That’s a forecast ,” he says, cautiously.

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So far, the numbers bear him out. Out of 31 public, ticketed events at the Bowl--pre-season, classical, jazz, pop and country concerts--between June 28 and Aug. 16, eight were sell-outs at which at least 17,979 people attended. And 16 of those 31 events hosted more than 10,000 listeners.

“Our peak season was 1987,” Belth says, “when the total number of concert-goers in one summer exceeded all previous single years. There was a small decline in the three summers following, then a bounce-back in 1991. After the riots of 1992, attendance was down somewhat, but not dramatically.” He points out that end-of-season total attendance is not computed at the Cahuenga Pass amphitheater.

More important than these level numbers, according to Belth, is the “greater diversity of activities at the Bowl--we have a wider range of music and attractions now than ever before.” He cites “Arsenio Hall’s One-Thousandth Show” at the amphitheater in May, 1993, the now-annual mariachi concerts and, for five nights in 1994, a weeklong series of World Cup Soccer-related concerts.

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Negotiations between the American Guild of Musical Artists--the union that represents dancers, singers and other performing artists--and Los Angeles Music Center Opera concluded Aug. 1, and struck another blow for parity. According to Annalouise Paul, the dancer who represented her colleagues in the talks, the new contract represents “significant” advances for dancers, most importantly, financial parity with the singers of the LAMCO chorus.

Traditionally, acknowledges Patricia Mitchell, deputy general director of LAMCO, dancers have received less than choristers at American opera companies. “Three years ago we addressed this issue in regard to rehearsal pay. Now we have done so with per-performance pay.”

Without revealing details, Mitchell and Paul agreed that the new provisions equalize payments to LAMCO’s dancing and singing ensembles. A few bones of contention remain, however: For instance, whether minimally paid supernumeraries should continue to carry out staging that might more appropriately be entrusted to dancers.

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NOTED: Pianist Andre-Michel Schub was the performer chosen to pick the new Steinway piano to be housed at the new California Center for the Arts in Escondido, which opens in late September. Schub was assisted in making his selection at Steinway Hall in New York City by Robert Freedman, vice president of performing arts of the new Center, and by a leading Steinway technician, Peter Crosby of the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts. Reports Freedman: “Our first consideration, given the size of the hall (1,524 seats), was a rich and even sound. We tested seven of the best instruments the Steinway Co. offered, and chose one which seemed to promise the most, as it matures in the hall.” . . . A Ned Rorem tribute concert saluting the veteran American composer will be given Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. in Old First Church in San Francisco. Rorem himself will introduce the program of some of his chamber music and songs, to be performed by members of San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Saxophone Quartet. . . . American tenor Gary Bachlund will take the role of Rudolph Valentino (replacing the originally announced Marcello Giordani) in the Dallas Opera premiere of Dominick Argento’s “The Dream of Valentino,” in January, 1995. . . . The archive of American composer and pianist David Tudor (b. 1926) has been acquired by the Santa Monica-based Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities. As a pioneer performer and advocate of American experimental music--he was a longtime associate of John Cage, among many others--Tudor has been for more than half a century in the vortex of contemporary musical activity. His archive, most of which has not been published, will now be available to scholars and researchers by appointment. . . . The annual festival of the American Liszt Society takes place this year at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Society. Among the participants will be pianists Vladimir Leyetchkiss, Philip Thomson, Valerie Tryon and speakers Gerhard Winkler, Dezso Legany and Harold C. Schonberg . . . The jury of the 1994 Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards for best new American orchestral compositions has chosen four new works to receive awards at the Center, Oct. 1. The composers represented are Leon Kirchner, John Anthony Lennon, Tison Street and Jay Alan Yim. The four will receive cash prizes totaling $9,000.*


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