New conductors at Bowl unveiled

Times Staff Writer

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra music director Bramwell Tovey was named principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl at a news conference announcing the 2008 summer season Monday on the Bowl stage.

Tovey succeeds Leonard Slatkin, the first person to hold the post, who stepped down at the end of the 2007 season. Tovey will begin his two-year term July 8 with a program scheduled to include a work he composed, jointly commissioned by the Los Angeles and New York philharmonics, as well as Strauss’ “Don Juan” and Orff’s “Carmina Burana.”

Additionally, Thomas Wilkins, music director of the Omaha Symphony, was named principal guest conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, making him the first person to hold a title with that ensemble since its founder, John Mauceri, retired after 16 years in 2006.


Wilkins’ appointment will also be for two years. His tenure will begin June 20 when he leads the opening night Hall of Fame Induction concert with flutist James Galway and other inductees to be announced.

Esa-Pekka Salonen will lead his final concerts at the Bowl as Philharmonic music director with two performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, the “Symphony of a Thousand,” on Sept. 9 and 11. Salonen will step down from his post at the end of the 2008-09 season. Gustavo Dudamel, who will take over in the 2009-10 season, will not conduct at the Bowl this summer.

During the season, which runs through Sept. 27, Tovey will also conduct Bizet’s “Carmen” on July 13, with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in the title role, as one of his seven concerts. Slatkin will return for a single Glass-Elgar program Aug. 12.

Among musicians making their Bowl debuts will be conductor Andris Nelsons and violinist Renaud Capucon (both on July 15), pianist-conductor Christian Zacharias (Aug. 5, 7), and pianists Lise de la Salle (Sept. 4) and Sa Chen, the latter the third-place winner of the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (Aug. 26).

Former Philharmonic associate conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya will be back for a pair of concerts July 29 and 31. Other returning conductors include Andrew Davis (July 22, 24) and Edo de Waart (Aug. 26, 28).

Returning soloists include violinists Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang and Julian Rachlin and pianists Lang Lang and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

Among concerts featuring the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra will be Julie Andrews hosting a tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein (July 18, 19), a staged adaptation of the musical “Les Miserables” (Aug. 8-10) and David Newman conducting a program devoted to Warner Bros. films (Aug. 31).

Among special weekend Philharmonic events, Monty Python alumnus Eric Idle will appear with the orchestra, led by co-composer John Du Prez, in their “Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy),” loosely based on the Python film “Life of Brian” (Aug. 1, 2); Diana Ross will sing (July 25, 26); and John Williams will conduct (Aug. 29, 30).

Jazz and world music programs will include Wynton Marsalis and Natalie Cole (July 9), Etta James and the Roots Band (Aug. 13) and Yo-Yo Ma and members of the Silk Road Ensemble (Sept. 27).