Lionel Bringuier kicks off Hollywood Bowl season with L.A. Phil ‘family’

Lionel Bringuier, seen conducting the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2014, will be on a familiar stage with familiar faces when he leads the L.A. Philharmonic and pianist Yuja Wang at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday.
(Peter Fischli / Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich)

The Frenchman is back.

Lionel Bringuier, former resident conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will preside Tuesday over the opener of the Hollywood Bowl’s classical season. The show features pianist Yuja Wang, who four years ago, with Bringuier conducting, dazzled as much with her virtuosity as with her piercing high heels and revealing orange dress.

“It’s amazing to be back,” said Bringuier, who will lead an orchestra he knows well on a night that includes Ravel’s “Bolero” and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2. “The Bowl is one of my favorite venues in the world. The atmosphere is absolutely wonderful and the L.A. Phil is like my family.”

Music and fireworks will kick off a summer classical season that will feature performances of Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” nights dedicated to the works of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff, and soloists including violinist Joshua Bell. As part of its series on film music, the orchestra in August will play the score to “2001: A Space Odyssey” with the Los Angeles Master Chorale.


A compact man with an expressive face, Bringuier, whose eyes appear to glow with each passing note, made an impression on the L.A. Phil during his six years as an assistant and resident conductor, a stint that ended in 2013 after he was named music director of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in Switzerland. Now 28, he made his professional conducting debut at 14 on French national television and grew close to former Phil conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and current music director Gustavo Dudamel, who also was a sensation at an early age.

“I learned a lot from them and their relationships with the orchestra,” said Bringuier, his French accent allowing a bit of air to his vowels. “I really have the feeling that everything I learned, I learned in Los Angeles. I was 20 when I arrived and was working with one of the best orchestras in the world, not only in musical quality but in human quality.”

The bond between Bringuier and the Phil was evident last year when Dudamel and Salonen were in the audience in Zurich as Bringuier, a trained cellist, began his first season as music director for the Tonhalle Orchestra. That performance featured the premiere of Salonen’s “Karawane,” and the concert burnished Bringuier’s reputation as a rising European star despite some critics who complained he was too much under the influence of the L.A. Phil.

Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed has written: “Bringuier clearly brings a new spirit to Zurich. It is a city that, for all its conservatism, doesn’t mind a party and that has had a history, perhaps inadvertently, of shaking things up.”


Tonhalle is a great orchestra with a great tradition, Bringuier said. “In a way it is similar to the L.A. Phil. There’s so much trust between me and the musicians. This exchange of communication is critical.”

His musical collaboration with Wang has also been growing. The Chinese pianist was named artist-in-residence at Tonhalle last year, and she accompanied Bringuier on his first European tour with the orchestra. He laughed at the mention of her famous orange dress.

“We enjoy so much playing together,” he said of Wang, one of the most acclaimed and popular soloists in the world. “She has an amazing virtuosity, and she can play anything. We played Brahms recently, and the way her fingers moved and the details were amazing.”

Bringuier arrived in Los Angeles over the weekend. In a phone interview after waiting in line at customs, he said that he looked forward to performing beneath the stars in the Hollywood Hills.


“You know,” he said, as only a Frenchman with a bit of flourish can, “this is my first time in America on July 4. I have just landed.”


L.A. Phil with Lionel Bringuier and Yuja Wang

Where: Hollywood Bowl, 2301 Highland Ave., Los Angeles


When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: $8-$110

Info: (323) 850.2000,