On the phone from Aarhus, Denmark's second city, where he has been guest of honor at a 150th birthday celebration for the tuba, Roger Bobo, a bona fide virtuoso of that instrument, talks about John Williams' Concerto for Tuba. Bobo will give the West Coast premiere of that newish work on Friday and Saturday nights in Hollywood Bowl; Williams conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic .
Bobo, who gave lectures, demonstrations and master classes at the celebration--attended by some 100 Danish tuba players and students of the instrument--closed his final appearance there by playing, with piano accompaniment, the Williams work.
"It was a giant hit," he said, apparently not surprised. Because the Philharmonic presented Williams' Violin Concerto two seasons ago, Bobo said, "I've been comparing the two pieces. The first thing I notice is that the Violin Concerto is 12-tone, and the Tuba Concerto is not."
Beyond that, he said, and acknowledging that "one is always tempted to hear Hindemith, or Shostakovich, or Prokofiev in new scores, I have to say what I hear is John Williams at his best.
"I think it's the best thing written for the tuba in decades."
The 47-year-old native Angeleno, since 1964 principal tuba of the Philharmonic, said he tells his students that most music falls into one of two categories--either pirate songs or love songs. Given those classifications, Bobo described the three-movement, quarter-hour Tuba Concerto as "a love song surrounded by pirate songs."
Bobo's weeklong visit to Aarhus was filmed for a 30-minute documentary to be shown on Danish national television later this month, he said. To assemble that documentary, he said, "the film crew recorded six hours of our activities. Since the Danes have only one station, when it is shown, that will be the only option the viewers have in that time period."
Also on Williams' program for Friday and Saturday nights: the popular composer/conductor's Olympic Fanfare and Theme; March from "1941"; "Cowboys" Overture and excerpts from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
ALSO AT THE BOWL: Conductor Sir Charles Groves and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman are the other featured guests at Hollywood Bowl this week. Tuesday, Sir Charles leads the Philharmonic in Vaughan Williams' Overture, "The Wasps"; Holst's "The Planets," and, with Stoltzman as soloist, Debussy's Rhapsody for clarinet and orchestra and Rossini's Introduction, Theme and Variations for clarinet and orchestra.
Wednesday night, Stoltzman, assisted by pianist Irma Vallecillo and bassist Eddie Gomez, appears in recital at the Bowl. On Thursday night, Sir Charles leads a program concluding with Mahler's First Symphony, preceded by the Overture to Borodin's "Prince Igor" and Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, with Alexander Toradze the piano soloist.
PEOPLE: CalArts composer and violinist L. Subramaniam will be soloist in the premiere of his own Fantasy on Vedic Chants for Indian violin and orchestra, at season-opening concerts by the New York Philharmonic, Sept. 12-17, at Lincoln Center. Later in the fall, Subramaniam will perform his Concerto (1983) in Los Angeles, as part of the New Music America Festival. . . . Philip Westin, founder and former artistic director of the Master Symphony, and a member of the music faculty at Cerritos College for 16 years, has been named dean of fine arts at El Camino College.