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Preparing For Bowl's 65th

July 06, 1986|DANIEL CARIAGA

For the musicians and the administrative staff at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the second week in July begins the busiest time of their professional year.

"This is the calm before the storm," Robert Harth, managing director of Hollywood Bowl, said the other day. The Bowl opens its 65th summer season Tuesday night when the Philharmonic, conducted by Lawrence Foster, plays Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, the West Coast premiere of Andre Previn's "Principals" and three works for flute and orchestra by Leonard Bernstein, Vivaldi and Mozart, with Jean-Pierre Rampal as soloist.

"The challenge for us (the non-playing staff of the Philharmonic)," says Harth, who begins his seventh Bowl summer this week, "is to do our regular jobs--that is, planning and administering the orchestra's winter season--while running things at the Bowl. That means managing, scheduling and handling all the logistics of 60 Bowl events being presented in an 11-week period."

As the deputy, or lieutenant, if you will, of Ernest Fleischmann, general director of the Cahuenga Pass showplace, Harth says it is his job to coordinate all aspects of the Bowl operation, even--as in the case of security, or vendors or parking--when that aspect falls under the purview of Pat Moore, longtime superintendent of operations at the Bowl.

"I am the one to foster communications," Harth points out. "Here at the Bowl, as in the winter season of the Philharmonic at the Music Center, everything we do is a group effort--our staff works as a team. I am in on artistic decisions and programming as well as concessions and popcorn."

The extent of his interests is broad, then, and involves the year-round Philharmonic administration of 60 people, as well as a seasonal staff that can reach 400 additional employees at midsummer.

And it means long days for Harth.

"We sometimes spend mornings at the Bowl, afternoons at the Music Center, then evenings back at the Bowl. And we sometimes work seven straight days, especially when we have Sunday concerts. But usually I'm able to take one day off a week.

"But I love the Bowl. I love being here, and hearing the music, and working outside."

Harth, who turned 30 on June 13, spent a number of summers backstage at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. Then he worked for 3 1/2 years on the staff of the Ravinia Festival outside Chicago.

"We worry a lot about weather at the Bowl--especially about rain. Rain can be devastating to a summer festival. But at Ravinia, where it rains a lot every summer, their worries about weather were tremendous compared to what we have here."

Do audiences stay away from the Bowl during heat waves? Or do they stay home when temperatures drop?

"If I knew the answers to those questions, I'd be a lot smarter than I am," Harth answers.

"I do know that we have to keep our musical standards high, or attendance begins to fall off. But there are many factors regarding attendance, all of them variable and at least a little bit mysterious. Two things we know for sure: First, we don't want it to rain. Second, when the public decides to stay away, that's where it stays."

Lawrence Foster, who has been a frequent Philharmonic guest conductor over the years, last opened a Bowl season in 1975. After opening night, he returns Thursday to lead Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade," Enesco's Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 and, with Misha and Cipa Dichter as soloists, the Concerto for Two Pianos by Francis Poulenc. And, over the weekend, Foster will lead two performances of a Gershwin program featuring singer Sarah Vaughan and pianist Christopher O'Riley, one offering the Overture to "Strike Up the Band," "An American in Paris," medleys of Gershwin songs and "Rhapsody in Blue."

Wednesday night, Jean-Pierre Rampal, assisted by his longtime collaborator, pianist John Steele Ritter, gives a recital in the outdoor amphitheater. His program will include music by, among others, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Doppler and Bazzini.

PEOPLE: Conductor Lawrence Leighton Smith and violist Donald McInnes are the principals in the opening concert of the summer series by the Music Academy of the West, Tuesday night in historic Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.

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