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MUSIC NOTES : Crowds on the Rise at the Bowl

August 28, 1994|Daniel Cariaga | Daniel Cariaga is a Times staff writer. and

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.

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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