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THE CREME DE L.A. CREME | Music

August 10, 2000|MARK SWED | TIMES MUSIC CRITIC

Go to the Hollywood Bowl.

Some people love the Bowl to pieces, others hate it with an equal passion. There are even those who love it and hate it at the same time, entranced by a glorious outdoor setting, maddened by urban distractions. But love it and/or hate it, the Bowl, which is the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is the most important summer-season concert venue west of Chicago; and its famous shell is a sight of the city.

The Philharmonic concerts are on Tuesdays and Thursdays--each night a different program and soloist; each week, a different guest conductor (the Philharmonic's music director, Esa-Pekka Salonen, is on sabbatical). Repertory tends to be selected from a list of the 100 most popular symphonies, concertos and orchestral works. Rehearsal time is limited to the morning of the concert, so don't expect the orchestra (on a good night one of the best in the country) to be exquisitely polished. Typical Bowl fare is the all-Rachmaninoff night on Tuesday; less so is a program with a Spanish and Latin American theme on Aug. 17, led by a charismatic Mexican conductor, Enrique Diemecke, and featuring the renowned Spanish guitarist Manuel Barrueco.

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A few tips about the Bowl. Getting there is a pain in the neck. Parking is stacked, and you can be trapped for a long while after the concert. Street parking is difficult and frowned upon. If riding the subway is convenient, the Bowl offers a shuttle to and from the Hollywood and Vine station that's free with a round-trip Red Line ticket. Park and ride removes stress: You leave your car in designated lots and take a special bus.

Picnics are encouraged and can get extravagant. Schlep your own supper (many fine restaurants feature Bowl take-out menus), or buy overpriced food, beer, wine and champagne on the grounds.

The price of admission ranges widely, the inexpensive seats (all the way down to the traditional $1) being on benches far removed from the stage. But nearly everyone hears amplified sound, and those ultra-cheap seats offer an inspiring panoramic view and a friendly ambience.

A less ostentatious summer venue can be found directly across the road from the Bowl, at the intimate John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, where a smidgen of classical music finds its way onto a multicultural schedule. One such program happens to be Friday night with the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra, led by Lucinda Carver (an important emerging conductor), playing a program of Mozart, Handel, Grieg and Dvorak as pleasantly undemanding as the setting itself.

Summer is not the season the city shines musically, not when outdoorsy Southern Californians all too eagerly choose setting over substance. But you can have both at the Huntington Library, Art Galleries and Gardens, where Southwest Chamber Music holds its summer season. Concerts take place on the loggia of the main art gallery, a famous institution that houses such treasures as Gainsborough's "Blue Boy" and "Pinkie." The grounds are gorgeous, and the series is programmed with imagination--the concerts on Aug. 19 and 20 include a lively mix of works by Villa-Lobos, De Falla, Poulenc, Copland and Elinor Remick Warren (a pioneering female composer and Angeleno). An optional prix-fixe dinner can be ordered that suits the musical variety.

Addresses, dates, prices. Page 29.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

"The opening of the opera season is a great event in September. In Los Angeles, I also enjoy watching the Dodgers play baseball. Dodger Stadium is fun and a beautiful place to watch a game. Other places to visit are the Getty Museum, the L.A. Philharmonic and, for a change of pace, Universal Studios."

PLACIDO DOMINGO

Music director of the Los Angeles Opera

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