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Letters: Debating the Hollywood Bowl screens

August 01, 2013

Re "An unhealthy glow," July 27

I disagree with Mark Swed's opinion of the new video monitors at the Hollywood Bowl. This year, I saw two fabulous soloists — Johannes Moser and Augustin Hadelich — and I felt like I could experience every tiny nuance and every emotion of their performances.

The Bowl is a huge venue, and frankly not at all optimal for classical music. The screens provide a fabulous intimacy and bring the audience together (because we're all seeing the same thing).

When one of the soloists makes an intense facial expression, or rolls his eyes at a helicopter during a poignant moment, we're all there with him, experiencing it together. These musicians spend their lives mastering their instruments; I think it's great that we can get up close and personal with them.

Could the directing and shot-calling be better? Yes. But when it is done right, it's fabulous.

Larry Tuttle

Van Nuys

Bravo to Swed for identifying a major cultural eyesore: the video screens at the Hollywood Bowl. They may be de rigueur for pop audiences, but for classical enthusiasts, they are obnoxious.

In fact, I stopped attending classical evenings at the Bowl years ago because of those screens — and I'm a professional musician.

Memo to the Bowl: No video on classical nights, please. We're grown-ups. We can handle it.

David Rada

Los Angeles

For the first time in my life, I disagree with Swed. From where I sat recently with friends, the new video system combined exquisitely with the improved sound, and I was enchanted by the entire evening's performance because I could see and hear so much better than ever before.

Those clear, bright video screens were an addition, not a distraction, and the cameraman followed the solo sections as prescribed in the score, giving the musician in me a satisfying evening without having to open up my binoculars. Even pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet's difficult fingering of Liszt's virtuoso numbers came across clearly.

The brightness of the video screens was not a distraction to me. In fact, it made the whole musical experience more intimate. I loved it.

Catherine Titus


Swed is spot on in his assessment of the video screens at the Hollywood Bowl.

I haven't yet been to the Bowl this season, but my recollections of past visits echo Swed's distaste. Unless the screens display the highlights of an instrumental concert (fingering, for example), they serve no purpose whatsoever other than to delude audience members into thinking they are watching their home TVs, which only leads to unnecessary (and loud) comments during the performances.

Spend all that's necessary on acoustics, but please, kill the screens.

Beryl E. Arbit



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