Urban Symphonies

From the ridiculousness of Rock the Bells, I found myself a week or so later sitting in box seats at the Hollywood Bowl, watching the sublime LA Philharmonic. LA Phil, if you’re down.

Connections are a most wonderfully strange thing. It seems that anyone I have ever met in my life that has something to do with film, I am destined to remeet here in LA.

And remeet Brad I do. He is walking out of the pool at Santa Monica College, where we both swim, and I ask him about the bag that he has. He bought it in Tokyo, I used to live in Tokyo I say.

Within two connect the dots moments, Brad and I remember actually meeting in a bar in Shinjuku one night. I was sticking my head in the sand in a post-divorce gig, working for a Japanese ad agency. Brad was there, helping a friend out with a film festival.

We marvel that four years later, we are standing opposite each other with dripping towels and discovering that we live around the corner from each other in Venice.

So, Brad invites me to come to see the LA Phil in his box seats. And though I am no aficionado of the classical end of the musical scale, I’ve been thinking lately that there is something in there that I want to explore.

The Hollywood Bowl is something of an institution here in LA. It’s an open-air amphitheatre with astonishingly great acoustics. This is one of the great things about living in a city built in a desert, it never rains. Your car is always filthy, but you do get to sit out a lot.

How to describe? The HB feels like a concert hall built for the people in the Ancient Greece sense of the word. On different nights of the week, there are different themed programs. Tuesdays is Classical, Friday and Saturday nights are Pop, Sunday is World. Bands from all over the world come to play and so it’s like buying season tickets to the Theatre, except, like, musical.

And it was wonderful to go with a seasoned pro. Brad knows his Box inside out and with the deftness of someone decorating a 3×2 Japanese apartment, we have a table, four chairs and a lovely spread organized.

The LA Phil is renowned in the Classical world as an orchestra who specialize in modern. Which translates as anything in the last hundred years. This is a bold and ambitious position to take and it seems to have paid off. They are regarded now as the premier orchestra in America, stealing the limelight from the Upper East Side of New York.

And this makes me really weirdly proud. I think I’m becoming an Angelino.

The music of the night is Russian and they showcase three pieces by various composers from the CCCP. When it still was the CCCP.

And it’s magical. Knowing nothing but open to all of it, the music rushes over you, dances around, plays here and there, then swoops and soars. It was actually very moving.

All the box seat owners know each other and before long, there is a man behind us passing Brad a 1971 Sauterne for us to try. In a red plastic cup. The audacity of it was brilliant. The highbrow and lowbrow of California in a single sip.

At a Hip Hop event, we pass around the joint; at the Bowl, we pass around the 71. Recognize.

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