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Danny DeVito, Journey kick off Hollywood Bowl’s 94th season

Hollywood Bowl held its Opening Night on Saturday, June 20.
Hollywood Bowl held its Opening Night on Saturday, June 20. Photo courtesy Matthew Imaging

Actor Danny DeVito made a surprise appearance on stage at The Hollywood Bowl on Saturday night as part of the launch of the Bowl’s 94th season Opening Night extravaganza that featured rock band and recent Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame inductees Journey.

The evening began at about 8 p.m. with a video montage of highlights of opening nights from the past 15 years projected onto the Hollywood Bowl’s big screens to the thrilling music of “Silver Fanfare” by L.A.’s own Peter Boyer.

Performing Saturday night was the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra led by conductor Thomas Wilkins, Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), and Journey.

Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conductor Thomas Wilkins.
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conductor Thomas Wilkins. Photo courtesy Matthew Imaging

The charismatic Wilkins spoke to the audience, saying Journey were not only there to perform but also to help the Bowl in its “continuing efforts to promote musical education, to change the lives of young men and women across Los Angeles, and to create leaders of tomorrow, very cool indeed.”

After officially welcoming the audience, Wilkins introduced the Los Angeles Philharmonic Gala Committee Chairs Teena Hostovich and Doug Martinet and Sponsorship Chairs Jonathan Weedman and Raymundo Baltazar, before welcoming actor Danny DeVito to the stage.

DeVito, a longtime supporter of musical education, shared with the audience the background and accomplishments of LA Phil’s YOLA program.

Danny DeVito. Photo courtesy Matthew Imaging
Danny DeVito. Photo courtesy Matthew Imaging

“It’s so great to be here tonight. I’m excited, this is the 94th Summer Season of the Hollywood Bowl,” DeVito said. “In particular I want to shine a light on the transformative power of music education, it’s really key. I had a little bit when I was like, you know, I took piano lessons from a nun in kindergarten. She took time with a ruler! On my knuckles! The LA Phil is passionately dedicated to helping thousands of young people through music.”

DeVito said he was inspired by LA Philharmonic conductor and artistic director Gustavo Dudamel.

“In 2007, LA Phil started LA Youth Orchestra (YOLA) with partners in South LA, in the Rampart District, and in East LA,” he said. “Today over 700 students study and play in YOLA, receiving 15 hours a week in free music instruction and training. Two hundred YOLA students have just finished the second annual YOLA summer camp, which focuses on intensive leadership and music building.”

A short video was then screened that focused on YOLA and their preparation for performing with Journey that was a focus at their recent YOLA camp, which took place in Idyllwild.

Journey on stage at the Hollywood Bowl. Photo courtesy Matthew Imaging
Journey on stage at the Hollywood Bowl. Photo courtesy Matthew Imaging

Journey, along with the YOLA students, led by Wilkins, started off with a couple of favorite Journey tunes – “Only the Young,” followed by power ballad “Faithfully,” featuring the LACHSA Choir. The first half wrapped with Journey, YOLA and the choir playing the band’s 1978 release “Lights,” accompanied by a fireworks show.

“This is our first time with a full orchestra; how cool is it that it’s the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles?” said Journey guitarist Neal Schon. “When we visited them at rehearsal, we saw that they have a love for each other and a commitment to the music, and we saw ourselves in them. As we all know, music can change lives, it certainly has for all of us, and a night like this to support the kids is very humbling. We also want to thank Maestro Thomas Wilkins and the choir from the LA School for the Arts.”

The second half of the concert picked up with Journey, joined now by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Wilkins, launching into a full set of their most popular and beloved hits, beginning with “Be Good to Yourself,” followed by “Open the Door.” They continued with “City of Hope” from their 2011 album Eclipse, and their biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit, “Open Arms,” both with the LACHSA choir.

As the set continued, they played “Still They Ride,” followed by “Who’s Crying Now,” performed with the LACHSA choir. Next was Grammy-nominated “When You Love a Woman,” which reached No. 1 on the U.S. Hot 100 in 1996, “Winds of March,” “Mother Father” with the choir, and “Patiently.” They went on to the band’s first song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978, “Wheel in the Sky” with choir, and “Escape.”

Fireworks light up the sky above the Hollywood Bowl on Opening Night 2015.
Fireworks light up the sky above the Hollywood Bowl on Opening Night 2015. Photo courtesy Matthew Imaging

Journey, with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Wilkins, rounded out the concert with a rousing rendering of “Any Way You Want It” accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display. For the encore, Journey returned to the stage with the LACHSA choir for the band’s perennially popular “Don’t Stop Believin’” to conclude the show.

The Opening Night at the Hollywood Bowl benefit concert raised more than $1 million for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s many education and community programs, which serve more than 150,000 youth, families, and teachers every year.

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