« Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

Dudamel ticket hopefuls find exhilaration, disappointment at Bowl

August 1, 2009 |  7:58 pm

Dudamel Bow1 1 

No, the very happy woman in this photo did not just win the California Lottery.

Instead, Dezi Koster, a "transplanted Aussie" now living in Westchester, is the proud recipient of four free tickets to see 28-year-old Venezuelan wunderkind Gustavo Dudamel, the new music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, at the Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 3, conducting his first concert as leader of the celebrated orchestra.

Koster was one of 1,000 people who spent a hot morning in line Saturday at the Bowl, some arriving as early as 5 a.m., with the hope of getting free tickets Starting at noon, the first 246 or 247 received up to four seats. The rest went home empty-handed as demand outstripped supply. Countless more tried and failed to get tickets by phone and online, but no matter the method, tickets were gone in 1 hour and 20 minutes

The Bowl has long been known for bringing classical music to ordinary people in a casual arena far from the sometimes intimidating confines of the traditional concert hall. But Dudamel and the Philharmonic have taken the populist appeal of the Bowl to a new level by presenting "¡Bienvenido Gustavo!," the first concert of his inaugural season, for free on a first-come, first-served basis.

The box office, online registration and phone lines opened at noon -- but hopefuls began arriving at the Bowl as early as 5 a.m., waiting for the Bowl parking lots to open at 8 a.m. Philharmonic officials told Culture Monster that 800 to 1,000 people showed up at the Bowl. Tickets were gone by 1:20 p.m.

The Bowl seats 18,000, and almost 12% of them were reserved for production staff, VIPs and educational partners of the Phil, said Arvind Manocha, chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn.

By the afternoon, scalpers were already posting tickets for online resale. “There is going to be a resale market for this, which is unfortunate,” Manocha said. "It’s out of our control, other than to be saddened by it.”

Koster let out a whoop when she discovered that her dedication had led to four seats in one of the Bowl's coveted garden boxes. "This is amazing; I've been here a month and it's my first time visiting the Bowl," she exulted.  Said her friend Clyde Baumgardner, also of Westchester: "It will be an incredible performance.... The warm-up acts are headliners ... and there's fireworks!"

Dudame Bowl 2

Koster arrived at 5 a.m. to become the second person in line for tickets; the first was a Los Angeles woman who did not want her face photographed or to give her name but said she came to the Bowl at the crack of dawn because "we have a new conductor." That's her in the photo, hiding behind her lucky tickets.

The diverse crowd hoping to be part of the Dudamel experience was allowed to begin lining up at the ticket windows at 8 a.m. At 10 a.m., the first 250 were issued numbered yellow wristbands to hold their place in line when the ticket kiosks opened at noon.

Nancy Perdomo-Browning of Culver City didn't know about the Dudamel concert giveaway until she saw an advertisement on Saturday morning, but then raced to the Bowl, arriving at 9 a.m. She has a particular connection with Dudamel: She too is Venezuelan. Although she did not get a wristband, she stayed in line, hoping to get tickets for herself and her 12-year-old daughter, who is a musician.  "I didn't give up when others walked away," she said. "I've been a fan of Dudamel long before anyone ever knew about him.... I'm proud to be a Venezuelan.

Perdomo-Browning was not the only one who showed up too late for a wristband but queued up anyway, hoping for the best. It was hot, and the line snaked down the hill all the way past the Hollywood Bowl Museum and into the lower parking lots.

Bowl crowd There was some confusion and disgruntlement among patrons who did not understand the first-come, first-served ticketing process. Because the Bowl holds 18,000, some visitors at the end of the line did not quite get why a Bowl security guard was telling them their odds were "hopeless,"  figuring they'd make the cut even with upward of 800 people in line. They apparently did not take into account the fact that each individual was allowed four tickets, and that phone and online orders coming in concurrently with the box office distribution would grab most of the available seats.

Others were unhappy that the Philharmonic didn't place an age limit on who could receive four tickets; some under 18 -- indeed, some under 10 -- got wristbands.

But the fact that kids could also qualify for four tickets apiece made the extended Kim family very happy. Joon Kim, 13, his sister Michelle Kim, 18, and their cousin Brian Lee, 10, arrived at the Bowl at 7 a.m. with Joon and Michelle's mother, Jeung Hyun An, and managed to get wristbands with numbers ranging from 95 to 98. The whole family plays instruments, and Michelle is a clarinetist with the Glendale Youth Orchestra.

Said her mother (with Michelle translating from the Korean): "I am very interested in classical music, and all kinds of shows. It's a great opportunity.... It is an honor for us to attend this concert."

Frank Higginbotham of Glendale was among the next few in line after the 250 wristbands were distributed (Bowl officials later reported that the tickets ran out at 246 or 247).  Bouncing his 3-year-old son, Gianni,  on his shoulder, he said he came because his other son, Frankie, 4, was a Dudamel fan.

"I"m doing this for my son; he watched the '60 Minutes' TV show about Dudamel about a year ago, " Higginbotham said. "And then a couple of weeks later he saw your story in the Calendar section and started saying : 'Gustavo!'  I took him to a kids' show at Disney Hall, but he wasn't really happy with that. He has curly hair and everything, like Gustavo."

-- Diane Haithman, Karen Wada and Juliette Funes


Exclusive: Details of Dudamel's free L.A. debut concert

Photos: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times   

Comments () | Archives (31)

250 persons X 4 tickets = 1000 tickets which is less than 6% of the total 17,000 seats at the Hollywood Bowl. What happened to the other 94%? There was an article on La Opinion that gave a code PASSION to get tickets before August 1. Is this FAIR? I'm a latino but dont read La Opinion or think this is fair. What do you think?


Well it's too bad that Gusatavo Dudamel biggest fan in Los Angeles is not going to be at his first concert. I did everything right, got there early. But still did not make the cut at the Hollywood Bowl because they had problems with the tickets. My two sons both under 5 were really good to wait for almost 5 hours but still come away with empty handed is hard to explain...

Humberto: The supposed password, "pasion" didn't work. I searched online, found it, and tried it several times. To no avail.

As a subscriber, I was very disappointed to not get tickets. I guess that I will have to purchase tickets for one of his concerts later this season.

I had my computer and two telephones at the ready. I tried over and over again like an automaton to get through for tickets, but it was no use. I can't possibly express my extreme disappointment over not being able to access these tickets. Boo!

This has a very "L.A." answer to the questioners questioning where the 17,000+ tickets went. They were already given away. To fat cats, donors, affiliated industry, probably the sponsors took a ton of tickets to further their agenda, and so on. Apparently, there were only 2,000 seats left by the time Saturday rolled around. Of course those were scooped up in an hour. duh.

Free Opening Day Dudamel Concert makes for pretty advertising, but unfortunately this event was all a bunch of very hot air for those that had to stand in line for nothing.

But hey, more great press, right?

The system of ticket distribution really sucks.
The major sponsor like Target should do something about it like doing another
show date to accommodate more fans to see the free show.
It would be disappointing for a lot of people who waited personally in the box office and on line. As a Target card member/holder I am

You're missing the real story here. The Bowl boxoffice may have sold out at 1:20, but people who called Ticketmaster or tried to buy tickets online were told that no more tickets were available beginning at 12:01. I know the L.A. Phil held back tickets from Ticketmaster, and if you somehow managed to get through on their phone line tickets were available for about an hour...but for Ticketmaster's entire allotment to sell out in one minute is very suspicious. And it's hardly the kind of for-the-people tone they were hoping to set with this show.

Its a free concert that was advertised to death in one of the largest markets in America. If you didn't realize that demand would outweigh supply in a city as large as Los Angeles and that save for a lot of luck you probably wouldn't get tickets, then this probably served as a much needed wake up call. I got tickets while lieing on the beach, relaxing, and not giving up even though the phone line had been busy for 45 minutes straight. Persistence pays dividends, especially when it's with regard to free concert tix!

I was engaged by LA Phil to reach out to the Latino Community and gave them a bunch of contacts to promote "Bienvenido Gustavo" and future events/concerts, I feel pretty USED! Call LA Phil and tell them how you feel! THIS CONCERT WAS NOT FOR THE PEOPLE! it was for the ELITE!

General Information 323.850.2000
323.850.2040 (TDD)
Administrative Offices 213.972.7300
Community/Public Affairs 213.972.7297

Guys, you're "Missing the Target" Reported to me by Spanish people in line with me, Telemundo viewers could get tickets beginning July 24, ergo none left for those people not in on the pre-sale. Ticketmaster lady told me about the pre sale, confirming this shocking revelation. I did the math also, impossible to be sold out at 12:02 if sale only started at noon. Something is really rotten about this.

another bad idea gone bad, why not do a series of shows ? so everyone that is interested can experince the greatness of this type of event!

I'd like the LA Times to do an investigation of the ticket distribution. I was ready at my phone and at my computer at noon. I finally got through to Ticketmaster at 12:35. No tickets were left. I therefore gave up calling on the phone line.

I find it hard to believe that 17,000 tickets were gone in 35 minutes. I see that a comment was posted from someone who got through to Ticketmaster even earlier than I did and that person was unable to get any tickets.

If the LA Phil wants to throw a private party to welcome Dudamel, that's fine. But if they and Target receive free advertising and Target gets a tax write-off for hosting what is, in effect, a private party, that's wrong. Having a few tickets available to the public does not constitute a "free" public concert.

This article, featured in a fairly prominent place on the LA Times website, rubs salt in the wounds. To gloat about one "success story --for a very highly promoted event that was unavailable to virtually everyone by the time that ticket distribution was supposed to begin--is inappropriate. It makes me feel both more pained and angry about the entire debacle.

Tickets always go fast for hot concerts like this regardless if it's free or not. It's not a conspiracy. Just a case of supply versus demand plus the internet and phones working against people at the Bowl. Plus the tickets distributed via the presale that was widely advertised on the news, newspaper and online a week before didn't help matters either. There will be alot of people at the show that aren't from the elite at the Hollywood Bowl on October 3rd so "erase" the conspiracy theories regarding where the tickets went.

I don't watch Telemundo or read La Opinion very often (though I am bilingual). I found out about the "pre-sale" with the codeword "pasion" via a well known LA music blog. I got a pair of tickets with no problem and don't see anything wrong that a big chunk of LA's community will have access to this show too.

They advertise tickets being available on August 1st at noon. Except they aren't. They are available earlier and by August 1st apparently there are hardly any left. I'm confused. I thought they wanted to give all Angelenos a fair chance to see the concert.

So, when I was fortunate to get tickets, I was required to write a form with my name and contact information. Today I find this:


Soneone should contact them and find out who was registered for these tickets and remove them. As for what they should do with them? Perhaps these could be used for Youth orchestras or sold to support the programs Gustavo so energetically supports.

I think LA Times should do an investigation about who got the tickets before August 1 and see IF IT WAS FAIR!! I sent Mark Swed and some people I know at LA Phil an e-mail about my concerns! If LA Phil wants to do a pre-sale is fine but DONT GIVE OUT 90% OF THE TICKETS BEFORE THE AUGUST 1 DATE AND DONT MAKE IT SEEM THAT EVERYONE HAS A CHANCE FOR THESE TICKETS!! NOT COOL AND FAIR!!!

Humberto Capiro

where are the 17000 tickets? investigative reporters get on it please!

1 2 | »


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Explore the arts: See our interactive venue graphics


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.