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Violinist Augustin Hadelich finds Hollywood Bowl to be a pleasant surprise

August 16, 2010 |  3:48 pm
Hadelich To many young musicians around the world, especially those who have never seen it, the Hollywood Bowl can be equated with Carnegie Hall for its ability to intimidate. There is the prestige of such a gig, of course, but also the daunting specter of thousands and thousands of seats seemingly rising into the sky.

Now, imagine the pressure on a young violinist having to make his Bowl debut on less than a week’s notice, playing the Prokofiev Second Violin Concerto – not a guaranteed crowd-pleaser – with the mighty Los Angeles Philharmonic and a conductor who himself was an eleventh-hour replacement.  This is what Tuscany-born Augustin Hadelich, then 24, was faced with two summers ago this month – and his triumph then helped get him a return engagement this Thursday.

As it turned out, the reality of playing in the Bowl was somewhat less nerve-shredding than Hadelich’s fantasies led him to believe. “I had read how many people it can seat,” he said. “But then when you are onstage, it doesn’t look as intimidating as I had imagined it. It had a friendly feeling.”

Once he had finished, Hadelich grabbed a seat in the giant concrete amphitheater after intermission and listened to his conductor, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, lead Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.  When a soloist is actually playing in the Bowl – or anywhere, for that matter, but especially in an outdoor amplified setting – he has little idea of how he and the orchestra sound to the audience. And Hadelich’s reaction might come as a surprise to those who have been critical about the Bowl’s sound systems over the years.

“I had never heard amplification that perfectly [done],” he said.  “Often [other facilities] sound amplified in a bad way, but this way, it didn’t seem to change the sound much – it made it clearer.  It sounded brilliant, fantastic. In a lot of places, systems aren’t as sophisticated or as up to date.” 

Click here to read my story on Augustin Hadelich.

 – Richard S. Ginell

Photo: Augustin Hadelich in July. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

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